Liberia: Cummings: "I Am Going to Win Gov’t in Court"

  Alexander B. Cummings, the political leader of the Alternative National Congress and co-accused has interposed no objection to the State's for Nolle Prosequi.  

Alexander Cummings has vowed to beat back efforts by the Ministry of Justice to have him convicted for allegedly forging the framework document of the Collaborating Political Parties. 

Cummings, who is the political leader of the Alternative National Congress, argued that he is not just innocent, but subject to wrongful "prosecution" — with the aim of weakening his presidential bid which, he believes, could make President George Weah a one-time president.

"I am innocent. And being wrongfully trialed. This is persecution instead of prosecution, but I will win," Cummings added. "I will triumph over the government no matter what they do. The charges are frivolous.  I am going to win against the government  in court."

"I fully expect that this trial will end in the next two to three weeks. They have no evidence and the facts are on our side. No matter what, I will win against the government in court," he added.

The ANC leader noted that what baffled him most is that while he is being tried at the magisterial court, one of the lower courts in Liberia, the country's Solicitor General is personally prosecuting this case when there are other serious crimes to be prosecuted, which he has dodged and is nowhere to be seen. 

He added that while his case is all political, it is bad that the government is using the Judiciary to prosecute a political opponent — something that is "not good for our democracy, and  not good for our country." 

Cummings further said that his trial is not just unacceptable but a mockery of the country's Judiciary, but hopes that the Judiciary can take note and resist being controlled. 

"The President and others are really making our Judiciary look bad. It seems like the Judiciary is not independent. They control it. I really hope Judges at the Judiciary rise up and push back," the ANC leader noted.

Cummings, along with his party chair, Senator Daniel Naatehn and Secretary-General Aloysius Toe, are being prosecuted by the government based on a complaint from Benoni Urey of the All Liberia Party for forgery and criminal conspiracy, regarding the alleged tampering of the CPP’ framework agreement. 

However, the ANC leader and co-defendants have denied the charges and accused the government of political witch-hunting  and a politically motivated conspiracy between Urey and the ruling CDC with ulterior motives.

The trial against Cummings and his co-defendants has reached a point where the prosecutor is finding it difficult to have a second witness to testify against the defendants. 

The second witness, in person of former President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, has yet to testify and it seems as though he does not plan to. Earlier this week, the sheriff of the Monrovia City Court complained about difficulty in locating the former VP to serve him a subpoena. 

However, the Secretary General of UP, Mo Ali, told the Daily Observer on April 19 — a day before Mr. Boakai was due to appear in court — that neither he nor his party was aware of any subpoena issued to its political leader to testify in the ongoing trial of Cummings and other members of the ANC. 

Now the  Ministry of Justice has appealed to Magistrate Jomah Jallah to grant its request of deposition as a means of having the former Vice President answer questions under oath. 

The Ministry’s appeal was communicated via Solicitor General Saymah Syrenius Cephus — asking the Court to have Boakai appear for a deposition as part of the prosecution’s right to preserve testimonial evidence and prove its case despite the unavailability of its witness. 

The former VP is the standard-bearer and political leader of the opposition Unity Party. Cllr. Cephus’ deposition request, if granted, means the former VP will not have to appear in court to testify against his opposition colleague, Cummings, who he worked with for a few years as one of the leaders of the CPP. 

But Boakai will share with the court what he knows, specifically as it relates to the copy of the framework document submitted to the National Elections Commission by Cummings while serving as chairman of CPP.  

Boakai is also expected to produce documents like press releases and minutes of meetings of the National Executive Committee members of the CPP that might implicate Cummings in the commission of the act of forgery as claimed by the ALP and the government in the suit.  

Prosecutors are heavily relying on the former VP’s testimony, which is valuable to them in the criminal trial against Cummings and his co-defendants, due to his firsthand knowledge about the CPP framework document, which prosecutors alleged were altered by the defendants.  

Earlier, Attorney Adolphus Karnuah, a member of the prosecution team, had admitted that they omitted several portions of the social media exchanges, which Magistrate Jallah had confirmed as prosecutors' shreds of evidence in the case.  

