Defendant Otis Kawah (alias) Lassana, 22, of Rehab Community in Paynesville City, suburb of Monrovia who is standing trial before the Paynesville Magisterial Court on armed robbery and menacing charges, says he is an ex-employee of Mr. Saah Boakai, one of the sons of Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai.
Doctors at the ELWA Hospital in Paynesville has successfully removed four (4) single barrier gun shots from the back of victim Peter S. Boima, a private businessman, who was attacked on the early morning of October 24, 2016, at his Rehab Community residence by a group of armed men led by defendant Otis Kawah.
Police charge said defendant Kawah and his accomplices also used other weapons such as cutlasses to injure victim Boima during the alleged armed robbery. Boima following the incident bled profusely in his bedroom before being rushed to the hospital for medical attention.
During the alleged robbery, police said defendant Kawah and accomplices made away with several items including LDR100,000, US$85.00, 27 pieces of Cellcom scratch cards, 32 pieces of Lone Star scratch cards, 48 cell phones of various brands and one digital camera value at US$300,00, respectively.
The defendant in his voluntary statement to the Liberia National Police (LNP), claimed he was in the employ of Saah Boakai from September 5, 2016 up to October 21, 2016, when he got fired, but did not reveal what kind of job or what led to his reported dismissal by the Vice President’s son.
This paper has not independently verified whether Ambassador Boakai does have a son named Saah Boakai. But defendant Kawah, who is being prosecuted by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), was on October 28, 2016 arraigned before the Acting Stipendiary Magistrate of the Paynesville Magisterial Court, His Honor Eric N. Cooper to answer to the charges brought against him by the state. He denied any involvement in the aforesaid crime of “armed robbery and Menacing.”
In her submission, Public Defender Attorney Victoria M. Weah, representing the legal interest of defendant Kawah prays for a motion for a continuance of the case so as to prepare herself and adequately represent the defendant, while on the other hand, the state prays court to reject the motion, and that the case be ordered transferred to the appropriate Circuit Court in Montserrado County in a manner and form to wit.
Under the law of Liberia, the crime of Armed Robbery is felony of the first degree and is cognizable before the Circuit Court only. However, the magisterial court and the Justice of Peace lack preliminary examination; as it is clearly stated that when grand inquest is sitting, all indictable offenses such as Armed Robbery, among others should be transferred to the Circuit for possible indictment, and requested the court to transferred defendant Kawah to the Monrovia Central Prison while the legal records are being transferred to the Circuit Court.
Magistrate Cooper said the writ before the court clearly states that the action of Armed Robbery and Menacing, respectively to which application, the counsel for the state in resistance had prayed court to deny the application made by the defense counsel on grounds that the writ before it presents action of Menacing and Armed Robbery, and under the law, the crime of Armed Robbery is not cognizable before the magisterial court as same lacks trial jurisdiction over the case based on its grade and value.
The court furthered that it clearly noticed that though the action before the court mainly Menacing and Armed Robbery, and consistent with the statute, the crime of Armed Robbery absorbed precedent over the lower grade; and that consistent with this provision, the application made by the counsel for defendant is hereby denied and the state resistance thereto being consistent with the controlling provision of the country’s criminal statute, same is hereby granted.
Accordingly, the court ordered the case immediately transferred to the appropriate Criminal Circuit that has control and exercises trial jurisdiction. Meanwhile, three of the witnesses produced by the state namely; Emmanuel Dorbor, Power V. Nenzouah and EkieBoam, wife of victim Boima, corroborate in their respective statements to the police that defendant Otis Kawah threatened to bring his men on victim Boima after the two men were separated during a fist-fight. Defendant Otis Kawah is presently detained at the Monrovia Central Prison, awaiting trial at the Circuit Court.
In a related development, hundreds of women of the Rock Hill Community in Paynesville on Friday, 28 October staged peaceful demonstrations in Paynesville, calling government’s attention to increasing wave of armed robbery in their area.
The women said for three weeks running, they are being terrorized by men believed to be armed robbers, stealing their belongings and inflicting wounds on inhabitants with impunity. They want government to intervene immediately to bring the situation under complete control.
By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne