-Former ECOWAS Court Judge Cllr. Wilkins Wright confesses in Ex-Defense Minister Samukai's case
Benefit payment to lawyers that represented some members of the House Representatives during last year's impeachment proceedings of former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Cllr. Kabineh Ja'neh dominated the case involving the US$1.9 million that was said to have been withdrawn and used outside of the purpose for which the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Pension Account" was established.
The drama started on Tuesday, February 25, when the government lawyers (prosecution) rejected a request by the former Judge of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Community Court, Cllr. Wilkins Wright to serve as one of the lawyers for the defendants.
However, the resistance of Cllr. Wright's participation in the matter by the prosecution was denied by Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay of Criminal Court 'C,' on grounds that there is no binding legal contract between the prosecution and Wright.
The government lawyers have argued that Cllr. Wright has an ongoing contract of service with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and, as such, to allow him (Wright) to represent the defendants who have been prosecuted by the same ministry is a conflict of interest. They also made reference to an agreement they had with Cllr. Wright.
To the amazement of the crowded courtroom, Cllr. Wright said that he has been performing legal services with specific reference to the impeachment trial of former Associate Justice Ja'neh, upon request of then former Justice Minister and late Cllr. Fredrick Cherue and he accepted the proposal to serve on the Cherue's legal team to remove Ja'neh.
"We successfully ensured the removal of Justice Ja'neh from the Bench of the Supreme Court," Cllr. Wright claimed.
Thereafter, Cllr. Wright told the court that since then he has sought his compensation from the government as of the date of Ja'neh's removal from the bench on March 28, 2019, claiming, "The government has failed, refused and neglected to pay me for representing them during the Ja'neh impeachment trial."
"It has taken 11 months within which the government has refused to pay me after Justice Ja'neh removal from office," Cllr. Wright added.
Cllr. Wright also argued that he was used by the very government that had refused to pay him during the Ja'neh impeachment trial to represent it at the US$25 million damages lawsuit Ja'neh filed before the ECOWAS Community Court.
As part of that lawsuit, Cllr. Wright claimed that Justice Ja'neh was demanding to be reinstated to the very Supreme Court Bench, where he is instrumental to have removed Ja'neh.
Because of the noncompliant treatment by the government, Cllr. Wright claimed that he wrote a letter and handed it over to Cllr. Cephus some time in early 'September or October 2019,' demanding to be paid and invited the ministry to sign at the bottom of that communication to constitute a binding contract between him and the MOJ.
"From that day until today (February 25) in this court, Cllr, Cephus representing the government has failed to sign the contract agreement and return the copy to me, meaning that the Cllr. Cephus still has my letter in his hands," Cllr. Wright argued.
Cllr. Wright argued that since Cllr. Cephus did not sign the contract document, it means that there is no contract between the government and him (Cllr. Wright) that disallows him from representing anyone against the interest of the government.
Wright also challenged the government to prove that he has a binding contract with the ministry that is duly signed by both parties for which compensation has been paid.
Cllr. Wright, therefore, pleaded with Judge Gbeisay to demise the ministry's accusation and allow him to participate in the trial as counsel for the defendants, because there is no legal reason for him not to serve as a lawyer for the defendants.
It was based upon that request that Judge Gbeisay denied the prosecution's argument and allowed Cllr. Wright to participate in the matter as a defense lawyer.