Global Witness Bribery: Saytumah on the Run, Shannon Saved by Wife
Monrovia – Fleeing from justice – court sheriffs are yet to find the whereabouts of Morris Saytumah who is wanted for his alleged role in the bribery scandal unearthed by Global Witness involving Sable Mining and a host of Liberian Government officials.
Report by Lennart Dodoo – [email protected] & Bettie K. Johnson Mbayo, [email protected]
Morris Saytumah who served as Minister of State for Political, Legal & Economic Affairs was indicted alongside former Minister of Lands, Mines & Energy, Eugene Shannon, former Deputy Minister of Lands, Mines & Energy for Operations, E.C.B. Jones and former Chairman of the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC), Willie Belleh.
They were indicted Thursday, January 5 – the second batch of individuals to be indicted by the Special Presidential Task Force.
While the whereabouts of Saytumah remains unknown, his lawyer, Cllr. Musa Dean, Thursday pleaded with the Court to give him 24 hours to produce him before the court according to judicial source.
Saytumah, according to the report, allegedly received payment of US$50,000.00 to influence the change of the Revised PPC Act of 2005 and the tender process for mineral concessions in favor of Sable Mining Company.
Shannon appeared in court Thursday, January 5 with his lawyer but was released to his wife, Loris M. Shannon, who currently serves as Deputy Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, without a criminal appearance bond.
His lawyer had filed a motion with the court to allow him be placed on the same bond which was filed by the first batch of indictees which include Cllr. Varney Sherman, E.C.B. Jones and Christopher Onanuga who were indicted in May 2016 in connection to the allegation.
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives J. Alex Tyler was also indicted. He, however, filed a separate bond.
Shannon’s lawyers, Cllrs. Emmanuel B. James and Cyril Jones, averred in the Motion to Add that the criminal appearance bond filed by the co-defendants far exceeds the amount for which he (Shannon) and the other defendants were indicted.
The motion which is in possession of FPA shows that upon the arrest of Sherman and others, a joint criminal appearance bond was filed by them in the amount of one million five hundred thousand United States Dollars (US $ 1,500,000.00) which was approved by the court wherein the omega insurance company served as surety.
A letter from Sherman & Sherman Law Firm dated January 4, 2017 signed by Cllr. Sherman, instructs Omega Insurance to include on their criminal appearance bond the names of Shannon and Jones so that they will be covered by the US$1,500,000.00 bond.
The motion also prayed the court to permit Shannon be released on his own recognizance or his lawyers.
However, while the court was preparing his commitment for admission into the Monrovia Central Prison until the motion is argued and ruled upon, Shannon’s wife filed a commitment to the court requesting that he be released to her, promising to produce him to the court when he is needed.
Meanwhile, Willie Belleh is said have left the country for the United States. It is not clear when he would return to face the indictment.
He was accused by the report to have received US$10,000 for his role in ensuring that the relevant section of the draft Act favourable to Sable Mining is maintained in the final version and to ensure its passage.