7 November 2012

Liberia: Rights Activist Wins Habeas Corpus Proceedings

A Human Rights activist, J. Melvin Page, on Tuesday, November 6, 2012 defeated the defunct National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), when the assigned Judge at Criminal Court "C" at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia granted a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus in his favor.

Records from the court, copies of which are in the possession of the Heritage, revealed that the petitioners' petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus was filed before Judge Peter W. Gbeneweleh on October 26, 2012 against Al- Karley, purporting to be Director of the defunct security agency, NBI.

The arrest and subsequent detention of Mr. Page and his legal counsel Atty. Nelson Jallah, according to the court records, was predicated upon a complaint filed by one Mr. M. P. Dhaliwal, an American national on behalf of his four children.

The Judge said Mr. Dhaliwal alleged that Mr. Page has some documents concerning the nationality of his daughter, one Marpu which he [Dhaliwal] requested Mr. Page to return, but to no avail. Judge Gbeneweleh added that Dhaliwal also told the former NBI that Mr. Page demanded the sum of US$ 25, 000 so as not to disclose the information.

He further informed the court that Dhaliwal alleged Atty. Jallah, a former security personnel of the National Security Agency (NSA) intimidated his daughter Marpu, while Mr. Page was said to have sent a MS message to Dhaliwal that the 72 hours ultimatum giving to pay the US$25,000 expired on October 24, 2012.

Delivering the ruling on the petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus and the resistance thereto, Judge Gbeneweleh told the court that the only decisive issue of the petition is whether or not the NBI has the authority and power to arrest and detain the petitioners, Page and Jallah subsequent to the repeal of the Act which created it.

Judge Gbeneweleh quoted section 16.60 0f the Civil Procedural Law as his reliance, specifically 16.60(D), which provides: "It shall be the duty of every defendant upon whom a Writ of Habeas Corpus is served to report at the hearing, whether he has the prison in his custody, or under his power. If he has the prison in his custody, the authority and true cause for such custody or restraint."

According to the Judge, section 1 and 2 of the National Security Reform Intelligence Act (NSRIA) of 2011, provides that the Act of 1979 creating and establishing the NBI are hereby repealed. He described the NBI as a dead security agency and pointed out that the arrest and detention of Page and his lawyer was unlawful and illegal.

The Judge also recommended to the County Attorney for Montserrado County, Cllr. J. DakuMubah that the information in the possession of Mr. Page that Marpu processed a real estate should be investigated on grounds that the 1986 Constitution forbids an alien to own land in Liberia.

Marpu is believed to be an Indian national, who according to the counsels for the petitioners is holding a Liberian Passport as well as an Indian Passport.

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