— Holds Mo Ali in prison without written charge
The Inspector-General of the Liberia National Police has defied the order of the Minister of Justice to release Mo Ali, the Secretary-General of the former ruling Unity Party, from prison.
The police yesterday arrested, jailed, and charged Mo (Mohammed) Ali for “arson, terroristic threats, and criminal attempt to murder,” about two weeks after the home of Justice Joseph Nagbe and the headquarters of the National Elections Commission was attacked by unknown actors, using petrol bombs.
The attack, the police believe, were masterminded by Ali after they found two Facebook posts authored by him, which the police argued threatens Justice Nagbe and the headquarters of the electoral body. Ahead of his arrest, Ali had gone to the police headquarters to face additional questioning two days after his lawyer requested time for further consultation with their client.
On March 1, 2021, Ali wrote on his Facebook page, “Dear National Elections Commission (NEC), we understand the ploy. But try it and you will see what’s gonna be the result.” Again, on March 4, 2021, Ali posted saying “I don’t believe in the integrity of the Supreme Court. Most of the Justices have been corrupted. Justice Nagbe is a hard core tribalist.”
But the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean, having learned of Ali’s arrest and imprisonment, mandated the police Inspector General to not just release the UP Secretary-General but to also produce the proper evidence to support their charges against him.
According to Minister Dean, his decision to order the release of Ali was inconsistent with section 22.2 (b) of the New Executive Law, which requires the Minister of Justice to “institute all legal proceedings necessary for law enforcement.”
“The Minister of Justice has, today, March 25, 2021, called on the Liberia National Police to produce the proper evidence to support charges levied against Mo Ali,” the Justice Minister Dean told the Daily Observer. “Ali is reportedly charged with terrorism, Criminal Attempt to Commit Murder, Arson and Terrorist Threat. Until the evidence, when produced, is reviewed and a determination made by the Attorney General, the LNP is ordered to release Ali.”
The LNP Inspector General’s defiance of the Justice Minister’s mandate calls into question the Police administration’s adherence to due process. According to Minister Dean, “as Chief Prosecutor of the Republic of Liberia, I want to see the evidence for which Ali is being charged.”
However, the police IG carrying out his duty, downplayed his boss, Cllr. Dean Instruction, and refused to release Ali but to keep him behind bars, while he awaits been forwarded to the court in 48 hours.
The Police Spokesman, H. Moses Carter, buttressed the police IG’s position that “Mo Ali is still in our custody,” and decline any knowledge of the Justice Minister’s order to release the suspect. Carter added that the UP Secretary-General Ali is being charged under section 10.1 of the criminal procedure law and the penal code of Liberia and arson under section 15.1 which states criminal mischief.
“We want to use this medium to inform our people that the peace of our country is paramount for all of us to protect. It behooves every citizen in respect of one’s persuasion or background to put the peace of this country first,” Carter furthered.
The LNP can charge Ali but, without the prosecution functionary of government (i.e. Ministry of Justice) to pursue the charges against him in the criminal court, it remains to be seen how much longer the police can continue to hold their suspect.
Although it is yet unclear why the Police IG downplayed the Justice Minister’s order, it is reported that he did so based on the order of some close associates of President George Manneh Weah or the President himself.
Earlier, Ali has clarified that his post alluding to a ploy against the failure of the electoral body to certificate Lofa County Senator-Elect Brownie J. Samukai, was meant to be carried out through legal means.
“My post was simply alluding to the fact that we will ensure the NEC will face the full legal consequences should they implement a strategy intended to deny the certification of Mr. Samukai, thereby denying the people of Lofa of their choice of Senator,” Mr. Ali clarifies. “As it relates to my March 4 post referring to Associate Justice Nagbe as a hardcore tribalist, it is an opinion birthed out of the fact that: when Justice Nagbe served as Senator for Sinoe County and was involved in active politics, he clearly stated that he was in the Senate to PROTECT the Kru PEOPLE.”
Meanwhile, the Unity Party Chairman, Amin Modad, has assured the government they are prepared to fight for justice and ready to pursue the appropriate and necessary legal actions to protect Ali’s rights and those of anyone experiencing such flagrant injustice.
Modad furthered that upon their arrival at the police headquarters yesterday, Ali was given a long list of questions, which he answered and returned but, to their outmost surprise, the police came later and insisted that they have an additional questions for Ali to answer but it was never given.
According to a source, Mr. Modad explained that upon their arrival in the morning hours, a questionnaire was given to Ali to answer, which he did and after which the police insisted that they had additional questions for Mr. Ali to answer but they couldn’t give those additional questions right away.
“After spending more than one hour without producing the additional questionnaire, the police authority went into a meeting and returned with several charges but, prior to that, they were being surrounded by more than one hundred armed police officers in the conference room where the investigation was taking place,” Modad told journalists yesterday.
“And their movement were seized and they were being intimidated and the worst of all, Ali was being prevented from eating. His right is being violated and this is bad.”
The Unity Party Chairman added that Ali was been charged verbally and not in writing, while he is expected to spend two days in jail. “The action carried out by police as improper, predetermined, and premeditated to have his party Stalwart subjected to Investigation rather than an invitation, and it is an abuse of human rights and meant to silence the critical voices of Opposition. There are several elements within the ruling CDC Party who have written some destructive statements on their various Facebook platforms and pages, but none have been called for questioning.”
Modad defended Ali’s Facebook post, stressing that it is not criminal, for which he should be jailed.
Ali’s lawyer, Cllr. Findley Karnga told journalists yesterday that his client was being held hostage despite the Justice Minister’s order, due to “call from above that could not allow Mr. Ali to be released.” According to Cllr. Karnga, the action of the Weah-led government is intended to silence the opposition community, and to satisfy their desires.
It can be called that the police once declared the UP Secretary-General Mo Ali, as a “wanted man” and a threat to national security after he did not honor their invention based on an excuse that he was not well, and was undergoing medical treatment.
The police declaration forced the Unity Party to issue a scathing rebuke against the government for acting contradictory to the Liberian law. 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.
Meanwhile, some journalists covering the saga at the police headquaters were beaten and imprisioned.