Stipendiary Magistrate Ernest Bana of Monrovia City Court has declined the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) request to have Miss Liberia, Wokie Dolo, neither held in contempt of court nor jailed or fined for failing to abide by the ministry’s stay order, barring her from organizing the Miss University Africa Liberia.
The contempt charge against Ms. Dolo came as a result of complaints by MICAT to the Monrovia City Court that she refused to adhere to the court’s stay order, which aimed to bar her from organizing the Miss University Africa Liberia edition.
Magistrate Bana on August 30, 2019 dismissed the contempt charge on grounds that the court’s stay order was not properly served on the accused by the Court Sheriff and there is no return that says she was served the order.
The failure of the sheriff to not have properly served the stay order on Ms. Dolo, according to Magistrate Bana, leaves her with no knowledge about the stay order requested by MICAT and granted by the court.
“The rejection of so-called and self-seeking contempt charges is a massive victory for me against authorities of the ministry who want to bring me down. But when God is on your side and your hands are clean, no matter what people do, they will not succeed. I am so glad that this case is now over and I have won,” Ms. Dolo said in a press statement.
Contempt of court is the offense of being disobedient to or disrespectful towards a court of law and its officers in a form of behavior that opposes or defies the authority, justice and dignity of the court.
The charge against Ms. Dolo was filed by the Ministry of Justice on behalf of MICAT, who had requested the court to hold Miss Liberia in contempt for not adhering to the stay order issued by the court.
In arguing for the contempt charges against Ms. Dolo, Montserrado County Attorney Cllr. Edward Kla Martin on August 14, 2019 argued that the state’s charge against her should be upheld since she neglected and refused to obey the court despite being served the writ.
“From the inspection of the record I beg to inform the court that there is no contention; the service was done but Wokie’s refusal is grossly disobedient,” Cllr. Martin said during opening arguments of the case at the time.
But Ms. Wokie’s lawyer, Cllr. Wiefueh Sayeh, argued that the state had failed to follow the rules while making the case for contempt since his client was not served the stay order as claimed by the state.
“I challenge the court to produce a file of the returns that Ms. Dolo was served the stay order; people here should learn from our arguments. The state cannot hold someone on service that was not served and the state knows that it did not do the right thing,” said Cllr. Sayeh.
The brawl between MICAT and Miss Liberia hangs over the hosting rights of the Miss University Africa Liberia pageant.
MICAT, which is charged with the statutory responsibility to issue permits for events in Liberia, said Ms. Dolo’s firm, La Queen Entertainment, doesn’t have the authority to host such an event; rather, Liberia National Student Union.
In the same communication, MICAT mandated the Liberia National Student Union to conduct the pageant in collaboration with the previous host, focusing on the reigning queens of all universities in the country.
The pageant’s right in Liberia, according to Taylor Nazzal, who is the president of Miss University Africa Organization based in Lagos, Nigeria and which owns the franchise to host the pageant across the African continent, says it should be held by Miss Liberia Wokie Dolo.
“We are therefore asking all well-meaning Liberians to ONLY work with Ms. Dolo as our franchise holder. Only Ms. Dolo is authorized by us to host the program in Liberia and not any other Agency,” Mr. Nazzal said in an email exchange seen by this paper as well as authorities of MICAT.
Miss University Africa was established in 2010 as a non-bikini pageant comprising 54 African countries. It is aimed at discouraging indecent dressing, promoting good neighborliness amongst Africans, empowering African women to believe in themselves, thereby becoming better leaders on the continent. It is a registered International Trademark.