STATEMENT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE CLRR.FRANK MUSAH DEAN JR.MINISTER OF JUSTICE/ATTORNEY GENERAL.AT A PRESS CONFERENCE HELD IN THE CONFERENCE ROOM OF THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
MARCH 28, 2019
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the press. We thank you profoundly for attending this press conference, and to all of you listening to us by radio or social media.
We call you here this morning to brief you on a number of important issues happening in the country.
- THE ISSUE OF THE PRINTED LIBERIAN DOLLAR BANKNOTES:
You will recall that on March 4, 2019, the government of Liberia, acting through the Ministry of Justice, arrested, charged and indicted five (5) senior officials of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) and Crane Currency of Sweden. Those arrested, charged and indicted are:
- Milton A. Weeks, former Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia.
- Charles E. Sirleaf, Deputy Governor for Operation;
- Dorbor M. Hagba, Director of the Finance Department;
- Richard M. Walker, Director for Operations; and
- Joseph Dennis, Deputy Director for Internal Audit.
These current and past officials were arrested, charged and indicted for Economic Sabotage, Criminal Conspiracy and Criminal Facilitation. They have since been released on bail, and are awaiting trial by Criminal Court “C” which is scheduled for the May Term.
Meanwhile, based on recommendations contained in the Kroll and Presidential Investigation Team’s Reports, which call for further understanding and investigation into the US$ 25m dollar Mop-Up Exercise, by directive of the President, His Excellency George Manneh Weah, the Ministry of Justice has commissioned an investigative audit by the General Audit Commission (GAC). The Term of Reference (ToR) and Letter of Engagement have been duly executed to commence the investigative audit. The GAC has asked for six (6) weeks to do a thorough investigative audit and the request was granted.
- THE ISSUE OF THE DEATH OF MATTHEW INNIS,DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF MICRO FINANCE AND LOAN,CENTRAL BANK OF LIBERIA.
On March 3, 2019, the Crime Against Person Unit of the Liberia National Police was informed by the Zone Nine (9) Police Commander about an alleged hit and run incident, resulting into the death of victim Matthew Innis at 72nd Paynesville. After a thorough and exhaustive investigation, the following findings and conclusions were reached:
That the deceased left his 72nd Broad Street residence on Saturday morning March 2, 2019, for his Central Bank Office on Ashmun Street, and was seen back in his community at about 2:00am, Sunday morning;
That the deceased did not go home directly; but passed his intersection and stopped his vehicle on the main road;
That the deceased disembarked from his vehicle without shoes, wearing only socks on his feet, with his car engine still on and stood on the road looking at his vehicle;
That while the deceased was still looking at his vehicle, an unidentified vehicle came from the 72nd direction, speeding in the middle of the road, hit the deceased and escaped the scene;
That when the deceased was hit by the unknown vehicle, Junior Wesseh, aka Lucky Boy, a resident of the area witnessed the incident, made an advance to the unknown vehicle while still in motion and called out to the driver to stop because he had hit someone; but the driver fled the scene with terrific speed;
That Messrs. Lucky Richard and L. Henry F. Davis, both residents of the area, were in the vicinity when the incident occurred and ran to the scene while the deceased was still alive;
That one Mr. Isaiah T. Gibson shortly arrived on the scene with his blue Nissan 1.4 Sedan, bearing license plate number A-213710, and upon being told by Lucky Richard what had transpired, immediately went to the police checkpoint at Neezoe and informed the police;
That police officer Jackson O. Kollie, along with two (2) other officers, drove to the scene in the vehicle of Mr. Isaiah T. Gibson while the deceased was still lying behind his vehicle. The deceased was placed in his vehicle, a white Toyota-4 Runner Jeep, with license plate number 51448, and taken to the Peace Home Clinic at the 72nd Junction for medical attention, but were referred to a bigger hospital:
That the deceased was then taken to the ELWA hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival by Dr. Anthony O. Josiah, with medical Board License number 895-13;
That while at the ELWA Hospital, where the deceased was pronounced dead, the police officers were joined by the deceased’s family members, in the persons of Oldada Deshield, brother of the deceased; Victoria Deshield, Spouse of Oldada Deshield; Esther Innis, sister of the deceased; Abel Washington, Community Pastor and Joseph Simoke. The said family members requested the Medical Certificate of Death and transferred the deceased to the Samuel A. Stryker Funeral Parlour;
That the deceased’s personal effects, found in his vehicle, including: a Samsung Galaxy Duel cell phone, one black HP-Laptop with charger, one green face cap, one blue back bag, two pairs of sneakers (Black and Blue), one internet modem, one CBL working identification Card and nine (9) discs were turned over to his family and the vehicle was taken to the zone nine (9) Police Sub-station for further processing; and
That except for the hit and run findings, criminal homicide was not established.
