Lawmakers clash over Ja’neh’s impeachment

Serious tension erupted in the chambers of the House of Representatives on Thursday, 12 July when Montserrado County Rep. Acarous Moses Gray and Bomi County Rep. Edwin Melvin Snowe clashed over an impeachment bill being worked out by Rep. Gray and some lawmakers against Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh.

It all started following the reading of the draft agenda of the House Thursday when Rep. Snowe accused Rep. Gray of attempting to intimidate the Judiciary Branch of Government with cheap impeachment proceedings.

Rep. Snowe who appeared to be very annoyed by the action of his colleague, intimated that such bill has no basis but only intended to scare Associate Justices from performing their statutory duties.

The Bomi lawmaker warns Rep. Gray to stop that form of intimidation or it would create bad image of the Liberian Legislature. Rep. Snowe then expresses disappointment in Rep. Gray for bringing himself low, saying Justice Ja’neh has violated no law as claimed by Rep. Gray.

He insists that Rep. Gray’s action is meaningless and only intended to put fear in the members of the Judiciary. Adding his voice to the argument, Nimba County Rep. Samuel Kogar, a kinsman to Justice Ja’neh, terms the pending impeachment action as ‘nonsense.’

Rep. Kogar says the impeachment plot has no weight to be placed on a draft agenda of the House. But in response, the mastermind of the impeachment plot against Justice Ja’neh, Montserrado County District #8 Rep. Acarous Moses Gray says Justice Ja’neh reportedly violated laws of the land.

He argues that the only penalty for allegedly violating the laws here is to remove Justice Ja’neh from the bench so that he does not “contaminate” other justices.

Rep. Gray adds that there is nothing that will stop him and his colleagues from launching the impeachment proceedings against Justice Ja’neh. According to Gray, Rep. Snowe is creating scene because he has invested interest in the Supreme Court.

Rep. Snowe’s wife is a member of the Supreme Court Bench. Earlier on Friday, 6 July Rep. Gray told a news conference that Justice Ja’neh would face the House of Representatives for his impeachment within a couple of days.

Article 71 of the Liberian Constitution says the Chief Justice and Associates Justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of subordinate courts of record shall hold office during good behavior.

But it says they may be removed upon impeachment and conviction by the Legislature based on proved misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform the functions of their office, or conviction in a court of law for treason, bribery or other infamous crimes.

Rep. Gray is yet to say why he wants Justice Ja’neh impeached, claiming he would state the reason in the pending bill of impeachment. Justice Ja’neh and two of his colleagues on the Supreme Court Bench were last threatened with impeachment by some Senators following the Court’s decision during the 2017 political season on the Code of Conduct.

It nearly put the two branches of government into a political turmoil, but a successful intervention by UN peacekeeping mission UNMIL prevented such situation here.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor--Edited by Winston W. Parley

1,901 pass UL Entrance exam

The University of Liberia releases results of its May 2018 Entrance and Placement Exam administered to 10,837 candidates with a total of 1,901 candidates making a successful pass in both Mathematics and English after meeting the university’s passing threshold.

A release issued here Thursday, 12 July says based on the results, the UL Faculty Senate on Monday, July 9, approved three categories: Regular Pass, Provisional Pass and Unsuccessful categories to determine admission and non-admission to the University of Liberia.

To be in the Regular Pass category, candidates must have scored at least 50 percent in Mathematics and at least 70 percent in English, respectively or scored at least 50 percent in Mathematics and at least 50 percent in English.

The release says a total of 1,021 candidates met this threshold and are now qualified for admissions to the University of Liberia. Regular Pass candidates may register for up to 18 credit-hours during their first semester in a college at the University.

To qualify for the Provisional Pass category, candidates must have obtained an average score of at least 50 percent when their Mathematics and English scores are combined. A total of 756 candidates met this threshold and are also qualified for provisional admissions at the University of Liberia.

