MONROVIA: A local advocacy group, Public Interest Law Advocacy Center (PILAC) has filed a writ of Mandamus with the Supreme Court of Liberia “consistent with the dictates of Article 53 of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia( 1986, as amended) to mandate the government of Liberia through the Minister of Justice and Attorney General Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, the Inspector General of Police Patrick Sudue and the Chairperson of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission(LACC) to prosecute three sanctioned Liberians, Former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel Farlo McGill, former Solicitor General of Liberia, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus and former Managing Director of the National Port Authority(NPA), Bill Tweahway for alleged acts of corruption for which they were sanctioned by the Department of Treasury of the United States Government just as the said case comes up today, Thursday, June 29, 2023 at the Supreme Court of Liberia before his honor, Justice in Chamber Yarmie Gbeisay.
The group represented by Alieu Kiadii as 1st petitioner, Edward Biogar as 2nd petitioner as well as Robert Gibson, Aloysius Toe and Armah Johnson all of the City of Monrovia as 3rd petitioner had listed Minister Dean, IGP Sudue and the Chairperson of LACC as 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively and all those under the scope of their authority, stressing that their decision was
“commanded by their constitutional oath of office under the “SCHEDULE” of the Constitution of Liberia (1986, as amended); as well as the relevant Acts of the Legislature, caused by the Respondents’ disregard and refusal to perform their constitutional and statutory duties prescribed under the laws of the land” and stated that they have genuine reasons to institute legal actions against the indictees..
“That 1st, 2nd and 3rd Petitioners (collectively “Petitioners”) are harmed and injured by the acts of public corruption for which the three officials have been sanctioned by the United States Government, in that the alleged acts of the sanctioned officials have violated petitioners right to the wealth and resources of their country, in violation of Article 7 of the Liberian Constitution (1986, as amended) and Article 47 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Liberia has domesticate and ratified.
“That 3rd Petitioners are harmed and injured in that they were victims of the acts of targeting, intimidating and threatening political opponents for which Mr. Nathaniel McGill has been accused by the United States Government, because 3rd Petitioners were unlawfully arrested and detained in the Gbarpolu forest for five days in December 2020, and threatened with near death, on the orders of Mr. Nathaniel McGill, when they went to support Senator Botoe Kanneh against the CDC candidate, to the annoyance of Mr. McGill, for which no investigation has been conducted against Mr. McGill.
“Co-petitioner Aloysius Toe is harmed and injured in that he was a victim of the alleged acts of withholding evidence in criminal prosecutions for which Cllr. Syrenius Cephus has been accused by the United States Government, because during a bogus trial of Aloysius Toe and others, on forging political documents, Cllr. Cephus withheld and extracted from the evidence, documents that would have proven the innocence of Toe and others, for which no investigation has been conducted.
“That 3rd Petitioners are harmed and injured in that they were victims of the acts of targeting, intimidating and threatening political opponents for which Mr. Nathaniel McGill has been accused by the United States Government, because 3rd Petitioners were unlawfully arrested and detained in the Gbarpolu forest for five days in December 2020, and threatened with near death, on the orders of Mr. Nathaniel McGill, when they went to support Senator Botoe Kanneh against the CDC candidate, to the annoyance of Mr. McGill, for which no investigation has been conducted against Mr. McGill .
“That petitioners are harmed and injured in that the public US$1.5 million allegedly diverted by Bill Tweah has led to high port-storage costs on importers, thereby resulting to increase in the prices of consumable commodities, high prices which continued to be borne by Petitioner
“That acts of public corruption for which the sanctioned officials are accused, have siphoned millions of public resources, thereby depriving Petitioners of basic social services in healthcare delivery, education, electricity, etc.
“That as a direct and indirect cause of the alleged corrupt actions by the sanctioned officials, Petitioners and the people of Liberia have been victimized by poverty and inequality, have experienced economic loss and inefficiency in government, and have experienced public sector dysfunctionality”, the petitioners said among other things.
Citing several articles in the constitution, the petitioners asked the Supreme Court to compel the respondents that they “must faithfully execute duties and obligations prescribed by the law of the land”.
Making their specific case for prosecution, the petitioners “respectfully begs this Honourable Court to take judicial notice of the official report of the US Government of August 15, 2022, appertaining to imposition of sanctions on three -named individuals by the United States Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), under the Global Magnitsky Act”.
“The Report “designated (three) Liberian Government officials (in persons of) Nathaniel McGill, Sayma Syrenius Cephus, and Bill Twehway for their involvement in ongoing public corruption in Liberia.” In the referenced Report, the Government of the United States of America accused Minister Nathaniel McGill, Solicitor General Sayma Syrenius Cephus, and National Port Authority Managing Director Bill Twehway of being responsible for or complicit in, or have directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gains, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.
“That Nathaniel McGill bribed business owners, received bribes from potential investors, accepted kickbacks for steering contracts to companies in which they have an interest, manipulated public procurement processes in order to award multi-million dollar contracts to companies in which they have ownership, abused emergency procurement and rigged contracts, soliciting bribes from government office seekers and misappropriating government assets for personal gains, used government funds to run private projects, made off-the-books payments to senior government leaders, organized warlords to threaten political rivals, received unjustified stipend from various Liberian Government institutions and used his position to prevent his misappropriation from being discovered.”
“That Sayma Syrenius Cephus developed close relationships with suspects of criminal investigations and has received bribes from individuals in exchange for having their cases dropped. Cephus worked behind the scenes to establish arrangements with subjects of money laundering investigations to cease investigations in order to personally benefit financially. He shields money launderers and helps clear them through the court system and has intimidated other prosecutors in an attempt to quash investigations. Cephus has…hindered investigations and blocked the prosecution of corruption cases involving members of the government. Cephus has been accused of tempering with and purposefully withholding evidence in cases involving members of opposition political parties to ensure conviction.”
“That Bill Twehway orchestrated the diversion of $1.5 usd in vessel storage fee funds from the NPA into a private account. Twehway secretly formed a private company to which, through his position at NPA, he later unilaterally awarded a contract for loading and unloading cargo at the Port of Buchanan.”
The petitioners maintained that the acts, for which the United States Government accused the herein three (3) named Liberian Government officials, are outrageously violative of the Penal Code of Liberia, anti-money laundering, public procurement laws, and the Code of Conduct for Public Officials. They said based on that, “the President of the Republic moved quickly and suspended the three (3) U. S. sanctioned – Liberian Government official from their respective offices, further fueling reasonable suspicion and belief that the acts alleged by the United States Government were likely to have been committed and that the individuals so named and sanctioned could have committed those grave and serious felony crimes under Liberian laws, with the resulting imposition of duties and obligations on the herein Respondents (Ministry of Justice, Liberia National Police and Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission) to conduct criminal investigation, and establishing probable cause, commence the conduct of criminal prosecution against the U. S. sanctioned Liberian Government officials”.
The petitioner contended that up to and including the date of this Petition, and despite the public announcement made by the President of the Republic, pledging investigation in this matter, Respondents have not acted upon and seemingly have no intention to execute their duties prescribed by law to investigate these serious felony accusations, and establish probable cause, proceed forthwith, to prosecute those accused by the United States Government.
“For this neglect and failure on the part of the Respondents, petitioners submit that Mandamus will lie to compel Respondents to conduct an investigation and establish probable cause, commence prosecution of the sanctioned officials. Your Honor is most respectfully requested to take judicial notice of the President of Liberia’s public statement promising investigation”, the petitioners said.