By Frederick A.B. Jayweh, Esq B.A, LL. B, LL.M
Counsellor-At-Law & International Affairs Director Africa Center for Law and Human Rights Inc.
No matter how exaggerated or understated a case may be or how unnecessarily a particular fact or circumstance may be politically overstressed or undervalued, especially so where such facts or circumstances are willfully and intentionally inflated or discredited to initiate and project a particular political point of view or to cultivate a singular political thought, we have always endeavored and strived to objectively and professionally comment when commenting was exceedingly necessary and compelling to clarify the mind of the reading public relative to whether certain issue of fact or certain issue of law is accorded its full and accurate account or not. In this case, whether the Government of Liberia should target and arrest or summon a criminal defendant or defendants for supposedly committing a criminal offense (economic and financial crime in particular) as provided for and contained under the Substantive and Criminal Procedure Law of the Republic of Liberia; New Penal Code Title-26-Liberian Code of Laws Revised Vol IV, Sections 15.51 and 15.80, Approved 1976 and published in 1978 or Criminal Procedure Law-Title 2 Liberian Code of Laws Revised, §10.6 through §10.8.
§ 15.51. Theft of property: A person is guilty of theft if he:
- Knowingly takes, misappropriates, converts or exercises unauthorized control over, or makes an unauthorized transfer of an interest in, the property of another with the purpose of depriving the owner thereof; (b) Knowingly obtains the property of another by deception or by threat with the purpose of depriving the owner thereof or purposely deprives another of his property by deception or by threat, or (c) Knowingly receives, retains or disposes of property of another which has been stolen, with the purpose of depriving the owner thereof.
- § 15.54. Grading of Theft Offenses: Theft of Property is and could be a first, second, or third-degree felony with a specific and distinct degree or term of imprisonment and fines depending on the facts and circumstances obtaining during the commission of the criminal offense or crime(s) we have so referenced.
§ 15.80. Fraud on the Internal Revenue of Liberia: Subsection F: Economic Sabotage
- (a)Knowingly conspires or colludes to defraud
the Government of Liberia;
(b) Knowingly makes an opportunity for any person to defraud the Government of Liberia or another; (c) Does or omits to do any act with intent to enable another to defraud the Government of Liberia; (d) Makes or signs any fraudulent entry in any book or record of any Ministry or Agency of Government or signs any fraudulent certificate, return or statement; (e) Demands greater sums than authorized by law or receives any fee, compensation or reward for the performance of any duty except compensation from the Government of Liberia;(f) With intent to defeat the application of any provision of the Revenue and Finance Law of Liberia, fails to perform any of the duties of his office or employment; (g) Having knowledge of a violation of any Revenue and Finance Law of Liberia, or any fraud, fails to report in writing such information to the Commissioner of Internal Revenues or the Minister of Finance of Liberia; and (h), he/she demands, accepts, attempts to collect, directly or indirectly, as a payment, gift or otherwise of sum or thing of value for compromise, adjustment or settlement of any charge or complaint purported and brought against him by the Government of the Republic of Liberia.
Did officials and former officials of the Johnson Sirleaf-led violate § 15.80 (a) to (h), New Penal Law-Title-26-Liberian Code of Laws Revised, Subsection F: Economic Sabotage and by so doing colluded, stole, defrauded and cheated Liberia and the people of their sole hard-earned tax dollars?
And if so, should officials and former officials of the Johnson Sirleaf-led Government be indicted and arrested for the commission of Economic Sabotage and not Property Theft?
Under all circumstances, Economic Sabotage is only a first-degree felony punishable by a fine of not less than $10,000 and the defendant (s) are to be imprisoned for not more than 10 calendar years certain. Economic Sabotage is never a second or third-degree felony.
§ 15.86. Bail bond: Unlike Theft of Property where the accused is permitted to post a property evaluation certificate bond, a person charged with Economic Sabotage, must post only cash bond equivalent to the amount charged in the indictment and on the face of the writ. If charge with Economic Sabotage, all defendants (officials and former officials) of the Government of the Republic of Liberia indicted and charged with the commission of financial and economic crimes in Liberia and against the people of Liberia, will only be permitted to raise and file with the Courts of Liberia CASH Bond equal to the amount(s) of money he is determined and charged with having converted and defrauded Liberia of.
Officials and former officials of the Government of Liberia are affluent and wealthy people. Many are owners of properties (Assets to include ill-gotten homes, businesses, and insurance companies) that they could use to continue to cheat and defraud Liberia and its people by raising and posting unfit criminal appearance bonds; if indicted, charged and arrested under the Crime of Property Theft, a could be first, second, or third-degree felony. To ensure that Liberia’s monies and assets converted to private use and benefit are forthwith and swiftly recovered, the Government must totally abstain from charging officials and former officials accused of committing economic and financial crimes with multiple and mixed criminal offenses with multiple and mixed sentencing results.
