LIBERIA: Civil Law Court rules Against LNP’s Sudue, Gboyah and Ballah
The Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice has ruled in favor of Chris Geeplay Weah in an action to recover chattel against the Liberia National Police (LNP).
Mr. Weah petitioned the court on December 12, 2023 to recover US$12,000 that was forcefully, wrongfully and without due process taken from him by LNP’s Victor Gboyah and Sam Ballah, who asked him to accompany them and contribute to a police charity event on November 5, 2023.
He said then Police Inspector-General Patrick Sudue was informed about the extortion and blackmail but he couldn’t get his money thus forcing him to seek legal redress.
Co-defendants Sudue, Gboyah and Ballah, in their response on December 26, 2023 more than 10 days after the required time stipulated by statute for responsive pleading, alleged that Weah’s complaint, which is a special proceeding to recover chattel is not applicable to criminal proceedings and should be denied and dismissed.
They further alleged that, as agents of the LNP Major Crimes Division, are authorized to investigate crimes and keep agency used to commit crimes, up to and including the perpetration of a criminal writ of indictment.
They also alleged that when Mr. Weah was arrested on November 3, 2023 and taken to their office he attempted to bribe them with US$100,000 but brought forth US$11,600, which they seized as proceeds of crime and ordered him arrested.
In his ruling on 31 January 2024, Judge Ousman F. Feika said Sudue, Gboyah and Ballah not only filed their answer to Mr. Weah’s complaint after the statutory period but also neglected to except to his sureties and file a counter-bond to indemnify him within the statutory time.
“The law in this jurisdiction is that once an action to recover chattel is filed, the defendant must file an exception to plantiff’s sureties along with a counter-bond as a basis for the release of the chattel to the defendants as in the case ‘Jidsanc Inc. et al v Pearson et all 35 LLR 742,” said Judge Feika.
Judge Feika pointed out that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Liberia is the government parastatal statutorily charged with the responsibility to monitor, investigate and report illegal financial transactions, especially in-flow and out-flow of financial transactions through the banking system.
“According to the averments contained in defendants’ answer, plaintiff was suspected of being involved in illegal financial transactions when transfers of varying amounts were being made to his UBA account in Liberia by another person.
“This court says that with the role assigned to the FIU by the law establishing it, all suspicious financial transactions are supposed to be monitored, flagged, investigated and reported by the FIU.
“There is no indication in the records of these proceedings that the plaintiff is a subject of an FIU investigation because of illegal financial transaction(s) related to his bank account(s) lodged with a local bank in Liberia, neither is there any complainant shown in the records that the plaintiff is engaged in illegal financial transactions.’’
“This court is therefore astounded by the allegation of the defendants that plaintiff is a subject of suspicious financial transactions related to transfer of funds illegally made to his bank account held in Liberia when there is no indication that he is a subject of FIU investigation,” said Judge Feika in a six-page ruling.
Judge Feika, having analyzed the controversies contained in the averments in the pleadings, said the crux of the issue at bar is principled on two issues, which have been defined and lengthily discussed.
“Wherefore and in view of the forgoing, it is the holding of this court that the defendants having failed and neglected to conform to statutory requirements as specified for action to recover chattel, the chattel subject of these proceedings which is fully described in the plaintiff’s affidavit and annexed to his complaint, is hereby ordered delivered,” Judge Feika concluded.
In a desperate and laughable bid to circumvent the rule of law, the defendants sought a writ of arrest for Weah on trumped-up charges through the Monrovia City Court but it was immediately nolle prosequi through the legal intervention of erudite lawyer, Cllr. Arthur Tamba Johnson, who represented Mr. Weah in the action to recover chattel.