Liberia: Solicitor General Syrenius Cephas Heard on Tape Having Cordial Conversation with Fugitive Ellen Corkrum
MONROVIA – Liberia’s Solicitor General, Cllr. Syrenius Cephas, has been caught on tape having a cordial conversation with a fugitive wanted by the government of Liberia to be prosecuted by him. The leaked audio which suggests that Cllr. Cephas has been having several conversations with the fugitive has brought his credibility as Solicitor General into questioning.
Madam Ellen Corkrum who recently changed her name in the United States to Hunter VanPelt, has been on the run since 2013 after allegedly defrauding the government of Liberia of about US$1 million when she served as the Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority. The money was intended for the renovation of the Roberts International Airport (RIA).
Early last year, Madam Corkrum got a rousing welcome into Liberia by a group of citizens holding placards and banners at the Roberts International Airport. The group are believed to have been organized, paid and stage managed.
Her ‘triumphant’ entry into the country was based on the fact that the George Weah-led government had dropped charges against her a few months before her arrival.
FrontPageAfrica gathered that the Solicitor General ordered the filing of the motion for the charges to be dropped as the Minister of Justice said he was unware of said action.
The charges were dropped against Corkrum on Monday, December 9, by Judge Nancy F. Sammy of Criminal Court ‘C’ based on prosecution’s request through a motion to Nolle Prosequoi the case.
The motion to Nolle Prosequoi the case was filed by the prosecution on December 3, 2019.
In the motion, the Assistant Minister for Litigation at the Ministry of Justice, Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh argued that the case had been pending before the court since 2013 without having the opportunity to serve defendant Corkrum with the Indictment or the Writ of Arrest to bring her under the jurisdiction of the court.
He added, “Movant further says that after the indictment was obtained against the defendants, it has become very impossible to have the defendant (Corkrum) served with the indictment, and that as a matter of law, the said proceedings have been on the docket of this court almost five years, thereby making it impossible to have the case assigned or trial.”
Few days after her arrival in January 2020, the Solicitor General wrote the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) requesting the anti-graft house to investigate the circumstances surrounding the case and the single-sourcing of a US-based firm to help with Ms. Corkrum’s extradition.
Cllr. Cephus on February 3, 2020 wrote the LACC:
“We present our compliments and have the honor to forward herewith the attached case file involving Madam Ellen Corkrum, Musa Bility and members of the Board of Directors of RIA and a number of commercial banks which were investigated, others dropped and some were subsequently indicted for “Economic Sabotage, Theft of Property, Criminal conspiracy, and Misapplication of entrusted funds.
“A careful review of the records of the case shows, that the previous government entered a Nolle Prosequoi in favor of a number of defendants involved in this matter prior to our ascendancy, and we in recent times, did the same due to the absence of Madam Corkrum and to avoid being seen as pursuing a “selective prosecution.”
However, it turnout that the Minister of Justice was unaware of the charges being dropped and that it was the sole-making of the Solicitor General.
Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean told FrontPageAfrica in February, 2020 that he had no knowledge of government dropping criminal charges against Corkrum.
The Solicitor General who had then worked towards the dropping of the charges against the fugitive to give her the guts to enter Liberia gloriously announced her re-arrest after Minister Dean distanced himself from saga.
However, fresh audio recording leaked by Ms. Corkrum shows that she has been having cordial conversations with the Cllr. Cephas who declared her re-arrested and is supposed to be prosecute her.
In the audio, Ms. Corkrum is heard asking Cllr. Cephas if she could wire US$4,000 to him (Cephas) on the request of Ofori Diah who had requested the amount for some ritualistic sacrifice that would help her out of some troubles she’s faced with in the United States.
She’s heard in the audio telling Cllr. Cephas that Ofori Diah had recommended to her that she needed to make human sacrifice and that he (Cephas) was aware of it and had been involved with such before.
In the recording, Cephas was earlier heard trying to settle a misunderstanding between Corkrum and Ofori Diah but the conversation was swayed by his alleged involvement in ritualistic killing – something he’s heard vehemently denying in the audio.
Corkrum is heard in the audio referring to Cllr. Cephas as “My husband”.
Speaking on the matter, a renowned lawyer who asked for anonymity chronicled the trend of events between Ms. Corkrum and the Solicitor General. He said, alleged that the initial dropping of the charges against Corkrum was instigated by Cllr. Cephas based on his relationship with Corkrum.
“For me, the issue of ritualistic killing cannot be easily proven. However, to hear the Solicitor General, who declared this woman wanted and wanted her arrested after initially dropping charges against her speaks volume of the kind of justice system we have in our country,” he said.
He stated that the audio is a manifestation that the Solicitor General is conflicted with the case and that the Corkrum case might just be one instance in which the Solicitor General is conflicted.