February 28, 2024

Govt Drops Criminal Charges Against Cummings and Others

The Government of Liberia through its Solicitor-General, Sayma Syrenius Cephus has announced that the Government has dropped all charges against Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, and others for ‘forgery and criminal conspiracy” brought against them by the All Liberian Party ( ALP).

In a statement issued on Friday, May 3, 2022, the Solicitor-General Cephus said there was no reason to further adjudicate the case following the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of the Unity Party and the ALP to field a candidate in the Lofa County Senatorial Bi-Election.

The ALP of Benoni Urey sued Mr. Cummings and his party’s hierarchy for allegedly altering the CPP framework document and inserting an illegal exit clause that bar breakaway members of the CPP from contesting in any election until 2024. The case has been lingering at the Monrovia City Court for months.

However, in the wake of the High Court’s ruling in favor of the UP and ALP in a separate case that borders on the same exit clause, the Chief Prosecutor, in a lengthy statement under the title, “Why All Criminal Charges Are Dropped Against Alexander B. Cummings and Others “Without Prejudice to the State,” stated that amid the Supreme Court’s ruling, “the excitement and the will power to vigorously prosecute the Cummings’ case and ensure that justice, whether “CONVICTION or ACQUITTAL” is achieved, have strangely fallen on ice.”

Sayma Syrenius Cephus: “Pursuant to the Supreme Court’s interpretation, and being a Liberian citizen who has practiced and continues to practice before this court of last resort, I find it absolutely difficult if not impossible to delude myself of the fact that when the court speaks on any issue of law whether directly or indirectly, as in the case of Alexander B. Cummings, every other major or auxiliary issue appertaining thereto becomes legally shallow or moot and somewhat difficult if not impossible to litigate.”

He continued: “the excitement and the willpower to vigorously prosecute the Cummings’ case and ensure that justice, whether “Conviction or Acquittal” is achieved, have strangely fallen on ice. Therefore, I am constrained to highlight the compelling need of calling a spade a spade, end the trial and drop any and all criminal charges against defendants Alexander B. Cummings and his lieutenants without prejudice to the state and with the right to re-file where applicable. In so doing, let me refresh and drill your mind through some of the actions in court for the last five (5) months in prosecuting a “misdemeanor” and why such a decision has become an alternative to serve as a form of a respite rather than an absolute relief.”

“Therefore, the extent of injury the Republic of Liberia has suffered for the alteration or forging of the CPP framework document, which in my opinion is a private contract between private parties is “remote” and does not rise to the level of being “egregious” to warrant further prosecution of this matter, “ he further explained.

According to him, the supposedly private prosecutor on whose behalf the Liberian state is prosecuting this matter is neither the ALP nor the UP, instead, it is imaginary, hence, it is difficult to decipher the raison d’être, why Cummings and others should still be in the dock when the moving parties (ALP and UP) are not signatories to and have out rightly rejected the disputed framework document that was filed with the NEC. Liberian law in my opinion does not prosecute anyone for a crime whose victim is prospective and in which there is no injury or damage done.

He however explained that the Ministry of Justice as the prosecuting arm of the government and the guarantor of law and public order could not stand idly by or play spectator to emotional exchanges and name-calling, claims, and counterclaims that attended the alleged forgery and criminal conspiracy saga in the CPP.

He maintained that the Ministry had to act judiciously to avert what was gradually becoming a state of pandemonium and public unrest within the CPP to serve as a form of deterrence. Now that the Republic of Liberia has a full appreciation of the facts, circumstances, and the quantum of evidence, it is constrained to take legal recourse to the law which says: “The ethical and primary duty of a prosecutor is not to convict, but to afford the defendant charged with a crime a fair and impartial trial. Fairness of trial must comprehend the justness of the laws under which the defendant answers, and the justness of those laws must be measured against the defendant’s rights under the Constitution.

Reported by: Stephen G. Fellajuah

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