Liberia: Boakai, Cummings to Face-off at Trial

Former Vice President of Liberia, Joseph N. Boakai, left and former Coca-Cola executive, Alexander B. Cummings.

The political leader of the opposition Unity Party is expected to testify in the ongoing trial of Alexander Cummings and other members of the Alternative National Congress as a result of a subpoena that has been issued by the Magistrate of the Monrovia City Court.

The subpoena, which was issued by Magistrate Jomah Jallah yesterday, cited Joseph Boakai, a former Vice President of Liberia, to appear on April 19, to testify as the second witness for the state — as requested by the prosecutors.

He will testify specifically as to the service of a copy of the framework document submitted to the National Elections Commission by Cummings while serving as chairman of Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) and is also expected to produce documents like the press release, minutes of meetings of the National Executive Committee members of the CPP that might implicate Cummings in the commission of the act.

Magistrate Jallah, while granting the request to subpoena Boakai, agreed with the prosecutors’ to have the former VP produce those demanded documents as part of his testimony.

Prosecutors are heavily relying on the former VPs testimony, which is valuable to them in the criminal trial against Cummings, the political leader of the ANC, and his co-defendants, the party Chairman Daniel Naatehn and Secretary-General Aloysius Toe, due to his firsthand knowledge about the CPP framework document, which prosecutors alleged were altered by the defendants.

The ANC officials have vehemently rejected and denied the charges as bogus, and politically motivated as part of conspiracies between the All Liberian Party of Benoni Urey and the ruling CDC with ulterior motives.

And if Boakai were to testify, it would not go down well with Cummings who had described the ideal as a “dagger of Brutus” in the past — claiming that Boakai knows that he (Cummings) is innocent and is being falsely accused.

“It would be the dagger of Brutus and will be surprised if Boakai does so.  He knows deep inside we are being falsely accused. If I have committed any crime, it is standing for the promise we made to the Liberian people. It would be really interesting to see Joe testify against me.  I am very certain of winning the case. We did not alter the CPP Framework Document and the charges against us are false and misleading,” Cummings said. 

Cummings' lead lawyer, Cllr. Abrahim Sillah, who uncontested the court subpoena, had advised the UP political leader not to accept the government’s offer to testify about documents that he is not knowledgeable about.

According to Cllr. Sillah, if Boakai testifies, it would jeopardize his presidential bid for the pending 2023 presidential and general elections.

“This is a calculated plan to endanger your presidential ambition because Cephus will want you to lie in his favor, which by the law is perjury and that is a very serious crime under the law,” Cllr. Sillah added. “Boakai does not have any knowledge about the chartroom, because he was not a frequent participant in the chartroom and so he doesn't have any knowledge of the documents Cephus is demanding for him to produce. It was the ANC and the ALP that had 90 percent participation in the chatroom.”

However, the Solicitor General Syrenius Cephus has disagreed with the defense lawyers — describing Boakai as a very respectful individual who has no record of lying.

“Boakai is a truth-teller, and no record to show that he is a liar,” Cephus said of Boakai. “Boakai was in the CPP, when the information about the alteration was first reported, which puts him in a good position to testify on behalf of the government.  VP Boakai is a crucial witness to this case and it is based on testimony that the matter will be decided.”

“Nobody will be allowed to advise the former VP to testify in the case because he is the case decider. If anyone tries to jeopardize the witness’s testimony, the government will go after the said person,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Cummings lawyers have rested with cross-examination of the state first witness Theodore Momo, Chairman of the ALP — noting that his responses indicated no alterations of the CPP framework document as reviewed and submitted by the CPP team of Lawyers.

Cllr. Sillah said witness Momo’s nearly one month of cross-examination established that he, as a member of the CPP National Advisory Council and other political party chairmen noted, and acknowledged every social media text message and conversation posted by his client while serving as CPP Chairman then.

The trial at Monrovia City Court was initiated after the ALP, founded by businessman Benoni Urey, complained of his opposition compatriot to the government for forgery and criminal conspiracy, regarding the alleged tampering of the Collaborating Political Parties framework agreement.

The ALP, which is a strong political ally of former Vice President Boakai and his Unity Party (UP), is fulfilling his promise to seek legal action for an “unlawful attachment” of its leader’s signature to the now-defunct CPP framework document.  It is an open secret that Urey has opposed Cummings’ Presidential ambition — creating some kind of bad blood between the two.

The CPP, which was once seen as a threat to the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change, collapsed after the UP withdrew from the collaboration “due to Cummings’ failure to attend meetings” that were intended to resolve an impasse over alleged framework tampering, Boakai said in a statement.

However, the ANC rejected the former vice president's claims — instead, they blamed his ‘inability’ to unite and reconcile the CPP as the primary reason for its collapse.