Grand Bassa Magistrate Jailed for Extorting Money from Complainant

BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – The resident Judge of the Second Judicial Circuit Court in Grand Bassa, Joe Barkon, has ordered a 10-day detention for David Foday, the associate magistrate of the Compound Three Magisterial Court, for allegedly extorting money from a complainant in pursuit of justice.

Barkon made the decision on Monday after Naomi Dobson filed a complaint about Foday on March 19. Dobson said Foday had taken US$400 from her as fees in order to appeal to his judgment against her to the circuit court. Dobson had been ruled against at the magisterial court in a case of misapplication of entrusted property.

“In January 2019, an action of misapplication of entrusted property was filed against me before Magistrate Foday by one Alex Afodoyan on grounds that I misapplied a deed belonging to one Beatrice Arthur,” Dobson cited in her complaint.

She alleged that the associate magistrate heard the case in the absence of her lawyer, proceeding with the hearing and rendering a guilty verdict against her. Dobson said Foday rendered a judgment ordering her to pay US$960 in expenses allegedly incurred by the private prosecutor.

After taking exception to the decision by the associate magistrate and requesting a transfer of the case to the circuit court, Dobson said the magistrate required her to pay the US$400 ‘appeal transfer fee’ on March 18.

“What’s was more disgusting to note further, your honor, is that I was made to go around to credit this money in tears so as to prevent the magistrate from jailing me since I was already being threatened by him,” she noted in her complaint to the circuit court judge.

Dobson said she paid the US$400, although the bill did not include the purpose for which the amount was paid. The clerk at the Compound Three Magisterial Court Clerk of the court, who also signed the payment bill, told the circuit court judge that the associate magistrate had promised to deposit the payment Dobson made into the government’s revenue account. However, Foday allegedly kept the money in his possession.

Barkon, the circuit court judge, condemned Foday’s action, noting that it has brought disrepute not only to the magisterial court, but also, to the entire judiciary.

“The judicial canon that governs judges and magistrates speaks highly of morality, integrity, and unethical duty while serving as magistrate,” he said.

He ordered that the associate magistrate restitute the amount within 48 hours and be detained at the Upper Buchanan Prison Compound.

The associate magistrate was temporarily released on Wednesday after he restituted L$43,000 (US$268.75) with a commitment to pay the remaining L$21,000 (US$131.25) by the weekend.

No other further action has been taken against Foday and he is expected to return to serving as associate magistrate after he finishes paying the balance amount.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Sampson David

Sampson G. David is a journalist with over eight years of experience. He is a deputy manager at the Diahn-Blae Community Radio Station, a correspondent of the Liberia Broadcasting System, and a sophomore student at Starz College of Science and Technology, studying Management Information Systems.

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