— Says Unity Party
The former ruling Unity Party (UP) has denounced the declaration by the Liberia National Police that its Secretary-General is a fugitive and threat to national security.
In a press release, the UP argued that the police declaration contradicts the law of the country and an attempt to intimidate and prosecute members of the opposition who have objectively spoken against socio-political ills, as well as, censor the views of the opposition.
“The actions by the government to declare the National Secretary-General of the Unity Party wanted without being charged with any crime is a violation of his rights and endangers him and his family,” said Cornelia Kruah-Togba, the National Assistant Secretary-General for Press, Publicity, and Outreach.
The Secretary-General of the party was yesterday on March 19, 2021, declared a “wanted man” after he failed to show up for questioning over his Facebook post on March 1, which the police authorities view as threatening to the peace of the country.
Ali, who could not appear on the day the police showed had sent an excuse through his lawyer’s that he was ill and needed medical treatment.
The post states, “Dear National Elections Commission, we understand the ploy. But try it and you will see what is gonna be the end result.”
Ms. Togba added the UP is an institution that respects the Law and rights of citizens. As such, the former ruling party said, “If the Government of Liberia is convinced and has evidence that Mr. Ali’s Facebook post of March 1 has any link to the alleged crimes, it should go ahead and charge against him in accordance with the law.”
“While we adjure the government to pursue the right and legal course and ensure the safety of Mr. Ali, the National Leadership and sympathizers of the party will peacefully accompany him to the Liberia National Police Headquarters on Monday, March 22, 2021, at 10:00 am,” Mrs. Togba added.
According to her, a “Wanted Person” also known as a “Fugitive from Justice” is a person that is either convicted or accused of a crime and is hiding from law enforcement in order to avoid arrest.
“Has Mr. Ali been convicted or accused of a crime? No, he was invited to provide the motive and intent of a Facebook post. Is he hiding from law enforcement in order to avoid arrest? No, there was never a Writ of Arrest out for Mr. Ali and he was represented by his lawyers as allowed by the law,” Ms. Togba wonders.
She said the Unity Party was informed by its National Secretary General, Mr. Mohammed Ali, of a text message he received inviting him to the headquarters of the Liberia National Police (LNP) at 10am on March 19, for a conversation around a Facebook post he made on March 1, 2021.
She said the government has alleged that consequent of Mr. Ali’s post, there have been incidents of petrol bombs thrown at the residence of Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe and the headquarters of the National Elections Commission for which they are inviting him to clarify the “motive and intent” of his post.
In the letter signed by Cllr. Finley Y. Karngar and Cllr. Moiffie Kenneh, they provided their individual contact numbers and email addresses should the LNP decide to contact them for further information.
“However, at about 2 p.m. on March 19, four hours after receiving the letter from Mr. Ali’s lawyers, the same police declared him wanted and ordered his arrest,” Ms. Tobga added.
According to Mr. Moses Cater of the LNP, Mr. Ali was invited twice and he refused to show up. “This is false. Mr. Ali was invited only once via a phone text message, an invitation he honored through his lawyers.”
Chapter 1.5 of the Penal Law of Liberia states, “No conduct constitutes an offense unless it is a crime or infraction under [the penal law] or another statute of Liberia”.
Therefore, the government cannot attempt to arrest Mr. Ali over a Facebook post without due process to establish any link between his post and that which the government alleges. In addition, Chapter 2.2.1 of the Criminal Procedure Law of Liberia provides an accused person the right to representation by legal counsels.
“As in the case of Mr. Ali, this representation requesting a postponement of the conference due to his medical condition was made by Cllr. Kangar and Cllr. Kenneh and therefore, the government cannot declare him “wanted” for failure to submit to their invitation when in fact he did through his lawyers as provided by law,” said UP release.