‘We Don’t Want Political Prisoners’

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2091
Mr. Alexander B. Cummings

-Says Alexander Cummings as gov’t releases 13 of the 20 protesters from jail

Minutes after Magistrate Kennedy Peabody of the Monrovia City Court ordered the release of the 20 jailed protesters from the Monrovia Central Prison, the political leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander B. Cummings, who was at the hearing on Wednesday, June 12, told journalists that there should be no political prisoners in the country.

Cummings made the statement when he walked outside of the courtroom at the Temple of Justice shortly after Magistrate Peabody made the pronouncement.

The ANC political leader said that his presence at the Temple of Justice yesterday was to demonstrate his support for the defendants, most of whom are students of the University of Liberia, who were being held because they had affiliated with the CoP.

“The case is political, and we have to understand that there should not be any political prisoners at this time in our country’s history,” Cummings said.

Meanwhile 13 of the 20 detainees were released on Wednesday, June 12, 2019, while the seven remaining are expected to gain their freedom today.

The defendants were held for their alleged individual roles played on June 5, when Montserrado County District #10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah’s supporters protested against the police invitation of the lawmaker based on allegations that he ordered the flogging of a man believed to be a resident of Gaye Town, Old Road where Kolubah also resides.

However, Magistrate Peabody’s decision to release the defendants was in response to the mandate by Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie of Criminal Court ‘A’ at the Temple of Justice.

In Willie’s mandate to Peabody, copy of which is in the possession of this newspaper said, “You are hereby mandated to resume jurisdiction of the case.”

Throughout Wednesday’s trial, Montserrado County Attorney, Cllr. Edwin Martins, the lead prosecutor who confiscated the case files from the Monrovia City Court, was nowhere around when the Magistrate Peabody ordered the defendants released, following a brief deliberation in court.

There were about 15 minutes of closed door discussion in the office of Magistrate Peabody, between he and the defense team, which include Attorney Kofi Woods, which led to the release of the defendants without the lawyers securing a bond for their release.

It can be recalled that Magistrate Peabody had scheduled hearing into the case for Tuesday, June 11 by 9:00 a.m., but the magistrate, without the knowledge of the defense team, transferred the case files to the Cllr. Martins, a lead prosecutor.

Peabody’s decision prompted the defense team to file a complaint of summary proceedings before Willie against the magistrate, which resulted to Peabody’s stance on Wednesday to have ordered the release of all 20 protesters.

At the hearing, huge crowd, mostly students and family members of the defendants, rallied outside the courtroom to demand the release of their colleagues, who had been in custody since June 5.

Despite the intervention of riot officers from the Liberia National Police, the protesters continued as they sang anti government songs.

Having assembled in front of the Monrovia City Court, the protesters dispersed immediately upon hearing that Magistrate Peabody approved the release of their colleagues.

Peabody however clarified that he was not aware about the detention of the protesters at the Monrovia City Court. The defendants were held at the Monrovia Central Prison on Saturday, June 8, 2019.

“It was Associate Magistrate Eric Cooper, who sent the protesters to jail; he was the person who first presided over the matter when police sent to case to court,” Peabody said.

According to him, when the case reached his attention, he informed one of the defense lawyers (not named) to sign for the defendants, “unfortunately, the lawyer refused to accept my offer.”

He continued, “I made the offer but the lawyer refused to accept it, so nobody should insinuate that the court refused to release the defendants. In fact, I used my own discretion for the lawyer to release the defendants.”

6 COMMENTS

  1. Granted that Cummings, a new kid on the political block, craves popularity, he is trying too hard with a hasty generalization as in “Political Prisoners”. In the US where he lived most of his life, the Criminal Justice System would’ve taken the same steps toward “safeguarding public order, public security” in abiding by Ch. 111, Article 13 (a) of our 1986 Constitution.

    Not to mention that the Collaborative Opposition Parties have been shrilly about impunity since they convinced themselves in early March that street protests, which create perception of unstableness, might help resuscitate an inherited comatose economy. Perhaps, the ANC leader forgets about rule of law when it suits him. If that’s true, it’s the “principle that all people and institutions are subject to and accountable to law that is fairly applied and enforced…”

    However, a wrong turn of phrase alone, though politically-motivated, doesn’t make Alexander Cummings a greenhorn. For example, about one week after a vigilante mob burnt down a police station (symbolic of revolt) in Margibi County of Rep. Kolubah, Cummings was in the Capital City, Kakata, demonstrating with few dozens of his supporters. Not long after this strange behavior, the irascible agent provocateur Kolubah crossed over to his party. Suffice it to say, there are no “Political Prisoners” in Liberia; let the accused have their day in court.

  2. Uncle Sylvester, I have followed your readings with admiration. you are an accomplished gentleman. but at times it seems you are unfairly critical – at least to me- in your writings of certain individuals and/or institutions. Am I right in saying so of you?

    • Joe,
      It’s good to keep tabs on someone whose motives are egocentric. You got my point? As long as your uncle Mo does not show or preach hate, I’d say let the guy do his thing.

      Cummings is fighting hard to become president. But he doesn’t have contrasts. His ideas sometimes baffle people. Most people are skeptical of his antics. His party does not any influence in the Liberian legislature.

      Let’s put it this way. When the presidential season comes by four and a half years from now, he can run. As of now, Weah is in the cockpit.

  3. Nobody has any political prisoner in Liberia? Lets do honest politics; not mix with lies, etc? You can not create 100000 Jobs in 100 days; a lie?

  4. Joe Moses, I think your Uncle Sylvester is right about the rule of law and order. The new order of lawlessness taking shape now in Liberia is the tendency to commit criminal offense, mostly when staging protests and expect to go free because the offense had political undertone.

    Once the law is breached, the culprit must bear the full weight thereof regardless of the intent, be it political, financial or social. Presently, Mr. Cummings and the rest of the opposition block who are more or like custodians of confusion and unrest, would not see the truth about holding law and order.

    Mr. Alexander Cummings’ claim that “there should be no political prisoners” regardless of the offense committed is the greatest contradiction of the rule of law.

  5. Uncle Sylvester is right about most things. not all the times, though and he would be the first to admit that, being the gentleman he is.I think, first of all, that we need to agree that there serious issues existing in this government. Having identify those issues, we can then start to dialogue on finding remedy(ies). corruption exist, massively, if i may say so, in this government. there is no denying that. Culture of impunity run rampant, and the list goes on and on. What baffle me is that the mere mention of these things anger some so much so that they begin to hurl insults your way.

    I would like to think that we have passed that stage a long time ago and we can at least agree to disagree and still be civil about it. what i am bothered about at times is that comparism is done when a problem is mentioned. “Ellen did it” why cant him do it?” Always seeking justification as to why a thing is or was done.

    The issue of law and order is as old as Liberia itself, when certain individuals thought that they were above the law and it did not apply to them and that is what is still going on. when the elites that they owe no one any explanation and that they are not answerable to society. when law and order is absent, chaos reign and everything goes amok. That is the dilemna that we grapple with daily. the common man feels that he cannot get just recompense if he goes to the court and the only he believes he has to himself is to seek his own brand of justice. In the movie, The Godfather, Part I, when one of the characters, Amerigo Bonsera, could not find justice within the confines of the law, he took his plea to the Godfather, Don Corleone, and he was given the swift justice he sought. But it came with a price

    Similarly, everything we do comes with a price, which at times can be heavy, The question now for us to attempt to answer is: how can the commoner be made to feel that the law is also on his side? i await that answer.

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