NHA Management Imprisoned
-For Alleged Bribery
The managing director of the National Housing Authority, Duannah Siryon and four others are spending their first night behind bars at the Monrovia Central Prison for their alleged involvement in the Gelpaz bribery scandal.
Duannah Siryon, Augustine Weah, Isaac T. Roberts Jr., Tugbe C. Tugbe and Patrick H. Deline were arrested on Tuesday, November 27,2018 by the Monrovia City Court and incarcerated on the charges of Theft of Property, Economic Sabotage, Bribery, Criminal conspiracy and Criminal Facilitation.According to the Writ of Arrest, the defendants “connived and conspired” with the intent to extort and solicit money from the company (Gelpaz), receiving the sum of USD$92,000.00 under the pretext that the money was a requirement for doing the business in the country.
The writ added that after receiving the said amount out of deception, the defendants converted the money into their personal use and benefit.
The writ also detail that the alleged act being “unlawful, wicked and criminal” is intended to deprive the country (Liberia) of its revenue and deceive foreign investors wanting to do business in the country.
Gelpaz-Immo is a Burkinabe company, which has come into the country to construct over 5,000 housing units along the Robert International Airport highway.
Their arrest and subsequent incarceration was based on a leaked audio recording in which the NHA, apparently in cohort with some high-ranking officials of government, extorted thousands of United States dollars from the company.
In the recording, the representative of Gelpaz in Liberia, Augustus Weah who is also vice president of the company alleged that NHA Managing Director Duannah Siryon had requested kickback in the tone of US$160,000.00 for NHA, US$100,000 for Justice Minister, US$100,000 for Nathaniel McGill and US$100,000 for Finance Minister before the contract can begin.
According to Weah, he negotiated with Siryon that Gelpaz did not have the amount on hand but had made some transfer via LBDI Bank and could produce US$80,000 to be split between Minister McGill, his team and NHA.
Weah further alleged that the NHA Managing Director requested and was offered a percentage in the construction but pleaded that such would be kept secret from his principal deputies.
Weah was explaining to some employees of the NHA after he received information that Siryon had accused him of receiving US$400,000 for President Weah and other members of the Executive branch for the consummation of the MOU in order for Gelpaz to start the construction works.
Weah had said President Weah confronted him about the money via WhatsApp message when he was in Paris, France in September.
But in another recording, Siryon is heard accusing Augustus Weah of receiving money for the president and challenged him to show proof of said accusation.
Prior to their incarceration at the Monrovia Central Prison, they had been set free by Criminal Court “A” Judge Roosevelt Z. Willie based on a petition for the Writ of Habeas Corpus filed to the court by their legal counsels alleging the gross violations of their constitutional rights.
In the petition, the defendants’ legal counsels said their clients were kept behind bars without food and water and were detained beyond 48 hours by Liberia National Police with the intent to expose them to illegal detention, torture and inhumane treatment.
But in resistance, the Ministry of Justice denied violating the constitutional rights of the defendants and described the defendants petition as a mismatch and misconception of the prosecution defense.
“The prosecution says that the defendants in the dock were given their constitutional rights in 48 hours, right to remain silent, right to legal counsel among others. Counsels maintain that the Republic of Liberia under the new dispensation has no intention to torture in the process of getting testimony in allege criminal crimes,” State prosecution said.
In the ruling, Judge Willie said the defendants were kept behind bars beyond the constitutional time frame of 48 hours.
“The petitioners petition is hereby granted, and the petitioners are hereby ordered release and their rights are hereby order restored,” he said.