Cllr. Morris Massaquoi Ordered Arrested

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The Monrovia City Court has ordered the immediate arrest of Cllr. Morris Y. Massaquoi for his alleged continued failure to surrender his client, Defendant Sylvester Rogers, whom  he guaranteed to serve as his bond. 

Defendant Rogers is also ordered arrested. 

Stipendiary Magistrate Ben Barco issued the order on Wednesday, August 23, after the 48 hours ultimate for Cllr. Massaquoi to file a proper valid criminal appearance bond for Defendant Rogers expired on Wednesday.

Cllr. Massaquoi works with the Henries Law Firm. 

Defendant Rogers is a Norwegian citizen, who the Ministry of Justice  accused of being a flight risk and subsequently demanded a proper valid criminal appearance bond.

But Magistrate Barco ignored the contention for a bond and went ahead to entrust the defendant to the care of Cllr Massaquoi as his guarantor in the absence of a bond.

Defendant Rogers was charged with misapplication of entrusted property and theft of property by the Ministry of Justice on March 21, 2023.

The ministry’s decision was based on a complaint filed by Hans Armstrong, a British investors , who had accused Rogers of duping of him of over US$16,000 in exchange for planks  owned by the defendant situated in Grand Bassa County, which the money was paid  but the items  never received.

However, since Cllr. Massaquoi allegedly took custodian of Defendant Rogers, both of them have snubbed numerous  notices of assignments for hearing of the case and the filing of the bond.

Due to the continued failure of Cllr. Massaquoi’s and  Defendant Rogers to appear before the court to begin with the case, and with Magistrate Barco refusal to take a drastic action against Massaquoi, one of state prosecutors, Atty. Abu Kiawu, on August 2, 2023, was prompted  to file a complaint against Barco ‘s handling of the case before Judge Blamo Dixon of Criminal Court ‘C.’ 

Criminal Court ‘C’ is clothed with the jurisdiction to hear complaint against magistrates’ handling of theft related cases and it also has the legal responsibility to handle theft related cases. 

During the complaint hearing, Judge Dixon mandated Magistrate Barco to resume jurisdiction over the main case, and to have Defendant Rogers placed under a proper valid criminal appearance bond within 72 hours, after the reading of his mandate and to proceed in keeping with the law.

Unfortunately,  Dixon’s mandate was read in the absence of Cllr.  Massaquoi and Defendant Rogers though Massaquoi, according to Magistrate Barco.

Attaching seriousness to Judge Dixon’s mandate, Magistrate Barco, on  August 21,2023, issued an order, requesting Cllr. Massaquoi to file a valid criminal appearance bond for Defendant Rogers within 48 hours upon which failure, according to Magistrate Barco, Massaquoi and Rogers would be arrested.

The 48 hours ultimate expired on Wednesday, August 23, prompting Cllr Massaquoi’s arrest order.

Before the arrest order, Magistrate Barco, during the contempt hearing on August 21 ruled that “the court will again tender mercy with justice and hereby ordered that e said bond be filed not less than 48 hours upon which failure the clerk of court is ordered to prepare the necessary precept, place same in the hands of the sheriff,  to have the defendant arrested and forthwith and if the defendant cannot be found, his guarantor who is also his lawyer in person of Cllr. Morris Massaquoi be arrested and brought before the court to state reason if any, why he cannot be held in contempt of court. “

Cllr. Massaquoi’s arrest order was triggered when he, on April 20, 2023, intervened to prevent Defendant Rogers from being sent to prison and wrote a handwritten guarantor note to ensure that the defendant file a valid criminal appearance bond.

Massaquoi’s handwritten notes reads: “This is to certify that I the undersigned in person of Cllr. Morris Y. Massaquoi do hereby further guarantee or give assurance to the personal reconnaissance bond offered to the above named defendant by the Monrovia City Court in the above captioned case.”

However, since April 20, Massaquoi had failed and refused to file the proper bond for Defendant Rogers. Besides, he and the defendant had reportedly refused to attend several assignment notices to hear the case. 

Interestingly, Magistrate Barco purged the contempt against Massaquoi immediately after the lawyer begged for mercy, which appealle was granted by Magistrate Barco, before  issuing the twenty-four hours ultimatum that  expired on Wednesday leading to the arrest order.

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