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Court demands proof of vehicles’ ownership

--In Assets Recovery case

Based on a complaint filed against the Assets Recovery Team, Associate Justice Yussif D. Kaba has ordered the Taskforce to pause all seizures of vehicles and to release the ones already seized, pending the outcome of a conference he called.

By Lincoln G. Peters

Monrovia, April 2, 2024: Chamber Justice Yussif D. Kaba has ordered Gracious Ride to provide proof of ownership of vehicles recently confiscated by Liberia’s Assets Recovery and Property Retrieval Taskforce.

Gracious Ride through its manager Francis T. Blamo petitioned the Supreme Court last week for a writ of prohibition against the Asset Recovery Task Force headed by Cllr. Edwin Kla Martin.

Justice Kaba subsequently ordered the Taskforce to release all vehicles seized and stay all seizures pending the outcome of a conference which was held on Monday, 1 April 2024 in the Chambers of the Supreme Court.

The Gracious Ride’s vehicles were released over the weekend, setting the stage for Monday’s hearing.

At the conference, the Chamber Justice ordered Gracious Ride to provide every title document regarding its exhibit or title documents in connection with the seized vehicles.

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A document of title is a written description, identification, or declaration of goods that allows the holder, usually a bailee, to receive, hold, and dispose of the document and the goods it covers.

In line with Justice Kaba’s order halting the Taskforce’s asset seizure operations pending an outcome of a conference, Liberia’s Assets Recovery and Property Retrieval Taskforce appeared before the Associate Justice on Monday in connection with the case.

After listening to the rival parties in the case, Chamber Justice Kaba ordered the company to provide its documents on Friday, 5 April 2024 to show its ownership since it was not attached to its petition filed with the court.

In an interview with judicial reporters, Assets Recovery Team chairperson Cllr. Edwin Kla Martin disclosed that the Chamber Justice gave Gracious Ride Friday, 5 April to prove its title.

Martin stated that the company did not attach any document to its petition to show or justify its ownership of the vehicles.

“The capacity of the petitioner was challenged on grounds that he has no standing and legal capacity to file the petition with the Supreme Court,” said Cllr. Martin. 

“Therefore, the Justice in Chamber gave them up to Friday, April 5, 2024, to show their legal capacity regarding the properties,” he continued.

According to the former Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) boss, the order from the court also mandates the company to provide the title document that it relies on to file the petition with the court.

“Well, we go up to Friday. The burden has now been shifted to them to show their legal capacity because you can’t come to the court, and you claim title and you can’t exhibit the title. So, they have to exhibit the title which is the basis,” Cllr. Martin stated.

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