Liberia: Singbeh Rejects Government Lawyers

Senate Secretary Nanborlor F. Singbeh Sr. has rejected the services of state lawyers in the controversial theft of property case against "British national" Hans Armstrong.

Sources closed to the Senate Chief Scribe told this paper Monday, October 12, that lawyers representing Singbeh have written the Justice Department that their client wants to waive that privilege.

Under the Liberian jurisprudence, a private prosecutor who filed criminal complaints against an individual/s or entity, which has been indicted by a grand jury or so is often represented by the state.

However, Singbeh has selected to waive such rights on grounds that he does not trust that the state lawyers would adequately represent his interest.

The particular case in question is the ongoing dispute between Singbeh and Armstrong over the rightful ownership of two yellow machines that include one caterpillar excavator with model 325 DNL valued at USD120, 000.00 and one Atlas Copco Jackhammer valued at USD 225, 000, 00.

The machines belong to MHM EKO Liberia Inc, and the equipment in question is currently being rented by ArcelorMittal Liberia.

The case was initially filed before the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Nimba County against Armstrong, who was then indicted for theft of property by the state during the county's February 2020 Term of sitting.

While the case was pending before the 8th Judicial Circuit Court, defendant Armstrong fled to Monrovia and filed the same case against Singbeh and others at Criminal Court C.

Without hesitation, the state issued an indictment and a write of arrest against Singbeh, former National Investment Commission (NIC) boss George W. Wisner and several others.

The indictment against Singbeh and others has been clouded with claims of bribing of jurors allegedly by officials of the Justice Department. In leaked audio, in the possession of this paper, Armstrong could be heard promising to pay off members of a Special Grand Jury if they could issue an indictment against Singbeh and others. The audio dates back to February 2021.

As a result of this leaked audio on February 17, 2021, Singbeh, wrote Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, complaining Assistant Justice Minister for Litigation Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh accusing him of exhibiting unethical behavior alleging solicitation of bribes for jurors which resulted in an action that did not only destroyed their hard-earned reputation but also left him with mental injury. The Chief Justice is yet to respond to this complaint.

The case filed by Armstrong was subsequently dismissed by Criminal Court C Judge Ousman F. Feika on September 6, 2021.

In his ruling, Judge Feika said the private prosecutor Armstrong, was indicted in the same case while those he was now prosecuting were the private prosecutors and a writ of arrest was subsequently issued against him.

The judge found that the same State that indicted Armstrong had proceeded to indict Singbeh, Wisner, and the other defendants without first concluding the initial indictment drawn against Armstrong in Nimba County.

Following the dismissal of the case against Singbeh and others on September 6, both parties reverted to the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Nimba to proceed with the original case filed against Armstrong.

But the Judge of the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Nimba County ordered the transfer after the prosecution contended that they had knowledge that Mr. Armstrong had filed a complaint against Judge Roland Dahn before the Judicial Investigation Committee (JIC) and therefore felt it appropriate that the judge transfer the case to another jurisdiction.

In his ruling, Judge Dahn noted, while acknowledging two complaints against him before the JIC by Armstrong that it was only prudent that he recuse himself from the case and thus transferred the matter before the 9th Judicial Circuit Court in Bong County.

Singbeh feared that with the deep routed sentiments and interest expressed by the state in the suit against himself and others in the recent case dismissed by the Criminal Court C, it is very unlikely that the state will provide him adequate representation and therefore has declined their services.

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