7 December 2012

Liberia: Pastor's 'Secret Deal' Exposed in U.S.$1 Million Trial

The ongoing US$1M theft of property and misapplication of entrusted property trial at the Criminal Court "C" involving Rev. Matthew T. Sakueh and his wife Mrs. Sakueh took a dramatic twist on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 when state prosecutors discovered the 'secret' transfer of some of the school properties to another school by Rev. Sakueh.

Criminal Court "C" is Situated at the Temple of Justice on Capitol Hill, Monrovia. The charges stemmed from allegations that the pastor and his wife received up to one million United States dollars from the ABC International Church at various times under the disguise of constructing the church's branch in Liberia, but the accused have since rejected the allegations.

At the call of the case on Wednesday, one of the prosecuting lawyers, Cllr. J. DakuMulbah begged to inform the court in a manner and form that while the trial is proceeding, defendant Sakueh allegedly proceeded to the premises of ABC-Liberia and collected desk, bunk-beds, furniture and fixtures, which was donated to the school by the ABC Children-Aid International for the benefit of Liberian children.

The ABC Children-Aid International is a mother organization of ABC-Liberia, which instituted the US$1M lawsuit against Rev. Sakueh, who is their local representative in Liberia. Cllr. Daku told the court that upon receiving the information that Rev. Sakueh had 'secretly' disposed of the ABC-Liberia assets, the prosecution secured a Writ of Search and Seizure Warrant from the Paynesville Magisterial Court, which execution made it possible for the retrieval of the items from a privately-run international school called, African Dream Academy located at Thinker Village on the Monrovia-Robertsfield highway.

The state prosecutor named the retrieved items as 68 pieces of brown-grey wooden chairs, 22 pieces of grey and blue ribbon chairs and 4 pieces of pink and blue ribbon plastic chairs. State prosecutor Daku told the presiding Judge, Peter W. Gbeneweleh, that the retrieved items was illegally disposed of by Rev. Sakueh while the trial is still ongoing.

The prosecutor warned that the state the state will suffer deplorable loss and injuries if nothing is done to prevent it. The prosecution then prayed to the court to place a restraint order on defendant Sakueh to stop him from removing any of the assets, while the trial is proceeding.

But in resistance to the application made by the state, one of the defense counsels, Cllr. Idris Sherrif, prayed to the court to dismiss the submission on grounds that the action of the prosecution entering the premises of ABC-Liberia was sanctioned by ABC Children-Aid International.

Cllr. Sherrif told the court that ABC-Liberia is a separate and distinct organization with its Board of Directors and is 100% owned by Liberians. The defense informed the court that as a distinct and separate organization, ABC-Liberia has the right to do anything they want to do with their assets.

He argued that the chairs, which were arrested from the African Dream Academy by the power of the Writ of Search and Seizure Warrant issued by the Paynesville Magisterial Court on November 20, 2012, was illegal on grounds that there was no stay order on ABC-Liberia from Criminal Court "C", where the trial is ongoing.

Assuming without admitting that the alleged items belongs to ABC Children-Aid International, Cllr. Sherrif told the court the [plaintiff] will suffer no loss because it had filed an action of US$1M lawsuit.

He contended that the items seized by the officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) are properties of ABC-Liberia, which according to him, were acquired through grants and donations made by donors to ABC-Liberia.

He added that the case before Criminal Court "C" is both criminal and civil, and as such, one cannot steal from oneself and therefore requested the court to turn the properties to the defendant because they were only borrowed to African Dream Academy.

After carefully listening to the arguments on the application and its resistance, Judge Gbeneweleh said the records before the court show that the defendant and his wife were indicted by the Grand Jury for the crimes of theft of property and misapplication of entrusted property on March 21, 2012.

Judge Gbeneweleh informed the court that at the call of the case, prosecution brought to his attention that some assets, which are subject to litigation, were removed by the defendant herein.

The Judge stated that the removal of the assets from ABC-Liberia to African Dream Academy can be construed as concealment by defendant Sakueh, which is not supported by law.

Meanwhile, all the assets have been turned over to Criminal Court "C" pending the adjudication of the case.

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