An intense negotiation between state lawyers and lawyers seeking to prevent their client, child rights activist Abraham M. Keita, who is wanted by the Magisterial Court in Monrovia for criminal coercion from going to prison, did not materialize in favor of the defendant last Friday.
The breakdown was due to the failure of Keita’s lawyers on Friday to surrender their client to the jurisdiction of the court that summoned him on separate occasions to appear before Magistrate Kennedy Peabody, which he repeatedly failed to do.
Keita had earlier led a group of his supporters to the Capitol Building, holding placards demanding Grand Gedeh District #2 Representative Morais Waylee’s resignation over an allegation that the representative raped his 13 year-old niece, as reported by a local daily.
The dramatic event started when Keita’s legal team arrived at the court only with a criminal appearance bond minus Keita, whom the court had earlier said refused to honor its calls.
Keita’s refusal had prompted Magistrate Peabody to issue an order to the Liberia National Police (LNP) to arrest him, wherever he might be found.
It was based on that order that Keita’s legal team, including Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi, were seen in magistrate Peabody’s chambers (office) with an attempt to have the magistrate sign the bond and subsequently reverse his earlier arrest warrant.
If Magistrate Peabody were to have signed the bond, he would have given Keita’s lawyers assurance that their client would not be sent to jail were he to appear in person.
The lawyers’ action on Friday so annoyed Peabody that he was heard screaming in his chambers: “I will not listen to you people and if you bring Keita before me I will send him to jail,” adding that the young man showed disrespect to the court’s calls for him to appear.
It may be recalled that the newspaper that originally reported the story report claimed that the victim and her parents had settled the issue with the lawmaker, but that an unidentified source “blew the whistle on the incident.” Regardless, Keita said he felt it was his responsibility to pursue the alleged rape claim and began campaign calling for Rep. Waylee’s resignation.
However, Rep. Waylee said in a radio interview that the story was false.