Liberia: Ruling Expected in National Housing Authority Bribery Case
Augustine T. Tweh, [email protected]
Monrovia – Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge Blamo Dixon will hand down the final ruling in the National Housing Authority (NHA) alleged bribery case Friday.
Judge Dixon on Tuesday, November 5 reserved the final ruling in the case after he entertained final arguments between the prosecution and defense counsels.
However, the Judge ruling is set to come Friday, at 3PM.
During the final Argument of the case, the prosecution said the defendants solicited bribe from GELPAZ-IMMO in their discharge of their duties.
“In the discharge of their responsibilities, they (defendants) decided to bridge the laws by soliciting bribe,” State lawyers argued.
The Prosecution further argued that the audio recording which forms the basis of the case is a sufficient evidence to convict the defendants.
“The audio recording is the principal evidence. The State has established sufficient evidence, one of which is the audio recording. Their (defendants) action was something that was well organized. So, we request this court to carefully look at the audio recording,” Prosecution said.
In resistance, the defense lawyers argued that prosecution witnesses’ testimonies and evidence gathered against the defendants are based on ‘hearsay’.
“Prosecution witnesses’ testimonies are all hearsay. Their testimony is a total embarrassment to the prosecution,” Defense team argued.
The defense counsels also argued that police investigators who served as expert witnesses for prosecution failed to established how the USD$80,000 was brought into the country and how it was received by the defendants.
“The police investigator did not know how the money was brought into the country. Their testimony is a restatement of the police charge sheet. Assuming, if USD$50,000 was brought in the country on September 16, 2018 and the second money, USD$42,000 was brought in the country on September 24, 2018 and defendant Duannah Siryon left the country for the United States on September 19, 2018 and returned October 7, 2018.
“That the act of receiving money from the Management of GELPAZ-IMMO by Co-defendants Tugbeh C. Tugbeh and Isaac Roberts was against the MOU entered into between NHA and GELPAZ-IMMO, and the Public Procurement and Concession Law of Liberia.”Excerpt of the Indictment
Assuming, how come did defendant Siryon received USD$80,000 or USD$92,000? Where did the balance money come from? How did Siryon receive it? Was him (Siryon) in the United States at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at the same time in Liberia? ,” defense argued.
The defense team further argued that the audio recording relied on by the prosecution as evidence has no legal value and basis, stating that prosecution witnesses who testified to the audio recording are not voice specialists to determine that the voices in the recording are the voices of the defendants.
Defendants Duannah Siryon (Indicted Manager Director), Tugbeh C. Tugbeh (Deputy manager Director for Administration), Isaac Roberts (Deputy Director for Technical Services all of NHA), and Augustine Weah, a purported Chief Executive Officer of Guss Group of Companies, Emmanuel Tapsoba, GELPAZ-IMMO Coordinator in Liberia were arrested, investigative and charged with the crimes of Economic Sabotage, Bribery, Theft of Property, Misapplication of Entrusted Property, Criminal Conspiracy and Criminal Facilitation.
Following police investigation, the defendants were indicted by the grand jury of Montserrado County for the alleged commission of the crimes.
According to the indictment, a Burkina Faso-based company, GELPAZ-IMMO, through its Chief Executive Officer Alain Z. Zoungana, expressed interest into the growth and development of Liberia through a proposal to construct over 5,000 housing units along the Roberts International Airport.
Thereafter, the then Managing Director of the NHA, Co-defendant Siryon was contacted through the company’s (GELPAZ-IMMO) former Coordinator, Emmanuel Tapsoba regarding the company’s intention of building said structures in the country.
The Indictment further mentioned that based on the offer of the company to the NHA, Co-defendant Tugbeh, then Deputy Managing Director for Administration and Patrick H. Delina, Engineer of NHA travelled to Burkina Faso on July 1, 2018 to establish whether GELPAZ-IMMO had the capacity to do the work proposed to the NHA.
The Indictment revealed that while in Burkina Faso, Defendant Tugbeh received 200,000 CFA which is equivalent to US$400 from the Management of GELPAZ-IMMO as expensive or upkeep.
Also, Co-defendant Isaac Roberts travelled to the Burkina Faso on October 24, 2018, at which time, he also solicited 250,000 CFA, when converted is equivalent to US$500 from the Management of GELPAZ-IMMO as expensive incurred by him.
“That the act of receiving money from the Management of GELPAZ-IMMO by Co-defendants Tugbeh C. Tugbeh and Isaac Roberts was against the MOU entered into between NHA and GELPAZ-IMMO, and the Public Procurement and Concession Law of Liberia,” Excerpt of the Indictment reads.
The Indictment also added that Defendants Siryon, Tugbeh, Roberts and Weah between the periods of August 16 up to and September 16, 2018, conspired and colluded with Co-defendants Tapsoba with criminal minds and intent to dupe the company (GELPAZ-IMMO) and to defraud the Government of Liberia by compromising the value for money work principle.
The Indictment further revealed that the actual work that should have been carried out by the company was undercut by the alleged act of the defendants by receiving the amount of US$80,000 out of the US$92,000 sent to the country on two separate occasions by the company.