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Liberia: Boakai’s Assets Recovery Taskforce First Supreme Court’s Test Today

President Joseph Boakai’s Assets Recovery Taskforce, established to legally engage past government officials who reportedly acquired or converted public resources to private use, will have its first-ever appearance at the Supreme Court on Monday, April 1.

The appearance of the Task Force results from an order from Associate Justice Yussuf Kaba to, with immediate effect, release all vehicles seized during its recent seizure of a fleet of taxis belonging to the Gracious Ride Transport service believed to be owned by former Presidential Chief of Protocol under the George Weah administration, Madam Finda Bundoo.

The Taskforce is instructed by President Boakai to search, seize, and investigate government assets, including vehicles and other valuables, intentionally or unknowingly taken away, in with the confines of the law.

Justice Kaba’s mandate to the Taskforce to return all the vehicles seized during its recent operation, pending the outcome of today’s proceedings, calls for a great deal of concern.

Another issue is whether the task force would reject the outcome of Kaba’s conference, which could lead to the involvement of the Full Bench of the Supreme Court, which will no doubt test President Boakai’s resolve to tackle corruption and recover stolen state assets and property in accordance with his 2023 presidential campaign promises.

On March 5, President Boakai issued an executive order establishing the Office of Assets Recovery.

This was followed by the announcement of a task force to crack down on corruption and try to retrieve stolen funds.

The Assets Recovery and Property Retrieval Core Team is mandated to ensure processes leading to the location, recovery, and retrieval — through criminal prosecutions and civil litigations — of public resources and properties that have been illegally acquired or converted to private use by officials of past administrations.

The team has since begun its work of searching, seizing, investigating and, if proven, recovering government properties and valuables. But its work is stalled by Justice Kaba’s stay order.

Kaba’s order was prompted by a petition for a Writ of Prohibition filed before it by the Management of Gracious Ride Transport.

Whether Kaba will reconsider his decision to allow the task-force to independently conduct the retrieval of public resources and assets in the possession of past government officials depends on how solid a case the Task Force has built to justify its actions.

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