NEC BOSS’ FATE HANGS

By: R. Joyclyn Wea

MONROVIA-Judge T. Ciapha Carey, Presiding Judge of Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice is to determine the fate of Madam Davidetta Browne Lansanah, Chairperson of the National Elections Commission in her criminal matter currently before that honorable court.

Madam Browne-Lansanah was indicted in late 2021 by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and is facing criminal prosecution for multiple offenses ranging from money laundering, insider trading manipulation, conflict of interest.

Judge T. Ciapha Carey having listened to arguments from both parties, reserved ruling in Madam Lansanah March 8, 2022 motion to dismiss the criminal indictment against her pending the notice of assignment.

During the Wednesday’s argument, the NEC boss’ lawyers, Cllr. Wuefred Alfred Sayeh and Augustine Toe consistently argued that the court lacks jurisdiction over the crimes levied against their client (Lansanah).

They hold that it is in violation of the Code of Conduct on public officials because the Code of Conduct provides its own disciplinary processes in the event where there is an infringement or breach of the Code in Part XIV Section 14.1.

The NEC Chairperson’s lawyers further cite Part XII of the Code of Conduct provides for the creation of the office of an Ombudsman under section 12.1 of the Code of Conduct which states: The office of an Ombudsman is hereby established as an independent autonomous body which shall be responsible for the enforcement, oversight, monitoring and evaluation of the adherence to the code of conduct.

They claimed when such act is committed by an official of government as in the matter at hand, such case goes directly to the Ombudsman for investigation based upon his responsibility of having the sole authority to receive and investigate complaints of alleged violations and impose sanction and not the court.

Lansana’s legal team further contended that it was an error when LACC investigated the matter alleging the NEC boss of the crime of Insider Trading which has not been enacted, and penalized under the Liberian Statutory Laws as such, their client cannot and should not plead to the alleged crimes of Insider Trading, Conflict of Interest and Marketing Manipulation.

The lawyers further pleaded with that honorable court to dismiss the criminal indictment against their clients with prejudice against the state.

Also, LACC’s chairperson Edwin Kla Martin arguing for the state insists that the court being a criminal court was created to confer over such matter of criminality noting that acted properly in the absence and the creation of the office of the Ombudsman.

While Martin acknowledges that the code of conduct gives solely authority to the Ombudsman to receive and investigate complaints of alleged violation and impose sanctions, he says, LACC can act in absence of the ombudsman.

Cllr. Martin furthered that the money laundering act in section 15 named several predicate offenses and says as may be provided in the penal code or other Liberian laws related to the case therefore, he prayed the court not to grant the plea by Madam Lansanah.

On March 8, 2022, Madam Brown-Lansanah filed a motion requesting Judge Carey to dismiss the indictment against her for crime Insider Trading, Conflict of Interest and Marketing Manipulation.

According to the indictment, Madam Browne-Lansanah rented thermometers for the by-election which was held recently for four counties from her brother’s company called TUMA Enterprises Inc. for US$180,000 and did not go through the rightful processes.

Additionally, she allegedly committed the crime of Insider Trading which is in violation of Part II, Section 2.2 and Market Manipulation which is in violation of the Code of Conduct consistent with Part XVII: Criminal Offence.

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