Tolbert Nyenswah Escapes Arrest for ‘Theft’

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Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, former director, NPHIL

Days after President George Weah graciously accepted the resignation of Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah, former director-general of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and once described as an “Ebola Hero,” the former official has reportedly left the country. This development comes in wake of revelations that authorities received a mandate from the court to arrest Nyenswah on the charge, “theft of property”.

Up to press time last night, the whereabouts of Nyeswa could not be confirmed. However the Daily Observer received credible information that Mr. Nyenswah departed Liberia for the United States of America, where he has reportedly been offered a scholarship to pursue a terminal degree in either law or infectious disease.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ), which is responsible for national security functionaries including the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), was on Friday, October 18 mandated by Judge Blamo Dixon to stop former Director General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Tolbert Nyenswah, from leaving the country.

However, according to the LIS acting commissioner general Moses K. Yebleh, Nyenswah departed the country via the Roberts International Airport (RIA) on that same day, Friday, October 18, at an Estimated Time of Departure (ETD), which is 14:30 hours with Air Cote d’Ivoire flight number HF-750. The RIA operates under the jurisdiction of the LIS.

Nyenswah’s surprise departure came shortly after President George Weah President Weah accepted his letter resignation. Being apparently satisfied with Nyenswah’s resignation, President Weah, on Monday, October 21, 2019 thanked Nyenswah for the time he served the people and Government of Liberia.

“He wished him well in his new endeavors,” a release from the Executive Mansion said.

Unfortunately, as President Weah communicated his gracious sentiments to Nyenswah, the President had already instructed the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to charge Nyenswah with a crime of theft of property and to subsequently prevent him from traveling outside of the country, an order the LIS failed to implement.

President Weah’s order was backed by Judge Dixon’s directive to the Sheriff for Montserrado County to enforce the mandate of preventing Nyenswah from leaving the bailiwick of the Republic of Liberia to foreign parts.

Dixon’s directive resulted from a writ of ‘Ne Exeat Republica’ applied for by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Ne Exeat Republica is a writ issued to restrain a person from leaving the jurisdiction of the court pending an action.

The court was informed by the MoJ that Mr. Nyenswah “… is about to leave the bailiwick of the Republic of Liberia to foreign parts, much to the surprise of the government and that the Resident Judge, having been duly satisfied upon an application filed by the MOJ, orders a writ of Ne Exeat Republica be issued,” Dixon’s instruction said.

Dixon’s mandate also commanded the sheriff “to arrest the living body of Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah… to be brought before this court upon arrest.”

Immediately after arresting Nyenswah, the document instructed, “You are also further commanded to… cause him to make his formal appearance in court; thereafter, you are ordered to have your official returns endorsed at the back of this writ, indicating the form and manner of its service and, for so doing, this shall constitute your legal and sufficient authority.”

Shortly afterward, the sheriff informed authorities of the LIS to institute the court’s mandate.

However, a letter dated October 21, 2019 signed by the Acting Commissioner General of Immigration, Moses K. Yebleh, said that Nyenswah left the country the same day, Friday, October 18, some 43 minutes after LIS received the writ from the court for action. A copy of the letter currently is in the possession of the Daily Observer. 

The letter to Judge Dixon, also reads: “We have the honor most respectfully to present our compliments, and acknowledge receipt of a Writ of Ne Exeat Republica against Mr. Tolbert Nywswah, director general, National Public Health Institute of Liberia as defendant not to leave the bailiwick of the Republic of Liberia in a case of the crime theft of property based on a complaint by the Republic of Liberia by and thru the Ministry of Justice.”

It continues, “Your Honor, the writ was received by our institution on Friday, October 18, 2019 at 15:12 hours and we dispatched such information to all of our points of entry.

“Regrettably,” the letter said, “we received confirmed information from our Roberts International Airport (RIA) Detail that Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah departed Liberia via RIA on Friday, October 18 at an estimated time of departure which is 14:30 hours with Air Cote d’ Ivoire flight No. HF-750.”

In conclusion, the LIS’s letter said, “Kindly find attached the Writ of Ne Exeat Republica with the date and time received by us for your perusal.”

The core argument is that Nyenswah’s departure clearly demonstrates a lack of coordination among the government security agencies charged with fighting organized crime, a security expert told this paper.

“Much-needed coordination efforts have failed as securities often undertook unilateral action when deployed, while corrupt officers undermined the actions of the court and the government in the interest of personal aggrandizement,” the expert said.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Good morning to the peace loving People of Liberia, Is this the disgraceful reward that Mr. Nyanswah will get! Presz. WEAH Do not means well for this Country!

  2. Escape arrest for theft of what? When the president accepted his letter of resignation and thanked him for the time he worked, why wasn’t the issue raised? I heard the guy got a scholarship to go back to school. So, was he really fleeing the country, or he left without anyone telling him in time that he was not to leave the country?

    People are going to think twice before accepting government jobs; if there is any problem, I think there should be proper channels of engagement and not defamation of character before even hearing the other side of the story. We need to learn.!!!!!

    Somebody did not do their job.

  3. Thanks Rowena. You can say that again! Personally, I do not trust the Liberian judiciary. I frankly believe that if the authorities wanted to nab Nyenswah before his departure, it could have been done. But Nyenswah left the country before his arrest warrant became public knowledge. One has got to take a pause on this one. Didn’t the authorities know that Nyenswah was planning to leave Liberia? Please! If our Immigration authorities and the courts are as weak as the case seems to be, a professional thief can steal a100-lb bag of money from the Treasury, jack up a taxicab to RIA, smile at the airport immigration and jump on an SS Brussels plane to Switzerland! I left Liberia on the 14,the of October. If I had waited a few more days in Liberia, I suppose Nyenswah and I could have ridden together. In which case it would have been fun! Why would a person steal government property while coming to America?
    I guess it can happen. But I think it’s a cop-out!

  4. Whether it’s unconfirmed or not, information widely spread said Tolbert got donor’s money for surveillance from the Center of Disease and Control that the government requested that he turned over to it. It’s being speculated that Tolbert refused. So whether it’s the very money they are accusing him of remains the “theft of property” that is undisclosed.

    • This is Liberia, You also do not say good things about anybody, and than write the court to arrest them, Liberia is going backward everyday, these people out to be shame of themselves, what about all the property that is being stolen everyday by this administration?

  5. You publicly condoned theft by the president then you want to arrest others for alleged theft. This is what happens when you set bad precedence, it weaken the resolve of others in authority to execute your double standard orders. If Weah wants to be taken serious by people of this country he needs to undo his false steps he took from the start.

  6. Asher,
    I disagree with you. Besides being able to escape, there are other benefits out there that could yield opportunities. Dual citizenship can impel or influence the Liberian government in so many ways. Some people have the proclivity to do things outlandishly. In order words some dual citizens may go beyond the pale of decency to foolishly act. But on the whole, since everybody does not behave in similar ways, I think it’s fair to say that the idea of dual citizenship is not nefarious at all. Let’s see the positive side of dual citizenship then being negative.

  7. The story is clearly incomplete. What did he allegedly steal to be charged with “theft of property”? The reporter should have raised this question with the Justice Ministry or the courts. By not getting clarity on this key element of the story, the reporter has left his readers to speculate as to what lies behind the writ issued against Nyenswah, and his reported Nicodemus departure from the country. Little wonder then that some readers are already filling the information gap with rumours to the effect that he either stole government property/money or he refused to cooperate with the Weah government’s corrupt activities. We hope Mr. Nyanswah will as soon as possible clear the air now that he is safely in the U.S.—to avoid ill informed speculation and to also protect his credibility and character.

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