State Witness Vindicates Keita In Corruption Case…Says He Took No Bribe

The long running corruption case involving the Mr. Jesefu Morris Keita, suspended Communications and Documentation Director at the Ministry of Public Works being prosecuted
The long running corruption case involving the Mr. Jesefu Morris Keita, suspended Communications and Documentation Director at the Ministry of Public Works being prosecuted
State Witness Abraham Sheriff says Keita did not receive bribe
State Witness Abraham Sheriff says Keita did not receive bribe

The long running corruption case involving the Communications and Documentation Director at the Ministry of Public Works took a dramatic turn on Friday, July 10, 2015 at “Criminal Court C” with LACC investigator Abraham Sheriff telling the court that the LACC investigation found no evidence that Mr. Jesefu Morris Keita and Public Works Comptroller Abraham Samukai received any kickbacks from Mr. David Kortie.

The LACC’s investigation of Mr. Keita stemmed from a Whistleblower communication sent to it on August 29, 2012 by Mr. Michael Kpayili who worked in the Communications and Documentation office at the Ministry of Public Works as Assistant Director.

James Verdier, Liberia's anti-graft chief
James Verdier, Liberia’s anti-graft chief

Mr. Kpayili in his communication to LACC’s then Chairperson Madam Frances Johnson-Allison alleged that Mr. Keita as Director of Communications and Documentation…. “entered into a bogus arrangement with the Flash Point Newspaper with the aim of implementing Public Relations Consultancy with the Ministry of Public Works worth $12,000 (Twelve Thousand United States Dollars) plus.”

Mr. Kpayili furthered alleged that Mr. Kortie gave a bribe of US $ 5,000 to Comptroller Samukai for him and Mr. Keita to share but the Comptroller took majority of the money.

In response to the Defense lawyers question on why the Comptroller never featured in the LACC investigation in spite of the damning and grave allegation against him, Mr. Sheriff responded by saying that the bribery allegation from Mr. Kpayili was investigated and “the LACC did not find any evidence of kickback.”

Mr. Sheriff who is currently being cross-examined by defense lawyers also confirmed that the contract which is the subject of the case was not signed by Mr. Keita.

LACC investigator Sheriff told open court that Contract No. MPW-SF-0008-06/10, which is the subject of Mr. Keita’s prosecution, was actually signed by Mr. Kortie for Flash Point and Deputy Minister Gwaikolo signed for the Ministry of Public Works. A Bendu Brown and an Edward Wolo respectively witnessed the contract.

Defense lawyers also showed the court, through the LACC’s own witness’ testimony that the LACC’s claims that Mr. Kortie was paid the US 12,600 contract consideration because Mr. Keita issued him a certificate of completion is erroneous.

Mr. Keita’s certificate of completion which was approved by Deputy Minister Johnson N. Gwaikolo was issued on July 2, 2010, the Local Purchase Order and Flash Point’s payment request were prepared on June 24, 2010. The payment voucher authorizing the payment of the full contract amount of US$ 12,600 to Mr. Kortie was issued to the Ministry of Finance on June 30, 2010, clearly showing that the money had already been collected before the certificate of completion was issued.

When contacted for comments on the latest twist to the case, one of Mr. Keita’s lawyers, Atty. Lamii Kpargoi said the burden of proving his client’s guilt in the matter beyond reasonable doubt squarely lies with the LACC and “all prosecuting attorneys of the Republic of Liberia”.

Legal analysts are of the view that the LACC’s and government have so far done a banged up job of establishing that Mr. Keita has a case to answer after they dropped charges against Mr. David Kortie who allegedly did not execute the contract in question but admitted to receiving the full amount of US $ 12,600.

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Author: D K Sengbeh

Danicius Kaihenneh Sengbeh (author of Sengbeh's Weblog) is a respected and renowned Liberian journalist, poet and writer with with journalism experience since 2001, of working both as a mainstream journalist and a communication/media consultant in Liberia. He is Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (elected Dec 2013). He was Assistant Secretary General of the Union Dec 2011 to Dec 2013. He is also Editor-In-Chief of The Informer Newspaper—one of Liberia’s credible dailies. Before joining the Informer, Danicius had served as reporter, chief reporter, sub-editor and News Editor at The Independent Newspaper between 2002 and 2006. Before then, he was reporter at the defunct Patriot Newspaper and Kiss FM 2001-2002. Danicius is a UN Media Fellow and Liberia’s first UN Medal Award-winning journalist for his contribution to journalism and for being the second Liberian journalist in 15 years to qualify for and successfully attended the United Nations’ Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalist Fellowship Program in New York and Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Communication and Sociology from the University of Liberia and a Diploma in Journalism from the International School of Journalism. He holds several awards and recognitions both in and outside of journalism, and carries dozens of certificates in journalism and communication from studies in Ghana, China, United States and Switzerland, among others. He volunteers as Chair of the Information and Communication Committee of his local Bardnersville community. He can be quickly reached via (+231) 886586531/777586531/777464018/ dakasen1978@yahoo.com

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