By S. Siapha Mulbah(Cub Reporter)
The owner of the wrecked MV Niko Ivanka vessel, Alex Tuo and four others are jointly facing court trial for recklessly destroying several lives and properties.
The Liberia National Police charged defendant Tuo along with his accomplices, George McCay, Azaan Dahi, Zhong Qixiang and Wesley G. Monroe for the crimes of Negligent Homicide, Recklessly Endangering another Person, Criminal Conspiracy and Criminal Facilitation.
The Niko Ivanka, a Chinese-owned vessel departed the Freeport of Monrovia on Saturday, April 17, for the Port of Harper in Maryland County when it subsequently sank en route to its destination.
According to the police, defendant Tuo was arrested on August 30, 2021, investigated and charged for violating chapter 14.3, Chapter 14.23, Chapter 10.2 and Chapter 10.4 of the Revised Penal of Liberia.
The police charge sheet said, the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) revealed that the vessel left the Freeport of Monrovia with about 27 occupants including nine members from its crew, eight staffers of the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC), a police officer and other passengers.
Defendant Tuo according to police charge sheet narrated that his vessel was built and registered by LMA since 2018 and had been operating as of the said date.
He told the police investigation that the WAEC Liberia office requested him to carry its examiners to Maryland, and with the aid of the Managing Director of the National Port Authority who instructed the Director of the Seaport Police to allow the WAEC staffs board his vessel.
However, the police investigation further revealed that the owner of the vessel refused to inform WAEC office that the vessel was only registered as a cargo carrier and not to convey passengers.
The police further established that the filing clerk in the office of the Managing Director of the National Port Authority who received the detention notice from the Liberia Maritime Authority, claimed that she delivered same to her immediate boss Roland Sunnyway but denied having any knowledge of the documents.
The police added that defendant Tou, a Chinese National and owner of the vessel endangered the lives of the passengers on board the vessel, knowing fully well allowed the vessel meant to only carry cargoes and not passengers and therefore allowed the vessel to sail against the detention notice.
The investigation revealed that the vessel was loaded with 125 tons of rice, 97 gallons of fuel, assorted goods containing WAEC materials for Greenville and an Oxygen Tank for Ruby Light weighing 10 tons and nine WAEC staffs along with the nine crew members whose names were reflected on the vessel’s official manifest.
On September 1, the Judge of the Monrovia City Court, Jomah Jallah issued a writ of arrest for the owner and acting agent of the MV NIKO IVANKA Vessel on allegation of negligent homicide.
Judge Jallah’s writ was based on a complaint filed by the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice and a document confirmed that the acting agent of the vessel, defendant George McCay was currently under the jurisdiction of the Court after he was arrested while the others remained at large.
The government Chief Prosecutor, Syrenius Cephus’ accounts to the Court accused the crew members of being aware that the vessel was only meant for cargo, but they intentionally put people onboard from Monrovia to Harper, Maryland County.
The vessel in question eventually developed problems at sea and sunk in Marshall, causing the death of eight Liberians, most of whom were employees of the West African Examination Council WAEC Liberia Office.
Wrecked Niko Ivanka Vessel Owner,
Others In Court For Recklessness
By S. Siapha Mulbah(Cub Reporter)