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‘Complete recklessness, delay tactics’, Cummings’ lawyer terms postponement of the trial

By Lincoln G. Peters

The lawyers representing Alternative National Congress (ANC) political leader Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, have termed as complete recklessness, gangsterism and delay tactics, the postponement of their client’s trial.

The defense team alleged that Liberia’s Solicitor General Cllr. Syrenius Cephus and his team of prosecutors lack comprehensive and proper evidence against Mr. Cummings and his co-defendants.

Cummings is currently facing criminal trial after being accused by All Liberian Party (ALP) political leader Benoni Urey of allegedly tampering with the disintegrated Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) framework document and illegally attaching his (Urey’s) signature to a photocopy version. Cummings has always denied any wrongdoing.

The ground of the Temple of Justice on Tuesday, 10 May 2022 was a scene of attraction when several supporters of ANC and the former ruling Unity Party (UP) converged at the court to witness the appearance and testimony of UP political leader Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai in Cummings’ criminal trial.

Boakai and Cummings were the uncompromising rivals seeking to head the CPP presidential ticket ahead of the 2023 presidential and legislative elections when an allegation of CPP framework document tampering led to UP and ALP separately pulling out from the once formidable opposition bloc.

At separate times both Cummings and Boakai served the rotational post of chairperson of the CPP when it was still a united opposition bloc.

But the conflict among the opposition political leaders has now turned their supporters against each other as political rivals too, with Cummings’ trial routinely witnessing drama at the Temple of Justice.

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Youthful supporters of both the ANC and UP were seen Tuesday chanting political slogans and raising battle cries on the grounds of the Temple of Justice right at the entrance of the Monrovia City Court where Mr. Cummings’ trial is being held.

Mr. Boakai, Liberia’s immediate past Vice President and a 2023 presidential hopeful, was subpoenaed by the court through prosecution to testify against Mr. Cummings on Tuesday, 10 May 2022. 

In honor of the court’s subpoena, Mr. Boakai was seen at the Temple of Justice, but he did not get down from his black vehicle due to the huge crowd that had swarmed the premises and the endless chanting of political slogans.

The chanting of slogans was also marred by some unruly displays by some of the youthful supporters from both parties.

While journalists and the lawyers representing both political parties were seated in court awaiting Magistrate Jomah Jallah to commence the day’s hearing, Solicitor General Cephus rushed into the courtroom and requested for a discussion to be held in the magistrate’s chamber along with other lawyers.

Cephus had indicated that from the look of things, the trial would likely not have commenced.

After a while, both lawyers returned from the magistrate’s chamber with serious arguments after Cllr. Cephus’ plea with Magistrate Jallah for the postponement of the trial on grounds that the atmosphere was not safe for his witness to appear in court.

The defense team strongly rejected Cllr. Cephus’ request, stating in open court that it should be placed on the records of the court for posterity to judge.

Subsequently, Magistrate Jallah went outside to verify the claim made by the prosecution, and upon his return, he granted the plea made behind closed doors.

“This court says that this trial is hereby suspended pending assignment due to administrative issues. There will be no proceeding with this trial until we can get the atmosphere,’’ Magistrate Jallah said.

However, when Cllr. Cephus was leaving the court, some youth believed to be supporters of the ANC, were seen knocking on his vehicle and referring to him as a criminal.

They could be heard chanting: “Y’all leave us ooo, la Cummings we want; y’all leave us ooo, la papy we want.’’

Speaking in an interview with journalists after the court’s decision, a lawyer representing Mr. Cummings, only identified as Atty. Gould said the prosecution has again shown that it has no case.

Atty. Gould claimed that the prosecution is carelessly playing with the liberty of another person, referring to his client Mr. Cummings. Gould believes that this is clearly the wrong thing to do in this modern-day time.

“They come here and say the court is too packed and because the court is packed, they are not sure the witness will testify because he is uncomfortable to come into the court for the trial,” said Atty. Gould.

“The state came and says they are not prepared to adduce any evidence today and their witness will not come. This action by the prosecution is [a] violation of the constitutional right of another person,’’ Atty. Gould lamented.

He further indicated that an accused has the right to a speedy trial, therefore, the accused cannot be under criminal charges or trial indefinitely.

The defense lawyer argued that the magisterial court has been trying his client beyond the statutory time, citing Rule 9 of the magisterial court which calls for 30 days for a trial.

Atty. Gould said it’s clear recklessness on the part of Cllr. Cephus because it’s pure gangsterism and they want the world to know that all these are happening because they have no evidence against Mr. Cummings and others who are on trial in the case.

Gould said if the Government of Liberia is serious about prosecuting this case, it would prepare its evidence and go to court.

He said he is sad that every day the prosecution goes to court and there is another delay tactic from the State.

“Today the courtroom looks too charged and packed and therefore, their witness is afraid to come. What sort of thing is that when you control the state security and all other forces?” Gould ponders.

“For you to continue to abuse someone’s right is not a good thing for our country. That is how when all of the human rights reports come back and show that Liberia is not doing well, then we wonder why,” he continued.

The defense lawyer believes that the rule of law should be respected because you cannot have a case that should be heard for only 30 days but it’s ongoing indefinitely, about five months into the trial.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/cummings-vows-to-protect-his-reputation/

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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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