Is a Possible Twist in Dumoe’s Arrest Saga Imminent?

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Menipakei Dumoe

-Acquisition of COVID-19 passes may take center stage

The Acting Chairman of the Council of Patriots (COP), the loudest critical voice to the George Weah administration has spent two nights behind bars at the Liberia National Police (LNP) headquarters after he was arrested o Monday by Joint Security Forces of the government over what it termed as an inciting comment posted on Facebook, stating a preference for AK47s over the distribution of rice in the country.

Menipakei Dumoe posted on his facebook page, “We don’t need free bags of rice. I say we the poor in Monrovia need AK-47s so our leaders can take us seriously.”

The COP head, who was arrested and handcuffed after LNP officers and court sheriff searched his home apparently for weapons, is yet to be charged by the government—a situation that has prompted uneasiness among rights advocates and some legal minds. The arrest has received a barrage of condemnation from the Liberian public and the local human rights community.

Many are of the opinion that no matter how harsh the comment might sound, Mr. Dumoe has broken no laws and that the government’s action is meant to intimidate Mr. Dumoe and to also send a caveat to opposition leaders and other critical voices about what they should expect when they “cross the line.”

Dumoe said his post has been misconstrued by the state and many others. According to him, his call was for citizens to not just accept free rice that the government promised to distribute without questioning the system that had them living in desperate poverty.

“I am a non-violent political activist and will never call for the use of actual guns. Civil resistance is my Modus Operandi,” he told Spoon FM in Monrovia, noting that the reference to the weapon was a metaphor, as the AK47 is a globally known symbol of resistance.

Finding a charge to hook Dumoe now in relation to his post seems to be a headache for the government and it appears the prosecution arm of the regime has started looking at alternative means to have him prosecuted. For his part, the Solicitor General, Sayma Syrenius Cephas, has said that the comment could undermine the peace and security of the state, and create fear among citizens.

“Dumoe, for strange reason, decided to test our resolve. Today, it has been proven that his statement created fear and it is a campaign of terror and misinformation that clearly represents the fake and dangerous news I was talking about,” the SG said at a press conference at the police headquarters in Monrovia.

“This man decided to make a very reprehensible statement that tends to undermine the peace and security of the state. You can criticize your government but to give an order for a call to arms is very serious.”

The SG, who is also the Chief Prosecutor for the country also claimed that the statement violates the state of emergency proposed by President George Weah—an assertion that has been debunked by many legal luminaries in the country. The SOE, according to them only limited freedom of movement and does not restrict or suspend any freedom relating to speech or expression.

However renowned Human Rights Lawyer, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe has disagreed and said that the COP acting head has broken no law and in fact his comment is guaranteed under Liberian laws and that the arrest constitutes a violation of Dumoe’s rights.

Cllr. Gongloe, who is a former solicitor general of the state, said Dumoe’s opinion is covered under the freedom of speech or expression, guaranteed by Articles 14 and 15 of the constitution—noting that the opposition stalwart should not have been arrested by the state. He is also the president of the Liberia National Bar Association.

Gongloe also told journalists in a brief interview on Wednesday that the government’s action is meant to divert the public’s attention from the core issue—the fight against the marauding COVID-19. “This action is meant to grossly undermined the current fight against the COVID-19 pandemic”.

He further revealed that the government also did not follow the basic procedures of criminal law, which guarantees the one being accused the right to his lawyer.

“Let the police and [National Security Agency] stop intimidating people for free speech because free speech is enshrined in our constitution and there [are] no limitations,” he said.

Besides the constitutional protection of free speech, Gongloe noted that the Kamara A. Kamara Act of Press Freedom decriminalized speech when Pres. Weah signed it into law in 2019. The Executive Director of the Liberia Media Center, Atty. Lamii Kpargoi, also share similar thoughts as the learned rights advocate.

Atty. Kpargoi said on his social media platform that he was concerned about the trajectory of the country, given the solicitor general’s justification for arresting Dumoe: “After watching that display, I can say with a heavy heart that there is no hope for Liberia for the remainder of the current government’s tenure. What even more horrified me was his mention of the arrest-release-and-immediately-re-arrest tactic that was favored by the apartheid regime of South Africa against its political opponents.”

He said such a tactic is nothing short of harassment and if law enforcement legally had such a power, no government will be required to take anyone to court for an alleged offense. “They could simply arrest, release, and arrest the person in perpetuity. Such a scenario does not have and will never have a legal basis in any functioning democracy”.

