Hearing into the merits and demerits of Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah’s request to nullify the government’s travel ban against him is expected to be heard today, Monday, June 1, at Criminal Court ‘C.’ Nyenswah is the former Director of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia.
About seven (7) months after the then Judge of Criminal Court ‘C,’ Blamo Dixon, endorsed the government’s travel ban and his subsequent arrest, Nyenswah, who had already left Liberia when the travel ban and arrest order were endorsed, is now seeking the very court’s approval to nullify the ban.
He left the country for the United States of America on October 18, 2019, the same day the government through Judge Dixon issued the writ of Ne Exeat Republica, a writ issued to restrain a person from leaving the jurisdiction of the court pending an action.
In Nyenswah’s motion filed on May 12, 2020, in his absence by Attorney Norris Tweah, he argued that they were surprised by the travel ban because there was no prior action (case) pending before the court or any other courts in the country about complaint against him (Nyenswah) for the commission of a crime.
Attorney Tweah further argued that at no time did Nyenswah escape the bailiwick of the country “because of fear of arrest, nor was he a fight-risk and, therefore, he filed the motion to quash said writ which has caused him serious reputational damage to his character, hard-earned reputation and professional standing. The writ issued in this court, however, has caused serious reputational damages to his name and credibility.”
Atty. Tweah also argued that his action to nullify the matter derives from a Clerk’s Certificate issued on May 7, 2020, from the very court as further evidence that no action has been filed since Judge Dixon’s writ was issued, indicating, “constituting sufficient grounds to quash the said writ.”
They further argued that Nyenswah, because of his previous position as NPHIL Director-General, made him a frequent traveler.
“Nyenswah departed the country legally prior to the issuance of the writ and he was completely unaware of the commencement of any criminal investigation being conducted. He was not informed directly or through legal counsel that is a cardinal principle of law,” Tweah added. “He was never given the opportunity to be heard in keeping with the due process of the law, nor was he ever brought under the jurisdiction of this court or any court prior to the issuance of the writ,” the request noted.
It may be recalled that then-Judge Blamo Dixon granted the October 18, 2019 writ, wherein the government prayed the court to stop the former NPHIL, director-general Nyenswah, from leaving the country.
The court was informed by the Ministry of Justice 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.”
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 which is currently in 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 Nyenswah, Director-General, National Public Health Institute of Liberia, as a defendant not to leave the bailiwick of the Republic of Liberia in a case of the criminal 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.”
These are some of the legal issues on which Judge Yamin Quiqui Gbeisay is expected to make a determination upon hearing the contending parties.