The Liberia National Police shall continue to pursue every lead geared at arresting the driver of the hit and run vehicle. The remains were turned over to the family for burial.
MAN CHARGED WITH MURDER AND FORWARDED TO COURT
On March 10, 2019, the LNP arrested a 19 year old man identified as Alex Zayzay of the Nickley Town Community, Gardnersville, for alleged murder. During police investigation, the suspect voluntarily admitted shooting the victim with a single barrel gun, but claimed it was done in error. As a result of the shooting, the victim, Korpo Peters, was pronounced dead at the John F. Kennedy Medical Hospital. The accused has been duly charged with murder and is to shortly appear in Court.
On March 20, 2019, the police discovered the body of a five (5) year old boy, identified as Kalifala Kromah, in a vehicle which had been parked at the Zone Four (4) Police Station. The vehicle was ordered impounded by the Gardnersville Magisterial Court.
ALLEGED ARMED ROBBERY AT LONE STAR TOWER
On February 11, 2019, Emmanuel Karmo a private security guard assigned at the Johnson Street Lone Star Tower appeared at the Liberia National Police Johnson Street Bridge Check point and reported an alleged armed robbery which he said was in progress at the Roots FM Radio Station premises located on Ashmun Street, Monrovia.
The Commander of the Check point immediately called the LNP Headquarters and reported the matter.
Based on the information received, a team of anti-robbery officers, headed by Superintendent Vah D. Morris, immediately rushed to the Roots FM premises on Ashmun Street, but were informed by a security guard on duty that he was not aware of any incident of theft at the Roots FM premises.
Superintendent Vah D. Morris then called Officer Emmanuel Jarwee, Zone 2 Commander who informed Superintendent Morris that the incident occurred at the Lone Star Tower on Johnson Street.
During the investigation, Emmanuel Karmo, the security guard who reported the incident, told the police that he was attacked by four (4) unknown masked men, armed with knives, pistols and other deadly weapons. The investigation established that the outside Iron Gate to the fence was not locked on the night of the incident. It was also observed that the inner Iron Gate to the room which housed the Lone Star Cell equipment was damaged.
Further, the Investigation Team on Friday, February 15, 2019 obtained Statements from several individuals on guard that night. The investigation also spoke to Atty. Winston R.M. Tubman of Lone Star.
The Police Report, however, revealed that during the Team’s follow-up action, Mr. Fidel Saydee was invited, in writing, to provide the necessary information on the alleged stolen transmitter, including description and serial number of the equipment, purchase order, user’s manual, but failed to make the information available. Thus far, the following findings have been derived:
That the name of Armed Robbery could not be established in the case; rather burglary, the private security assigned at the Tower (Emmanuel Karmo) having failed to convince the investigation, that he was attacked by four (4) unidentified men armed with knives and pistols:
That the outside iron gate to the fence of the building was not locked on the night of the incident; and that the inner iron gate to the room in which the equipment was allegedly stored was damaged; and:
That due to the failure of Mr. Fidel Saydee to provide much needed information on the alleged stolen transmitter, it is difficult for the investigation to establish the actual identify of said equipment. The management of Foots FM is urged to provide the necessary information, relative to the alleged stolen transmitter, to give the investigators an appreciation of what they are in search of as the probe continues for both the equipment and perpetrators of the crime.
