Lawyers representing a Nigerian businessman, Valentine Akiya, whose US$508,200 was confiscated by the Liberian government in September 2006, have filed a petition for the Alternative writ of Mandamus to the Supreme Court of Liberia against the government.
The lawyers, in a 24 count petition submitted to the high court Monday, said the government should be compelled to produce the money.
The petitioner’s Lawyers, headed by Human Rights Advocate T. Dempster Brown, said the State has no authorization by court to disburse the confiscated US$508, 200. Petitioner say that “the confiscation of the petitioner’s money ofUS$508,200, and its transfer to the central Bank of Liberia for safe keeping was their official duty performed. But the illegal withdrawal of the amount without authorization from the National Legislature is a gross violation of Article 34 (ii) of the Liberian Constitution,’’ the writ stated.
According to the petition, “the Nigerian businessman is a reputable man whose business is captioned CAPTION, INC duly organized and registered under the law of Liberia in 2005, contending that the government is obligated under the law to protect the petitioner’s economic rights and his business’’.
The petition stated that because of the petitioner’s business interest in Liberia, he arrived in the country on 10 September 2006, and while boarding a taxicab, five men from the DEA arrested him.
The petition further maintains that upon the arrest of the Nigerian businessman, he brought out the amount of US$508,200 he had in his possession.
Moreover, the petition further revealed that DEA officers attempted to escape with the money but the petitioner (Ayika) resisted, was taken to the Central Police Headquarters, and the money placed in the custody of the Central Bank of Liberia-- to supposedly ascertain whether it was counterfeit.
The Central Bank said “it was determined that the money was genuine and that the petitioner was given a receipt by the Liberia National Police, indicating that the money was not counterfeit, and the money is safe –kept by the co-respondent Central Bank’’ the petition revealed.
Meanwhile, Presidential Press Secretary, Cyrus Wleh Badio, has quoted President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as saying the US$508,200 confiscated from Mr. Ayika was correctly used.
Mr. Badio told Executive Mansion reporters that there are supporting documents to prove that the amount was correctly used for security operation. Mr. Badio made the statement at his regular press briefing held at the Ministry of Foreign in Monrovia. He said invoices on how the amount in question was used are available and would be disclosed to the National Legislature.
Press Secretary Badio said the president believes that the statement from the Ministry of Justice concerning the usage of the US$508,200 was justified.