-- Call log reveals multiple secret conversations with Senate Secretary Singbeh
Judge Roland Dahn of the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Nimba County will shortly appear before the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) of the Supreme Court to face investigation after a telephone call log linked him to multiple phone calls and messages sent via SMS between him and the Secretary of the Senate, Nanbolor Singbeh, as well as Champan Logan, believed to be an accomplice of Singbeh.
The government in 2016 drew up an indictment at the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Nimba County against a British national, Hans Armstrong, for allegedly stealing two machines belonging to MHM Eko Liberia, Inc., a company whose majority owners are from the Czech Republic. According to the indictment, Armstrong subsequently rented them to ArcelorMittal Liberia which is operating in Yekepa Nimba County.
The indictment against Armstrong claimed that he took the machines from MHM Eko company compound in Margibi County before transporting them to the ArcelorMittal concession area in Nimba County.
The government's decision to indict Armstrong was based on a complaint filed by Singbeh, who holds 30 percent share in the company, and Logan.
Coincidentally, the 70 percent shareholders, two Czech Republic investors Pavel and Martin Miloschewsky, in 2018 appointed Armstrong as their attorney-in-fact to work in their interest to ensure that Singbeh accounts for the US$5 million in both cash and equipment and materials they transferred to Singbeh for the operation of the company.
It is based on the powers of attorney that Armstrong complained to the government to indict Singbeh and his alleged collaborators, which the government did and the case that has commenced before the Criminal Court"C' at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, undivided.
Surprisingly, while the case at the Criminal Court 'C' at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia was going on, it was when the very government that is prosecuting Singbeh and his Co-defendants opened the Armstrong case that is before Judge Roland Dahn, in Nimba County.
It was during the hearing of Armstrong's case in Nimba County that Judge Roland Dahn was allegedly caught on the call log exchanging phone calls and text messages with both Singbeh and Champan.
The call log, copy of which is in the possession of the Daily Observer, listed Judge Dahn's numbers as 0775164034 and 0886516385. While Logan's number is 0886510206 and Singbeh number is 0777223338.
The leaked record alleges that on June 17, 2020 by 8:09 a.m., Singbeh called Judge Dahn for 164 seconds (or 2.733333 minutes). Again on the same day, Judge Dahn responded to Singbeh's call by 8:12 and they both talked for 352 seconds (5.866667 minutes).
The record also alleged that on June 26 2020 by 17:03, Singbeh called Dahn for 11 seconds. The record showed messages sent via SMS between Judge Dahn and Singbeh.
On April 3 2020 at 09:24, Singbeh sent text messages to Judge Dahn. Again, the calls log claimed that Judge Dahn also communicated with Singbeh's accomplice, Champan Logan, on both their Lonestar Cell MTN numbers.
On March 3, 2020 by 16:34, Logan called Judge Dahn but the judge did not answer.
Later the same day, by 17:14, Judge Dahn responded to Logan's call and they both talked for about 174 seconds (2.9 minutes).
The call log was discovered after Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, the lawyer for Armstrong, rejected Judge Roland Dahn's ruling that denied Gongloe's two separate motions, including the motion to dismiss the indictment for lack of territorial jurisdiction because the alleged crime was committed in Margibi County and not In Nimba County.
The other denied motion was that the government Lawyers prosecuting the case against Armstrong were not qualified to bring the matter because one of them had not paid his bar dues to obtain a license to practice law in the courts throughout the country and so Gongloe's argument was that Judge Roland Dahn should strike all the pleadings they have filed to the court to include the indictment.
Singbeh's indictment alleges that Armstrong was charged with theft of property and forgery involving two machines that were stolen by Armstrong from Margibi County.
The indictment alleges he stole the machines after he rented them to ArcelorMittal Liberia in Yekepa, Nimba County.
In his argument, Armstrong's lawyer Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe said under the criminal procedure law, the court that has terrorial jurisdiction for the trial of the case is the 13th Judicial Circuit Court, in Kakata Margibi County, because the indictment says the two machines were criminally taken away from the compound of the MHM Eko Liberia, Inc., in Margibi County.
It was based in the indictment that Cllr Gongloe argued that Judge Dahn's court has no territorial jurisdiction over the Case and that it is the 13th Judicial Circuit Court, in Margibi County, that has.
Also Gongloe argued that the witnesses for both parties would have easy access to the court.
Besides, Gongloe argued, the machines that were allegedly stolen by Armstrong belong to two Czech Republic investors, Pavel and Martin Miloschewsky, the Czech Republic investors, who appointed Armstrong as their attorney in fact in Liberia.
The two Czech Republic investors are also 70 percents owner of the MHM Eko company.
"This Fact is undisputed. Can there be any action against Armstrong without the consent of the Czech Republic investors who have given power of attorney to Armstrong to serve as their attorney-in-fact in Liberia?" Gongloe argued.
He added that Armstrong's work as attorney-in-fact is to represent the Czech Republic investors' right and interest in machines and equipment, for which they entrusted the care of the management of MHM Eko company in Liberia.
Despite Cllr. Gongloe's argument, Judge Dahn ignored it and ruled that his court has territorial jurisdiction over the matter.
Not being satisfied, Gongloe again filed another request to strike the pleading submitted by Singbeh's lawyer, Cllr. Pato Jaber, county attorney for Nimba County and Attorney Theophilus Gbeadawo of the Detho and Associates law firm, on ground that both lawyers had not paid their dues and professional license fees for the year 2020 of the Liberia National Bar Association, as required by the law.
Cllr. Gongloe further argued that Atty. Gbeadawo had paid his bar due for the year 2019/2020, but needed time to prove that fact to the court. As for County Attorney Jaber, the Ministry of Justice normally pays for its lawyers, therefore Gongloe said he also needed time to ascertain the fact.
In his ruling, Judge Dahn said it is the law in this jurisdiction that every lawyer that appears before the court, whether in person or through pleading, must be licensed to practice and that no lawyer in this jurisdiction is allowed to practice before the court unless he or she is licensed to do so. The failure of a lawyer to produce said license may disqualify him or her as well as all pleading made by him or her.
It was on that basis of Gongloe's accusation that Judge Dahn suspended the hearing to ensure that the information was factual.
However, when they appeared for the rescheduled hearing, Cllr. Jaber produced a receipt for the payment of bar due dated March 31, 2020 and a receipt for the payment of professional fee, dated April 1, 2020.
Surprisingly, when Atty Gbeadawo appeared, he only presented receipt for the payment of bar due, dated April 3, 2020, but no receipt for the payment of professional license fee for the year 2020.
Also, Judge Dahn ruled and said "the law provides that a stature does not toll against the Republic."
He further ruled that the indictment in the cast and all papers that were filed by Cllr. Jaber were not filed by him in his personal capacity, rather as one of the prosecutors representing the state and therefore, the court will not strike any of the paperwork that were filed by him for and on behalf of the Republic.
"And so the motion to strike all pleadings filed by the County Attorney Jaber is hereby denied," Judge Dahn said.
Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.