Civil Law Court Issues Injunction on Liberia Basketball Association
Monrovia – The Civil Law Court has issued a writ of preliminary injunction on the Liberia Basketball Association (LBA).
It followed a petition filed on April 1 by the aggrieved party, which is represented by Calvin Diggs of Flames, Malcolm Wleemongar Joseph of Cestos Mogars and Ali Sillah of D-Rockas Basketball Clubs against the LBA represented by President Rufus Anderson and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, including its Minister, Deputy and Assistant Ministers.
The aggrieved party filed a six-count motion, which was temporarily granted by Judge Peter Gbeneweleh. Petitioners say the LBA (respondent) secretly held a congress and elections on October 24, 2015 after the court lifted its injunction on October 22, 2015 without informing the petitioners in keeping with the by-laws and constitution of the LBA.
Petitioners say the elections that brought second respondent to power were illegal, held under secrecy and against the constitution because it didn’t include their as major stakeholders. Petitioners are arguing that based on the illegality of the elections, the Liberia National Olympic Committee (LNOC) has refused to recognize and do business with the LBA.
The petitioners also want the national league halted because moneys collected from its will be unaccounted for. Anderson was elected unopposed last October following a yearlong internal crisis marked by strike actions, assault and an injunction.
Others elected unopposed were Fred Ted, vice President for administration; Bruce Quaye, vice President for operations; Abiodun Thomas, treasurer; Jarius J. Harris, financial secretary and Isaac Smith, chaplain at the Crown Hotel in Paynesville. The aggrieved party first petitioned the court to issue an injunction on the congress on August 6, 2015.
It was issued by Judge Yusuf Kaba on the LBA as first respondent; sports ministry as second respondent; Yanqueh Borsay and his adhoc elections commission as third respondent and Anderson as fourth respondent. The aggrieved stakeholders had petitioned the court in a renewed twist of a leadership crisis that has engulfed the LBA since November 2014.
Joseph, who returned from attending the 2015 convention of the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) in Newcastle, Delaware on October 17, 2015, was seen in the vicinity of congress but didn’t enter hall. For months now, basketballing activities have been grounded due to a power struggle among key stakeholders with charges of accusations and counter-accusations.
The congress to elect a new leadership should have taken place last November but was called-off as Liberia was engulfed in an Ebola crisis. The sports ministry has been trying to find a resolution to the impasse and even sought the intervention of Fiba Afrique. But Joseph, who is a Liberia National Olympic Committee (LNOC) vice President for technical affairs and LFA elections committee chairman, said the elections will be challenged in court.
“That is not an election. As I speak to you right now, our lawyers are in court. And definitely that leadership is going to be challenged seriously because that was a bogus process. You can go to the Liberia National Olympic Committee, parent body of sports in this country [and check], all elections of sporting associations they are represented. They weren’t there if you were there.
“You know they weren’t. The Ministry of Youth and Sports wasn’t present. So it was just a gimmick. I will just describe it as a gangster activity. A group of desperate guys just organized themselves and sneaked and went to one little hotel in Paynesville and said they have what they called elections,” Joseph added.
But Joseph refused to accept a point made by Trojan Kiazolu of Fabric Radio (FC 101.1) on October 26, 2015 that the “group of desperate guys” constituted the majority bloc which acted on a court order to proceed with the elections.
“Law is not democracy. I am challenging you to the point of majority. Even if they had majority, law is not democracy. I, alone, can stall that process because I have a right to be there. So I should be there,” said Joseph, who serves as executive director of the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP).