Statement by Cllr. Benedict F. Sannoh Minister of Justice On investigation into death of a body alleged to be that of One Attorney Michael Allison Found on South Beach, 5th Street, Monrovia, Liberia on February 12, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press

1.    On Thursday, February 12, 2015 at about 7pm, the Liberia National Police (LNP) was informed that the body of male adult, about 48 years, alleged to be a Liberian and an Attorney at Law, was lying onSouth beach within the vicinity of 5th. Street, Sinkor, Monrovia.

2.    The Forensic and Homicide Investigators of the LNP immediately proceeded to the scene. Upon arrival at about 7.45 pm that evening, theyobserved the body lying on his back wearing only a swimming trunk.  His body was covered with particles of sand, andhe was observed to be foaming from his nose and mouth. His eyes were reddish. No physical injuries were observed on the body. There were no lacerations or cuts on his body.  Photographs were taken which confirm these initial findings. The body was about 47 feet from the water.

3.    The LNP, due to the prevailing Ebola regulations on the removal and transport of dead bodies, could not take the body immediately from the scene for preservation pursuant to and adherence to Ebola preventive measures. As you are quite aware, the Ebola Protocol at all relevant times during this incident, dictate that all dead bodies should be presumed Ebola positive until it is tested by the Health Team and proven otherwise before removal.  Hence the body remained on the beach until the next morning, covered with a cloth.

4.    On February 13, the LNP and the Forensic team returned to the incident scene, and after clearance was obtained, the body was taken to the Samuel Stryker Funeral Home where the body was re-examined by the LNP Forensic team.  At the examination at the Funeral home, the body was observed to have some superficial wounds on the right lower ear lobes, upper right neck, right eye brow, left hip and the left ring and middle fingers. Pictures were taken of these observations. .

5.    Simultaneously with the taking of the body and subsequent examinations, the LNP interviewed over 20 eye witnesses who one way or the other interacted with the deceased, saw the unfolding events on that fateful day immediately  prior to his death and thereafter. Those interrogated included the fiancée of the deceased, security guards assigned to residences in the vicinity of the incident, and residents in the vicinity who saw the deceased and his fiancée as they walked along the beach, as well as Brazilian national who rescued the deceased from the water and brought him on shore.

6.    The LNP also interviewed others who, although not on the scene at the time of the incident,  either worked with,  knew and interacted with the deceased, or were called upon and arrived at the scene and saw the body.The LNP also interviewed some Honorable members of the Legislature who were called to the scene and who also saw the victim on the evening of the incident.

7.    Based on the investigations conducted thus far, the facts indicate that the deceased on the fateful day, February 12, 2015 at about left his 12st residence along with his fiancée, and decided to take stroll along the beach. At some point, the deceased decided to take a bath in the water, following which he took off his clothes and walked into the sea.

8.    Information gathered indicate that the forces of the water may have overwhelmed the deceased and began to drift further into the sea. When his fiancée noted this, she yelled for help.  A Brazilian national, who was living in the vicinity of the incident responded, jumped into the water with a floater and managed to pull the deceased from the water.

9.    When the victim was brought on shore, he was seen foaming from his mouth and nose. Attempts to resuscitate proved futile.  All those who saw the deceased after he was taken from the water confirmed that they saw no marks, lacerations or cuts on the body.

10.    On February 16, 2015, the LNP contracted the services of one Dr, Simeon OwizzKoroma, aPathologist with a Sierra Leone nationality, to conduct a post morten examination on the deceased with the view to ascertain the cause of death.  By then, I was out of the Country on official matters.

11.    Upon my return, I directed that at least two separate autopsies be conducted in light of the sensitivities and public attention that the case has attracted.  Accordingly I directed the Solicitor to identify another Forensic pathologist out of the region to do the second autopsy.  The SG secured the services of Dr, Carl Wigren  a forensic pathologist from the United States of America. Let me say upfront that these two doctors are eminently qualified in the field of forensic pathology..

12.    Dr. Owizz, MD, is Consultant pathologist, Mortuary Services and Forensic Medicine; Lecturer in Pathological Sciences at College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences, University of Sierra Leone. He is an experienced Forensic Pathologist, with over 36 years practical and teaching experience.  He had performed autopsies for the UN backed Special Court in Sierra Leone on Sam Bockarie, Foday Sankoh and Chief Hinga Norman in Sierra Leone, as well on the 25 victims of the UN Helicopter crash and the 22 victims of the Togolese helicopter explosion at Lungi Airport.  At the time he was contracted, he was the Government of Sierra Leone Chief pathologist. Upon review of his CV and relevant documents, the LNP determined that he was qualified to conduct the autopsy.

13.    Dr. Carl Wigren, MD an American National, is Forensic Pathologist, Board Certified in Forensic & Anatomic Pathology and practices in the United States.

14.    On February 16, upon the authorization of the Ministry of Justice and the request of the Inspector General of the Liberian National Police, Dr. Owizz conducted the autopsy on the deceased at the John F. Kennedy Medical Facility in the presence of ACP Jersey K. Harris, Chief Investigator, LNP; Mr. Abu Daramy, CID; Mr. Terry Kerkula, Forensics, LNP; Augustine Mehn, Investigator, LACC; Balamo Kofa, LACC; Abraham B. Erikson Coroner and Richard Johnson, Mortician.

15.    Dr. Owizz conducted a comprehensive examination of the body, including external and internal  parts, and in a report issued concluded that that the cause of death was drowning and that in his professional and expert opinion, the cause of death was natural.

16.    Dr. Carl Wigren, M.D., also upon the authorization of the Minister of Justice and the request of the Solicitor General, performed the second autopsy on March 10, 2015 at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center. He took over 226 photographs during the examination documenting specific findings.

17.    On February, Dr. Carl Wigrenissued a preliminary report in which he concluded also that the cause of death was drowning.  He also concluded that “upon thorough examination of the body, that in consideration of the circumstances surrounding his death and the internal and external examination of the body, the death of this 48 year old male isdue to asphyxia due to salt water drowning. Cutaneous (skin) defects involving eye lids, neck, ears, and hip are not the result of blunt force injury, but instead are due to animal predation following death. The manner of accident is consistent with accident.”
18.    Under our law and practice, it is the province of the expert medical personnel to establish the cause of death and the manner of death.  Investigations conducted by the LNP are intended to determine whether a crime has occurred and to identify, arrest, interrogate and charge those who they have probable cause to believe committed the crime.  In the instant case, the LNP did not receive any evidence, nor did it uncover any evidence from its investigations that the manner of death was criminal.

19.    The investigation did not uncover any evidence of foul play or that his death was induced by the conduct of another person or instrumentality.  Accordingly, I must conclude and hereby announce that the Government of Liberia considers the death of the body found on South Beach as natural and resulting from drowning.  Not having established that anyone was implicated in the death of the deceased or contributed to the death, there will be no charges or prosecutions. This investigation for all intents and purpose is now closed.

20.    Having addressed the medical conclusions and the prosecutorial decision we have reached, let me now turn to the identity of the body that was found on the Beach which is the subject of these conference.  Since this incident, we have read about a series of newspaper articles which can be best described as irresponsible journalism pregnant with lies, innuendoes and false accusations.

21.    Based on our investigations, the body that was found on the beach is that of Mr. Maurice Denzel Bryce, Jr, born in Bahamas on December 8, 1967. On November 16, 2005, Mr. Bryce was issued a United States Passport in which he is named as Mr. Nkrumah MoziahNadir Mulmi. His US Passport issued on 16 November 2005 indicates that he was born on 18 December 1967 in the Bahamas.

22.    We also have copy of a Passport issued to him by Bahamas dated September 13, 2005 which carries him as Nkrumah Moziah Nadir Mulmi, said to be born on December 8, 1967 in Grand Bahama , Bahamas.

23.    Mr. Mulmi also held two Liberian Passports. One was issued to him on July 7, 2006, which listed his place of birth as New York, USA. This passport was valid up to July 6, 2011.  Upon the expiration of this passport, he was issued a second passport on February 1, 2012 valid up to January 31, 2017. This passport listed his place of birth as Harper. It is this passport that carried him as Nkrumah Moziah Mulmi-Allison, which was based on a birth certificate issued by the Ministry of Health which lists the name of Gle D. Allison (Spelled as Gle, as opposed to “Gray D Allison”) as his father.  We have seen no evidence as to how he came to be referred to as Michael Allison.  There no record showing a change of name through the Circuit Court as required under our laws.  One additional confirmation is that comparison of the finger prints of the deceased and that taken when the US Passport was issued to him show a perfect match.

24.    Accordingly, we confirm that the body which was found on South Beach on February 12, 2015, which was identified by all who knew him as Michael Allison, was in fact that of Mr. Nkrumah MosiahNadir Mulmi, formerly Maurice Denzel Bryce, a citizen of Bahamas and of the United States of America. While he represented himself as Michael Allison in Liberia, and there is no evidence that this was his legal name.

25.    This leaves the Ministry of Justice to conclude that the person who was found dead on the beach and identified as Michael Allison, led a very dubious life, taking upon identities and changing names as the circumstances demand.  While the dubious nature of the life of the deceased does not diminish his dignity as a human being, and hence a duty imposed on the Government to thoroughly investigate and established the cause of his death, a duty we have fully discharged as a Government, there are lessons to be learned from this incident.  

26.    Firstly, we need more scrutiny with respect to the manner in which our institutions discharge their statutory duties and responsibilities in the issuance of identity documents. The Michael Allison case is an indictment against the Passport Division, the Bureau of vital statistics, and the Liberian National Bar by admitting him into Bar.

27.    Secondly, we have to be careful as a people not to jump to conclusions, and engage in conduct that has the propensity to embarrass the Government.  The fact that the deceased was an alleged whistle blower in a case under investigation by the Liberia Anti- Corruption Commission (LACC), is immaterial to the establishment of the cause of his death, which is a professional exercise.  In the beginning of this process, some people came forward claiming to be relatives of Mr. Allison. We encourage them to come forward now that the investigation has been concluded so that they can claim the body of their loved one and undertake the necessary funeral arrangements, subject only to a DNA test to establish their relationship.

28.    On behalf of the Government of Liberia, we want to express our profound regrets on the passing of this young man. It is God who giveth and it is God who taketh away.  We want the family to know, wherever they are, whether in Bahamas, in the USA or in Liberia that the Government of Liberia has discharged its statutory responsibility in this matter consistent with our laws and international best practices and we are satisfied that the cause of his death is natural. May his soul rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon him.  Thank you

Cllr. Benedict F. Sannoh


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