EPA Functions Held – As Tarpeh Demands 43 Months’ Salary By: Yassah J. Wright

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The Justice in Chamber, Yussif D.Kaba, has halted all functions of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pending final decision concerning Wilson Tarpeh’s petition. Chamber Justice Kaba had a conference with Tarpeh and Emmanuel Urey-Yarkpawolo, Acting Executive Director of the EPA concerning Tarpeh’s Writ of Prohibition. The halting of the functioning of the EPA is based on a Writ of Prohibition against the Government of Liberia and Yarkpawolo, Acting Executive Director of the EPA which was filed with the Justice in Chamber by its ex-acting Executive Director Tarpeh. Tarpeh’s Writ of Prohibition has halted all functions of the EPA head pending a return to the Honorable Supreme Court, presided over by Justice Kaba. In his petition, which is in the possession of this paper, Tarpeh argued that he has 43 months remaining and therefore, he should be paid for it.  According to him, his argument is based on a commissioning certificate that has the same date of October 2, 2020 as his appointment letter date. In quoting Part III Section 16 of the EPA Act in count 4 of his petition, Tarpeh wrote “That the Act creating the EPA states in clear and unequivocal terms under section 16 : 1) There shall be an Executive Director who is a person with wide environmental knowledge and recognized comment to sustainable management of the environment, appointed by the President from a list of three names recommended by the Council, except that the President may appoint an interim Executive Director pending the formation of the Council; 2) The Executive Director shall serve for a period of 7 years and shall be eligible for reappointment, except that there shall be appointed an interim Executive Director The legal minds say such speedy appointment, Senate confirmation and commissioning has never happened in Liberian history. Legal minds are also wondering how was it possible for him to go through Senate confirmation if the Act creating the EPA does not call for Senate confirmation of the Executive Director of the EPA but through recruitment by the Policy Council.  This paper has gathered that Tarpeh was never appointed from a list of 3 persons submitted by the Policy Council as mandated by the law creating the EPA. The Weah administration did not constitute the National Environmental Policy Council, that is responsible for recruiting the Executive Director.  Tarpeh admitted during his taking over ceremony at the EPA that he has finance background and does not have environmental background as mandated by the EPA law. This may have prevented him from encouraging the formation of the Policy Council, knowing  that he was not qualified and was unlikely to pass the environmental backgrounds scrutinizing check of the Policy Council.  Section 9 of the Executive Order 123 by President Weah clearly states that “Non-tenured Presidential appointees shall be presumed to have resigned as of the date of inauguration. Accordingly, the most Senior Civil Servant at all ministries, agencies and commissions and state-owned enterprises, shall act as Office-in-Charge pending the appointment of their successors.” This was why on January 23rd, the day after the inauguration, Mr. Benjamin Karmoh, supported by EPA workers attempted to prevent Tarpeh from serving as Executive Director. The EPA workers also wrote President Boakai (copy in the possession of this paper), asking him to appoint a new Acting Executive Director pending the formation of the Policy Council.  If Tarpeh did not meet the criteria to be appointed as Executive Director with the 7-year tenure as mandated by law, why is he claiming tenure and demanding 43 months’ pay? Inside sources say, Tarpeh is using his connections within the government to try to get underserved compensation.  On February 15, 2024, President Joseph Nyuma Boakai appointed Yarkpawolo as Acting Director of the EPA in fulfillment of Section 16 of the EPA Act since Policy Council has not been formed yet.  On February 19, 2024,  Tarpeh formally turned over the EPA with a turnover notes to Yarkpawo.

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