DISTRICT# 13 INVESTIGATIVE FINDINGS
An incident of Champaign violence occurred in electoral District No. 13 on Saturday, November 16, 2018, in New Georgia, Gardnersville. The incident is said to have involved partisans of the Unity Party (UP) and the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). When the Liberia National Police launched an investigation into the incident, Madam Cornelia Kruah Togba, the UP candidate was served a formal written communication, dated November 19, 2018 inviting her to a conference on Thursday, November 22, 2018 at 10:00 am at the LNP Headquarters. The communication also requested her to bring along people, both from within and without her Party, who may have witnessed the incident, including victims of the violence, to aid the investigation. A similar communication was addressed and delivered for Mr. John J. Weah, candidate of the CDC, making the same request of him.
The LNP further served the National Elections Commission Chairman, Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya, a communication dated November 19, 2018, inviting him or his representative to the Headquarters of the LNP to provide the LNP with the relevant documents to aid the investigation.
Unfortunately, the two (2) candidates did not turn up. Two (2) other communications, dated January 24, 2019 and February 14, 2019 were sent to the parties. On February 20, 2019 at about 10:30 am, Madam Cornelia Kruah Togbah showed up at the LNP Headquarters accompanied by her lawyer and promised to return with a compressive written complaint on February 21, 2019. Up to and including the moment of this press conference, she has not returned with the comphrensive written complaint.
Mr. John J. Weah said he is not a complainant and any time Madam Cornelia Kruah Togba shows up, he will be prepared to respond to her complaint.
The Liberia National Police is appealing to all parties involved to come forward with the required information to aid the investigation.
Members of the public can be assured of our unflinching commitment to maintain the rule of law.
Our laws must be enforced, no matter against whom. In the process, it does not help to only sit, suspect, criticize and condemn the police, without providing the police pertinent information to aid in their investigations.
In the 2018, 111 rape cases were prosecuted. Of the 111 cases, convictions were obtained in 102 of them as follow: 82 in Montserrado County, 14 in Bong, Lofa and Nimba, 4 in Maryland, Grand Kru and River Gee and two in Grand Gedeh and Sinoe. We shall use every resource at our disposal to rigorously pursue accused rapists and bring them to justice. We are plead by the creation of two (2) courts in Nimba and Bong Counties exclusively devoted to try rape cases. As soon as the courts are steadfast and made functional, our prosecutors shall be available to prosecute rape cases before the courts.
DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENCY:
In an attempt to curb the proliferation of drugs and ghettos in the country, especially in Montserrado County, where this issue seems to be more pronounced, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has established details in Caldwell, King-Gray-ELWA, New Kru Town, Bong Mines, and other areas. We intend to establish most of these details as resources become available. The Drug Enforcement Agency has commenced the monthly burning of narcotics drugs that are arrested from across the country. This is the departure from the past practice of disposing of these narcotics at the end of the year. This change in policy has become necessary because we do not have proper storage facilities to store these drugs for a longer period of time. In adopting this new procedure, we will ensure that all photographs and other evident that are needed for prosecution are preserved.
Why we encourage community policing, citizens are not allowed to take the laws into their own hands. In several parts of the country, citizens, angered by the alleged commission of crimes have resulted to jungle justice. Few days ago, some citizens in Nimba County lynched two (2) persons accused of ritualistic killings and wounded several police officers. Arrests have been made and an active investigation is underway. Those found responsible will be duly charged with murder and prosecuted.
We have followed the political debate taking place in the social media with interest. The expression of divergent views is at the code of our democracy. However, insightful, threatening and hate utterances are violations punishable under our law. Those using the social media to issue threats of assassination, if caught, will be dealt with in conformity with law. No one has a right to threaten the public peace.