ECOWAS Court Orders Liberian Gov’t to Pay US$18M as Compensation to Nancy Doe
The ECOWAS Court of Justice has ordered the Government of Liberia to pay the sum total of US$18,130,778.09 being/comprising monies deposited in various banks by former President Samuel Doe plus accrued interests, to Mrs. Nancy Bohn-Doe, widow and administrator of his estates.
The Court, however, rejected Mrs. Bohn-Doe’s request for US$342,615.57 as legal/lawyer’s fees and US$9 million as compensation for general damages. In suit no. ECW/CCJ/APP/41/16 filed on the 21st of November 2016 by Mr. Milton Taylor, counsel to plaintiff, Mrs Bohn¬Doe alleged the violation of her right, particularly the right to property with the government’s refusal, through its agents, to allow her access to the accounts and information on the others.
Citing some Articles in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights among others, the plaintiff urged the Court to declare that the denial by the defendant of access to her late husband’s accounts and information to assist in the discovery of other accounts held by the husband, was a violation of her rights.
But Counsel to the defense, Mr. Lafayette Gould Sr., raised a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the Court, and the non-exhaustion of local remedy by the plaintiff before approaching the Court among others.
Hon. Justice Gberi-Be Ouattara, the Judge Rapporteur, who delivered the Decision of the Court, dismissed the preliminary objection of the defendant including the issue of the case being statute barred raised by the defendant.
The Court held that the case was well-founded, dealing with issue of rights violation and that exhaustion of local remedy is not required before accessing the Court.
On the issue of the case being time barred, the court held that the violation has continued since the matter has been pending for several years in the defendant’s national court.
Other judges on the panel were Justices Edward Amoako Asante and Dupe Atoki.
In another case with suit nos ECW/CCJ/APP/04/18 involving Mount Bele Resources Limited and the Republic of Liberia, the Court granted the plaintiff’s notice of discontinuance of the suit and the case was struck out.
The Court made the pronouncement after hearing the plaintiff’s notice of discontinuance of the case to which the defendant had no objection.
The case concerned an allegation of the continued violation of the plaintiffs’ right to possession of property as a result of the revocation of the company’s mineral exploration license without due process by the defendant.
The case was heard by a three-member panel of Honorable Justices Edward Amoako Asante, Dupe Atoki and Keikura Bangura.
In another case filed by Amos Brosius against the Republic of Liberia, the Court granted the plaintiff’s motion to amend his application after refusing the plaintiff’s application to join Ducor Company in which he has 10 per cent ownership as an intervener in the suit for failure to present the company’s resolution requesting to be an intervener in the matter.
The Court also dismissed the preliminary objection of the defendant challenging its jurisdiction and the locus standi of the plaintiff to approach the Court and ruled that it has jurisdiction as the matter bordered on the violation of human rights, especially the right to property.
It therefore fixed 7th May 2019 to hear the substantive matter of suit no ECW/CCJ/APP/05/18.
The ruling was delivered by Honorable Justice Dupe Atoki. With her on the panel were Honorable Justices Edward Amoako Asante and Keikura Bangura.
The plaintiff represented by his counsel, Mr. Celestus Ejezie, had in the initiating application claimed that the defendant violated his right to possession of property, right to liberty and right to fair hearing. He alleged that the plaintiff was arbitrarily arrested and unlawfully imprisoned on false criminal charges, and his corporate account frozen while illegal withdrawals of over US$1.3 million from the corporate account was effected.
The plaintiff equally alleged that the Supreme Court of Liberia failed to order an investigation into the illegal withdrawals, conduct a fair hearing and award damages. He added that the continued violation has resulted in financial loss to the tune of US$6.3 million.
The defendant who was represented by its Solicitor General, Mr. Daku Mulbah and Mr. Gartor Tate (Director of Civil Litigation) raised preliminary objections on the grounds that the plaintiffs have not exhausted local remedies and that the same matter and parties are before a national court in Liberia.