H. E. Joseph N. Boakai, Sr.

President of Liberia

H. E. Zegben J. K. Koung

Vice President of Liberia

Supreme Court Quashes Prohibition Case Involving Prof. Wilson Tarpeh and EPA...

Says Tarpeh appointment was interim and not tenure....
Dr. Emmanuel Yarkpawolo, Acting Executive Director- EPA

The Liberian Supreme Court denied Prof. Wilson K. Tarpeh's writ of prohibition against the government of Liberia and Dr. Emmanuel K. Urey Yarkpawolo of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

According to Prof. Tarpeh, he was unfairly removed from his position by President H. E. Joseph N. Boakai, Sr. which prompted him to seek the intervention of the Supreme Court. Tarpeh maintains that he holds a tenured position at the EPA and hence should not have been removed until the end of his tenure. Yarkpawolo replaced him after his removal.

The Supreme Court did not grant Tarpeh's request for a writ of prohibition because there are specific procedures that one must follow to become the Executive Director of the EPA.

According to Section 16 of the Act that established the EPA, the President must appoint an Executive Director with extensive environmental knowledge and expertise in sustainable management of the environment. The appointment will be made from a list of three names recommended by the Council unless the President chooses to appoint an interim Executive Director while the Council is being formed.

the section further reveals that the Executive Director will serve for a term of 7 years and may be re-appointed. However, an interim Executive Director may be appointed in the meantime. The Executive Director will have job security but will lose their position if they resign, are found guilty of gross misconduct with the approval of the Policy Council, or are unable to perform their duties for health reasons.

Dr. Emmanuel Urey Yarkpawolo was appointed as Interim Executive Director by the Court until the formation of the Policy Council as mandated by the EPA Act.

"The judgment of the High Court is being read, which states:"

When this case was called for hearing, Counsellor Thompson Jargba appeared for the petitioner. Counselor Oswald Tweh, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia, and Counsellor J. Aldophus Kamuah, II, Director of Civil Litigation, Ministry of Justice, appeared for the Executive Branch of Government. Counsellors Tiawan Saye Gongloe and Lamii Kpargoi appeared for the co-respondent, Emmanuel K. Urey Yarkpawolo.

"Having reviewed the records, heard the agreements and contentions advanced of the respective parties, and considered the facts and laws relied thereupon, it is hereby Adjudged:

The EPA Act, Part III-Organization and Administration of the Agency,

Section 16. 1 requires that the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) be appointed by the president from a list of three names recommended by the council with a tenure of seven (7) years; and that the president may appoint an interim Executive Director pending the formation of the Council, the appointment of the petitioner by former President Weah was an interim appointment for which tenure is inapplicable;

That, also, the petitioner has failed to establish documentary proof that he was chosen from among a list of three (3) persons recommended by the Policy Council to the former president, and to make mention of his selection process in his petition regarding the existence of submission of said list to include his name, he is not entitled to tenure under the EPA Act;

It is being established that the petitioner served in an Interim Executive Director capacity at the EPA, his removal aligned with Executive Order 123, signed by former President George M. Weah, Sr., on November 22, 2023, in which he stated that all non-tenured presidential appointees shall be presumed to have resigned as of the date of the inauguration of the incoming President, Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr.; and

That a writ of prohibition will not be granted by the court where, as in the instant case, the respondent, the Executive Branch of Government, did not proceed wrongly by appointing Dr. Emmanuel K. Urey Yarkpawolo as Interim Executive Director of the EPA in the absence of the Policy Council.

Wherefore, and given the foregoing, the alternative writ of prohibition issued by the justice in Chambers is hereby quashed, and the peremptory writ prayed for denied.

The Clerk of this court is mandated to inform the parties accordingly.”

Meanwhile, the EPA’s Interim Executive Director, Dr. Emmanuel K. Urey Yarkpawolo, has resumed work at the Environmental Protection Agency where he was cheered by jubilant supporters of the agency as a way of welcoming him back at the entity.