Some opposition political leaders have since condemned the arrest urging the government to have Dumoe release immediately. ALP’s Benoni Urey, who is also Chairman of the CPP and ANC political leader, Alexander Cummings in separate statements, said the regime is acting disorderly

Could COVID-19 Passes be the Hook?

SG Cephus has disclosed that 25 COVID-19 Access Passes were discovered at Dumoe’s home during the execution of the search and seizure order from the court.

The Chief Prosecutor noted that the passes along with “significant documents” were seized and have been taken in for investigation by the Liberia National Police.

“Prior to coming here today, I had thought that it was just the making and posting of the statement. I did not know that there were other documentations and other issues that require clarity,” Cllr. Cephus said.

He added: “Part of the issues, for example, Menipakei Dumoe alone has 25 COVID-19 passes. Well, he acquired them legitimately but what was the purpose? He said he engages in cars business but there is no record around where he is involves in transportation business.”

According to Cllr. Cephus, there is a need for extensive investigation about how Dumoe got hold of 25 COVID-19 passes, something the Liberia’s Solicitor says he does not have.

“Dumoe used what is termed as a misrepresentation, deception and fraud to procure 25 COVID-19 passes. What was his objective of procuring these things? One person 25 COVID-19 passes, I who here do not have any COVID-19 pass,” he said.

Cllr. Cephus added: “I was coming this afternoon with intent to say let the man go, but when I looked at the documentation and other things that were seized from his house; I say no. let’s do an intensive investigation and let the police counter some of these things. Let them talk to him (Dumoe) as to whether some of what he is saying is true or whether he had just manufactured some of these things.”
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Selective Justice

Many including Cllr. Gongloe and the opposition, have frown on the level of selective justice that is being perpetrated by the government.

The critics said that the government is being selective about who it investigated. In 2019, a former rebel general called for the formation of a Kru Defense Force and the arrest of Montserrado’s 10th district lawmaker, Yekeh Kolubah, without being arrested by the government.

Some also noted that CDC chairman, Mulbah Morlu, had mentioned in a leaked audio recording that the president was offering government jobs for sex and using public funds for his personal benefit without being invited for investigation. Morlu is reported to have also accused opposition leaders of harboring plans to assassinate President Weah.

6 COMMENTS

  1. The case is similar to the famous song, “Suicide Solution, ” that was produced by the Rock and Roll band singer, Ozzy Osbourne, sometimes around 1986 in the state of California.

    Back then, two families respectively took the renown singer to court because they said that the words within the songs impelled their children to commit suicide; and consequently, the judges expunged the lawsuits on grounds that they were frivolous and could not be proven by the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

    According to some excerpts from the court’s deliberations, the challenge before the plaintiff’s’ lawyers was to prove how the use of the phrase, “Suicide Solution” could influence people to commit such a heinous crime. The plaintiff’s arguments, which were centered around such issues like proximate cause,, foreseeable result, or subliminal messages proved to be too specious to be admissible in court. In Mr. Osbourne’s counterargument he simply alluded to suicide solution in his song as a warning to people that alcoholism is a dangerous behavior, and it would kill a person.

    So, my question is how would have Solicitor General Cephus proven his case against Mr. Dumoe without any factual evidence?

    • Right to be Anonymous, your question: “how would have Solicitor General Cephus proven his case against Mr. Dumoe without any factual evidence?” is absolutely silly; given the simple logic that proving a case against an offender or violator is contingent on the charge against the culprit.

      And the possible charges against Dumoe were numerous; with many resident within the perimeters of, serious breaches of the public order, violence of public peace, threat or attack upon the nation, etc.etc.

      Thus, of course, even a layman would be able to draw overwhelming evidence and proof beyond all reasonable doubts against very stupid Dumoe from his own Dumoeś public utterances which anticipated serious breaches of the public order, violence of public peace, and indeed, threat and attack upon the nation – all of which are in toto inter alia, sedition, treason, etc.etc.

  2. Why is William Harmon reporting on this? He has already passed judgement and taken a side by calling n the government to release Dumoe. He is very biased. This story is not objective.

    • William Harmon is reporting on this because he either lacks the knowledge of or disregards the adoption of a position of detachment and neutrality viz a news story within his professional capacity and obligation as a journalist.

      With the likes of William Harmon, Rodney Sieh, John Stewart, Joachim Sendolo, etc. etc. the lack of partisanship or not taking sides in news story, is not amongst their so called professional etiquettes.