§ 50.2. Classification of Felonious offenses in Liberia
1. Felonies are classified for the purpose of sentencing into the following three categories:(a) Felonies of the first degree: A defendant shall not be sentenced to prison for more than 10 years;(b) Felonies of the second degree: A defendant shall not be sentenced to prison for more than 5years;(c) Felonies of the third degree; A defendant shall not be sentenced to prison for not more than 3years; Property Theft in Liberia, could be first, second or third degree. People indicted and charged with Property Theft instead of Economic Sabotage, could simply raise and post a property evaluation certificate bond (s) and abscond the jurisdiction of Liberia with nothing to foreclosure, sell and/or retain to recover Liberia’s converted monies and stolen assets.
For all intents and purposes, the following classifications of felonious offenses committed in Liberia are highly essential and necessary to aid a state prosecutor to properly charge a criminal defendant (s) alleged to have committed financial and economic crimes in Liberia. So, why charge officials and former officials of the Government of Liberia who knowingly and intentionally colluded, stole and defrauded the Government and People of Liberia with the Crime of Economic Sabotage and not with Theft of Property? What are the professional and sustaining advantages to charging Economic Sabotage as opposed to Theft of Property? Alleged Economic and financial criminals shall never be permitted to go free.
A defendant (s) so designated and charged shall be required to only raise and file a cash bond equal to the amount charged in the indictment and on the face of the writ of arrest. Under the Crime of Economic Sabotage where financial and economic crimes are knowingly committed, the trial judge consistent with (§ 15.86. Bail bond), is only be permitted to accept CASH as bail bond equal to the amount charged in the indictment and on the face of the writ of arrest. In Liberia since most people enter government and public service with the strong determination to steal and defraud the Government and people of Liberia, Economic Sabotage is the proper charge to raise and bring against all defendants (officials and former officials) of the Government of Liberia accused of defrauding and cheating Liberia and the people of Liberia as officials and former officials of Liberia.
Professionally, we have come to this conclusion to most likely create a clearer and thorough understanding of the law when it comes to the issue of law because unlike Politics, Law imposes a binding duty on a plaintiff or a complainant in a civil or criminal action to establish his or her case by the production of direct or indirect evidence to prove that a defendant is liable or guilty of certain facts and circumstances as complained of and entered against that defendant by the plaintiff. Under the Civil Procedure Law of Liberia, a plaintiff that brings a civil lawsuit before a Civil Law Court of the Republic of Liberia bears the sole burden to move that court to summon the defendant to appear and defend him or herself against the lawsuit. In other words, a defendant against whom a writ of summoning is entered has 10 working days after been served to appear and challenge the inadequacy of that civil complaint filed. At no time is he/she arrested and liberty contained.
Unlike a civil complaint or lawsuit, when the State (the Republic of Liberia) complains against a defendant or defendants and charges them with the purported commission of a criminal offense, that defendant or defendants shall be immediately arrested and detained consistent with the force and effect of the Substantive and Criminal Procedure Law of the Republic of Liberia. Much more, this same Substantive and Criminal Procedure Law of Liberia, provides that where the Republic of Liberia suspects or considers that a certain defendant or defendants have knowingly, consciously, and recklessly committed a crime or a criminal offense in the Republic of Liberia, the government of Liberia, using its police power, has every right and authority to immediately arrest and detain such defendant or defendants in a common police cell for 48 hours prior to being formally charged under a writ of arrest. In other words, a defendant or defendants, charged with the commission of a crime is never summoned or invited as some might speculate, claim, or contemplate. Rather, where a defendant or defendants are charged with the commission of a crime, the Substantive and Criminal Procedure Law of Liberia demands and directs that that defendant is immediately arrested and detained. But using prosecutorial judgment and purely out of deference to the accused (s), an independent counsel or Ministry of Justice, may invite defendant (s) to appear and show cause why § 10.6 through §10.8 Criminal Procedure Law-Title-2-Liberian Code of Laws Revised, should not applied and used to arrest and detain him/them.
