"The CPP investigative report suffers from significant defects in its scope of review, analytical rigor, and conclusions and cannot withstand scrutiny, provides no reliable substantiation for the allegations and wholly unsafe basis for any criminal prosecution,” — Omnia-Alaco Report
The investigative report by the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), which accused Alexander Cummings and two senior members of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) of tampering with the framework document, has been deemed “wholly unreliable, shoddy and fundamentally flawed, both in terms of its process and its stated conclusions.”
Such damning stance was contained in a forensic investigation report by renowned British lawyer, Cherie Blair, whose international law firm, Omnia Strategy LLP, and the London-based investigations and intelligence firm, Alaco Limited, hired by Cummings to look into the ostensibly serious allegations of forgery leveled against him.
Cummings is being accused by Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party of altering and tampering with the ‘Framework Document’ that brought to life the CPP, a historic unification of four political parties opposing the administration of President George Weah Government and the ruling Coalition for the Democratic Change.
These allegations were upheld by the CPP’s own internal review and then formed the basis of the prosecution before the Monrovia City Court after Urey and his party, the ALP had complained to the government that Cummings and his co-accused — ANC Chairman, Senator Daniel Naatehn of Gbarpolu County and the party’s Secretary-General, Aloysius Toe, in 2020, up to and including July 2020, violated section 15.70 of the New Penal Law of Liberia, by having purposely connived and conspired, to jointly alter the framework documents of the CPP.
But the Omnia-Alaco report, which contains information obtained from open sources and individuals deemed reliable by the two firms, accused the CPP investigative committee whose members were primarily from the All Liberian Party, the Liberty Party, and Unity Party, of drawing conclusions that are not just “fundamentally unreliable” but “impugned the integrity of Cummings without any legitimate basis.”
“Whether deliberately or unintentionally, the CPP report did not take into account key events relating to the Constituent Parties’ review and approval of the framework document post-review (between June 25 and July 14, 2020),” Omnia-Alaco reported. “This failure significantly undermines the findings and credibility of the CPP report while the omission of these events from the Committee’s analysis is inexplicable.
“These events were within the direct knowledge of the Committee by virtue of the involvement of a number of its members in the very events under review, including the Committee Chairman, Theodore Momo [Chairman of the ALP.] Not only does this glaring oversight raise questions regarding the competence and motivations of the Committee but, more importantly, the Committee report is shown to be flawed and unreliable,” the report added.
The report is authored by Omnia Strategies, LLC and Alaco, two British international firms headquartered in London. Omnia is an international law firm founded in 2011 by Mrs. Blair CBE, QC, while Alaco, established in 2002, is a leading business intelligence and investigations firm, based in London and operating globally on behalf of its clients on both transactional and contentious matters.
Omnia specializes in bespoke dispute resolution and dispute prevention around the world, through its unique Law+ approach, combining legal expertise with experience across policy, business, and communications. And Alaco’s multilingual staff draws on its experience from a variety of backgrounds, such as law, government, journalism, financial services, and diplomacy.
Both firms, which are highly recognized internationally, did not state in their report whether any of the adversary parties were contacted to authenticate the information obtained from open source and the individuals deemed reliable by the firms.
The adversary parties — the CPP investigative Committee members — in a report released last year argued that the framework document Cummings submitted to NEC was done with procedural breaches and altered significantly in both content and structure.
Furthermore, the CPP report noted that the filed document was not reviewed or approved by the Constituent Parties before its filing with the NEC in July 2020 by Cummings and his party.
However, the Omnia-Alaco report claimed that the CPP report suffers from significant defects in its scope of review, analytical rigor, and conclusions and lacks the ability to withstand scrutiny, provides no reliable substantiation for the allegations, and wholly unsafe basis for any criminal prosecution.
Omnia-Alaco noted that the CPP Investigative Committee’s finding that there is “no documentation to prove that the parties reviewed and ratified the lawyers’ version of the framework document” is incongruent with a body of evidence comprising correspondence between members of the National Advisory Council (includes political leaders of the four parties) chatroom between June 25, 2020, and the filing of the document with the NEC on July 14, 2020.
“In those exchanges, the members of the NAC WhatsApp Chatroom were given electronic copies of the Post-Review document and the final copy, acknowledged receipt of the same, and requested feedback on the documents. Indeed, informed by the findings in this report it is difficult to conceive how the allegation that Cummings and others conspired to tamper with the framework document could be thought to have any legitimate foundation at all, let alone provide a secure foundation to bring a criminal prosecution where the consequences are so personally and politically profound. “
“The simple fact, in our view, is that the framework document as filed with the NEC [the electoral body] on July 14, 2020, has been duly reviewed, discussed, approved, endorsed, and signed by the relevant leaders of the Constituent Parties. It is no more complicated than that.”
The Omnia-Alaco report also disclosed that while the independent investigation of the allegations against Cummings has been thorough and forensic; it, however, wonders how a how “baseless complaints have been upheld” and bolstered by a fundamentally unreliable, amateurish, political process masquerading “as a neutral investigative review, and are inexplicably now before the criminal courts. “
It added that given the inevitably serious personal and political implications of the findings of the CPP Investigative Committee Report – particularly the potential to stigmatize --Liberians deserved a rigorous investigation, dependable analysis, and sound conclusions.
Instead, it argued that the manner in which the allegations have been casually amplified and wrongly given credence “raises important questions about the motivations of the CPP Investigative Committee” and the enthusiasm with which its findings “have been used by the Government of Liberia to underpin the criminal prosecution of a political opponent.”
“Whether this was simply incompetence or something more underhand remains to be seen, but four things appear certain: The integrity of Cummings has been impugned without any legitimate basis, and the internal CPP Investigative Committee report is wholly unreliable, and a shoddy and unsafe basis for any public investigation let alone a criminal prosecution of a prominent political opponent led by the Solicitor General for the Weah Government.”
“Those standing to benefit from these spurious attacks on Cummings are his political opponents, both in the Executive Mansion and others vying for presidential office in 2023; and given the woefulness of the case against Cummings and his fellow ANC member co-defendants and the substantial effects this would inevitably have on their political aspirations and Liberians’ choice in next year’s election, questions naturally arise concerning the motivation of his accusers and those pushing criminal prosecution.”
Meanwhile, the Omnia-Alaco report comes just a week after former Vice President Joseph Boakai testified at the Monrovia City court that he did not receive a copy of the framework document that was submitted to the NEC by Cummings while serving as chair of the CPP.
Boakai, an opposition leader for the former ruling Unity Party, and a key state witness in the criminal trial of Cummings, and his co-accused disclosed that the amended in the CPP framework document were also forwarded to a validation committee but did not see the final copy or received it before Cummings and his party filed such to the electoral body.
“After the lawyers reviewed the framework document, we decided to make five original copies of the document, one each for the four political parties and the remaining for the NEC. But, I did not receive our copy of the original copy of the framework document,” Boakai said during his testimony last week.
The UP leader maintains that after the lawyers’ review and presentation to the four parties leader, he never saw the document again after it was submitted to the validation committee. His testimony came as a result of subpoenas from the Monrovia City Court, which compelled him to appear and testify, to his knowledge, whether the CPP framework document was altered by Cummings and his co-defendants as alleged by Urey.
Cummings, in response to the Omnia-Alaco report, said: “The findings of the report are conclusive. With the baselessness of the accusations against me now laid bare, the truth — that this was a politicized attempt to impugn my integrity and derail our movement for real change — may prevail. I have always stood firm and calm when the government has violated my own democratic rights. But I could not remain calm as the government orchestrated this trial, which has been an assault on the democratic rights of all Liberians and the values of the international democratic community.”