Liberia: Suspended Judge Wollor’s Accusers Emerge

The embattled Judge Sikajipo Wollor

When Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh suspended the Resident Judge of Criminal Court ‘D’, his accusers were unknown. 

But six weeks later, two of Judge Sikajipo Wollor colleagues have emerged, claiming that he released dozens of suspected armed robbers from jail without due process.  The complainants are Roosevelt Z. Willie, Resident Judge of Criminal Court ‘A’, and Ousman F. Feika, the Resident Judge of the 5th Judicial Circuit in Grand Cape Mount County.

According to Liberian law, armed robbery is a non-bailable crime.   Wollor, the Resident Judge of Criminal Court ‘D,’ presides over a court that has jurisdiction to hear and determine cases involving armed robbery.

So Willie and Feika complained that when they were assigned to Criminal Court ‘D’ on separate dates, Wollor illegally released suspected armed robbers without their knowledge as an assigned judge.

 Feika put the numbers to 25. However, Wollor denied the accusation. In Feika’s complaint, dated October 13, he claimed that Wollor surreptitiously went to the Monrovia Central Prison along with the Assistant Clerk of Court, Amos Taylor, and released an unspecified number of suspected armed robbers who had been detained.

Feika also claimed that Wollor released the suspected armed robbers without due process — that is to say, no motion was filed by any party. 

“No release order placed in the files of the defendants by the judge, and no minutes, if there were any hearings ever had,” Feika said. 

But Wollor, in response to the Feika complaint which is now before the Judiciary Inquiry Commission (JIC) for investigation — said that since entering the Judiciary in the year 2005, “No judge has made such a statement against me that I released twenty-five suspected armed robbers.” 

“Feika was assigned to his court to keep surveillance on my activities.  As an assigned judge, his duty was to see to it that the number of cases on the court docket was reduced,” Wollor further argued. “This statement is untrue, I challenge him to produce the record. “

“Assuming, but not admitting that I released alleged armed robbers, on October 12, there is a law — see ILCLR Chapter 13, subsection 13.5.”

Willie and Feika were assigned to Criminal Court ‘D’ as part of the chief justice’s responsibility, to quarterly rotate judges from one court to another, as provided under the Judiciary Law, Title 17, Liberian Code of Laws Revised TITLE 17.

The law also says, “Each Circuit Judge, except the judges commissioned as relieving judges, shall preside as Resident Judge over the Circuit Court of the circuit for which he was appointed,” meaning that the chief justice can assign a judge to any of the courts throughout the country.

Wollor is arguing that he and Feika are not on the battlefield, and since he entered the Judiciary in 2005, judges have been in and out of Criminal Court ‘D,’ saying “mo judge has made such a statement against me.”

He was suspended by Yuoh with his salaries, allowances, and other benefits as a judge placed on hold,  based on what the Chief Justice said was, a “complaint of alleged ethical misconduct against the judge.” 

The suspension, which was announced and took effect on October 13, was based on what a Supreme Court press release termed as “a complaint of alleged ethical misconduct of the judge which is of grave magnitude.” 

Yuoh also said the complaint has been forwarded to the Judicial Inquiry Commission for a full investigation.  It is however unclear whether it was based on these complaints that Yuoh suspended Wollor.

Meanwhile,  Willie's complaint, dated September 21, to former Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, claimed that an armed robbery case from the Careysburg Magisterial Court was transferred to his court, the Criminal Court ‘A’, for indictment. Criminal Court ‘A’ however is the only court that houses the grand jury that prepares an indictment against a criminal defendant.

But Willie acknowledged that by the law, Wollor’s court has jurisdiction over the armed robbery cases.

“Criminal Court ‘D’ Resident Judge released the defendant from the Monrovia Central Prison. Thereafter, the victim in the said case complained to you for releasing the defendants, because they were aware that the case was before Criminal Court ‘A’ for indictment.”

But Wollor in response argued that “It is a fit subject for dismissal in that Willie failed to name the parties that carried his complaint to the former Chief Justice.”

“He failed to  name the year and the month and those that were in attendance of the conference and the issues derived from said conference, because he decided to complain to the outgoing Chief Justice on the 21st of September 2022, when the chief justice had less than ten (10) days to take an exit.” 

Meanwhile, Willie’s and Feika’s complaints are yet to be scheduled for hearing by the JIC.

.... Say he released armed robbery suspects ‘without due process’