Those passing provisionally, are restricted to register for no more than 12 credit-hours during their first semester in a college at the University of Liberia, and those credit hours must include Freshman Mathematics (101) and Freshman English (101).

Results of the David A. Straz-Sinje Technical and Vocational College in Grand Cape Mount County show that 29 candidates obtained regular pass and 42 candidates obtained provisional pass, respectively. Similarly, results from the College of General Studies show 19 candidates obtained regular pass, and 34 candidates obtained provisional pass.

Both the regular and provisional scores combined for all undergraduate colleges, including Straz-Sinje and the College of General Studies reach the total of 1,901 successful candidates qualified for admission from the May 2018 UL Entrance and Placement Examination.

This year’s results differ from last year’s in a number of ways. For instance, in 2017, only 466 candidates or 6 percent candidates successfully passed out of a total of 7, 735 registered candidates, compared to this year’s 1,021 candidates or 9 percent out of a total of 10, 837 registered candidates.

The results also show that 1,021 candidates obtained a regular pass in 2018, compared to 2017. Last year, 1,195 candidates out of a total of 7,735 obtained provisional pass, but this number dropped to 756 out of 10,837 in 2018.

A total of 8,649 candidates were unsuccessful on this first entrance exam. Unsuccessful candidates are those who earned an average score of less than 50 percent after their Mathematics and English scores were combined.

Top Performers
Meanwhile, the UL Administration reveals that three students — Pauline Erica Dolo, St. Philip Ecumenical High School; Flomo G. Nyainfelea, Laine Refugee School; and Tina Shinning Karwee, Calvary Temple Schoo l— each scored the highest in Mathematics of 90 percent.

Three other students — Alexander J. Tokpa, Williams V.S. Tubman High School and James Duwuo Kollie, VionJama Multilateral High School respectively scored the highest in English of 88 percent with Abraham H. Sheriff, James Doe Young AGM School, coming third, each with scores of 86 percent.

In both Math and English, two candidates scored the highest average of 80 percent. They are Flomo G. Nyainfelea of Laine Refugee School and Abraham H. Sheriff of James Doe Young AGM School, respectively.

The Chairman of this year’s Testing Committee, Counselor T. Negbalee Warner, Dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, commends all members of the Committee for their individual and collective support, saying, “This report reflects the committee’s consensus and can be adequately defended by the University of Liberia.”

Second Exam/Aptitude Test
At the same time the Administration of the University of Liberia will administer a second entrance and placement exam for all undergraduate colleges and aptitude test for graduate programs and professional schools.

Registration for the exam and aptitude test has commenced and will end on Thursday, August 18, 2018 with exam for the undergraduate division to be administered on Saturday, August 18, 2018, the UL release concludes.


Gender Coordinator laments SGBV cases in Bassa

Grand Bassa County Gender Coordinator Madam Nattie Doepoe says statistics have shown that more needs to be done to succeed in the fight against sexual gender based violence in Grand Bassa County.

Madam Doepoe told reporters recently that her office continues to work with other stakeholders to ensure a significant reduction in sexual gender based violence cases, but observes that more needs to be done.

According to Madam Doepoe, from January to July 2018 alone, there have been a total of 41 cases reported, out of which five are rape cases. She says other cases are domestic violence and persistent non-support cases.

As part of efforts to reduce Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV), the Gender Coordinator reveals that there have been school gender clubs set up in 16 public schools to create awareness.

According to her, the awareness on campuses in the county is aiding her work greatly because members of the clubs are engaged in regular campus sensitization about issues involving SGBV and dangers associated with them.

She notes that for the past 12 years, her office has made significant strides with the help of the clubs in fighting SGBV issues across Grand Bassa County. Despite these efforts, she says the lack of a save home in the county to cater to survivors is a serious challenge in the fight against SGBV cases.

Madam Dopoe underscores the need for the reopening of the save home in Bassa, though she says [Gender] Ministry is doing everything possible to ensure this is done.

For her part, Bassa Women Development Association Chairlady Martha F. Karnga says the main focus of her group is to build the capacity of the women in Grand Bassa County to speak out against issues affecting them in the society.

