Condemnations Trail Writ of Arrest on NEC Boss -Critics Say, “It Is a Witch Hunt”

Condemnations yesterday greeted the decision of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) through the Ministry of Justice over the writ of arrest issued by the Presiding Judge of Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice, Ciapha Carey on the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission, Cllr Davidetta Brown-Lassanah  based on the indictment placed on her as a result of an investigation into allegation of conflict of interest and financial improprieties into the  procurement of thermometers for the just ended bye-election by officials of the National Election Commission.

Describing the action of the LACC as judicial miscarriage and gross violation of her constitutional rights, a civil society group, Freedom First, speaking through its spokesperson Marvin Tieh Flomo, said while it is true that they are totally against any form of corruption in the country, it was registering its protest against the LACC for initiating a process that has a false start by truncating the rule of law  and called on the government to withdraw the writ of arrest with immediate effect.

The group said it was baffled that the LACC took the decision when Cllr. Davidetta Brown Lassanah was denied the opportunity to see any copy of the report linking her to the alleged shady transaction in line with the normal legal proceedings where a person being accused of committing an offense is given an opportunity to see the outcome of an investigation conducted and equally a chance to respond to the result of the investigation if at all the person was found guilty by the investigation. “Sad that the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC)  issued its report indicting her without giving a copy of the report and also not giving her the chance to defend or respond to the report; that in itself is a false start towards fighting corruption and must be condemned”, the group said.

Mr. Mixtell Williamson III, a political science instructor at a private university in Monrovia said the whole exercise amounts to a media trial wherein the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) only conveyed the outcome of its investigation involving another agency of government, the National Elections Commission (NEC) through a press conference and the next move was issuing a writ of arrest on Madam Davidetta Brown Lassanah as if to say the country is not governed by rule of law. He described the whole episode as trial by media manipulation to blackmail her and abnormally using the weak judicial system to deny her a fair hearing.

“This is an exhibition of a complete witch hunt, nothing more, nothing less and I suspect some persons in high places in our bureaucracy who feel threatened by the outstanding performance of Cllr. Davidetta Brown-Lassanah at the National Elections Commission to produce credible results from elections in this country are behind this show of shame”, said Pius Whamusa, a public affairs analyst who has spoken and written about the abuse of power since the end of the war in 2003. He further described the action of the LACC as “judicial rascality” that has been exposed and called on civil society groups in the country to condemn what he called the “creeping recklessness in our public space”.

There has not been any word from the NEC boss since the writ of arrest was issued against her, but it can be recalled that during a press conference recently, Madam Davidetta Brown Lassanah faulted the way and manner the Chairman of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) released the report of the investigation to the public without serving her a copy so that she can study it and respond to the claims against her which is the normal process in such investigations.

She had stated at the time that on the advice of her lawyers and out of respect for the LACC as another institution of government, she remained silent even in the face of the weekly prejudicial leaks by the LACC to certain local dailies claiming it had found criminal wrongdoing but was receiving political pressure concerning the investigation. She added that never before has such calculative and coordinated leaks been seen in the LACC’s investigative history.

She told the media that she believes that an agency with investigative and/or prosecutorial powers is obligated not to make, condone, or cause to be made public statements the agency knows or should reasonably know has the likelihood of prejudicing a criminal matter or heightening public condemnation of the target of an investigation.

“Following its investigation, the LACC through its Chairman held a press conference on December 15, 2021 in which he told the public the LACC had completed its investigation, and then read out an outcome claiming we had made certain admissions of guilt during our appearance before the LACC. This is false and misleading. We appeared before the LACC with our legal counsels, submitted the requested documents along with written statements; at no time during the interviews did any of us ever make any admission of guilt as falsely stated during the LACC’s December 15th press conference”, she said at the press conference..

It can be recalled that the during the presentation of the findings of the investigative panel that probed the procurement of thermometer and supplies to NEC by the Tuma Enterprises, a local Liberian business entity where Cllr.Lassanah was accused of having special interest, LACC Boss, Cllr. Edwin Kla Martin said the outcome of the report had indicted Madam Lassanah and that legal action would be taken against her subsequently but the definite time was not given until it became public yesterday that a writ of arrest had been issued and that her whereabouts were unknown up to press.

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