By Lincoln Barcon
The legal counsel of Mr. Tony Lawal, Counsellor Cooper W. Kruah, has clarified that his client did not have any part to play in the alleged shooting incident against Mr. S. B. Cooper, owner of the Westwood Construction Company.
Addressing a news conference yesterday in Monrovia, Cllr. Kruah said on June 2, 2015, Mr. Lawal, president and CEO of Paelat Construction Company was arrested by a man identified as Johnny Cain or R-5 who claimed to have acted upon the orders of the Police Commissioner responsible for Criminal Investigation commonly referred to as 105.
Cllr. Kruah further stated that his client Mr. Lawal who was physically apprehended by Officer Johnny along with other unidentified police officers handcuffed him though he (Lawal) opted to go with the police peacefully.
Cllr. Kruah further narrated that Mr. Lawal was arrested by officer Caine and others without any search warrant, confiscated all of his personal telephones and dragged him from his office before placing him in a police vehicle and taken to the Police Headquarters at the ClD division.
Cllr. Kruah stated further that his client remained in detention for the first twenty-four hours, from June 2nd to the 3rd without being informed why he was being detained in accordance with the law and Constitution of the Republic of Liberia something he described as a complete violation of his client’s rights.
He quoted Article 21 of the Liberia Constitution, sub-paragraph (b) and (c) which he said provides that “No person shall be subject to search or seizure of a person or property, whether on a criminal charge or for any other purpose, unless upon warrant lawfully issued upon probable cause supported by a solemn oath or affirmation, specifically identifying the person or place to be searched and stating the object of the search; provided, however, that a search or seizure shall be permissible without a search warrant where the arresting authorities act during the commission of a crime or in hot pursuit of a person who has committed a crime.”
Sub-paragraph (c) also states that “Every person suspected or accused of committing a crime shall immediately upon arrest be informed in detail of the charges, of the right to remain silent and of the fact that any statement made could be used against him in a court of law. Such person shall be entitled to counsel at every stage of the investigation and shall have the right not to be interrogated except in the presence of counsel…”
But Cllr. Kruah argued that his client was never charged by the police after been ‘illegally’ detained for several hours. He said Lawal was later released by the police without stating any charge against him due to lack of sufficient evidence.
“These two fundamental rights contained in our constitution were ignored by the police when our client was arrested. Besides taking his personal belongings, the police read every personal communication of Mr. Lawal’s phone thereby evading his privacy a violation of his personal right under our criminal law which protects an individual accused of committing a criminal act from providing evidence against himself,” Cllr. Kruah intimated.
Cllr. Kruah who spoke on several issues stated that his client’s rights were violated in keeping with the Constitution and that he (Tony) reserves the right to seek legal remedy against any person who was instrumental, masterminded, encouraged and planned the illegal actions against Mr. Lawal through the courts of law.
Cllr. Kruah warned media institutions that made public information which implicated Mr. Lawal of involving in the alleged shooting incident thus exposing his client to public ridicule and affected his many businesses both nationally and internationally to take corrective measures to set the record straight by reporting the truth to the world.
He further said that Mr. Praise Lawal is a law abiding citizen and as such, he will not do anything contrary to the law. “He has remained engaged with the government and other agencies of government in providing job opportunities and other services to the people of Liberia,” the legal counsel of Mr. Lawal said.
Cllr. Kruah disclosed that what is more troubling is that the police officer identified as Johnny, alias R-5 who effected the arrest and detention of Mr. Praise Lawal is said to be the first cousin of Mr. S. B, Cooper, the alleged complainant.
Counselor Kruah said the fact that Mr. S.B. Cooper, the Manager of the Westwood Construction Company and his client (Mr. Praise Lawal), the president/CEO of Paelat Construction Company are competitors in the same industry, raises eyebrows that the action against Mr. Praise Lawal is something deliberate and an attempt to bring him (Mr. Lawal) to public disrepute.