Madam Karnga notes that though Association does not have leadership in the various districts of the county, it has succeeded over the years due to collaboration with other organizations which share similar vision about issues affecting women.

According to Madam Karnga, violence against women is not only about rape, persistent non - support and domestic violence, but denial to own land as well as allowing women to play leadership role and participation in decision making at all levels.

“You men need to sit and really concentrate about some of the treatment you give women and put yourselves in their shoes if it were you who were being treated in such manner,” she says.

Madam Karnga urges men to women if Liberia must succeed in fighting violence against women in all forms. Also speaking Ma Klubo Tutay, a business woman in Buchanan General Market frowned on men who are in the habit of beating on women, abandoning their responsibilities and raping women and girls.

“We don’t know why men have become very wicked to us despite all the cares for them,” Madam Tutay says. Also adding her voice 45 - year- old Rebecca S. King called on the Government of Liberia to make stronger laws on violence against women and girls that will serve as deterrence to would be violators.

She says one way to make progress in fighting sexual gender based violence is for women in Liberia to desist from compromising cases of SGBV. She challenges women to stand up and compete with their male counterparts, adding that what men do, women can do the same and even better. She says she does not have a husband, but she is doing her business and catering to her children.

By Bridgett Milton & George K. Momo--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Supreme Court wants Maritime organizational chart

Liberia’s Supreme Court has requested the organizational chart of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), amidst disputes against claims that Atty. Isaac Jackson’s appointment as Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is legally a Deputy Commissioner of Maritime position tenured for five years.

Atty. Jackson is challenging his removal from the position by President George Manneh Weah at the Supreme Court, arguing through his lawyers that former President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf appointed him as Permanent Representative to the IMO on 13 September 2016 and commissioned 28 October 2016.

Justice in Chambers Jamesetta Howard - Wolokolie on Wednesday, 11 July instructed Supreme Court Clerk Atty. Sam Mamulu to request the LMA to forward to her the institution’s organizational chart consistent with the LMA Act of 2010.

“Her Honor Jamesetta H. Wolokolie, Associate Justice presiding in Chambers, directs that I request you to kindly forward to her, the Organizational Chart of the Liberia Maritime Authority, consistent with the Act establishing the Liberia Maritime Authority, approved on September 6, 2010, relative to the above captioned case,” the communication reads.

During a follow up with the Clerk of Court Atty. Mamulu on Thursday, 12 July to ascertain if the entity had responded, he referred journalists directly to Justice Wolokolie’s office.

But an office staff said the instrument had not yet been forwarded to the Justice at the time of journalists’ visit there.

The organizational chart appears to be a key instrument that may help in addressing concerns if Atty. Jackson’s position is also legally a Deputy Commissioner of LMA as claimed by his counsels.

Atty. Jackson says he has spent one year and nine months on the job as Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the IMO as of the date of filling the position.He claims that the only reason for his replacement by President Weah is purely on political grounds.

Earlier in similar case decided this week, Cllr. Stanley S. Kparklin said Justice Wolokolie ruled that his client Ms. Agnes Effiong should return to work to end her tenure as Deputy Director General at the National Lottery Authority (NLA), after challenging her replacement by President Weah.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

Lonestar Cell MTN rolls out ‘Switch!’ Campaign

Telecoms giant demonstrates its commitment to meeting the demands for increased data usage by launching a unique data reward incentive scheme.

Lonestar Cell MTN, Liberia’s largest telecommunications service provider, has rolled out the ‘Switch!’ Campaign to meet the growing needs of data usage amongst consumers. This new incentive offers customers a faster, smarter data experience on the company’s recently upgraded network.

The ‘Switch!’ Campaign rewards anyone who uses their smartphone on the Lonestar network for the first time and purchases a data package for $1 and above using the *352# code with Double Data for 6 months. This innovative service offers great value by doubling the data purchased at the same affordable data bundle price. It also gives customers an added reason to upgrade to smartphones to experience the online world at fast internet speeds.

