-County Attorney Karnley of Bomi Claims
Days after former Speaker Alex Tyler denied any involvement in Bomi County’s Superintendent Adama B. Robinson’s alleged sale of US$2 million ‘scrap metal’ equipment at the center of a criminal lawsuit, Cllr. Juma P. Karnley, the county attorney, on Friday, February 22, 2019, claimed that Tyler was aware of the sale of the equipment.
The US$2 million ‘scrap metal’ equipment is believed to be owned by a British investor, Mr. Hans Armstrong, who had complained to Cllr. Karnley that Superintendent Robinson, without his knowledge, took away his property in his concession area in Sackie Town, Bomi County.
The matter was transferred from the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Bomi County to the Criminal Court ‘C’ in Monrovia for prosecution. However, Tyler’s name is not mentioned as one of the defendants as is in the case of Robinson.
However, Tyler, when he appeared as a guest on the Truth FM Breakfast Show recently, claimed, that he had no knowledge that the 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Bomi County had placed an injunction on the sale of the ‘scrap’, pending the outcome of a criminal investigation.
Tyler said Robinson earlier informed him that there was an abandoned ‘scrap metal’ equipment in Sackie Town, and since there was no money to support the county team during the just ended County Sports Meet, it would be necessary that they sold the equipment to finance the team.
“I did not know about the injunction and so I agreed with Robinson for the sale of the equipment to finance the team,” Tyler claimed during the show.
Refuting Tyler’s assertion last Friday when he spoke with journalists in Monrovia, Cllr. Karnley alleged that at no time did Tyler claim that he did not know anything about the court’s injunction on the sale of the equipment.
“I informed the public in general on a radio show in Bomi County that the said equipment is privately owned and that the procedure adopted by Superintendent Robinson was not legally correct since the equipment is being kept in Sackie Town waiting for the court’s order,” Cllr. Karnley said.
Cllr. Karnley also alleged that Tyler was indeed aware of the illegal ‘scrap’ transaction when on April 28, 2014, he (Karnley) wrote then Superintendent Samuel F. Brown about a criminal investigation against the then Senjeh District Commissioner, James Tarpeh.
Tarpeh with the help of Tyler allegedly staged a roadblock to prevent Armstrong from taking the scrap equipment from the county.
Karnley claimed that based on that, officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) investigated Tarpeh and charged him with multiple charges that included “Obstructing public highway, felonious restraint, and terroristic threats.”
Karnley also said Tarpeh was never prosecuted because Superintendent Brown prevented that from happening. He explained that while the case was pending Superintendent Brown was replaced with Robinson.
“So, Tyler cannot say he does not know about the injunction on the sale of the scrap,” the Bomi County prosecutor claimed.
Karnley also claimed that when Robinson was appointed, being aware of the scrap matters, Robinson, on December 19, 2019, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as the owner of the ‘scrap’ equipment (actually owned by Armstrong) with one Stanley Walker, a vendor, to sell the equipment that was placed under the custody of the court.
Karnley alleged that he advised Robinson not to sell the equipment, but, Robinson refused to listen to his call before entering into the MOU with Walker.
The Bomi County prosecutor also claimed that since Superintendent Robinson could not listen to his advice, on January 16, 2019 he wrote Prince Mulbah, Deputy Inspector General of the Liberia National Police, to conduct a prompt investigation about a complaint filed by Armstrong against Superintendent Robinson.
Karnley claimed that he also told Mulbah that based on the MOU which was ‘criminally executed’, Stanley proceeded to Monrovia, where he hired a truck and loaded the equipment that was under the court’s authority, from Sackie Town. However, the truck was later arrested at the gate of Sethi Brothers Steel Rod Plant (Sethi Ferro Fabrik) near Jamaica Road, “after the would-be buyer was cautioned about their criminal involvement to purchase those stolen items.”
That truck had been ordered released by the Criminal Court ‘C’ in Monrovia after the matter was transferred there.
Karnley further explained that, in his communication, he asked Mulbah to conduct an investigation into the said transaction involving Superintendent Robinson and Stanley and to forward his findings in his office for prosecution, “so that it can serve as a deterrent against persons who would want to criminally take and carry away private properties of others.”
But, Karnley claimed that Mulbah did not conduct the investigation when Robinson and Walker unilaterally decided to sell the scrap to Sethi Brothers when they were arrested.
Sethi Brothers is the only authorized buyer of scrap metal in Liberia.
For Armstrong, he said, before the arrest of the ‘scrap metals’ equipment, on March 9, 2012, he entered into the sale agreement with Euro-Liberia Logging Company.
Armstrong also claimed that as part of the agreement he paid US$117,000 for several types of equipment owned by the company, “which is now considered as scrap metals equipment.”
“These are not scrap, they are new equipment that I paid US$117,000 for, so Tyler should not say it is a scrap,” Armstrong said.
According to Armstrong, Tyler cannot say he does not know about him being the owner of the equipment.
“Because, at one time, my then lawyer and now Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean and I were invited by Tyler, who was by then Speaker, to discuss the equipment,” Armstrong further alleged.
Armstrong also said, before taking over the assets of Euro Logging Company, another company, ITALGEMS had entered into a social contract agreement with the citizens of Sackie Town.
However, Armstrong claimed that ITALGEMS operated in the county for six months and subsequently sold their equipment to Euro Logging Company, who later sold the equipment to him.
“If ITALGEMs did not adhere to the terms and conditions of the contract, the only legal operation for the county administration was to issue a lawsuit against ITALGEMs and not to sell the equipment that I had purchased,” Armstrong said.