Disappointed Senators Keep SG Cephus Under Oath for Further Probe

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Solicitor General of the Republic of Liberia, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus

“Considering the testimony presented by the witness, and the grave nature of the issue, I now move… that the witness remains under oath and the issue under discussion be referred to the Committee on Judiciary for full investigation and report to plenary in two weeks,” Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Watson said proffering a motion that was unanimously approved.

In furtherance of that motion, President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, Albert T. Chie reemphasized that Cllr. Saymah Syrenius Cephus “remains under oath and a full scale investigation be conducted by the Senate Committee on Judiciary to report to plenary not later than two weeks; because the Senate considers this issue very serious.”

The motion came yesterday after Senators grilled Cllr. Cephus, the Solicitor General of Republic of Liberia, for over three hours on issues surrounding the dropping of charges against former Liberia Airport Authority Managing Director, Ellen Corkrum.

The Solicitor General on last week Tuesday appeared before the Senate after the Justice Minister, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean had told the Senate during a hearing that the withdrawal of charges against Madam Corkrum, has claimed the attention of his Ministry.

Cllr. Dean, who is the Attorney General of Liberia, asserted that the former LAA Managing Director, Madam Corkrum, was duly indicted, and a writ of arrest was issued for her, but was out of the country and never submitted herself to the jurisdiction of the court.

Minister Dean, however, lamented that upon the arrival of Madam Corkrum back into the country recently, “it was discovered that the matter was withdrawn (nolle prosequi) and this has claimed the attention of the Ministry of Justice, and the matter is being pursued.”

Attorney General Dean explained that when a matter is withdrawn because of insufficient evidence, “normally it is done with or without prejudice, meaning the state (government) can come back. I am told that this matter was withdrawn without prejudice, and was done from the office of the Solicitor General of the current administration.”

Appearing for the second time on Thursday, February 20, Cllr. Cephus told the Senators that, “in keeping with the submission I made which was distributed to you, I confirm and reaffirm that the Honorable Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Professor Frank Musah Dean, was briefed prior to entering into nolle prosequi in favor of Madam Ellen Corkrum by the Ministry of Justice; thereafter, he was briefed and he personally advised me, Solicitor General and Chief Prosecutor of the Republic, to go on the radio to explain to the Liberian people what is meant by a state entering a nolle prosequi without prejudice to the state.”

Beyond that, Cllr. Cephus informed the Senate plenary that Minister Dean was the one who personally hired for and on behalf of Madam Ellen Corkrum, Cllr. Arthur Johnson, “and Cllr Johnson on October 2, 2019, filed a motion to dismiss for failure to proceed.”

The Solicitor General (SG) then came under a sustained barrage of questions, especially from Senators Stephen Zargo, Abraham Darius Dillon, Oscar Cooper and J. Gbleh-Bo Brown, who took advantage of some acquired legal knowledge and the Constitution.

Most Senators wanted to know whether SG Cephus and his boss, Minister Dean, were working collaboratively in line with the Statute that created the Ministry of Justice.

For instance, Senator Cooper was specific in asking the SG whether there was a written memo from the Minister requesting or authorizing the dropping of charges against Madam Corkrum, and who specifically received that authorization.

In response, Cllr. Cephus informed the hearing that the decision to enter into nolle prosequi was done by the Ministry of Justice, and is not the responsibility of one prosecutor.

Referring to the amount for which the former LAA boss was charged, Cllr Cephus expressed dismay that the past administration could spend US$200,000 to follow a case that involves US$269,000, describing the decision as a “waste of needed resources.”

Senator Cooper however, took serious exception to the Solicitor General’s assessment, saying he should be more concerned about the criminal nature of the case, and not the amount involved, especially when the accused escaped from justice.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Senator Cooper, BLINDED BY YOUR OBSESSION TO WITCH HUNT, YOU HAVE LOST YOUR SENSIBILITIES, YOUR INTELLECT, AND CONSCIENCE!

    Your claim that ”the Solicitor General should be more concerned about the criminal nature of the case, and not the amount involved, especially when the accused escaped from justice” IS SILLY.

    Oscar, where is your sense of the PROCEDURAL LAW PRINCIPLE OF ECONOMIC COSTS WHICH STATES THAT…

    ONE SHOULD MINIMIZE THE ECONOMIC COSTS OF LEGAL PROCEDURES.

    While you are at that, we like you to stop pretending not to know that the corrupt Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s GOVERNMENT appropriating and claiming to use 200,000 US Dollars to return a culprit indicted for 269.000 and who was aided and abetted to escape the country by the very Government was an act and conduct worse than that which is criminal or corrupt!.

