.... Says NEC chair while responding to prosecutors’ questions about the conflicting date on CPP framework Document
Lawyers prosecuting Alexander Cummings have discovered that the framework document of the Collaborating Parties was notarized four days after his party had filed the document on behalf of the coalition.
The discovery came when Cllr. Johnny Momoh, one of the lawyers for former Vice President Joseph Boakai was cross-examining the framework document presented to Monrovia City Court by the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission Davidetta Browne Lansanah.
The electoral body chair’s presence at the Court was in response to a subpoena to produce the ‘original copy’ of the CPP framework document which Cummings and two others are being trialed for illegally altering.
Mrs. Lansanah was subpoenaed as a result of Boakai's refusal to testify as a state witness in the absence of the ‘original copy’ of the framework document which Cummings filed at the electoral body while serving as the chair of CPP.
Cllr. Momo is one of the newest additions to the prosecution team as a result of his client, Boakai, serving as a state witness.
And while reviewing the document submitted by the NEC boss, he then found out that the framework document filed by Cummings and co-defendants while conflicting dates — filed on June 10, 2020, and notarized four days later, on June 14.
“This matter is before the Supreme Court, and so I cannot go any further. But, what I can say is that this is the framework document that was filed directly to my office. This is the document that Cummings filed before the NEC,” Mrs. Lansanah said in response to Momohs’ inquiry about the laid down procedure that political parties have to follow while filing documents to NEC.
The action by the NEC chair to receive the document without checking if it was notarized would be a violation of the country's electoral law, which among other things require documents like the CPP framework to be notarized before submission.
But this was not the case as the NEC chairperson at first went ahead to personally receive the CPP framework document when filed by Cummings and co-defendants.
Four days later, a notarized version of the framework document was filed, however, with the June 10, submission date.
Cummings and two other leaders of the Alternative National Congress are on trial for forgery and criminal conspiracy, regarding the alleged tampering with the CPP framework agreement.
But Cummings and his partisans have denied the claim.
The former VP, as a state witness, is expected to share with the court what he knows, specifically as it relates to the copy of the framework document submitted to NEC by Cummings, as well as other information that prosecutors need to implicate Cummings in the commission of the act.
Prosecutors are heavily relying on the former VP's testimony, which they believe is important 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.
But 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, whose complaint to the government is the basis of the trial.
Despite the newest twist in the trial, prosecutors are yet to prove the allegations that Cummings fraudulently altered the framework document without the knowledge of his other colleagues.
Nothing like ‘the original framework
Cummings and his co-defendants, in February while responding to a subpoena from the Court, denied having in his possession any document called the CPP original framework.
Cummings and his co-accused informed Magistrate Jallah then that none of the defendants, singly or jointly, or along with the representatives of the CPP, signed received, or have what is described as the "original signed framework document of May 19, 2020."
“Hence, we do not have the document described in the subpoena as the ‘original signed Framework document of May 19, 2020.’ This document has never existed and does not exist,” Cummings and his co-defendants informed magistrate Jallah. “Rather, the only signed Framework document is the one filed with NEC in July 2020, and a copy of which is attached to this communication."
Meanwhile, Cllr. Momoh, during his cross-examination of the NEC chair, had opposed the framework document presented to the court by the NEC boss, terming it as the "photocopy" version and not the original as requested in the Court subpoena.
But Mrs. Lansanah responded, saying that the document was what she received from Cummings and nothing else.
The trial at Monrovia City Court was initiated after the ALP, founded by businessman Urey, complained of Cummings to the government for forgery and criminal conspiracy, regarding the alleged tampering of the Collaborating Political Parties framework agreement.
The ALP leader, who 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 the alleged framework tampering, Boakai said in a statement.
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.