Pandemonium nearly erupted yesterday at the premises of the Monrovia City Court when Magistrate Kennedy Peabody authorized the re-arrest and subsequent imprisonment of suspended Managing Director of the National Housing Authority (NHA), Duannah Siryon and three other senior members of the management team.
Siryon, together with Ambassador Augustine Weah, Isaac Roberts, Tugbeh C. Tugbeh and Patrick Deline, were initially ordered released by Criminal Court “A”, which is superior to the City Court, on a petition for the Writ of Habeas Corpus filed before Judge Roosevelt Willie.
In their writ, defense lawyers argued that since their arrest and subsequent detention on Friday, November 23, up to and including Sunday, November 26, the government was yet to charge them for prosecution.
It was based on that reason that the lawyers filed the writ on grounds that the police’s action was a violation of the constitutional requirement of 48 hours for security personnel to determine whether a citizen is worthy of investigation.
Following the defendants’ release by Criminal Court “A,” Magistrate Peabody authorized their immediate arrest, to the surprise of the defendants and their sympathizers.
Dramatically, after Siryon and his accomplices were released yesterday, it was later discovered that there was a writ of arrest pending before the Monrovia City Court at the Temple of Justice, which action nearly resulted into a fistfight between people believed to be Siryon’s loyalists and court officers that were waiting for the accused to leave the courtroom of Criminal Court “A,” to be re-arrested.
Peabody’s decision resulted in a chaotic situation that disrupted normal court activities yesterday at the City Court, but it took officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) to bring the situation under control.
Shortly afterward, Peabody ordered the immediate imprisonment of the defendants, because their lawyers could not afford to file a criminal bond to prevent them from going to jail at the Monrovia Central Prison.
The writ, a copy of which is with the Daily Observer, charged the defendants with multiple crimes that ranged from theft of property, economic sabotage, bribery, criminal conspiracy, and criminal solicitation.
The document claimed that in September this year, at the Royal Grand Hotel in Monrovia, the defendants conspired and, with intent to solicit and extort money from a man identified as Emmanuel Tapsoba, former coordinator for a Burkina Faso company called GHLPAZ-IMMO, which has been in the country to construct over 5,000 housing units along the Roberts International Airport (RIA) highway.
During the negotiation, the record alleged, the accused persons purposely induced and influenced the official of the said company to pay a total amount of US$92,000 under the pretext that the said amount served the requirement for doing business in Liberia. “And that having received the money, the defendants, out of deception, criminally converted the money to their personal use and benefit, with the intent to deprive the government of its revenue and deceive potential foreign partners wanting to do business in the country.”