According to Manu Rajan, Chief Marketing Officer, and “The Switch’! Campaign is a welcome call for change in the digital lives of Liberians. We urge them to join Liberia’s largest family to experience our new improved data network. We will welcome all our new data users on our network with double data on all data packages for $1 and above for the next 6 months to enjoy the things they love on the internet. Our existing customers can continue to enjoy the great offers they get on *352# or on the Discount Store when they call 500 or *500#.”

Lonestar Cell MTN is proud of its commitment of ensuring every single Liberian benefit from a modern connected life and we are continuously working towards this goal of taking everyone to a bold new digital world.-Press release

MoE conducts early childhood development training in Bong

The Ministry of Education (MoE) in Collaboration with UNICEF has begun conducting a one - week training workshop on Early Childhood Development (ECD) for elementary teachers in Gbarnga, Bong County.

Speaking in an interview with this paper, the Director for Region Two at the Bureau of Early Childhood, Ministry of Education, Heanneah Farwenee said the training is intended to inform teachers on the importance of the early childhood development curriculum at their various schools in the country.

She says the educational sector plan for 2010 -2020 committed the ministry to lead the holistic and cross sectoral coordination efforts around early childhood development.

She says Liberia’s 2010 Global Partnership for Education Grants earmarked funds to expand access to pre-primary education through class room construction, furnishing, materials [and] development.

In 2011, the MOE set up a special unit, the Bureau for Early Childhood Education to focus specifically on young children.In the same year, Liberia approved its national inter- sectoral policy on early childhood development and a new Education Reform Act was promulgated, which commits the government to providing the primary education.With support from external experts, the government has been developing early childhood framework with four aims.

They include raising community awareness about intervention on early childhood, developing skills of service providers, creating a professional development program in teachers training institutions and developing capacity within higher education institutions to deliver degree program and conduct research in child development.

Madam Farwenee says participants of the one week teachers’ workshop have been drawn from five counties, namely Lofa, Nimba, Grand Bassa, River Cess and Bong Counties.

The Director of Region Two for Early Childhood Development at the Ministry says she is hoping that after the training, participants will be able effectively utilize the early childhood curriculum beginning academic 2018-2019 and pay attention to the learning needs of children between ages of 3 to 5 years.

By Joseph Titus Yekeryan in Bong --Edited by Winston W. Parley

Man complains wife to police for company money

A Mauritanian national here Hamadou Fou has complained his wife Evelyn Lurzeh to the Liberia National Police (LNP) for allegedly taking away US$7,100.00 which he says belongs to his company Ecoma Mauritania.

When contacted Thursday, 12 July via mobile phone on the allegation, Ms. Lurzeh, a Liberian, said she took an unspecified amount of money from her husband Mr. Fou because he has become secretive in his business after she allegedly struggled with him for years.

But in a statement written by Mr. Fou on 9 July to police, he says he withdrew US$7,100.00 from Ecoma Mauritania’s account as a Director with the purpose of shipping the company’s container.

He told police that he did the withdrawal because he could not complete the payment process at the shipping line due to increased shipping fees.

“While the cash was kept in my room, my wife in person of Evelyn Lurzeh broke in my grape and stole the seven thousand and one hundred United States (US$7,100.00) and got away on Friday morning July 6, 2018,” Mr. Fou complains.

He says since Ms. Lurzeh walked out that morning, she has not returned. Mr. Fou notes that he has communicated with his wife and confronted her about the money and she confirmed taking it away.

He claims that Ms. Lurzeh also confirmed to police that she took away the money, but she allegedly refused to return the money despite his effort in persuading her.

For her part, Ms. Lurzeh says she is taking the money for her benefit because she has suffered with Mr. Fou when he was struggling, accusing him of no longer telling her anything about his earnings.

