“I never signed any exit clause document”, Boakai
By Lincoln G. Peters
Former Vice President and current Unity Party (UP) political leader Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai says at no time did he ever sign a framework document that had any exit clause placed in it.
In continuation of his testimony Wednesday, 17 May 2022 as a subpoenaed state witness in the trial of Alternative National Congress (ANC) political leader Alexander B. Cummings, Mr. Boakai said he carefully read the framework document of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) that he signed on 19 May 2020.
Boakai is a high-profile state witness in a criminal case brought against his one-time political ally and leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress, Mr. Alexander B. Cummings.
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 the UP and All Liberian Party (ALP) separately pulling out from the once formidable opposition bloc.
Cummings is currently facing criminal trial after being accused by ALP political leader Benoni Urey of allegedly tampering with the CPP framework document and illegally attaching his (Urey’s) signature to a photocopy version. Cummings has always denied any wrongdoing.
Originally made up of four opposition parties – UP, ANC, ALP and Liberty Party (LP) – the CPP later broke apart, leaving only ANC and a faction of LP as allies following bitter internal conflicts.
Earlier on Monday, 16 May 2022, Mr. Boakai testified to the CPP framework document saying the signature page represents the original signature.
The subpoena witness noted that the signing of the document was done via Zoom and Unity Party Secretary-General Moi Ali went around and took the document to them and collected each political leader and their chairperson’s signatures.
He added that at one point, his last name was misspelled, but it was later corrected before he provided his signature.
Mr. Boakai further explained that the framework document was a document that defined how they were to operate and all of that was included in the document.
Mr. Boakai also testified that he was aware of the investigative finding during former CPP chairperson Senator Nyonblee Karnga – Lawrence’s tenure surrounding an alleged alteration of the CPP framework document.
“I am aware that the lawyers’ amendment recommendations were brought to us and discussed. After that, they were supposed to be submitted to the validation committee, since then I never saw the document,” Boakai testified.
When asked by defense lawyers if he left the CPP because of the amendment recommendations made by the team of lawyers, Amb. Boakai said he cannot say yes to that because there were multiple reasons for their withdrawal from the CPP.
“The framework document after the amendment recommendations by the lawyers and our subsequent decision to send it to the validation committee, it was an administrative decision by the chairman,” said Mr. Boakai.
“Like I said before, I don’t encourage important documents in [the] chat room. Mr. Cummings as chairman of CPP and political leader of ANC took the lawyers’ recommendation to the committee,’’ Amb. Boakai narrated.
During the cross-examination by defense, prosecution made numerous objections which were sustained by the magistrate.
In the course of the defense lawyer’s questions, Magistrate Jomah Jallah cited both parties in his chamber for a brief meeting.
Upon their return from the magistrate’s chamber, Magistrate Jallah informed the defense that it was against their practice for a lawyer to repeat a question, warning that he will not tolerate any repeated question from the defense.
However, Magistrate Jallah has suspended the trial as Boakai remains on the witness stand, pending assignment.