Liberia: Police IG Delays Court's Arrest Order?

The Inspector General of the Liberia National Police (LNP), Col. Patrick Sudue.

An unprecedented legal drama is gripping the Criminal Court 'C', as the Inspector General of the Liberia National Police (LNP), Colonel Patrick Sudue, is dragging his feet to endorse the court's order for police to arrest several co-defendants in the US$5 million case that involves the Secretary of the Liberian Senate, Nanborlor Singbeh.

Singbeh, together with his co-defendants including three Czech Republic nationals Karel Socher, Ales Sranmek, and Jan Holask, several other Liberians, as well as Ecobank Liberia limited and Afriland First Bank, were indicted early this year in connection to the siphoning of about US$5 million in both cash and mining equipment transferred to Singbeh for the establishment of a mining company, MHM Eko Liberia.

The money and mining equipment were transferred through the two banks and the Freeport of Monrovia, by Czech Republic investors Martin Miloschewsky and Pavel Miloschewsky to Singbeh. However, the Miloschewsky brothers are claiming that Singbeh received the cash and equipment, and the company was never established, which they are demanding that Singbeh and his co-defendants be held accountable.

It was based on the indictment that the court, on Apirl 14, ssued an arrest order targeting several of the defendants excluding Singbeh, who had already surrendered himself to the jurisdiction of the court for the endorsement of the request by Col. Sudue, to have the police coordinate with the court officers to arrest those defendants, who are yet to follow Singbeh’s compliance posture.

However, those Czech Republic nationals, are believed to have fled the biliwick of the country, and if IG Sudue were to endorse the court order, it would have given the Interpol Division of the LNP the legal authority to place their names on an Interpol arrest list, that could have made it easier for their arrest.

It all started on April 21, when the private prosecutor and Attorney-in-fact to the Miloschewsky brothers, and a British national, Hans Armstrong, accompanied the court sheriff to inquire about the status of the arrest order.

This is because in the absence of the arrest of some of the defendants, particularly those currently in the country and who are believed to be on the run, it would be very difficult for the court to commence further hearing of the trial.

When Armstrong and the sheriff arrived at the headquarters of the LNP, they proceeded to the office of IG Sudue, because it was where the sheriff submitted the arrest order for the quick endorsement by Sudue.

Initially, according to the sheriff, when such an order is submitted to the office of the inspector general, it takes less than two days to have it endorsed by the IG. But it has taken almost a week and the document is yet to be endorsed by the IG.

Upon arrival there, Armstrong and the sheriff were greeted by a police officer who said he is the one who received and subsequently submitted the document to the chief of office staff to IG Sudue.

After hours of waiting, the sheriff was ushered into the office of the IG.  When the sheriff returned she informed Armstrong that she had gone through an investigation by the Sudue's chief of office staff, which, according to her, was very strange.

During her interrogation, the sheriff claimed that she was asked as to why the court was interested in using the police to arrest Singbeh, eventhough Singbeh’s name did not appear on the list of individuals that should covered the arrest order.

“I explained to him that Singbeh’s name is on the caption of the case, but he is not among the people that we want the police to help us to arrest them,” the female sheriff explained out of frustration. “What is so important about Singbeh that the IG Sudue is delaying to endorse the arrest order?”

According to the sheriff, Sudue's chief of office staff told her to contact the Ministry of Justice for further clarity on the IG Sudue’s continued delay to endorse the arrest order that was expected to have taken less than two days to endorse.

Copy of the court order, dated April 14, 2022, and signed by Knowles W. Shain, clerk of the court, and subsequently received on the same day and signed for by officer Victor G. Kemakw, with attachment of his mobile number 0770800287, aims to justify that the police was aware about the arrest order.

It partly reads, “You are hereby ordered to arrest and bring to this court the living bodies of Ousman Fofana, Mulbah Kennedy, Patrick Siaphe, Othello Z. B. Karr, Nathaniel Barnes, Sylvester Selvkpoh, Patrick Saah Siaphian, and Gloria Caine,” [as well as] Czech Republic nationals, Ales Sranmek, Karel Socher, and Jan Holask in the attached arrest order, accompanied by the indictment that charged the defendants with economic sabotage, theft of property, forgery and criminal conspiracy, forthwith bring them before this Honorable Court for prosecution. If the arrest is effected after court's working day and hour (Monday-Friday, 8 am- 3 pm,) you are further ordered to detain them at any nearby police station until the following working day and hour when you shall have brought them to this court."

Singbeh's case was as a result of an investigation carried out by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) based on a request by Armstrong.

Armstrong had complained for the LACC to conduct an investigation into the alleged siphoning of about US$5 million — in both cash and mining equipment — that was transferred to Singbeh for the establishment of a Czech Republic owned mining company, the MHM Eko Liberia Limited.

The LACC's investigative findings claimed that the two commercial banking institutions (Ecobank and Afriland First Bank) used their respective facitiies to allow Singbeh to open a bogus current account, in which, the Czech investors, who have never traveled to Liberia, unknowingly wired about US$2,459,109 to Ecobank, and US$102,000 to Afriland. 

Said money was siphoned from those bogus accounts with the assistance of the management of both banking institutions, for which the defendants are on trial with multiple criminal offenses that include economic sabotage, theft of property, forgery, and criminal conspiracy.