    Oscar, where is your sense of LOGICAL REASONING, ETHICAL REASONING, MORAL REASONING OR your observation of THE CORRUPT AND CRIMINAL NATURE OF THAT GOVERNMENT’S CONDUCT OF appropriating and claiming to use 200,000 US Dollars to return a culprit indicted for 269.000 and who was aided and abetted to escape the country by the very Government.? Especially when both that government and even ”the man on the street” knew that the US Government would have never extradite Ellen Corkrum who was advised by the very government to leave the country.

  2. Senator Cooper, BLINDED BY YOUR OBSESSION TO WITCH HUNT, YOU HAVE LOST YOUR SENSIBILITIES, YOUR INTELLECT, AND CONSCIENCE!

    Your claim that ”the Solicitor General should be more concerned about the criminal nature of the case, and not the amount involved, especially when the accused escaped from justice” IS SILLY.

    Oscar, where is your sense of the PROCEDURAL LAW PRINCIPLE OF ECONOMIC COSTS WHICH STATES THAT…

    ONE SHOULD MINIMIZE THE ECONOMIC COSTS OF LEGAL PROCEDURES.

    While you are at that, we like you to stop pretending not to know that the corrupt Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s GOVERNMENT appropriating and claiming to use 200,000 US Dollars to return a culprit indicted for 269.000 and who was aided and abetted to escape the country by the very Government was an act and conduct worse than that which is criminal or corrupt!.

    Oscar, where is your sense of LOGICAL REASONING, ETHICAL REASONING, MORAL REASONING OR your observation of THE CORRUPT AND CRIMINAL NATURE OF THAT GOVERNMENT’S CONDUCT OF appropriating and claiming to use 200,000 US Dollars to return a culprit indicted for 269.000 and who was aided and abetted to escape the country by the very Government.? Especially when both that government and even ”the man on the street” knew that the US Government would have never extradited Ellen Corkrum who was advised by the very government to leave the country.

    • Senator Oscar Cooper don’t you know about the standards of rightness?

      Instead of boring others with your rant about ” criminal nature” (or your dubious and questionable rant about justice’) of a case which has not been tried not to talk about an accused who is presumed innocent until proven guilty, as a lawmaker, you should be concerned about the standard of rightness regarding how the past government went about the case.

      From all indications, the past government went about the case in a corrupt, irresponsible, wasteful, and criminal manner. And you know it. So, we ask you again, don’t you know about the standards of rightness?

    • This is what is wrong with the country, my friend can go free if they commit a crime, but my emery can bare the wait of the LAW

  3. So called ”Disappointed Senators”, Have you taken into account THE RIGHTS AND POWERS of the Solicitor General The Chief Prosecutor? Your seeming bent on witch hunting seems to bury your knowledge of the discretion of a solicitor general the chief prosecutor of the country.

    You must remember that the solicitor general who is the chief prosecutor of the country has the supreme and independent rights and powers to decide not to press charges because of factors related to a particular case as is this case with Ellen Corkrum., which from all indications is A FIASCO AS WAS THE CASES AGAINST PARTICULARLY SENATOR VARNEY SHERMAN!

    In other words, Senators, you seem not to understand and acknowledge that the office of the chief prosecutor typifies the decentralization of criminal justice. Senators, please be reminded that according to Liberia’s statutory and constitutional law, tradition, style, and practice, neither the President nor the minister of justice is authorized to investigate suspected illegal activity without permission of the local or chief prosecutor the solicitor general.

    And that is because under constitutional jurisprudence, the chief prosecutor’s or the solicitor general’s freedom to pursue their own view of justice, unhampered by the formal powers of higher officials can be seen in the attempt of New Orleans prosecutor Jim Garrison to overturn the Warren Commissions’s finding concerning the assassination of JFK and the almost holy aura that surrounded the thirty two year reign of Frank Hogan, the district attorney of New York County.

    Added to that is the fact that when it comes to such independent rights and powers of the solicitor general who is the chief prosecutor of the nation and government typifying the decentralization of criminal justice, solicitor general Cephus should be patted on the back and extolled for his over all actions are clearly of one who knows that in accordance with his roles as the chief prosecutor, and as a member of the legal profession, he has asserted and demonstrated as one engaged in this and other prosecutions not to win convictions but to see that justice and done within THE PERIMETERS OF ETHICS AND THE RULE OF LAW.

  4. Solicitor general Cephus should be patted on the back and extolled for his over all actions are clearly of one who knows that in accordance with his roles as the chief prosecutor, and as a member of the legal profession, he has asserted and demonstrated as one engaged in this and other prosecutions not to win convictions, but to SEE THAT JUSTICE IS DONE within THE PERIMETERS OF ETHICS AND THE RULE OF LAW.

  5. Why are some Liberians backing Cllr. Cephus for double standard in this case? First of all Cllr. Cephus was the lawyer of Madame Corkrum from the initial stage of this case. By moral standard Cllr. Cephus shpuld have recused himself from the case because of his compelling interest. When someone commits a crime the financial benefits accrued to the state are secondary, So the state has the right to prosecute the case. It is not a witch hunt.

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