- Boakai says he did not see ‘Exit Clause’; Cummings says it was there
G. Bennie Bravo Johnson
On Tuesday, May 17, 2022, Amb. Joseph Nyuma Boakai continuing on the witness stance, told the open court that he never signed a framework agreement that had an exit clause. According to VP Boakai, he attentively reviewed the framework text of the four opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) that he signed on May 19, 2020.
He further indicated that the document that he read before signing did not contain an exit clause, and that the phrase in the document he signed was “to resign” in count 10 pacifically, as initiated by the team of lawyers. Count five, he claimed, did not appear in their document since it featured the word “exit.”
Mr. Cummings is facing criminal accusations after ALP political leader Mr. Benoni Urey accused him of tampering with the CPP framework document and signing a Xerox version illegally. Mr. Cummings has always maintained his innocence.
According to political observers, the prolonged court struggle between opposition leaders strengthens the ruling establishment that they are attempting to democratically unseat. People who considered it argued that convicting Cummings or Urey, and hence Boakai, would undermine the opposition movement.
Former Vice President Boakai testified to the CPP framework document on Monday, May 16, 2022, claiming that the signature page is the genuine signature and that Senator Daniel Nathan was never named Chairman of the CPP in the paper he signed.
Mr. Boakai is a high-profile state witness in a criminal prosecution against Mr. Cummings, a former political ally and the opposition ANC’s leader. On the CPP ticket for the presidential and general elections in 2023, Boakai and Cummings were the two uncompromising presidential candidates. After the ANC was accused of changing its framework document, the UP and ALP both departed the once-powerful opposition coalition.
When asked by the defense if he left the CPP because of the team of attorneys’ amendment proposals, Amb. Boakai responded he couldn’t say yes because there were several reasons for their departure from the CPP.
“The framework document was an administrative decision by the chairman after the lawyers’ revision proposals and our subsequent decision to send it to the validation committee.” As I previously stated, I do not encourage critical documents in the chartroom. As chairman of CPP and ANC political leader, Mr. Cummings presented the lawyers’ proposal to the committee,” by Amb. Boakai addressed defense lawyers.
The document was signed via Zoom, according to the subpoena witness, and Unity Party Secretary General Mo Ali went around to each political leader and their chairperson to collect their signatures, adding that his last name was misspelled at one point but was later corrected before he provided his signature.
Mr. Boakai went on to say that the framework paper was a document that established how they would operate, and it contained everything. The committee’s chairman was Atty. Gould, a lawyer on this bench, who stated that he could state when all of stuff was placed in the document. When asked by the prosecution if he was aware of the investigation into the alleged change of the CPP framework document that was performed under Senator Nyonblee Kangar- Lawrence’s
leadership as CPP chairperson, Amb. Boakai responded yes, he was aware of their findings.
“I am aware that the lawyers’ revision recommendations were published and discussed with us before being submitted to the validation committee, but I never saw the document.
Meanwhile Cllr. Gould, the former chairman of the ANC, has described Boakai’s testimony as a complete defeat for the opposition and a victory for the ruling establishment.
Cllr. Gould remarked on the grounds of the supreme court on Monday, May 16, 2022, that it was disheartening to reduce the former vice president to a level comparable to that of the solicitor general, stating that he would not permit someone who had attained such a status in society to be brought to such a level. “I regret reducing His Excellency Ambassador Joe N. Boakai to a portion of the importance of the Solicitor General. I would not permit any of my parents, who have achieved such a social departure, to be brought to that level.
He continued by claiming that the prosecution’s witness did not recount the evidence during his testimony. In addition, he argued that it was not uncommon for an elderly person to settle a dispute outside of court rather than going to court. He described it as a disgrace for the opposition. I have no shame in saying that. It was not a favorable development; I believe the ruling establishment is somewhat pleased today.
However, Cllr. Gould further argued that the legal position in 2023 does not guarantee a triumph for the ruling elite.
As the fourth witness for the prosecution in the city court, Ambassador Boakai testified that although he was a member of the CPP national advisory chartroom, he did not actively monitor its activities. However, Mr. Cummings did not submit the original signed frame work paper to the NEC. Something that, according to Cllr. Gould, gives a terrible image of leadership and diminishes Ambassador Boakai’s leadership ability.
He implied that if he had been on the opposing side, he would never have allowed his boss to endure so many cross-examinations. What does this indicate about the man? What does it say about the man if he is in the chartroom but not following up when he should be the head of this country? You do not diminish your boss in this manner. From his own lips, his own testimony, he was in a chartroom and not following, which says something about leadership; I would not permit my leader to come here and say something about what he was not following; it speaks volumes about leadership.
At the same time, the embattled chairperson of the opposition Liberty Party, Musa Hassan Bility, claimed that the State is aiding and abetting the trial against the ANC Standard-Bearer, claiming that the statement of the former vice president exonerates Mr. Cummings of the accusation leveled against him. “It is evident to me that the state is aiding and abetting, as they have objected to the pertinent questions asked of the witness, and the judge has sustained their objections.”
Chairman Bility further stated that the denial of a follow-up question to the admission of ambassador Boakai that the May 19, signed CPP framework document was recalled and given to the layers for correction is a clear indication that Mr. Cummings is innocent of the accusation leveled against him; however, the judge, Jomah Jallah, did grant objection to the follow-up question that was intended to provide additional information