By Lincoln G. Peters
Two bitter opposition rivals, businessman – turned politician Benoni Urey is expected to testify today against a man he seeks to bring down-Mr. Alexander B. Cummings to tell the court how the latter forged his signature in the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) ongoing criminal trial.
Urey’s appearance as state witness at the Monrovia City Court today, Friday, 20 May 2022 comes after prosecution rested with its third subpoenaed witness, former Liberian Vice President and Unity Party political leader Amb. Joseph Nyumah Baokai on Thursday, 19 May.
Urey is the political leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP) and was the first chairman of the disintegrated opposition bloc CPP.
The Alternative National Congress (ANC) political leader Mr. Cummings is currently facing criminal trial after being accused by 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.
Cummings and Urey’s political parties – ANC and ALP – were both constituent parties of the CPP. But Urey and Mr. Boakai separately pulled out their political parties from the CPP in the wake of prolonged internal political conflict, and Urey’s claim that Cummings and the ANC had allegedly tampered with the CPP framework document.
Currently, only ANC and a faction of the opposition Liberty Party (LP) which is loyal to embattled chairman Musa Bility remain CPP allies.
Mr. Boakai testified as State witness for three consecutive days in the trial of Mr. Cummings before being discharged from the witness stand Thursday.
Prosecutors said Amb. Boakai will be called upon when necessary, but at this stage, they begged the court to rest with the subpoenaed witness as they seek the appearance of another subpoenaed leader.
The Solicitor General of Liberia, Cllr. Saymah Syrenius Cephus requested the court a subpoena All Liberian Party political leader Mr. Benoni Urey, seeking his appearance in court to testify against Mr. Cummings.
The court granted Cllr. Cephus’ request and Mr. Urey is expected to appear at the court today, Friday, 20 May 2022.
In a related development, Monrovia City Court Magistrate Jomah Jallah on Thursday, 19 May granted defense lawyers’ request and gave ANC Political leader Mr. Cummings and Gbarpolu County Senator and ANC Chairman Daniel Naatehn a “brief voluntary absence’’ in the ongoing criminal trial.
Magistrate Jallah granted a two-week brief voluntary absence of Mr. Cummings which takes immediate effect as of Thursday in order to enable him work on other things as prayed for by the defense team.
During trial on Monday this week, the defense prayed to the court for the brief voluntary absence of Mr. Cummings and Co-defendant, Senator Naatehn.
The defense said Mr. Naatehn was advised by a healthcare center after treatment and investigation to rest for the period of one week in order to have him fully recover.
The lawyers said doctors had said any attempt for him to disregard the medical advice would be detrimental to his health and well-being.
The defense also prayed the court and wrote prosecution for a brief voluntary absence of Mr. Cummings in order to enable him to cater to “other things.’’
Following the application made by the defense, prosecution disagreed in part with the brief voluntary absence of Mr. Cummings, saying the application should be granted after the testimony of prosecution’s main witnesses, Mr. Urey, Senator Karnga -Lawrence and Unity Party Secretary-General Mr. Mo Ali.
For Senator Naatehn, prosecution requested the court to deny and dismiss the application because it was allegedly far from the truth.
However, Magistrate Jallah said Cummings’ application was granted immediately after the proceedings due Friday, while he also granted three weeks of brief voluntary absence for Senator Naatehn.
As for Mr. Aloysius Toe’s request for brief voluntary absence from Court, Magistrate Jallah has denied it.
“Having considered the foregoing, we do hereby see the following and grant the application of Mr. Cummings and Senator Naatehn. The brief voluntary absence takes effect as of immediately after tomorrow’s proceedings,’’ Magistrate Jalleh ruled.