Gracious Ride (Facebook)

President Joseph Nyuma Boakai established the Asset Recovery and Property Retrieval Team through Executive Order  #126 to identify and retrieve stolen government assets and assets acquired through acts of corruption.

In the executive order, Boakai said: “It is paramount that public assets that were illegally obtained and converted to private use are retrieved and returned to the Liberian people and the perpetrators are brought to justice by appropriate laws that provide for confiscation through criminal investigation and legal prosecution.”

On April 1, 2024, the task force made its first appearance in court following an order from Associate Justice Yusuf Kaba to immediately release all vehicles seized during its recent seizure of a fleet of taxis belonging to the Gracious Ride Transport service, which is believed to be owned by Madam Finda Bundoo, former Presidential Chief of Protocol under the George Weah administration.

The management of Gracious Ride Transport, through its manager, Fred T. Blama, filed a petition for a Writ of Prohibition to prohibit the task force from seizing the cabs and claiming ownership.

The motion was partially approved by Associate Justice Yussif Kaba, now presiding in the Chamber of the Supreme Court, who imposed a temporary suspension on the working of the task force and subsequently instructed returns of all the vehicles seized during its operations, until the conclusion of the conference.

The Court then issued a five-day ultimatum to Gracious Ride Transport Service to provide evidence of ownership amidst a case involving the seizure of the company’s vehicles by the Assets Recovery Taskforce.

Blama argued that the task force was wrong about the ownership of the automobiles because he was the true owner of the company.

During a closed-door meeting of the High Court on Monday, April 1, it was determined that Blama lacked the necessary authority from a board resolution or legal standing to file the complaint on behalf of the firm.

The court emphasized that the case was solely based on Blama’s authority as a manager, with no legal documents authorizing him to act on behalf of the corporation.

“While perusing the complaint, it was realized that Blama, in his capacity as manager of the plaintiff company, had authorized himself to sign, verify, and file the present suit,” the court said.

Aside from the letter of authority, the plaintiff corporation still needs to submit a board resolution permitting Blama to sign, verify, and start the current litigation.

The company needs to provide its memorandum/articles to demonstrate that Blama was given the authority or general power of attorney to sign, verify, and lodge the claim on the company’s behalf.

However, the corporation did not comply with the court’s ultimatum, so Justice Kaba denied issuing a stay order on the Assets Recovery Taskforce’s operation to seize multiple cars belonging to the company.

A letter from the Taskforce, indicating that there may have been legal irregularities in the initial confiscation of Gracious Ride’s vehicles, influenced Justice Kaba’s decision.

In a letter dated April 8 and submitted to the Justice in Chamber, the Taskforce referred to a legal mistake during the confiscation of Gracious Ride cars but stated that the team reserved the right under the law to conduct a legal inquiry.

The Taskforce letter further maintained that its action was not intended to disenfranchise the petitioner, but rather to examine the accusations of suspicion surrounding the procurement of the vehicles.

“We maintain that the investigation of suspicious assets falls within the mandates of Executive Order#126, which was announced by His Excellency Joseph Boakai, president of the Republic of Liberia,” the letter said.

In deciding the case on Monday, April 8, Justice Kaba, in a one-page document, wrote, “Yussif D. Kaba, Associate Justice presiding in Chambers, and Justice has declined to issue the writ prayed for by the petitioner, reserving the rights considering the attached communication from the respondent, you are hereby informed that the respondent to proceed in keeping with the law.”

In a radio interview with OK FM, Communication Director Cllr. Ambrose Nmah stated that the justice in Chambers informed the company that the court could not prevent the task force from carrying out its legal duties.

“In summary, the court said the task force said government assets are illegally converted to private use, so we can not stop them, and we can not allow them to do so outside of the law. Also, now that they have written and stated their intention to enforce the law, we will proceed. In other words, while the asset recording acknowledged some procedural errors in some areas, we urged them to follow the law,” Nmah stated.

Conclusion: The Gracious Ride Company filed a petition in court to prevent the task force from seizing their vehicles; however, because the task force admitted to procedural errors, Justice Kaba denied the company’s request and instead advised the task force to follow the law.


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