Court Rules Against AFL Soldiers, Widows…But Groups Vow To Make Xmas Sour

The Civil Law Court in Monrovia has denied former soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) as well as women who claimed to be widows of dead soldiers a motion for declaratory judgment.

This submission against which the court ruled was filed by members of the former soldiers and widows which is requesting the court to interpret if whether the government should pay them certain amount for their service in the AFL more than just retirement benefit.

According to Judge Boima Kontoe’s ruling delivered yesterday in a jam-packed courtroom, he outlined two issues that concerned the court for which the motion for declaratory judgment would lie.

Judge Kontoe said the first is if the Act to amend Chapter 23 Section 2.22 of the National Defense Law for Retirement of members of the AFL was printed into handbills to give it effect and secondly, if the widows of the deceased can bring an action for their husbands without a letter of administration to contest for estate.

He explained how it was researched that the said Act referred to in the soldiers’ motion was never printed into handbills instead the cover page of the document referred to in the motion carries inscription of pension law for civil servant association.

Judge Kontoe said the cover page does not make any reference to the AFL and the court cannot base its ruling to grant such judgment on a piece of legislation that does not exist therefore the court cannot grant declaratory judgment to former AFL soldiers.

Meanwhile, the court has similarly informed women claiming to be widows of the soldiers who may have died as a result of the war or while serving the army that widows lacked the capacity to stand for their husbands in the absence of a letter of administration.

In their 10-count petition that they have the capacity because they have letters of administration in their possession but did not attach them to the petition but the court contended that the letter should have been attached in the petition at the time of the filing.

Judge Kontoe told the parties that the dismissal of the petition is without prejudice to the respondents but their lawyer informed the court that an appeal will be made at the Supreme Court on the judge’s ruling.

However, a member of the disbanded AFL leadership who led the group outside the courtroom with members of the group shouting in desperation said they are giving 15 days to the Judiciary, Executive and Legislature to address the problem.

He told the already disenchanted ex-soldiers that they are tired and if nothing is done they will muster men to disrupt every function in the coming days after the ultimatum.

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