Justice in Chamber Kabineh M. Ja’neh has found Liberia’s Revenue Authority or LRA boss Madam Elfrieda Tamba and two of her officials guilty of contempt following a proceeding at the Supreme Court of Liberia Tuesday, 22 December.
The LRA officials had been facing contempt proceeding at the Supreme Court after failure to comply in time with the Justice’s order 30-day ultimatum to reinstate 59 dismissed employees and return to status quo.
Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe filed the petition for a writ of prohibition against the LRA officials in challenge to their decision to dismiss the employees for an alleged corruption case pending against them while they were working at the Ministry of Finance in 2008.
The high court Tuesday gave Madam Tamba 48 hours to pay a fine of $500, while her two deputies were each fined $250, respectively to be paid in 48 hours as well.
Justice Ja’neh said under Liberian laws, [one who is] guilty of contempt could be fined or jailed; or both penalties could be imposed simultaneously.
Liberia’s Solicitor General Betty Lamin Blamo, appealed to the court to purge the contenders of the contempt charge and tender mercy with justice; but the complainants’ counsel Cllr. Gongloe, instead, asked the court to render a less penalty for deterrence.
Madam Blamo pleaded with the court that the contenders had substantially complied with the court’s order, as she apologized for her clients because the compliance was not in the 30 days period ordered by the Justice in Chambers.
She finally begged the court the clients would be advised to do things in obedience to the court. But Cllr. Gongloe sought a lesser penalty “just for the record to show,” asking the chamber justice to do whatever in his description.
Rendering his decision, Justice Ja’neh said, it appeared to be that the contenders at their own time complied with the instruction issued by the court, saying he could not see legal argument advanced that will justify the [delay] in complying with the order.
As such, he said both fine and jail term should apply in the case due to contempt; but [tabled] the jail penalty, while ordering the fine immediately with a stipulated time of 48 hours
given for compliance.
The officials are to exhibit copies of receipts to the Clerk of Court upon payment of their fines, accordingly. By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Jonathan Browne