The Community Court of Justice (CCJ) of ECOWAS based in Abuja, Nigeria, has awarded the Liberia 25 percent of an undeclared 508,200 United States Dollars confiscated from Mr. Valentine Ayika, a Nigerian businessman, at the Roberts International Airport in Harbel, Margibi County, Liberia in September 2006.
The CCJ, which has been trying the money laundering case in response to a lawsuit filed by Mr. Ayika, upheld an earlier position of the Ministry of Justice of Liberia, for Mr. Ayika's failure to declare the money at the port of entry as required by Liberian law.
In its ruling in Abuja on Friday, June 8, 2012, the ECOWAS Court also ordered Liberia to return the rest of the money to Mr. Ayika, as its investigation showed that he was not guilty of money laundering, the charge for which he was being investigated in Liberia.
The Court said while it was true that Mr. Ayika violated the laws of Liberia by not declaring the money before entering the country, it was not proven that he was involved in money laundering. The Court also ruled that Liberia pay 20,000 United States Dollars to the Plaintiff to cover the cost he incurred during the trial, and return Mr. Ayika's passport which was seized.
At the same time, the Court denied Mr. Ayika's claim of 21 percent interest incurred for the duration his money was confiscated, on grounds that there was no legal basis for the claim.
It can be recalled that Liberian Drugs Enforcement Agency Agents arrested Mr. Valentine Ayika at the Roberts International Airport in 2006 for not declaring over 500,000 United States Dollars they found strapped to his body. Mr. Ayika, who was subsequently deported from Liberia, sued Liberia at the ECOWAS Court for confiscating his money.
Representing the Republic of Liberia, Counselor A. Kanie Wesso accepted the ruling, but informed the Court that the country would take advantage of the Court's Rule of Court to appeal the Judgment.
Article 25 of the Rule of Court A/P1/7/91 provides for an Application for Revision of its decision only if based upon the discovery of new facts unknown to the Court and the Applicant claiming revision, provided that such said facts were not ignored due to negligence.
Defense Counsel Mr. Okwy Ejeze described the court's ruling as well researched with profound reasoning, and hoped that the Defendant would heed the judgment and put the matter to rest.