Where the government of Liberia chooses to arrest and prosecute a defendant (s) under a formal writ of arrest having charged them with Economic Sabotage, those defendants named on the face of the Writ of Arrest must be immediately taken before a judge that has preliminary or trial jurisdiction to have the statutory and constitutional rights of those defendants read to them. After said defendant or defendants have been properly and clearly advised and informed of their rights, they may choose to file a valid criminal appearance, CASH as bond with the arresting court; that is if a bail bond is permitted by law. But where a criminal appearance bond is not permitted by law or where such defendants have not the capacity to post a criminal appearance bond, the arresting court shall swiftly proceed and detain such defendant or defendants at the Monrovia Central Prison or in the county where they are charged. This is the law that governs all criminal offenses in Liberia and this law creates no special privilege and/or treatment for any citizen, whether rich or poor.
Depending on the nature and color of the crime purportedly committed by a defendant or defendants, the sitting judge, may admit them to a criminal appearance bond to secure or guarantee their release and day-to-day appearance before that court; or he may immediately detain them during and for the entire trial period, if no valid criminal appearance bond is filed and sustained by that court. Charged with Economic Sabotage, the defendant or defendants shall be required to file with the arresting criminal court only Cash bond that is equal to the amount charged in the Writ of Arrest or the court may detain said defendant so charged for the entire days, months, or years that such criminal case is pending and being tried if no cash bond equal to the amount charged is filed. This is the law of the Republic of Liberia, and therefore, the defendant (s) arrested in Liberia are entitled to no special respect or treatment. Left alone, their separate and respective human rights have not been violated or abused as some in the developed and developing world might want their reading public and the international community to think, believes, and perhaps conclude. In the great United States where Liberia is said to have borrowed its legal systems, when a person is accused, suspected, and charged with the commission of a crime, he or she is immediately ordered arrested and detained, pending the filing of a bond; under no circumstances are such defendant (s) summoned or invited to appear at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to answer to an offense (s) of which he is determined to have committed. Out of mere respect, the Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia, a Special Prosecutor or Independent Counsel, may choose to stay his arresting power and summon a criminal defendant (s) out of prosecutorial deference. Since Liberia and its people have suffered for so long at the hands of fraudsters and people who virtually have no respect for the laws of Liberia, we are not certain and have doubt if prosecutorial deference is prudent and helpful at this stage. Liberia is a desperate and rigged country. She has no time to waste by extending myriad of unaccommodating invitations to officials and former for having defrauded and cheated Liberia and its people of their hard-earned tax dollars. Criminal offenses committed in Liberia are not one and the same as civil offenses to warrant any special treatment and/or prosecutorial deference.
through§10.8: Issuance of Warrant of Arrest upon Complaint or Indictment.
A warrant for the arrest of a person accused of an offense may be issued by a court under the provisions of this chapter (a) upon the filing of an indictment, or (b) when a complaint is preferred before a magistrate or justice of the peace charging that an offense has been committed and it appears from the contents of the charge and the examination, under oath or affirmation, of the complainant or other witnesses, if any, that there is reasonable ground to believe that an offense has been committed and that the person against whom the complaint was made has committed the offense; (Where Proof is evident and presumption is great, a criminal defendant must be swiftly arrested and detained.
To properly understand and to put into context this concept and aspect of our law, the functions of Civil and Criminal Justice Systems of Liberia need to be properly reviewed.
- The Functions of the Civil Justice System
Since becoming a State, the Republic of Liberia has always had and maintained Civil and Criminal Justice Systems. This provides that under the Civil Procedure Law and the Civil Justice System of Liberia, a private party has every right to enter a civil complaint or lawsuit against another private party before a civil law court of the Republic of Liberia and entreat the sitting judge to proceed and issue a writ of summons to bring that defendant(s) before or under the jurisdiction of that civil law court to answer to a civil complaint filed against such defendants. In such a case, the private defendant or defendants may choose to appear physically consistent with the notice given in the Writ of Summons or they may elect to appear by filing a written and formal Answer with that civil law court within ten (10) working days from the day that they were summoned and served by that court to appear and answer to the plaintiff’s complaint. Moreover, under the Civil Justice System of Liberia, the plaintiffs and defendants are for all intents and purposes, considered and treated as civil parties and as such the sitting civil law court, before which they are supposed to appear, must have such defendant or defendants summoned. The summons brings them under the jurisdiction of the court. They are never ordered arrested.
Additionally, under the Civil Justice System of Liberia, all civil suits or cases must be commenced and heard by the issuance of a Writ of Summons. All defendants in all civil cases must always be summoned by the issuance of a Writ of Summons and not by the issuance of a Writ of Arrest. Except for and under special civil cases or suits in which the defendant (s) might be ordered arrested and detained for contempt of court. In short, under the Civil Justice System of Liberia, a defendant (s) may elect to appear or not to appear. The refusal or failure to appear simply constitutes judgment by default and not a power to arrest.
