Prosecution Admits Wrong Against Gracious Ride -Promises to Follow Due Process Next Time

MONROVIA: After an initial false start in its bid to confiscate and recover assets belonging to the state, the Assets Recovery Team of the government Monday admitted that it erred in its effort to seize vehicles belonging to the Gracious Ride, a private Liberian transportation company and has decided to take steps to follow proper due process in keeping with the law as it goes about legally discharging its duty and function as per the Executive Order #126 issued by President Joseph Nyuma Boakai.

The statement of the Assert Recovery committee was contained in its response to the writ of prohibition filed by the Gracious Ride which was amended last week to include a prohibition seeking to stop the Asset Recovery team from continuing investigating the entity. The Supreme Court denied the prohibition to stop the investigation as it would have obstructed the working and function of a government entity empowered by Executive order #126.

“Respondent submits and says its action was not deliberate to disenfranchise the petitioner but same was done to investigate the allegation of suspicion surrounding the acquisition of petitioner’s vehicles. Respondent maintains that the investigation of suspicious assets fall within the mandates of executive order  #126 which was announced by His Excellency Joseph Nyuma Boakai, the President of the Republic of Liberia

“However, respondent submits and yields to the petition in part and says that the authority of the courts and appropriate laws will be applied in consonance with due process and the rule of law”, Cllr Edwin Kla Martin had written in the response to the writ of prohibition filed by the defendants or petitioners.

The Asset Recovery team however maintained that “respondent informing your Honor of the Honorable Court that it reserves it rights under the law to proceed with legal investigation”

There has not been any official statement from both sides but legal pundits knowledgeable of the matter have interpreted the ruling from the Supreme Court and the attachment which came from the Assets Recovery Team as saying that the investigation on the ownership of the vehicles will still go ahead but will strictly follow the rule of law which include the team obtaining either a conviction or a court order to effect the confiscation of the vehicles while investigation is ongoing.

It can be recalled that the Gracious Ride Transport Company had approached the apex court seeking a writ of prohibition to stop the Asset Recovery team from seizing its vehicles from the streets on suspicion that they belong to the state. The court granted them their prayers and ordered the team to return or release the seized vehicles under its custody until a proper judicial determination was made.

In addition, the Supreme Court had asked the Gracious Ride to submit all legal documents to the Supreme Court to show ownership of the vehicles in 5 working days which expired last week Friday. Competent sources within the legal cycles said the company had amended its prohibition to include the prayer to restrict the Assets Recovery team not to confiscate any vehicle belonging to the Gracious Ride.

This prohibition according to the court records was rejected on the ground that it would have amounted to obstructing a legal institution of government from carrying out its functions.

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