Liberia: Justice Ministry, Police at Loggerheads over Opposition Figure Mo Ali’s Incarceration

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MONROVIA – The Liberia National Police on Thursday ignored the call of the Minister of Justice/Attorney General to release opposition figure Mo Ali over lack of sufficient evidence to substantiate the charges of terrorism, criminal attempt to commit murder, arson and terrorist threat.

Mr. Ali is the Secretary General of the former ruling Unity Party – one of the parties forming the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).

Mr. Ali was incarcerated at the headquarters of the Liberia National Police (LNP) on Thursday over two Facebook posts which the police believe can be linked to the recent arson attacks on the home of Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe and the headquarters of the Liberia National Police.

On March 1, Mr. Ali posted to Facebook: “Dear National Elections Commission (NEC), we understand the ploy. But try it and you will see what is gonna be the end result”.

And on March 4, he again wrote on Facebook, “I don’t believe in the integrity of the Supreme Court. Most of the justices there have been corrupted. Justice Nagbe is a hardcore tribalist.”

Mr. Ali was surprisingly ordered arrested on Thursday when he made his second appearance for investigation to provide clarity on his Facebook posts.

Flawed Investigation?

Speaking to reporters at the Police headquarters, the chairman of the Unity Party, Mr. Amin Modad said, the process leading to the investigation was flawed from the onset.

He said Ali had gone to the police with the understanding that he was going to answer questions pertaining to his expressions on social media. He and his lawyers, however, were kept waiting for nearly two hours before the police investigators informed them that Ali would be arrested and charged for arson attack, attempt to commit murder, and terroristic threat without crime and indictment.

Modad: “We believe that this is unfair; this is total disrespect by law, and again it is a real attempt by the power that be segregate the opponent and silent any kind of statement or contravening opinion.

“We expect for the next two days as the police claimed that they have the right to hold him for 48 hours while we pursuit our legal actions to ensure his release.

 “The way it was conducted was very strange and improper. From the onset you know that there were predetermined actions that they police wanted to take.”

“Until the evidence, when produced, reviewed and a determination made by the Attorney General, the LNP is ordered to release Mr. Al”

– Cllr. Frank Musah Dean, Minister of Justice/Attorney General

Produce Evidence or Release Him

The Minister of Justice on Thursday afternoon informed FrontPageAfrica that he had instructed the police to release Mr. Ali until the evidence backing his charges are produced.

“Until the evidence, when produced, reviewed and a determination made by the Attorney General, the LNP is ordered to release Mr. Ali,” Minister told FrontPageAfrica moments ago.

The minister said: “Consistent with section 22.2 (b) of the New Executive Law, which requires the Minister of Justice to “institute all legal proceedings necessary for law enforcement”, the Minister of Justice has, today, March 25, 2021 called on the Liberia National Police to produce the proper evidence to support charges levied against Mr. Mo Ali. Mr. Ali is reportedly charged with terrorism, criminal attempt to commit murder, arson and terrorist threat.

Order Ignored

FrontPageAfrica followed up with the police hours after the Attorney General’s order on why Mr. Ali was still being held in detention. Police spokesman, Moses Carter, said he was not aware of any such order coming from the Minister of Justice.

According to him, he had not received any information that the order had been communicated through the proper channel to the LNP. He said, he could not confirm with the Inspector General of Police whether the Minister of Justice had communicated with him as the police chief is on the county tour with the President.

Mr. Carter could also not confirm whether any high-ranking officer of the police had received such order or communication from the Ministry of Justice.

Ali’s Anticipation

On Tuesday, Ali alleged through another Facebook post that he had been reliably informed that LNP and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) had reached a decision to incarcerate him upon his Thursday appearance at the police headquarters.

He posted to Facebook, “Plans Uncovered!! The police met today along with some justice ministry officials. They have agreed that once we get to the station (Police Station) on Thursday, they will slam me with some trumped-up charges and send me to court.”

Ali continues: “At the court, Judge Jonah Jallah will reject whatever bond that my lawyers will submit on instruction. The simple reason is to ensure that I am jailed for the weekend. That is part of the intimidation strategy.”

However, Mr. Ali said he is prepared to go to prison.

“Now let me be very clear, I am not afraid of going to prison. I have committed no crime. Let the police and Sayma Syrenius Cephas bring it on. I am ready for the jail house. I will come prepare to spend weekend in jail and even beyond.”

CPP’s Reactions

In reaction to the refusal of the police to release Mr. Ali, Mr. Modad stated, “We anticipated the ploy; however, what’s alarming is this display of vengeful intolerance to the extent that the police would disregard the informed instructions of the Minister of Justice. Mo Ali committed no crime. He complied with the police, though the accusations were frivolous. He was asked to clarify non-egregious posts made on Facebook, and he did.

“He clarified that the actions he alluded in his posts were legal actions. He was asked again to fill out a questionnaire, and he did. Throughout, he reiterated that he did not subscribe to any form of violence or illegal actions; he verified his whereabouts on particular dates. Yet, without any demonstrated investigation after his responses, he was immediately charged and arrested for arson, terroristic threats, and criminal attempt to commit murder. What a sad day for justice, freedom of speech, and democracy in general. The Unity Party believes in the law and doesn’t subscribe to violence. We will use every legal means to free Mr. Ali and bring the government to book for this injustice.”

Alexander Cummings, the head of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the former Chairman of the CPP also stated:

“The arrest of Mo Ali, Secretary General of the UP, and Deputy SG of the CPP are provocative and a recipe for chaos. Similarly, the suspension of ANC/CPP lawmaker Hon. Yekeh Kolubah from the CDC- controlled House of Representatives for “continuous insults to the President” is ridiculous and reeks of dictatorship tendencies. We cannot continue to do the same things over and over and expect the country to change.

“The expediency of the times does not call for further division between the ruling party and the opposition or between Liberians as citizens and neighbors. It has become a trend of this government to target or indict opposition voices with bogus charges and falsely imprison them in an attempt to silence the opposition.

“These are examples of the violation of the human rights of our people, which is currently being investigated by the United States Senate Committee under the Global Manitsky Human Rights Act, along with the looting of our country as described by U.S. Congressman Chris Smith – a kleptocratic government, now embodied in the demand to print new family of banknotes.

“As the CPP prepares to respond officially to this injustice, I want to take this time to call the attention of our international partners, diplomatic Corp, Council of Churches, and Civil Society Organizations to this high level of provocation on the opposition.  These attacks on the opposition are unacceptable. We remain responsible.” opposition dealing with an irresponsible government, but that does not mean we are a weak opposition.  The rights of all Liberians, regardless of political affiliation, must be protected, and Mo Ali and Rep. Kolubah are no exceptions.

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