Liberia’s Solicitor General, Sayma Cyrenius Cephus faces defamation law suits and complaints before the grievance and ethics committee from several individuals he has listed for travel ban in connection to corruption fight here.The Government in an effort to hold dozens of former government officials accountable has launched an asset recovery program headed by the Solicitor General.
But what is so interesting is that members of this team including the Solicitor General were defend counsels representing different parties in the case they now try to prosecute and have privilege information on most of the defendants.
Cllr. Cephus along with current County Atty. Edward K. Martins were defend Counsels for the Liberia Bank of Development and Investment (LBDI), who was party to the case but were dropped off during the last regime, while his henchman, Cllr. Arthur Johnson also represented clients in the same case.
Last week, while responding to questions about his February 3, 2020 letter to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC in which he sought the re-indictment of Liberia’s Airport Authority (LAA) former Managing Director Ms. Ellen Corkrum, days after dismissing charges against her, said the justice department was going to file a rate at the criminal court “A” to place Ms. Corkrum and 28 others including his former clients –management of LBDI on travel ban.
True to his words three days later, on Thursday February 6, Cllr. Cephus filed a write of Ne exeatrepublica to Criminal Court ‘A’ for Ms. Corkrum and 28 individual-including businessman Musa Bility, LBDI president John Davies among several others.
This paper on Sunday gathered that LBDI president John Davies is considering filing a former complaint before the legal grievance and ethics committee. Similar threat was made on Thursday February 6 by former Solicitor General Betty LaminBlamo who threatens to go a step further by filing a defamation suit against Cllr. Cephus.
So what all these people have in common?
In 2013, Ellen Corkrum, then Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority was indicted along with businessman Musa Bility then Board Chair of the LAA by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County on charges of economic sabotage, criminal facilitation, conspiracy to defraud the government, and making unauthorized transfers of funds from government accounts.
Others indicted were the Monrovia Diaspora Consulting, LLC, through MomarDieng, a U.S. citizen; LBDI and the First International Bank; and all authorized representatives of the authority.
The First International Bank was indicted for allegedly conspiring with co-defendants Corkrum, Melvin Johnson & Associates, to make an unauthorized transfer of funds in the amount of US$56,750 from the account of the Liberia Airport Authority when Corkrum was the Managing Director.
Corkrum was also accused of transferring US$269,000 to a fictitious company, Diaspora Consulting, LLC and its CEO, MomarDieng, through whom she reportedly attended the Kennedy Business School, Harvard University.
In 2015, efforts were made to secure Corkrum’s extradition to Liberia. The Solicitor General at the time, Cllr. Betty L. Blamo, hire the service of a legal frim in the US to get Ms. Corkrum extradited to Liberia but failed.
Excerpts of her letter to Cllr. Cephus, Cllr. Betty LaminBlamo wrote:
“…your numerous allegations against me are totally baseless and that you are aware of their falsity. Making false statement against another constitutes defamation as a matter of law where it damages the other. There is no doubt that your allegations are defamatory as a matter of law,” Cllr. Betty Lamin-Blamo warned.
“I am thus mystified by your plainly false and misleading assertions, categorically deny them, and hereby demand that you retract same.” She fumed.
“There is no basis for the false statements you have made because the Office of the Solicitor General in the Ministry of Justice is the custodian of the records in this matter. These efforts are clearly designed to evade your own responsibility to divert the attention of the public from responsibility for the decision just made to drop charges against Ms. Cockrum even though as Solicitor General you had responsibility for such matters. You have instead intentionally elected to unjustly injure my reputation.
“In view of the above, I request that you do the honorable thing to retract the allegations,” she told Cllr. Cephus in a much detail letter that explains the circumstances surrounding most of the cases he now pursues and the ones in which he served as defense counsel.
“I request that you kindly have this done upon receipt of this my letter, otherwise I will be constrained to take such actions and measures as would be necessary including the filing of an ethics complaint against you, to protect my hard-earned reputation,” she added.By Othello B. Garblah