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Cummings’ supporters teargassed

As a separate US$1.5m lawsuit is filed against Cummings, Bility

By Lincoln G. Peters 

Police in Monrovia tear-gassed and dispersed hundreds of protesters who had gathered at the Temple of Justice in solidarity with opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) political leader Alexander B. Cummings who faces charges for alleged forgery and criminal conspiracy.

Mr. Cummings is in court after being sued by fellow opposition leader, Mr. Benoni Urey and his All Liberian Party (ALP).

Urey alleges that Cummings and his ANC party allegedly tampered with the Framework Agreement of the opposition bloc Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) of which both ANC and ALP have been apart.

While announcing that he would pull his ALP out of the CPP, Mr. Urey alleged that his signature was forged by the ANC leader and attached to a photocopy version of the CPP framework agreement, making it appear like the version approved by all parties within the CPP.

Former ruling Unity Party (UP) and the opposition Liberty Party (LP) are the other two of the four CPP constituent parties.

Cummings has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and also accused the government of using the courts to clamp down on opposition.

Cummings’ trial at the Monrovia City Court continues to spark tension between his supporters and those from rival parties, or sometimes the police.

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On Tuesday, 18 January 2022, his supporters gathered for a rally at the court, but they were met by the Liberia National Police and were vehemently dispersed.

The group began trickling in in small numbers by 7am, but later grew in to a huge crowd by 10am through 12pm.

The protesting group comprised mostly women and youth groups, with a few adults saying their presence was to demand a speedy trial of their leader, Mr. Cummings.

There was no warning given to the protesters prior to police firing teargas in the crowd.

Protesters fled the area following the firing teargas canisters leaving behind their personal belongings.

Most of the speakers at the rally argued that they were peaceful.

It was alleged that some protesters were arrested by the LNP and taken to the police headquarters which is at the back of the Temple of Justice. Some protesters who managed to escape the scene were seen exhausted and bitter.

ANC’s Deputy Secretary-General, Jonathan T. S. Dolakeh, who was at the rally Tuesday, frowned on the action of the Liberia National Police. 

He said the ANC supporters did not spark up the shooting of teargas, describing the police’s action as uncalled for against peaceful citizens who believe that justice should prevail.

“The gathering of the people did not spark any commotion. I think that the police thought that the gathering would disturb them so they used teargas to undercut the rally,” said Mr. Dolakeh.

He argued that the ANC has the right to assemble peacefully at the premises of the Capitol Building and Temple of Justice, among others, to bring the government or international community’s attention to a specific issue like the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) did while it was in opposition.

Also commenting at the protest scene, ANC’s Chairperson for Montserrado County District #3, Patrick Komoyah said they want speedy trial in the case involving Mr. Cummings.

“We don’t want business as usual. We don’t want this case to be tampered with, and in the end, Cummings will be vindicated,” said Mr. Komoyah.

Komoyah added that the rally was not intended to disturb the working of the government but to call for a speedy trial and to inform Liberia’s global partners about the matter at hand so that they can watch the case carefully.

What the parties said

In a press statement issued following the protest on Tuesday, Jan. 18, Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the Liberty Party (LP), said its constituent members of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), in their own names and jointly, strongly condemn the unprovoked attack on peaceful citizens, by the Government of Liberia through the Liberia National Police (LNP).

The Police action, which they described as an unprovoked attack using teargas, they alleged led to multiple bodily injuries and disruptions along the Camp Johnson Road and Capitol Hill corridors.

The ANC and LP said the incident occurred as Liberians were peacefully assembling, consistent with their constitutional rights to do so, on Capitol Hill, in Monrovia.

“These peaceful Liberians were displaying banners and posters calling for justice and indicating solidarity with the Standard Bearer of the ANC, Mr. Alexander B. Cummings who is being politically prosecuted by the Government of Liberia at the Monrovia Magisterial Court, at the Temple of Justice, in Monrovia, on bogus misdemeanor charges of “forgery and criminal conspiracy”, as complained by the All Liberian Party of Mr. Benoni Wilfred Urey,” they asserted.

The LP and the ANC said the Government of Liberia has a duty to protect the people and not to intimidate and or injure them especially when they freely and peaceably assemble to express themselves.

They claimed the exercise of the right to peacefully assemble, demonstrate and rally is a function of democracy, which by its unprovoked actions on Tuesday attempted to deny peaceful citizens.

“We are appalled by the action of the government and are gathering information on the extent of the injuries made on these peaceful Liberian citizens.

We stand with the Liberian people and strongly oppose any action, including today’s unprovoked attacks on peaceful citizens, which attempts to undermine Liberia’s young democracy and peace, for which many Liberians bled, suffered and died. Accordingly, the ANC and the LP insist and calls the Weah-led government to abide by the laws of the country, and do not betray its responsibility to protect Liberians, especially as they exercise their rights to peacefully assemble,” the parties concluded. 

In a related development, Civil Law Court “A” Resident Judge J. Kennedy Peabody has issued a writ of summons for ANC political leader Mr. Cummings and all Liberty Party Executives, including LP chair Musa Bility.

Judge Peabody’s action is triggered by a complaint filed by three Officers of the Monrovia City Court, accusing the LP and ANC officials of an action of damages for wrong.

The Court Officers say they were recently brutalized by ANC and LP supporters.

Patience Kollie of the Liberia National Police, Victoria Davis of the Monrovia City Police  and Jusu Armah of the Liberia National Police, were all reportedly brutalized by a man believed to be a security guard assigned to Liberty Party Chairman Musa Bility during one of the trial sessions at the City Court.

The complaint filed through their lawyer, Cllr. Samuel Pearson is an eleven-count petition before the Civil Law court Judge Jomah Jallah.

The Officers pray that the Court hold the defendants liable and order them to pay the amount of US$ 1.5m in general and punitive damages.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/liberia-court-suspends-cummings-hearing/

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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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