Liberia: Court Drops Charges Against Cummings, Others With Prejudice to the State

Monrovia — Lawyers representing the political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) Alexander Cummings and associates have welcome the decision of Magistrate Joma Jallah of the Monrovia City Court for granting their request in ruling that the forgery case brought against their clients be terminated with prejudice to the state.

With such ruling, the state lawyers, headed by the solicitor General of Liberia Cllr. Syrenius Cephus, will be unable to refile the case under the same charges against Mr. Cummings and co-defendants.

The Court’s decision is against the request of Cllr. Cephus had filed a motion to drop all charges against Mr. Cummings and top ANC officials including Senator Daniel Naaten and Atty. Lafayette Gould without prejudice.

Moments after the Supreme Court’s ruling on June 3, Cllr. Cephus announced that the Government was dropping all charges against Cummings, and others for ‘forgery and criminal conspiracy’ brought against them by the All Liberian Party (ALP) in January 2021.

In legal terms, he said the state would enter a plea of Nolle Prosequoi in favor of the defendants and move the court to dismiss the charges against them without prejudice to the state. In other words, though the state dropped the case, it reserves the right to refile the action and prosecute the defendants.

However, when the State’s Nolle Prosequoi application was filed and assigned by the Court on June 6, the Defense lawyers representing Cummings, led by Cllr. Abrahim B. Sillah requested the Court’s permission to respond to the state’s application and it was granted.

In its response, the defense counsel informed the court that the defendants accepted the state’s request, except that the case should be dismissed with prejudice, where the state will have no the right to refile the action and prosecute the defendants.

The defense argued that the case was terminated voluntarily during the trail where it produced evidence, and as such- the state has no right to retry because doing so will lead to the offense of double jeopardy. Double jeopardy as explained by the court arises when a person is prosecuted or sentence twice for the same crime.

The Court, in its ruling, agreed with the defense counsel on grounds that the defendants have answered to the complaint and pleaded not guilty, and the state has produced evidence against them without putting them in jeopardy.

The Verdict: “Wherefore and in view of the foregoing facts and circumstances, the state’s plea of Nolle Prosequoi in favor of the defendants is granted with prejudice to the state/Government of Liberia. The defendants are ordered discharged from further answering to the allegations contained in the complaint and crimes with which they were charged and prosecuted. Furthermore, the defendants’ liberties are restored as though they were never limited or restricted, and the cash bond proffered by defendants are ordered returned. It is hereby so ordered.”

Following the ruling by Stipendiary Magistrate Jomah Jallah, the lead defense counsel, Cllr. Sillah, addressing a press conference, welcomed the ruling and termed the Court’s decision to grant their request as victory for the defendants.

However, he was quick to point out that he would have love for the case to be adjudicated fully and where Mr. Cummings and the other defendants would have had the opportunity to dispel the “lies” told against him by the prosecution’s witnesses.

“I would have love for the opportunity to be given to Mr. Cummings, and the other defendants to produce their evidence so that the general public will have an appreciation of the both sides’ testimonies. However, what we wanted is the restoration of their liberties. Now that their liberties have been restored, by the court, we are very happy and we think it is significant,” Cllr. Sillah said.

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