- The functions of the Criminal Justice System
Since becoming a State, the Republic of Liberia, has always had and employed the service of its Criminal Justice System to immediately arrest, indict, and detain any person or persons suspected or presumed to have committed a criminal offense. This is indicative of the fact that under the Substantive and Criminal Procedure Law of Liberia, all criminal offenses when committed by a private or public citizen, or a resident (s) of Liberia, the Government of Liberia has the right and authority to arrest and immediately detain such defendant (s). Such arrest and detention could await the issuance of a formal Writ of Arrest or the filing of a valid criminal appearance bond that is sustained and upheld by the arresting court. A criminal complaint shall never result in mere letter writing of summons.
Moreover, under a mere suspicion, the government of Liberia may immediately arrest and detain a defendant or defendants for 48 or 72 hours without bringing any formal charge. But after 48 hours, the government of Liberia may bring a formal charge or charges against the detained defendants or the defendants may demand that they are immediately released. A defendant or defendants arrested and detained under a formal Writ of Arrest, must be afforded the opportunity and right to file before the arresting court a criminal appearance bond; except in the case of murder or under any other criminal offense (s) where the defendant or defendants are not permitted to be admitted to a criminal appearance bond. Even in such cases, Proof must be evident, and the presumption must be great, that that defendant (s) so charged did do and commit murder or any other felonious offense that may be a nonbailable offense.
Whatever the case may be, in all criminal cases, any and all defendants so charged, have to and must be immediately arrested and detained under a formal Writ of Arrest if no criminal appearance bond is filed and sustained. In short, all criminal cases are commenced and heard by the issuance of a Writ of Arrest and not by the force and effect of a Writ of Summons or by way of invitation. Only a witness or would-be witness to a crime may be summoned or invited. Where Proof is evident and Presumption is great, all criminal defendants (absence discernment), are to and must be swiftly arrested and detained.
There is a great and considerable difference between how a lawsuit is commenced under the Civil Justice and the Criminal Justice Systems of Liberia. Under the Civil Justice System of Liberia, all civil cases must be commenced and heard only by the issuance of a Writ of Summons. Whereas under the Criminal Justice System of Liberia, a criminal case must be commenced and heard only by the issuance of a writ of arrest; with § 10.6 through §10.8 Criminal Procedure Law-Title-2-Liberian Code of Laws Revised.
The fact that the government of Liberia elects to arrest and detain a defendant (s) for the alleged commission of a crime, (economic and financial crimes), does not constitute the violation of the human rights of that defendant or defendants, unless by the use of torture or by the use of any other illegal means to obtain a confession or needed evidence. The procedure to arrest and detain a defendant (s) in all criminal cases is certainly normal and should never be considered and likened to abuse of power.
It must be remembered that officials and former officials of the Government of Liberia determined to have committed financial and economic crimes in Liberia, were never complained against civilly or as provided for under the Civil Procedure Law of Liberia rather they were and are charged with defrauding the Government and people of Liberia; a charge that demands and directs that they must be immediately arrested and detained pending the filing of a valid criminal appearance bond that is sustained by the arresting court; except where prosecutorial deference is duly invoked and applied. The financial and economic crime investigation going on today in Liberia is clear both as to the issue of fact and law. Therefore, anyone who might be thinking otherwise may need to understand that a prosecutor may choose to employ prosecutorial judgment where found necessary and compelling. But in Liberia where most officials and former officials of Government intentionally and willfully choose cheat and defraud Liberia and people of Liberia, we have grave doubt that prosecutorial deference is accommodating and helpful.
- Financial and Economic Crimes
Acting on the strength of the declaration and substance of the audit reports found by the General Auditing Commission (AGC), the Government of the Republic of Liberia should proceed to conduct the Assets Investigation, Restitution and Recovery work to firmly establish prosecutable defendants determined to have committed financial and economic crimes in Liberia. Notwithstanding, those officials and former officials of the Johnson Sirleaf-led Government of Liberia residents of Liberia and foreign parts, due to the immense level of financial crimes committed in Liberia January 2006-January 2018, where Proof is evident and presumption is great that officials and former officials of the Johnson Sirleaf-led Government intentionally and willfully committed financial and economic crimes by defrauding the Government and the people of Liberia, where direct and indirect evidence is available and in the custody of the Government of Liberia, those officials and former officials must be swiftly indicted, arrested and accordingly prosecuted along with properties they acquired by defrauding Liberia and its people be immediately ceased. If prosecuted and convicted, all officials and former officials so convicted need be sentenced for 10 years. Officials and former officials of the Government that colluded and defrauded Liberia and the people of are wealthy and heartless so much so for the Asset Investigation, Restitution and Recover Team to continue unceasingly invite them.
