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NHA officials jailed

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National Housing Authority (NHA) Managing Director Duannah Siryon, his two deputies Tugbeh C. Tugbeh and Isaac Roberts along with Augustine Weah had their first night at the Monrovia Central Prison on Tuesday, 27 November on charges of theft of property, economic sabotage, bribery, criminal conspiracy and criminal solicitation.

The officials were arrested on 23 November on account of an alleged secretly recorded audio in which they were allegedly heard soliciting bribe from agents of a Burkinabe company GELPAZ – IMMO who had reportedly come here in follow -up on their interest in constructing over 5,000 housing units along the Roberts International Airport Highway.

State security investigators including the police say Mr. Siryon along with his two deputies and one Augustine Weah, were heard in the alleged audio recording having altercation because the two NHA deputies allegedly felt cheated out of the US$92,000 bribe received from GELPAZ – IMMO’s former coordinator Emmanuel Tapsoba.

Due to prosecutors’ failure to submit Siryon, Tugbeh, Roberts and Weah to court on Monday, 26 November as was expected, the suspects’ lawyers petitioned the Criminal Court “A” for a writ of habeas corpus which is used to compel the production of persons detained beyond statutory periods.

They had complained to Court “A” that the State kept them beyond 48 hours, allegedly tortured and treated them inhumanely without food and water, though the State denies claims of torture and inhumane treatment.

Court “A” granted the defendants’ request, released them from state custody and restored their liberties, but they were again arrested immediately by prosecutors and turned over to the Monrovia City Court.

The defendants’ hope to walk out of the Monrovia City Court as freemen on account of a criminal appearance bond filed by their legal team was dashed when they heard Magistrate Kennedy Peabody ruling that he had to peruse their bond.

The magistrate suspended the matter, pending assignment, but the defendants’ lawyers say they would take advantage of the laws controlling.Scores of followers, supporters and loyalists of the disgraced NHA officials converged at the Temple of Justice when the officials were being brought there in handcuffs by state securities.

At first they were cheering at Court “A” when Judge Roosevelt Willie released the defendants following hearing of the petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which some of them thought had brought the case to an end.

But their celebration was suddenly cut off when the City Court placed Mr. Siryon and his co-defendants in jail at the Monrovia Central Prison while perusing their bond.Mr. Siryon and his accomplices are accused of receiving US$92,000 from GELPAZ-IMMO under the pretext that the money was a requirement for doing business in Liberia.

Investigators say upon receiving the money, defendant Siryon and his accomplices, out of deception, criminally converted the money into their personal use and benefit with the intent to deprive government of its revenue.They are also accused of deceiving potential foreign business partners that want to do business in Liberia.

By Winston W. Parley

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