Wednesday, October 7, 2009

LNP Override Court’s Jurisdiction

Authorities at the Liberian National Police (LNP), a subset of the Ministry of Justice responsible to combat crimes in the country, have themselves been brought to the spotlight for defying the orders of the Monrovia City Court, after a verdict against the illegal search of Nigerian house.
Judge Nelson Chineh of the Monrovia City court, in a ruling brought down on July 28, 2009 he sustained that the properties of Michael Efe Igho the defendant were seized illegally and should therefore be turned over to him.
The home of defendant Igho was ‘illegally’ allegedly searched on the 20th of July 2009 by Sam Gaballah, Raffel A. Wilson one Issac and others to be identified all being Officers of LNP and away US$2,650, one brand new apache motorbike valued US$1,600 and at least 14,000 Euros after they had gone to effectuate an arrest of alleged burglary committed by the Defendant.
Lead defense Lawyer Cllr. Emmanuel B. James had argued before the court that his Client’s home was illegally searched and properties seized in violation of the Constitution, which is the organic law of the land.
Cllr. James told the court that his Client’s rights was violated by the officers who raided the house without search warrant, searching and snatching away property and money without respect to the rule of law.
The prosecution had also argued that the action of the LNP was not a violation of any statue. The prosecution represented by City Solicitor Sam T. Solomon indicated before the court that the LNP had gone to the home of the defendant in ‘Hot’ pursuit of an alleged criminal who had committed the act of burglary on the premises of Eddie Textile situated at Waterside, the City of Monrovia. The prosecution further denied in total the submission of the defendant about properties seized from his home.
After entertaining arguments from both sides Judge Nelson B. Chineh in his final ruling said: “these are the contentions of the parties before this court, which required passing for the settlement of this information.”
The Judge further added: “let us first look at what the constitution has to say; article 21 sub-paragraph B. of the 1986 constitution states, “ No person shall be subject to search and seizure of his person or property, whether on a criminal charge or for any purpose unless upon warrant lawfully issued upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation.”
The judge further intimated that for the fact that the police did not proceed to the Defendant’s resident on the same day or the day after prior to the commission of the crime the prosecution’s assertion that it had gone in ‘Hot’ pursuit of the defendant was also a violation of the laws of the state.
Chineh indicated that even if the LNP had gone to the Defendant’s home with a search warrant the court is the legal arm in a trial that is clothed with the authority to keep or possess the properties of the Defendant.
“Wherefore, and in view of the foregoing, it is holding of this court that the information field by the informant before this court, be and same is hereby sustained in part,” the judge averred.
“The state is hereby ordered to return to this court all properties all properties seized from the informant, who is believed to be in connection to the burglary case. As those items which have no bearing on the burglary case in connection with the police findings must be returned to the person from whom it was seized and is hereby so ordered.”
Since the ruling of the Court and evident by a letter from the court to the minister of Justice the LNP had failed to adhere and respect same.

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