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.
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 further alleged that Mr. Kortie gave a bribe of US $ 5,000to Comptroller Samukai for him and Mr. Keita to share but that the Comptroller took the lion’s share of the money.
In response to the Defense lawyer’s question on why the Comptroller never featured in the LACC investigation in spite of the damaging 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. LamiiKpargoi 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.