- Prosecute Them Swiftly
The Republic of Liberia is a totally broke and desperate country with an urgent need to target and recovers monies stolen and assets bought with Liberia’s revenues and resources. The Government must swiftly indict and prosecute those with evidence to be prosecuted and continue to investigate those officials and former officials of the Johnson Sirleaf-led Government where such pieces of evidence are still outstanding and uncertain. Many officials and former officials of the Johnson Sirleaf-led Government that defrauded Liberia and its people are residing in Liberia along with their stolen properties and others have swiftly fled Liberia. The Government must speedily proceed to institute extradition proceedings to have those that have fled Liberia and intentionally sought refuge and safety in the United States, The UK, Germany, France and other parts of the developed world along with their ill-gotten properties be proceeded against and their assets (homes, businesses and bank accounts frozen and taken into the custody and control of Liberia. The Liberian people have no time to waste by issuing countless and unhelpful letters of invitation.
- Choose Economic Sabotage
Under the Penal Law of the Republic of Liberia, §15.80, the crime of Economic Sabotage, unlike Theft of Property, carries with it a greater force and effect of the law when it comes to the filing of the necessary bail bond and the effective recovery of the amount charged by the Government of Liberia. That is where the government of Liberia charges a defendant or defendants with the Crime of Economic Sabotage and complains that the amount allegedly stolen by the defendant (s) is US$127,000,000, the defendant (s) so charged, is required to only post CASH bond equal to US$127,000,000. In the case of Property Theft, the defendant (s) is permitted to raise and file any type of bond. The Government should abandon charging multiple offenses and expecting exact results.
Since 1970 up to today’s date, anyone who has lived in Liberia, especially so anyone who has had the occasion and opportunity to effectively practice law under the Criminal Justice System of the Republic of Liberia, will certainly know and immediately concede that where a defendant or a group of defendants purportedly colludes, takes, seals, and converts to their personal use or gain money entrusted to them that belongs to the Republic of Liberia, such officials and former officials, need to be charged by the government of Liberia with the Crime of Economic Sabotage and not with Theft of Property.
We have analyzed so and argued because Economic Sabotage is the best deal against all officials and former officials of the Government that collude, cheat and defraud Liberia and its people of the revenues and resources.
- National Assets Recovery Commission
Except as otherwise provided and upon coming into force and effect of these amendments to the New Penal Law-Title-26-Liberian Code of Laws Revised, §15.80 to be added thereto the establishment of the National Assets Recovery Commission (NARC) in the Republic to be manned by a 5-man National Assets Recovery Commissioners (NARCs) with the power to suspend and dispense with the Statute of Limitations to investigate, prosecute and recover all assets of the Republic battered and converted by officials and former officials of the Government of Liberia since 1970 and beyond. The Commission shall consist of a 5-man specialized tribunal or statutorily court with its head office situated and lying in Tubmansbuge, Bomi County and shall sit rationally in the Republic of Liberia. The Commission shall consist of an investigative; prosecutorial; judicial; and publicity units with the power to investigate, indict, prosecute and seize all monies and assets belonging to the Republic of Liberia whether seized during the investigation, prosecution or after conviction. All properties, monies, and assets so seized shall swiftly come under the custody and control of the Government and people the Republic of Liberia.
Absolutely, the Republic of Liberia is a desperate and totally bankrupt country. To swiftly and efficiently investigate, indict, arrest, prosecute and recover all monies and assets belonging to Liberia, but swindled from Liberia and the people of Liberia by officials and former officials of Liberia, Liberia and its people need to establish in Liberia and by Statute, a National Assets Recovery Commission (NARC); a commission with the statutory authority to investigate and swiftly indict and prosecute all economic and financial crimes committed in Liberia by officials and former officials of Government of Liberia.
Since the Assets Investigation, Restitution and Recovery Team currently operating in Liberia was not created by the Legislature of Liberia by and through the enactment of a Statute, the operational authority, programs and activities of the Team, could be challenged before our courts for want of sufficient and proper legal authority to holistically and comprehensively indict, arrest, seize and prosecute the countless economic and financial crimes committed intentionally and knowingly by officials and former officials of the Government of Liberia merely by and through the authority of Letters of Patent issued by regulatory and monitoring authority of the Justice Ministry. By the creation of a statutorily created National Assets Recovery Commission (NARC), Liberia and its people will be fully empowered to identify, target, investigate, indict and prosecute all officials and former officials of the Government of Liberia alleged to have committed economic and financial crimes in Liberia.
Liberia lacks the will, commitment, integrity, and honesty to prosecute economic crime!.