.... ‘Bad Media Campaign'
When the political leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP), Benoni Urey, accused the political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander Cummings of tampering with the framework agreement of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), the Solicitor General, Counselor Syrenius Cephus, appeared on many media institutions using derogatory statements against Cummings.
Thereafter, Cephus led the preparation of the indictment of Cummings and other senior officials of the ANC, and subsequently had the indictment distributed to the media and also on social media. Cummings is being prosecuted by the Ministry of Justice along with two of his party hierarchy -- Senator Daniel Naatehn, Chairman of the party, and Atty. Alloysius Toe, Secretary-General for allegedly tampering with the CPP framework documents when Cummings served as chairman in 2021.
At some point, Cephus openly said that he was going to convict Cummings and his co-defendants, while the case was still with the Monrovia City Court, undecided.
Is Cephus losing the media war he started against Cummings?
This was manifested, on April 4, when Cephus verbally complained to the defense team of engaging in a bad media campaign against him, using the very Cephus press release, to launch a smear campaign on his ntegrity, credibility, and reputation.
Though Monday's proceedings were not about Cephus’ complaint of a bad media campaign, it was intended for Magistrate Jomah Jallah to hear and pass on a judgment into two requests Cephus filed before the court.
While arguing the side of the case, Cephus diverted to raise concern about the ‘bad media campaign’, and subsequently asked Magistrate Jallah to probe into his concern.
Interestingly, the magistrate refused to get himself involved with Cephus’ media campaign complaint, instead, he directed Cephus to argue his two requests that were filed before the court.
Despite Magistrate Jallah’s disinterest in Cephus’ concern, Cephus went ahead, saying, “I want to call your attention, (Your Honor) and the attention of this court to the many defamatory press releases that the defense team is engaged in just to ruin my reputation. It is not I… who brought the case against Cummings.”
Additionally, Cephus threatened the defense team that if they do not refrain from the bad publicity against him, he has another direction to take the case.
“I am the Solicitor General and I have other theories of the case. You are doing harm to your client by engaging and sponsoring negative media reports against my reputation,” Cephus was heard saying.
While Cephus’ own media campaign against Cummings may have backfired, Cummings lead lawyer, Counselor Abraham Sillah, did not waste time to respond to Cephus' complaint.
Sillah, after Cephus rested, attributed the origin of the negative media campaign to Cephus’ own doing. “While the case is still on, you appeared as a guest on many radio stations, and said, “you will convict Cummings of the commission of forgery.”
“I am surprised that you brought up this issue because you, Cephus, from the onset of the case, have personally authored a series of derogatory press releases on the reputation of Cummings,” Sillah said.
It is no surprise that Cummings is winning the case in the court of public opinion.
“Your Honor,” Sillah said, drawing the attention of Magistrate Jallah to some of Cephus’ initial comments about the case to Cummings, “Check the chat room of the River Gee County Bar Association, of which Cephus is a member. There you will see Cephus’ post that contains a derogatory statement against Cummings.”
The River Gee Bar Association is a conglomeration of lawyers that hailed from the county.
Meanwhile, in one of Cephus’ press releases, he accused Cummings of falsely presenting himself in the eyes of the Liberian people and the international community as the only alternative voice in the CPP, at the expense of others.
“The office of the Solicitor-General has taken seize of this matter, primarily not because the alleged fraudulent act complained of involves Alexander Cummings and others from the Alternative National Congress (ANC), against the political interests of other Liberians in the CPP, but because it has the potential to gravely undermine and damage Liberia’s multi-party democracy and thereby plunge the CPP and the entire country into serious political crisis, which will not augur well for the peace and security of the state,” stated the press release authored by Cllr. Cephus.
He stated that Mr. Cummings deserves no special treatment during the trial and should be treated like a common criminal defendant, up to the end of the trial.