Liberia: Did President Pro-Tempore Obstruct Senate Secretary's Arrest?

opinion

The Capitol Building's office of Senator Albert T. Chie, President Pro-Tempore, was on Thursday, September 12 a place of tension following the senator's alleged refusal to allow a court Sheriff that was accompanied by two officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) from arresting Nanborlor Singbeh, secretary of the senate, according to eyewitnesses.

The back of Senator Chie's call card with a note to Magistrate Duncan about his desire to turnover Singebeh to her court.

Magistrate Victoria Worlobah Duncan of the Kakata Magisterial Court in Margibi County issued the arrest order on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, where Singbeh and several others of the senior management team of a Czech Republic-owned company, MHM Eko-Liberia Incorporated are accused of illegal sale of heavy duty earth-moving equipment (caterpillars) and heavy duty trucks worth about US$650,000.

Senate Pro Tempore Albert T. Chie sent a handwritten note on the back of call card, to tell the Magistrate Victoria Duncan that Nanbolor Sengbeh would be submitted to the court at a later time.

Eyewitness on Capitol Hill informed the Daily Observer that Senator Chie asked the court officers not to take Singbeh along with them, because he was going to communicate with Magistrate Duncan, and therefore, he (Sen. Chie) would be responsible to surrender Singbeh to the court at a later date.

Shortly afterward, the Sheriff pleaded with Senator Chie to reduce his statement into writing, which the Senator did in the form of a hand-written note on the back of his call card.

Copy of Senator Chie's call card written on September 12 in possession of the Daily Observer reads, "Your Honor, Victorian Worlobah Duncan, I confirm that the Secretary of the Senate has been served the writ and will appear."

Chie did not mention the date on which he would surrender Singbeh to the court.

The trucks and equipment under litigation were purchased and shipped by the 70 percent majority shareholders, Czech brothers Martin and Pavel Miloschewsky, but with an agreement of reimbursement when the company produced and sold crushed rock, the court's record claims.

Since the establishment of MHM Eko-Liberia Inc. in Seeke-Ta, Weala, Township, Margibi County, in 2013 up to present, Singbeh has not produced or sold a single truckload of crushed rocks.

Secretary of the Senate, Nanbolor Singbeh sought refuge in the office of Senate Pro Tempore, Albert Chie, when the Sheriff of the court and two police officers came to arrest him.

Singbeh is the president and chairman of the board of directors of the MHM Eko-Liberia Inc, where he also holds a 30 percent share.

The case was brought by the Miloschewsky brothers through their Attorney-In-Fact Hans Armstrong, a British national against Singbeh.

Thursday's standoff, according to eyewitnesses, began when the Sheriff and the police officers went to arrest Singbeh at his Capitol Building office to take him along with them to the Kakata Magisterial Court.

While trying to resist the arrest, Singbeh ran into the office of Senator Chie, but the officers and the Sheriff followed him there, the eyewitness said. The eyewitness explained that when the Sheriff and the officers entered Senator Chie's office, they met the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill.

While there, one account said Minister McGill, in the presence of Senator Chie, was heard telling the Sheriff and officers, "Nobody will arrest Singbeh here without his lawyer's presence."

In the aftermath of a tense standoff that lasted for hours, the eyewitness said Senator Chie asked Singbeh if he has a lawyer, and Singbeh replied "yes," before the Senator could give his assurance for Singbeh's appearance any time in court.

Singbeh's arrest comes just two days after the Kakata Magisterial Court ordered the arrest of his aide, Jan Holasek, a Czech national, in connection to the sale of the trucks and equipment, and the alleged illegal withdrawal of US$317,500 out of the company's account at Ecobank-Liberia.

Holasek has meanwhile been released on a controversial bail, which Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe of the Gongloe and Associates Law Firm has challenged.

Before his release, Holasek allegedly informed the investigators that he gave Singbeh US$10,000 from the sale of an excavator #325.

Holasek also claimed that Singbeh sold one of the company's Toyota Pick-ups to one James Fallah, who lives in Weala, Margibi County for US$3,000.

It is not clear when Senator Chie will live up to his commitment to surrender Singbeh to the court to exonerate himself from the criminal accusation. It also remains to be seen whether Magistrate Duncan will cite the Senate Pro Tempore of Minister of State for obstruction of justice.

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