The former Board Chairman of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), Mr. Clemenceau B. Urey, Sr. has accused agents of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) of attempting to assault and manhandle him. Mr. Urey said he went to a nearby office, outside of his office building, to conduct business and while returning to his office, he was approached by three unidentified men who informed him that he (Urey) was wanted at the LACC office, immediately.
“I inquired if they had any document or warrant for my arrest in their possession and they responded in the negative. I then requested permission to enter my office with the intention of taking my medication and obtaining my phone to call my lawyer but they refused and blocked the entrance to my office gate, thereby preventing me from entering my office. I told them that they had no right to prevent me from entering my office building or seeking advice from my counsel,” Mr. Urey said.
When contacted, the communication director at the LACC, Ben Kolako denied that agents of the commission assaulted and manhandled Mr. Urey, as he claimed in his special statement issued to the press over the weekend.
Mr. Kolako said that the LACC agents acted properly and pointed out that the Act that created the commission gives it arresting power, which he said was utilized by the agents, and therefore saw nothing wrong with picking up Mr. Urey.
He said that another person connected with the investigation, former Representative Barr, was also at the LACC to face investigation into the issue of the lobbying fee paid by NOCAL, as said by Mr. Urey when he appeared before a special committee as the Capitol Building recently.
However, in his written communication, Mr. Urey narrated that he also informed the LACC agents that the whole process was improper as he had not been charged of committing any crime and that there was no writ of arrest to forcibly take him away.
Mr. Urey narrated, “They then began to assault me and pulled me from my office gate in an attempt to force me into their vehicle. I then sent to my office for my phone and called my lawyer who advised me to meet him at the LACC office.”
He further explained that when he arrived at the LACC office, there were several photo journalists awaiting his arrival who began photographing him.
“The reason for this whole episode I was later told was that a statement was needed from me and that they had information that I was leaving the country on Friday, March 14, 2014,” Mr. Urey said.
The former NOCAL Board Chairman explained that during his first visit to the LACC, his lawyer, Counselor James E. Pierre, informed the Investigating Board that he would prepare a written statement from which they could question and seek clarification from him. However, he was going on a medical trip to South Africa and would not be back until March 22, 2014.
In the meantime, he would ask his partner, Counselor Oswald Tweh, to work with him (Urey) in ensuring that the statement be prepared and delivered to the LACC, which Counselor Tweh agreed to do.
Mr. Urey said he prepared the draft statement on March 13, 2014 and just as he was about to take the statement to Counselor Tweh, he got a call from one of the agents who inquired as to whether the statement promised had been prepared.
“I informed him that working on the statement was a priority for me. That I was anxious to put this matter behind me, because I had already cancelled a business trip to Nairobi, Kenya and would have to cancel others if this matter was not resolved quickly,” Mr. Urey said.
“I told him, therefore, that he did not need to call me. That I would call him as soon as I talk to Counselor Tweh,” Mr. Urey said.
Mr. Urey added that he met with Counselor Tweh, presented the draft to him, and called the agent immediately upon his return from Counselor Tweh’s office.
“I informed the agent that I had presented the draft to Counselor Tweh and was awaiting his response. I also informed him that I had cancelled my trip to Nairobi to attend to this urgent matter at hand, the LACC investigation. I assured him that I would present a copy of this statement to him as soon as my lawyer had reviewed same,” he added.
However, Mr. Urey said to his utmost surprise, the three LACC agents appeared at his office, as stated earlier, and in their attempt to forcibly take him to their office assaulted and manhandled him.
“I would like to bring to the attention of the public that when I was cited by the Audit Committee of the National Legislature, I fully cooperated with that body by immediately and promptly appearing before it. Under oath, I told them the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In like manner, I answered the call of the LACC as soon as I was cited. I intend to cooperate with the LACC until this matter is resolved,” Mr. Urey vowed.
Mr. Urey said he couldn’t comprehend why the LACC is taking such action against an individual who was working with members of the Board of NOCAL, the Management and others who were motivated only by their burning desire to seek the National Interest; one who took a bankrupt company, with $250.00 USD in its bank account, employees unpaid for more than six months, a domestic debt of about half a million U.S dollars, and left a bank balance of thirty one million U.S dollars, one hundred ninety thousand and eight cents ($31,190,000.08), when he was removed from office, in addition to many other contributions from which Liberia through NOCAL is benefiting from today.
“I did not personally benefit from the transaction being investigated; Liberia did. There is nowhere in the audit report showing that I converted a dime from NOCAL to my personal use. It should be remembered that a public corporation is not run by one individual but a board and a management, who act in consultation with higher authorities,” Mr. Urey said.
Concluding, Mr. Urey said the action of the agents of the LACC is unacceptable and he believes that the LACC, its agents and investigators are under a duty to be civil and courteous to all who are being investigated or who are aiding an investigation.
“Its agents should not be over-zealous in executing their orders and infringe on and violate the rights of others. It behooves all of us Liberians to always demonstrate to the world that we are a nation of laws and not of men. Anything less will lead to chaos and be detrimental for our young democracy,” he intimated.