Recover stolen wealth

President George Manneh Weah has been advised by former President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf’s associate Mr. Samuel Wonwi Thompson to end the culture of impunity, corruption and retrieve and repatriate illicit wealth stolen by people in positions of authority, as part of suggestions to help the regime revive the economy.

“Fellow Liberians, to improve the climate for foreign investment as well as the country’s economic situation, there is an urgent need to end the culture of impunity for economic crimes committed against the poor citizens of Liberia by people in positions of authority,” Mr. Thompson says in a statement released Wednesday, 18 July.

He calls on President Weah to set up an economic crimes process to speedily investigate and prosecute those Liberians who have betrayed their country and set the citizenry up for continued poverty, suffering and social unrest through “bearer shares” with concession companies.

He tells the president that Avesoro (formerly Aureus Mining) and the MNG gold mining companies are producing and flying significant quantities of gold out of Liberia every week by helicopter while the local currency continues to depreciate.

According to Mr. Thompson, he learned from the Panama Papers about the alleged use of “bearer shares” by certain government officials and their cronies, to hide their ownership of gold mining company shares plus other illicit payments in offshore tax havens.

He explains that bearer shares are illegal in the USA and several other countries because they hide who actually owns company shares, contribute to tax evasion, money laundering, plus other criminal and terrorist activities.

As such, he fears that the highly secretive way this was done in Liberia with those mining concessions suggests that Liberians are being shortchanged of significant foreign exchange benefits from their God-given heritage, by a few greedy and corrupt persons.

From a combined investment of at least US$ 500 Million, Mr. Thompson notes that the IMF estimates that gold exports will average between US$ 200 to 300 Million every year from the gold mines.

This he says excludes the Hummingbird gold concession that was recently rejected by President Weah for Dugbe in Southeast Liberia. Citing Hummingbird’s 2017 financial statements, he says Dugbe can produce at least 125,000 ounces of gold each year and has at least 4.2 Million ounces.

Mr. Thompson says Liberia’s gold will generate export revenues of US$ 163 Million every year and the deposits are worth at least US$ 5.5 Billion. He therefore commend President Weah for his astute and timely decision.

“We also need to be wiser and more transparent in the way we utilize valuable resources like gold, to significantly -improve our foreign reserves and strengthen our currency,” he adds.

While expressing his full commitment to President Weah and his government, Mr. Thompson also urges all well-meaning Liberians to support the President and Government of Liberia to find solutions to the economic situation here.

To end the vicious cycle of growth without development and to strengthen Liberia’s foreign exchange rate, Mr. Thompson says the proposed infusion of US$ 25 Million into the monetary system must be guided by a series of measures including the provision of proper documentation to the Central Bank of Liberia by all importers such as letters of credit, invoices and shipping documents.

He suggests that assuming that the counterfeit notes can be isolated, government should prioritize and restrict how the foreign exchange is used, to import fuel, rice, essential medical and educational items at a subsidized exchange rate.

Mr. Thompson has also extended his appeals to the Government of United States of America and other international partners to help Liberia to stamp out the culture of corruption and impunity by prosecuting Liberian economic criminals.

“Please help us to improve our fragile economic conditions by recovering and repatriating the assets stolen from us by those criminals and held offshore,” he says.

He says the United States, Europe and other traditional partners cannot afford to lose Liberia to growing terrorist and criminal networks due to the damaging effects of corruption, selfish and bad economic governance that have made Liberia a more fragile, vulnerable and poor country despite major international efforts and resources.

By Winston W. Parley

Liberian Student Wins Prestigious International Agriculture Investment Fellowship

Ambulah Mamey, a Liberian student concentrating in Agricultural Development and Environment in the Development Management Program at American University, Washington D.C, has won the 2018/2019 Kirchner Food Fellowship; the world’s most prestigious and innovative capital investment training program in the food and agriculture sector. The program is led by renowned individuals including the President and CEO of the Noble Research Institute, the immediate past president of Mexico, Vincente Foxx, and former secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama.

Mamey was selected along with Emery Brown of Tuffs University and Charles Higgenbotham of Cornell University. He and the other fellows will be inaugurated as Kirchner Food Fellowship at the Nobel Institute on the 24th of August. Mamey’s selection makes him the second African and the first Liberian to be enlisted as a Kirchner Food Fellow. Faridah O. Ibrahim of Nigeria and Columbia University is the first African to be enlisted as a Kirchner Food Fellow.

According to the Kirchner Food Fellowship, the 2018/2019 Fellows were selected of several other applicants from universities in America, Mexico, and Canada because of their outstanding academic performance, proven leadership capabilities, foundational and/or mid-level entrepreneurial knowledge, as well as their passion and demonstrated commitment to working in the Agricultural sector to address global food insecurity and poverty.

