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Abuse of justice-LIROI cries out for Cummings

The Liberian Renaissance Office Incorporated (LIROI) says prosecutors’ move to suppress evidence in the trial of Alternative National Congress (ANC) political leader Alexander B. Cummings is an abuse of the role of the Judiciary and weaponizes the courts against foremost opponents of the Weah-administration.

In a statement released by LIROI Country Coordinator George G. Wisner on Wednesday, 23 March 2022, the group said its attention has been drawn to media reports which independently confirmed the unethical and diabolical suppression of evidence by State Prosecutors, led by Solicitor General Cllr. Seymah Syrennius Cephus.

LIROI alleged that the prosecutors’ action further amplifies growing public perception that the case against Mr. Cummings and Co-defendants, all officials of the erstwhile Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), is a political conspiracy intended to persecute, weaken and ultimately exclude Mr. Cummings and his ANC from the 2023 Elections.

“This runs counter to the underlying purpose of criminal prosecution, abuses the integrity of the judicial system, and risks plunging Liberia’s struggling democracy into increased uncertainty and chaos,” LIROI said. 

Mr. Cummings is on trial for criminal charges based on accusations by his fellow opposition leader Mr. Benoni Urey and the All Liberian Party (ALP) that the accused and his ANC party allegedly tampered with the framework agreement of the CPP and attached his (Urey’s) signature to a photocopy version.

Mr. Cummings has denied there exists any original CPP framework agreement other than what his accusers claim is a photocopy version and has instead challenged them to produce the original. He faces charges of forgery and criminal conspiracy, but he has denied any wrongdoing.

In the wake of a prolonged internal crisis, the ALP, the former ruling Unity Party (UP) and a faction of the Liberty Party (LP) loyal to Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence have announced their withdrawal from the CPP.

The once-formidable opposition bloc was made up of four political parties, but it has now been reduced merely to one party – Mr. Cummings’ ANC and a faction of the Liberty party loyal to embattled chairman Musa Bility.

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LIROI alleged in its release that State Prosecutors have been caught engaged in “prosecutorial misconduct” in the illegal and unethical extraction of evidence known to undermine their charges and exonerate the accused persons. 

It explained that a local daily here published its independent confirmation on 21 March 2022 of evidence-tampering by Cllr. Cephas and his team.

According to LIROI, a local daily published its independent confirmation on 21 March 2022 of evidence-tampering by Cllr. Cephas and his team, the omission conversations, and in some cases, entire chain of conversation, which clearly and convincingly proves the innocence of the accused, at discovery, and including on the direct examination of its lead complainant and first witness.

“The criminally-extracted conversations had the additional weight of impeaching the prosecution’s witness and effectively revealing the falsehood of the charges while undermining the entire basis of the trial, which was that the ANC acted “surreptitiously”, and without the knowledge and consent of its partners, in the registration of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP),” LIROI laments.

It said the local daily’s independent confirmation followed similar formal complaint of prosecutorial misconduct filed before Stipendiary Magistrate Jomah Jallah by the Defense Lawyers on 18 March 2022, in which state prosecutors were accused of extracting several pieces of evidence from the WhatsApp Chatroom of the National Advisory Council (NAC) of the CPP. 

“The Defense Lawyers complained that the maliciously-extracted conversations and messages by the Prosecution are crucial in establishing the innocence of, and exonerating the accused.”

LIROI said it views the allegations and subsequent independent confirmation as gravely troubling. 

“Suppressing evidence only to falsely impress guilt and thereby undermine the credibility of as well as exclude a political opponent from participation in the upcoming Presidential and General Elections in 2023, is undemocratic and anti-democratic,” said LIROI.

“Furthermore, it abuses the role of the Judiciary, weaponizes the courts against foremost opponents of the Weah-administration, and further amplifies growing public perception that the case against Mr. Cummings’ and Co-defendants, all officials of the CPP, is a political conspiracy intended to persecute, weaken and ultimately exclude Mr. Cummings and his ANC from the 2023 Elections,” LIROI added.

It noted that the Presiding Magistrate of the Monrovia City Court has promised an open-ended investigation. 

However, LIROI said such is the gravity of the claims on public interests, and the resultant consequences for Liberia’s fledgling democracy that it calls for a speedy, independent and transparent investigation to include the National Bar Association, the Inter-religious Council, and the Press Union of Liberia. 

“We urge that the findings be made public. Where it is determined that the government prosecution is engaged in the criminal extraction of evidence and the unethical suppression of pieces of evidence determined to be of exculpatory value to the defendants, it shall be our duty to call for and support the ending of the witch-hunt in order to preserve the integrity of our courts and blood, sweat and tears that ushered in our young democracy,” he noted. 

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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