Liberia: Justice Minister Asks for All Evidence in Ongoing Cummings’ Trial

MONROVIA – The case against the ANC political leader, Alexander B. Cummings, perhaps, shouldn’t have been. The Solicitor General Cllr. Syrenius Cephus has disclosed that the original Writ of Arrest issued on Cummings was quashed, but he was instructed by the Minister of Justice to reinstitute the arrest. However, the Justice Minister has refuted the claim, saying, he has never been involved with the Cummings’ trial.

Cllr. Cephus whom the Justice Minister has accused of running a parallel ministry claimed informed the CEO of SPOON Communications, Stanton Witherspoon, that it is only the Minister of Justice who has the constitutional backing to disagree or the government on the question of law and still keep his job and is also the only person who can order a matter to be dismissed.

“I am only a prosecutor who is acting under his control and supervision but he’s afraid to take a firm decision and believes that I will unilaterally abandon the case so that he can use it against me to the government and people of Liberia,” Cllr. Cephus stated.

He went on to describe his role as a frontline commander who only acts on instructions.

Many have viewed Cllr. Cephus’s statement as he threw the Justice Minister Musa Dean under the bus.

However, in reaction to the Solicitor General, the Ministry of Justice on Monday issued a statement disclosing that the Minister has asked the Solicitor General to submit all evidence in the Cummings’ trial to his office.

The Justice Minister stated that his request is by Section 22.2 of the Executive Law, which states that it shall be the duty of the Minister of Justice to “procure the proper evidence for, and conduct, prosecute or defend all suits and proceedings in the courts in which the Republic of Liberia or any officer thereof, as to such officer, is a party of interest.”

Bringing an end to the ‘disregard’ from the office of the Solicitor General, the Justice Minister who doubles as Attorney General, warned that there should be no more prosecution without his approval, and prosecutors are to furnish his office with proper evidence in support of any prosecutions.

“The Minister noted that he is under obligation to ensure that the purpose of prosecution is not to taunt, harass, grandstand, punish or convict, but to pursue the truth; and that in the instance case, the Writ against Alexander B. Cummings and others was never quashed and, therefore could not have been reinstated by the office of the Minister,” the Justice Minister press release stated.

The now-contentious Writ of Arrest was issued on Cummings on January 3, 2022, for forgery and criminal conspiracy.

According to the Writ, Cummings, from May to July 2020 “altered the Framework Document of the CPP, thus deceiving the private prosecutor (ALP) and the public regarding the content and averments of the said document, specifically the period a party may exit from the CPP, which was unresolved…”

Cummings had always maintained his innocence and further alleged that the ALP was being manipulated by the Weah-led administration to destabilize the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) for his benefit.

Not the First Time

It can be recalled that Cllr. Dean in February 2020 accused Cllr. Cephus of dropping the economic sabotage case against Ellen Corkrum without his consent. It was the dismissal of the case that gave Ms. Corkrum the guts to return to Liberia in late 2019 after being on the run since 2013.

FrontPageAfrica gathered that Solicitor General Syrenius Cephas instructed the motion to dismiss the case.

In November 2019, the then Deputy Information Minister Eugene Fahngon during a regular press briefing at the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism, told reporters, that the government had prepared a Writ of Arrest for Mr. Henry Costa, head of the Council of Patriots.

Barely 24 hours after the pronouncement, Minister Cllr. Dean dismissed the pronouncement and told FrontPageAfrica, “There is no writ of arrest from the Court and the Ministry of Justice has not given any such order of arrest.” 

Cummings’ Reaction

Cummings rhetorically asked why he would alter a document that he is also affected by.

Reacting to the conflict between the Solicitor General and Justice Minister, Cummings expressed his bafflement over why the government has produced only one witness in a misdemeanor case. He said, even the sole witness produced so far, has continued to lie under oath and at the same time, a second witness labeled as a star witness, former Vice President Joseph Boakai, has refused to accept a subpoena to testify in the case, though he supports the allegation.

“I find the actions of VP Boakai, his refusals, and evasions of court orders to be lawless and disrespectful to the Liberian people. I go to court not because I desire to but because it is a duty of responsible citizenship and a mark of leadership. I have insisted and will continue to insist on upholding our constitutional and human rights while confronting our accusers, especially after the Former VP has signed onto a resolution to the National Elections Commission (NEC) that claims the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) Framework Agreement, the subject of the ongoing “trial,” to be a “product of fraud,” Cummings stated.

Justice Minister Versus Solicitor General

The role of the Justice Minister, according to the Executive Law includes: procuring proper evidence for, and conducting, prosecuting, or defending all suits and proceedings in the courts in which the Republic of Liberia or any official thereof, as to such officer is a party or maybe interested.

The Justice Minister is also to institute all legal proceedings necessary for law enforcement; furnish opinions as to legal matters and render services requiring legal skills to the President and other agencies of the executive branch of the Government;

The Justice Minister also oversees the codification of Liberian statutory law and the editing and printing of the Supreme Court opinions, and of such of the opinions of the Minister of Justice as he may deem valuable for preservation in book form; 

The Justice Minister also supervises the correctional system and the commitment and treatment of prisoners, among others.

However, the Solicitor General, being a subordinate of the Justice Minister shall prepare and argue all cases to which the Government of Liberia or any officer thereof, as such officer, is a party; provided that the Minister of Justice may himself conduct any case if in his opinion the interest of the government requires him to do so;

The Solicitor General has immediate supervision of the conduct of all litigations involving the Government of Liberia, including the activities of the county, territorial, and district attorneys.

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