The Fellowship which will last for one year will provide routine high-level practical and hands-on training in Low-cost High Impact agricultural investment strategies. The training will be provided by mentors and a network of renowned and successful investors from across North America. The mentors and investors will provide resources to the fellows that increase their understanding of strategies to deliver financial and other services as well as technologies to smallholder farmers and other downstream actors in agricultural value chain. At the end of the training, the fellows will be given access to a maximum of US 50,000.00 to identify and fund an emerging or early-stage agribusiness. The 50,000.00, according to the Kirchner Group, is intended to test the fellows’ abilities in making investment decision using the Low-cost High impact investment module.

Mamey reacted to his selection with excitement, and an expression of an intention to draw benefits that go beyond the knowledge and exposure he will acquire in Agricultural Investment. “I am super excited and looking forward to maximizing all the direct and potential indirect opportunities the program offers”, he commented. “My foremost priority is the training and exposure in agricultural investment; but also important is to me is building and maintaining a network beyond the Fellowship, strengthening ties with the other Fellows, the Kirchner Group which is renowned for investing in the Agriculture sector, and the team of Trainers and mentors.

The Kirchner Food Fellowship, is a unique and innovative impact investment program that prepares millennial to find, fund and assist promising socially responsible agricultural businesses. The Fellowship provides capital and extraordinary hands-on training in capital allocation for university students. The Fellowship also applies a problem-based learning and solutions approach to investment with the goal of enhancing capital efficiency, lessening deployment costs, shortening time frames and increasing the likelihood of investment success.-Press release

EPA flexes muscle

Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has with immediate effect fined Bea Mountain Mining Corporation the amount of US$99,999.99 to be paid into the Government of Liberia Revenue through the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA).

The EPA mandated dated 13 July says Bea Mountain Mining Corporation should pay the fine with an official receipt presented to EPA within 72 hours as of the receipt of the notice of fine.

The EPA through Executive Director Nathaniel Blama mandates the mining company to remediate the illegal effluence discharge within 15 days and provide drinking water for the affected communities in the meantime.

EPA further mandates that the company to commission a Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) by an Independent Environmental Evaluator to determine compensation for the affected community.

The EPA communication informs Bea Mountain that failure to comply with the notice of violation within the stipulated period may lead to drastic penalties.

It says such penalties may include but not limited to additional fines, closure, imprisonment and or criminal prosecution where applicable.

The EPA has invoked Part V Section 61 Sub-section 1 of the Environmental Protection and Management Law of Liberia regarding “Water Pollution Prohibited.”

It states that any person who discharges or applies, or permits any person to dump or discharge, any poison, toxic, noxious, or obstructing matter, radioactive waste or other pollutant into any waters of Liberia, which is likely to cause harm to human health or aquatic environment in contravention of the water pollution control standards established under this Law shall be guilty of an offence.

Also has EPA cited Part VI Section 75 subsection 2 of the Environmental Protection and Management Law of Liberia which speaks of “Protection of Rivers, Lakes and Wetlands.”
The provision says no person shall deposit any substance in a river, lake, or wetland or in or under its bed, which is likely to have adverse environmental effects on the river, lake or wetland.

It cites Part V Section 56 sub-section 1 of the Environmental Protection and Management Law of Liberia concerning “Prohibition of Discharge of Hazardous Substances, Chemicals and Materials or Oil into the Environment and Spillers Liability.”

The provision notes that no person shall discharge any hazardous substance, chemical, oil or mixture containing oil in any waters or any other segment of the environment except in accordance with guidelines prescribed by the Agency in consultation with the relevant Line Ministry.

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

Flood victims appeal to gov’t

Flood victims from several communities in rural Montserrado County are appealing to government come to their aid. The flood victims lament they are facing tough times after being made homeless by heavy downpour on Tuesday.

Making the SOS call on Wednesday, 18 July the chairman of Number Five Riverbank community, Jeremiah Cole narrates in an exclusive interview that living conditions of residents are terrible and there is need for national government to intervene.

“It’s painful and even hurtful to live in a country where government doesn’t pay attention to its citizens. Since our houses were overtaken by flood, other media institutions had come and we have make SOS calls, but we are yet to see any action”, he laments.

According to Cole, it pains him each time he watches television and see governments in other countries cater to their people in times of national disasters, “but we are yet to see a sign of the government or even an official”, adding that the government of President Weah has forgotten so soon that citizens stood in line voted the President.

“Currently, there is no safe drinking water due to contamination of all wells in this area. Food is a major problem for the people right now, because the flood took away all of their food stuffs and other belongings”, he details.

