Liberia: A Reminder to Chief Justice Francis Korkpor

Just what Chief Justice Korkpor wishes to have Amos Brosius do in order to obtain justice is a question that continues to linger while he gets set to leave office in a short while from now.

Amos Brosius was sued by the Monrovia Oil Trading Company (MOTC) for allegedly converting money belonging to the MOTC, to his personal use. The MOTC had claimed that Brosius, while serving in the capacity of General Manager of the company, illegally converted MOTC funds to his personal use in order to establish his company, Ducor Petroleum Inc.

MOTC had further claimed that in view of that alleged fact, they were therefore the rightful owners of money deposited in Brosius’ Ducor Petroleum account held at the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI).

Arguments in the case were heard before a three-person panel of judges of the Commercial Court under the gavel of Chief Judge presiding, Eva Mappy Morgan.

In view of claims and counter-claims, Judge Mappy Morgan placed a freeze on the Ducor Petroleum LBDI account pending final determination of the matter.

But while the matter was still pending, MOTC’s legal representative, Cllr. Negbalee Warner on July 23, 2013 wrote Judge Eva Morgan requesting her to lift the freeze on Brosius’ Ducor Petroleum account because, according to him, the freeze was hampering the MOTC’s ability to meet its obligations. 

On the very next day, Judge Mappy Morgan, without reference to Brosius or his lawyers, unfroze the account in a letter dated July 24, 2013 to the then LBDI President John Davies, authorizing him to pay to the Bailiff of the Commercial Court the amount of US$212,703.36 drawn on Brosius’ Ducor Petroleum account.

The money was delivered to Judge Mappy Morgan but since then, no account has been given of the money. No explanation of why she ordered the withdrawal and delivery of such a large sum of money to her personal custody.

It has been speculated that Judge Mappy did not act alone, else she would have by now been called to account. This is even after the Judicial Inquiry Committee (JIC), in its findings, concluded that Judge Mappy Morgan colluded with the MOTC to deplete Brosius’ account to the tune of US$3 million. 

Since 2013, the matter has lingered unresolved before the Commercial Court. There were nagging public suspicions that some or perhaps the entire membership of the Supreme Court Bench had allegedly “eaten” some of the money or even perhaps most of it.

Those suspicions were further heightened when the public learned that the chairman of the JIC, Associate Justice Yussif Kaba, had surreptitiously written a note to Chief Justice Korkpor virtually absolving Judge Mappy Morgan.  

Brosius had complained that Judge Mappy Morgan had in a letter, dated July 23, 2013 and addressed to the President of the Liberian Bank for Development (LBDI), instructing him to pay to the bailiff of the Commercial Court the amount of US$212, 704.36.

The money, according to bank sources, was paid to the bailiff of the Court as instructed. But just what happened to the money after it was delivered to Judge Mappy is the question she has been unable to answer to date.

Seemingly at virtually every step of the way, Brosius has been frustrated in his quest for justice. His appeal to the ECOWAS Court of Justice for intervention was rejected on grounds that he had not fully exhausted locally available legal remedies.

But on each attempt he would have obstacles thrown into his way. Even his petition for proper accounting of funds withdrawn from his account was rebuffed.

Now that the Chief Justice will be retiring from office in a few months from now, there is no indication as of yet that Brosius will receive justice. 

This is because, according to media reports, the MOTC has since filed a petition seeking to declare bankruptcy. Should that happen, it would mean that Brosius will virtually lose his money at the hands of thieves.

Such a brazen act appears analogous to and indistinguishable from daylight highway robbery, perpetrated with impunity by individuals cloaked with legal authority to sit on life and death matters.  

In view of this, it is not surprising that the rule of law under Chief Justice has eroded so badly that anyone can do just about anything and get away with it. 

To be clear, Chief Justice Korkpor bears ultimate responsibility for the illegal depletion of Brosius’ account. This is because despite charges of impropriety hanging over Judge Mappy he has since continued to shield her from probity.

Such practices in the past were major push factors that led to the 1980 military coup in whose aftermath, 13 former government officials were publicly executed on charges of rampant corruption and abuse of power.

And lest it be forgotten, a Chief Justice was amongst those former officials executed at the pole. But perhaps memories have faded so one can understand why.

We are not advocating that such atrocities be repeated nor should such atrocities happen against the person of Justice Korkpor. But Chief Justice Korkpor, having served as Assistant Superintendent and chief security of the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP) immediately prior to the 1980 coup, needs no reminder of the kind of maltreatment usually reserved for prison inmates, especially those considered as high value (political) prisoners.

Then, he was at the administering end. Tomorrow, it is nigh possible that he could be at the receiving end, especially in view of widely held public perceptions and allegations that his Bench is the most corrupt in the history of the Judiciary.

As Spanish-born American author, George Santayana puts it, those who forget the past — the lessons, errors, and outcomes, trials, etc of the past will have to repeat or undergo them again and again.

And as Ralph Pifer, former Professor of Psychology and Social Science reminds us, “All too often, humans are like small children who do not learn their lesson, going right back to playing with fire, eating too much candy, etc.”

This is a reminder to Chief Justice Francis Korkpor.