The Liberian Government has reportedly paid the US$500,000 it seized from a Nigerian Businessman, Chief Valentine Ayika, who is now a Senator. Innocence Project Africa (INPA), the judicial watchdog for access to justice, rule of law and democracy in Africa, which made the disclosure in a release issued yesterday, described the payment of the money as a victory of good over evil.
The release said the payment disclosure was made to Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus by Mr. Ayika in a SMS text message sent via mobile phone from Nigeria.
Mr. Ayika said in the text message sent to Cllr. Cephus "Yes we have a check for about four hundred thousand which we will pay into our account by Monday."
"While the idea to pay the money is good, it is however disheartening to note that the payment was made under cover of darkness without the knowledge of lawyers from the Justice Ministry and the Liberian judiciary where the matter is still pending and undermined," the release said.
"The action of the government undermines the representation of its own lawyers who have been strenuously defending its legal and reckless conduct to justify what INPA termed as a "state organized theft and robbery' against a peaceful West African citizen."
"The secret payment of the money while the matter is still pending before the honorable Supreme Court of Liberia also undermines the rule of law as well as the integrity and credibility of the judiciary."
Meanwhile, INPA says the only reason why the Government of Liberia has decided to directly send the US$5000, 000 to Mr. Ayika rather than his Attorney-in-Fact, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Chepus in Liberia is because the government does not want concede the fact that it is a big loser in a long but pointless exercise in which it has invested resources for over 8 years.
Speaking after he was informed about the secret payment, Cllr. Cephus said he was deeply elated that after almost 8 years, those masquerading in the corridors of government as "season lawyers" have lost a very simple debate that should have been governed by common sense to avoid wasting precious state resources.
"I am happy that at long last common sense has prevailed and those who were defending the illegal confiscation have no other choice but to run with their tails between their legs because truth has finally risen", Cephus added.