Atty. Karnuah's confession came forth when lawyers representing Cummings accused the Solicitor General of extracting from his evidence the exchanges of social media messages between Cummings and other leaders of the CPP in the National Advisory Council chatroom.

"They have no evidence"

Cummings meanwhile argued that it is sickening to hear the Solicitor General  saying that “the case is done" and that they have "a preponderance of evidence yet, they are withholding evidence and asking us to testify against ourselves."  

"You [have] this environment where people don’t feel safe but he is not around. It is the political nature of this case. First they (the government)  said we should produce evidence against ourselves," Cummings said. "Laughable. The evidence that did not exist then in the court, they extracted evidence in a clear case of prosecutorial misconduct."

The Liberian politician added that  the framework document he is being prosecuted for was used for almost two years and there was no problem "when we won elections." 

"They went on extracting a certain portion from the Agreement. They came back and said it was a mistake but of course it was deliberate. I fully expect that this trial will end in the next two to three weeks. They have no evidence and the facts are on our side. We are undeterred. We know the facts. "

"The disgraceful behavior of the prosecutorial team led by President Weah’s Solicitor-General, who has publicly indicated the Judiciary for being propelled by political decisions, and continues to conduct himself questionably and dishonorably, and has spent government resources wastefully in delaying what is clearly a political witch-hunt that is unsupported by evidence he claimed to have had to prosecute us," Cummings said.

Meanwhile, Cummings argued that the trial against him has not affected his chances for the Presidency in 2023, "even though we are not officially campaigning yet." 

According to Cummings, he has been traveling around the country and preaching his message  for change to the Liberian people.

The message, Cummings argued, is a new version of governance of the country which is geared towards lifting Liberians  from the years of dependency into which "we have been trapped for too long, into the actual ownership of our development and progress." 

He added that no one will feed Liberians but Liberians and that no one will care for Liberia more than 'we ought to care for ourselves." 

"No one will fix our schools or improve our hospitals than we need to do for ourselves. Liberia is too rich for our people to be so poor," Cummings noted. "Our country is too blessed to be so cursed because of leadership that only looks after itself, its political friends and its relatives. We are too wealthy to be beggars. This foolishness we continue to do to ourselves must end. I promise you a Cummings Administration will end it."

The ANC political leader noted that he had learned a long time ago that a student who depends on his classmates to pass a test is a student looking to fail the test. But to pass a test in class, or to succeed in all of life’s many endeavors, Cummings argued, one must learn to depend on oneself — study hard, including at night when others are sleeping. 

"The same is true of a nation. We will not succeed until we depend on ourselves for our success, and agree to work as hard as we can for our success. This is why the Liberian presidency is not a vacation job nor is it a retirement job. It is a job to actually work for change in the lives of the suffering people. The job of a president is not to lead his people to steal, but to stop his officials from stealing. "

"A Cummings Presidency will therefore end the stealing by government officials, or stack up the prisons, if we have to do so!" 

The Liberian politician then reminded  some of his critics who have referred to him as “desperate” that he is desperate to change Liberia —   desperate to it improve the living conditions of his fellow  Liberians — because they deserve better living conditions. 

And when given the vote, Cummings said he will change the direction of the country and improve the living conditions of its people. 

"I make no apologies to anyone for this! I have seen the potential for our country. I have lived in countries with far less than what God has blessed our country to have; and I have seen those countries develop and improve the lives of their people not complaining about what they lacked, but by good and determined leaderships." 

"Here at home, I have seen how the mismanagement of our resources and the lack of leadership have left too many Liberian mothers, fathers, children and babies trapped in recycled poverty, and drained of hope. My heart breaks from the needless suffering of Liberians and the backwardness too many have been forced to unfairly endure. "

"Let there be no mistake: I am desperate to change this. I am desperate to stop this. Liberia deserves better. Liberians deserve better.  And yes, we will change the direction of our country and improve the living conditions of our people," Cummings said.