Alleged Criminal Case Thrown Out of Court -Court Clears Defendants of counterfeiting, forgery and stealing
MONROVIA: The alleged criminal case filed by plaintiffs Bendu Washington and Massa Dixon against Lahai Dokor Sannoh and Boimah Gibson as defenders at the Monrovia City Court, Temple of Justice, Monrovia has been thrown out after the court handed down a verdict of not guilty for alleged counterfeiting, forgery and stealing levied against the accused.
The accused were arrested in May, 2023, by officers of Liberia National Police (LNP) and charged the accused, Lahai Dokor Sannoh and Boimah Gibson for alleged crime of counterfeiting of money, forgery of documents and stealing of money as per the complaints filed by Bendu Washington and Massa Dixon.
Sannoh is an employee of Vision Impact Liberia Society (VILS) located on Clay Street whilst Gibson is not. The VILS operates in its edifice along with Conguering Tabernacle (CT) and Kanneh Construction (KC).
Contrarily, in the charged sheet, the LNP officers named the VILS as Eric Sumo Business Center, something Sannoh termed as erroneous and blunder on the part of the LNP officers who he said hastily charged, and incarcerated them without due diligence.
“Our headquarters office is located on Clay Street and it is named Vision Impact Liberia Society (VILS) not Eric Sumo Business Center as mentioned by the police,” Sannoh clarified.
Sannah and Boimah were charged and incarcerated for several days at the LNP’s headquarters on Capitol Hill, whilst they faced trial. But they were later granted bond in line with legal proceedings.
Minutes prior to the dismissal of the case, the defendant’s counsel, Cllr. Jallah G. Zumo argued on a motion he had filed days ahead before the court, at which time he prayed that His Honor, L. Ben Barco, Stipendiary Magistrate dismissed the case on the basis that it had stayed on the court docket for over five months beyond the statutory period as stated by law.
“This case under the law, it is required to stay on the court docket for only thirty days,” Cllr. Jallah argued in court. He then pleaded before the Judge to throw the case out of court.
On September 29, 2023, following arguments by both the prosecutor and defend councils, His Honor, L. Ben Barco, Stipendiary Magistrate stood in chamber and applied his gavel, thereby openly pronouncing the dismissal of the case on grounds that it had no magnitude and in fact it had overstayed on the court docket beyond the statutory requirement.
In the Judge’s argument, he stated that the plaintiffs and or complainers had failed persistently to appear in court for over five months in spite of the fact that the prosecutor’s council severally requested for continuation of the case, and each time, they failed to show up, adding, it was a violation of the law.
“Cases of such nature are required by law to stay on the court docket for only thirty days,” Judge Barco Stated whilst he applied his gavel customarily.
Complainer Bendu who had reportedly not been showing up in court, is said to have been caught with a fake bank statement by authorities at the US Embassy near Monrovia.
She had gone to the US Embassy to seek a visa-interview to enable her to travel to the US for studies. Whilst at the US Embassy, she was caught with the fake bank statement by the Embassy authorities who then turned her over to LNP officers for investigation.
Bendu was eventually whisked away to the LNP headquarters to help the police with investigation into the matter.
Providing an explanation to the police regarding the fake bank statement found in her possession, Bendu alleged that she obtained it from the VILS’ CEO, Eric Sumo.
Bendu further alleged that prior to her arrest, the CEO of the VILS had since received US$ 2,500.00 as fees to process documents to enable her to travel to the US for studies, something she did not appear in court to prove.
“She lied in her statement to the police that she gave US$ 2,500.00 to my boss to process her travel documents. My boss has not been in the country since January, 2023,” defender Lahai said.
Boimah, also a defender, had willingly gone to the LNP headquarters shortly after Bendu’s arrest to refute the allegation that she obtained the fake bank statement from the VILS ‘s CEO but he was arrested upon arrival as suspect and subsequently incarcerated.
Boimah however refuted the allegation before the police that the VILS had issued the fake bank statement to Bendu as she alleged.
He argued that the VILS’s CEO had moreover never taken a dime from Bendu in any form and manner.
Defender Lahai observed that at the same time as Bendu was arrested, a purported officer from the National Security Agency (NSA) yet to be identified claimed to have connection with Bendu.
Lahai said the self-called NSA officer was seen at the LNP headquarters at which time he (Lahai) had also been invited by the police to help them with investigation into the case.
He further said to his surprise, hours later, he was arrested by the police and incarcerated without providing him the right to defend himself.
Effective as of to the dismissal of the case, on September 29, 2023, the clerk of the court, Daniel Mcgill, based on law, signed and issued a clearance certificate in favor of the defenders, thereby restoring all their rights under the law.
“This is to certified that a careful perusal of court’s records, the state has failed, refused, neglected to proceed with the case for lack of evidence for which crimes charged against the defenders have been dismissed,” the court clearance certificate issued, stated.