Former Public Works Minister Kofi Woods has declared that the conclusion on the cause of death of the late Attorney Michael Allison made by Justice Minister Benedict Sannoh, as drowning by natural causes, based on two autopsy reports, is unacceptable and that the case is not over yet.
In a statement issued last Thursday, Atty. Woods, said, “This matter is not considered closed and that the Liberian government must account for every drop of Allison’s blood.”
As dutiful citizens of this Republic, said Attorney Woods, “We intend to demand answers to questions you have provoked. As our public servant, you are under a duty to provide credible answers. If you are not careful, this matter will define your tenure as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia.”
Attorney Woods, who is legal consultant at the Liberia Law Society, made those statements when he met with friends and relatives of the late Attorney Allison and agreed to join their legal team on a pro bono basis.
What motivated him to get involved in the case is the fact that Allison was a human being and had the right to life which is inviolate as enshrined in all international and domestic laws, Attorney Woods said.
He revealed that he had an encounter with Allison on the morning of January 29th this year, at which time Allison expressed fears about his safety and even intimated that fear for his life had precipitated his action to temporary relocate to Ghana. Due to the fact that he had received several threats related to his involvement in the corruption saga with the Speaker and other members of the Legislature, Attorney Woods said, the decision stood to reason.
“Subsequently, Allison telephoned me on Monday, February 10, the same week of his death, to convey his request for my intervention in the matter involving the Liberia Anti-Corruption commission, (LACC), and I accordingly consented.
“News of his death was therefore inexplicably shocking, “Woods stated.
He said that he informed the police of his encounter with Allison but no one sought to document his encounter.
Regarding the issue of Allison’s multiple nationalities, Attorney Woods said he remains adamant that it was and remains an attempt to deflect the interest of the public as to whether or not the investigation was comprehensive and therefore conclusive regarding the actual cause of death.
He firmly stated: “It does not matter if he was Chinese, American, Liberian or Japanese; it does not matter to me if he is Allison, Nkrumah or John. What matters in this instance, is that Michael Allison was a human being and we are under both moral and legal obligations to ensure that justice is done and that his rights are protected as enshrined in our laws.”
Notwithstanding the foregone statement, Atty. Woods was certain that the question of the victim’s identity would be entertained in due course.
“The Minister of Justice indicted several government agencies and other institutions without proposing the relevant remedies,” he perceived, adding that Cllr. Sannoh did not state whether or not such omission or commission contributed to the death or were either the remote or proximate cause of Allison’s death. Declared Woods, “We need legal redress and not mere questions.”
According to Atty. Woods, “The Minister of Justice revealed that the conduct of the Police was reckless and negligent in the handling of the body. He also admitted that the Police arrived on the scene about 7:45p.m., but decided to leave the body of the late Attorney Allison until the next morning, due to the Ebola Protocol.”
“Strangely, Cllr. Sannoh did not give any concrete reason for this decision. As a consequence, it is imperative for him to address this tragic and unprofessional error.” Declared Attorney Woods, “he needs to inform us about the so-called protocol and whether or not it was followed. If so, how and if not, why?”
Attorney Woods takes issue with the fact that the Justice Minister referred to a lady he concluded was “Allison’s fiancée,” which carries a legal connotation. Thus, he wants to know all details about how she came to be identified as his ‘fiancée’ since no one, including the friends, family members and house helpers knew anything about her.
Continuing, Attorney Woods asserted: “We now expect the Minister to speak to issues of Law and not engage in tactics to divert attention from the real issue of concern -the actual and factual circumstances surrounding the death of Allison. An autopsy cannot therefore constitute the only evidence before us.”
“One would ask why the Minister was more interested in impeaching the character of a key witness involved in an on-going corruption case. Could this be an attempt to validate his earlier position during his confirmation hearings when he questioned the approach and motive of various integrity institutions?” Woods asked.
“There are several other issues related to the criminal procedure law of our Republic regarding autopsies and suspicious deaths, which were not addressed by the Minister of Justice,” Woods charged.
He called on the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, (LACC), Independent Human Rights Commission and various organizations to join the fight for justice for Atty. Allison.
Atty. Woods exclaimed: “One man stood up against the odds, the raging ‘vampire’, and has fallen. We need answers! We must defend him in his grave! We need to know whether or not vampires are on the rampage or this was a result of natural causes.
“Any of us could be its next victim! We will join our colleagues in search for justice and will go to every length to pursue the truth within the confines of the Law!”