      As the result of this lack of integrity and mediocrity on their part, the fact that objectivity requires strict attachment to accuracy and other truth criteria is not part of their individual or collective modus operandi.

      Accordingly, with this lapse on their part, one easily sees their ulterior motive and or paid to write modus vivendi to these losers of election.

      And this is why you have effortlessly detected how William has now contaminated this story via his subjectivity – a clear dishonesty which has now interfered with the reality being reported.

  3. I was thinking along the same line as you. If this case was not been dropped, then how would have lawyer Cephus proven it case against Mr. Dumoe based on hearsays, innuendoes, proximate cause, and foreseeable result which might emanat from subliminal messaging?

    Can these factors be used as a basis to establish evidence in a court of law?

    The question is no longer where Liberia is heading. It is where have Liberia plunged. We are in a very deep mess. What a leadership?!

  4. Words are simply graphical representations, and they are used as tools for people to communicate their thoughts, ideas, and feelings to one another. However, the meanings of words do not lie in the symbols that often represent them. The meanings of words lie in people; so people must always be careful in drawing conclusions from events that carry emotive suggestiveness or events which connote meanings that are far from the actual ones that the speakers intend. This ugly situation had often rear its head on the Liberian political landscape as it has happened now between President Weah’s government and Mr. Dumoe. I often ponder over this dysfunction. Has this dysfunction been occurring because of some unintentional neglect on the part of those in power? Or is it a part of the usual, grand scheme to always trample on the people’s constitutional rights, instill fears in them, and sow seeds of discord? Judging from this government’s pattern of behavior, the latter reason could be the real truth.

    Nearing the end of the decade of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s, Liberia experienced so many stormy political events. One of them was the coming in of the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) and the struggle of its chairman, the late Gabriel B. Matthews, to have the alliance registered as a full fledge political party and named the Progressive People’s Party (PPP). And as rumors circulated, Chairman Matthews and his party officials had met all the legal requirements of the Elections Commission at the time, but while the deadline was approaching to be certified, they were tipped-off by informants that the ruling True Whig Party (TWP) was planning a strategy to railroad the certification process. The incident incensed the late Chairman Matthews and in expressing his disgust of what was going on, he then made the remarks, “…if the PPP is not registered, we will fight.”

    Immediately, the government of Liberia (GOL) at the time ordered all activities pertinent to the PPP’s registration efforts to cease and in addition Chairman Matthews was summoned to appear in court to answer charges under the Liberian sedition law for the use of the phrase“…we will fight.” And when Chairman Matthews, who was quite an astute and eloquent character, on the Liberian political stage appeared to answer the silly charges filed against him, he and his lawyers took the court and the Liberian public by surprise. In their argument, they told the court even though Chairman Matthews mentioned the phrase, “…we will fight,” but he did not mean it in the literal sense; he used the phrase against the backdrop that a fight could be a struggle of any kind including taking the TWP to court for attempting to block his party’s registration. Consequently, the court threw out the case and had the PPP registered as a legitimate opposition party to the TWP, the only political party that had exclusively dominated the Liberian political for several decades.

    Then came the Samuel Doe years when the struggle for academic and press freedom intensified. One of the targets for the incessant proscription of its activities and the arrests of its journalistic staff became the Daily Observer, which was owned and operated by Mr. K. Neuville Best. One of such incidents that occurred and it cast aspersion and a serious embarrassment on Doe’s government at the time was the abrupt closure of the Daily Observer’s offices because according to the late Justice Minister Jenkins Scott, the Daily Observer had published a newspaper article which headlines stated that the Liberian roads were “sinuous.” And by using the word “sinuous” to describe how winding and dangerous many of the roads were and still are in Liberia, the word usage meant that the Daily Observer was calculatedly bent on tarnishing the image of Doe’s government and thereby promoting yellow journalism.

    In a grotesque distortion of the meaning of “sinuous,” the late Honorable Scott said on radio broadcast the use of the word implied that people in Liberia were suffering from “sinus infection” because of bad roads. This was a shocker for many Liberians particularly the intellectual class.

    How could the learned justice minister Scott not be able to tell sinuous, meaning something is narrow and winding, from “sinus infection” which is an inflammation of the nasal passage? His behavior fitted right into the government’s mode of operation; he, like other National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) stalwarts was a mover and shaker circumventing the laws and not fearing that sowing seeds of discord would eventually reap a negative backlash from the public. In his haste to carry out the wishes of the imperialist, President Doe, justice minister Scott was not cautious. He often compromised his ethical values and professional integrity for what he thought was expedient.

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