She says her action is also due to her husband’s family’s alleged pressure on him to get a Muslim wife, adding that Mr. Fou does not send her to school. Ms. Lurzeh accuses Mr. Fou of allegedly taking away their four children, adding that she has told her husband that she will not return until she is satisfied. When also contacted on Ms. Lurzeh’s claims, Mr. Fou denied being pressured by his family to marry a Muslim woman.

He notes that he has their five children with him at home, instead of four children mentioned by his wife Ms. Lurzeh. Mr. Fou says he supports the family without discrimination, lamenting that the money she took away is a company money.

By Winston W. Parley

IREDD petitions House on tax reform

The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) with support from the Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA) has petitioned the House of Representatives against a strenuous and unconventional assessment of imports by revenues authorities here.

IREDD has launched an advocacy campaign for domestic resource mobilization through Fairer Tax Governance and Reforms.According to the petition presented to the Committee on Petition and Claims, the strenuous impact of the Tax Amendments Act of 2016 constrained Liberian owned businesses to stage a protest resisting trade facilitation with the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) at the Freeport of Monrovia.

IREDD and its partners have identified some compelling tax governance issues including increase in Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 7% to 10%; the huge bottleneck associated with trade facilitations at port of entries across the country, particularly the Freeport of Monrovia and the uncoordinated processes of Liberia Revenue Agency, BIVAC and Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

They also cite the APM Terminals’ undefined time interval in processing of containers from the Freeport of Monrovia to consignee, and the undue delay by LRA system to process tax payment across the country in real time.

The group further names LRA’s continued use of administrative regulations and unconventional methods to assess customs duties on imported goods instead of the CIF values (use of normal market value or selling price to reevaluate imported goods).

It says revenue authorities here ignore BIVAC’s assessment regime or clean report of findings (CRF); uses excessive penalty regime on imported used vehicles of more than 10 years; and unstable and unregulated foreign exchange rate regime.

They further cite the wrongful application of 4% tax on gross sales quarterly instead of annual turnover required by Section 200 (c)(1) of the Liberia Revenue Code, and the unrestricted system of doing business in Liberia.

They complain that foreigners are serving in dual or triple capacities in the commerce of Liberia by doing import, distribution, wholesale and retails at the same time.

They observe that these actions leave Liberian owned businesses with limited financial capacity, vulnerable and mere spectators.

IREDD says the primary purpose of the advocacy campaign is to engender wider public discussions on the Liberia Tax Amendments Act of 2016 which imposed additional tax burden on all taxpayers, especially Liberian owned businesses that are already challenged financially to compete with foreign counterparts.

--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Too soon for judgment

The National Chairman of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change cautions opposition here that it is too soon to render guilty verdict against the leader ability of President George Manneh Weah.

Addressing a news press conference Wednesday, July 11, in Monrovia, Chairman Mulbah Morlu says recent criticisms by opposition political parties and critics are needless as the Weah administration is still in its formative stage.

According to Morlu, despite the government being about six months old on the national scene, it has achieved a lot as compared to previous administrations.
He notes the CDC-led administration inherited ‘massive corruption mess’ that President Weah and his team are struggling to clean and the current economic hardship that engulfs the country is a making of the former ruling Unity Party.

“It is very early for guilty verdict to be rendered against a president, who inherited a massively corrupt administration. This government in less than five months has attracted huge investment valued at about US$1billon. This is the only administration that insists civil servants should be paid ahead of officials of government. This has never happened in our governance process. The CDC government has achieved in the shortest possible much than expected,” he argued.

He says the reason investors have taken keen interest in investing their monies here is based on the President’s track record, adding, the President is corruption-free and a commoner who has come to the presidency to serve and give back to the people who voted for him. Their votes were clear message of change and that change is what President Weah is doing.

He franticly defends that President Weah is not responsible for the high cost of living, noting that the governance system has been total untidiness prior to Weah coming to the presidency.

Morlu continues that the President Weah will not work in the tune of the media and opposition who only criticize without providing strategic recommendation to the administration for onward reformation.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne

LACC questions 5 officials