Meanwhile, Christina Dickson from Boss Town community in Caldwell Township similarly recounts challenges she faces as a result of the flood, saying, I strongly believe the President is informed about this situation, because we’re not the only people affected.”

According to her, residents of Doe Community in Clara Town are affected also, disclosing that her cousin informed her that all of their properties were taken away. “So all we can say is for lawmakers, and humanitarian NGos to come to our aid.”

By Lewis S. Teh--Editing by Jonathan Browne

Grand Kru County lacks functional ambulance

Kru County Health Officer says the county lacks a functional ambulance to transport patients from one facility to another. Dr. Augustine Fannieh told the Voice of Grand Kru recently all three ambulances in the country are down after several repairs.

He says health officials face difficulties in transferring patients due to this situation, adding that on several occasions he had used his assigned vehicle to transfer patients or beg partners and prominent citizens to help the health system with their private vehicles to transport patients.

Dr. Fannieh laments the present situation is critical and needs government and partners’ attention for quick intervention because it is posing serious challenge to healthcare delivery in the county.

He said the three ambulances provided by government have been repaired on numerous occasions and nothing could be done to have them functional again, according to mechanical diagnosis.

He however said the Ministry of Health has been contacted on the issue and it has promised to address the situation. The CHO lauds the World Health Organization for always coming to the aid of the county during emergency cases to transport patients to the referral hospital in Grand Cess.

The Rally Time hospital in Grand Cess, Grand Kru County sometime transfer patients in critical conditions to the J.J .Dossen Memorial hospital in Harper City, Maryland Bounty, but the current lack of ambulance puts the lives of patients’ at serious risk.

Several citizens speaking on the situation said taking into consideration the county current population approximately 70,000 residents without a functional ambulance is a serious health risk mainly for pregnant women and children.

John Chea and Howard Pita speaking to this paper in separate interviews in Barclayville , Grand Kru County over the weekend expressed regret about the lack of functional ambulances to transport sick people despite all of the good representations the county enjoys at the national level.

They call on President George Weah through the Grand Kru Legislative Caucus and local authorities to address the prevailing situation. County Superintendent Doris N. Ylatun, said she is deeply worried over the lack of a functioning ambulance to transport sick patents.

She however assured the citizens that her administration will work closely with the caucus to engage relevant authority responsible to find workable solution to the problem, adding that the situation is posing difficulties to the county health system.

Grand Kru County Senator Dr. Peter Coleman chairs the Senate Committee on Health, while Senate President Pro-Tempore Albert Chie is similarly a native of the county.

By George K. Momo/ Grand Kru-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Gov’t withdraws over L$239m from market

The Economic Management Team (EMT) has mop out over $239 Million Liberian dollars in excess liquidity out of the market on President George Manneh Weah’s mandate, the Executive Mansion says in a release issued Wednesday, 18 July.

“This signifies the President’s commitment to stabilise the economy through the implementation of stringent regulatory measures and strong monetary policies both short and long terms in addressing the current rapid depreciation of the Liberian dollar to the U.S. dollar,” the release adds.

The move comes days after President Sirleaf addressed the nation on the state of the economy here and announced and immediate infusion of US$25m into the economy in an effort to mop out excess Liberian dollars on the market.

“... [We] are excited to announce to the public that the exercise has begun and is in full-swing,” the Mansion says, adding that within two days of the President’s mandate, the EMT has mop out over $239 Million Liberian dollars in excess liquidity out of the market.

The Mansion says it cannot emphasize enough how resolved and committed the President is, in addressing the current economic crisis Liberia is confronted with.--Press release

Low vision woman turned sex slave in Bong

A local organization here says it is planning to transfer a 37 - year - old low vision woman and her three children to Monrovia over reports that she has be used as sex slave by unidentified men in Bong County.

The Hope in God Association of the Blind (HIGAB) told reporters that the woman and her children sleep from one place to another in Gbondwah Village of Bong County because no one is willing to cater to them.

The group says the woman is compelled to do domestic work for people for she and her children’s survival. The Financial Secretary of the organization Mr. Mulbah D. Sackie says because of the pathetic condition of the woman and her three children, the organization is planning to bring them to Monrovia where they will be cared for and provided education.

According to Sackie, the woman has continuously been raped and impregnated by unknown men, saying her family members to abandon her in Gbondwah Village.
He says the woman was discovered by the organization during an assessment mission to the county.

According to Sackie, the victim pounds rice and wash clothes for people in the village as a means of getting money to provide food for she and her three children.
Meanwhile, the administrative head of HIGAB Mr. Johnson K. Dorbor says this is the second incident involving women living under pathetic conditions.

He cites an eight year - old blind girl who was the first victim.Mr. Dorbor says in 2011 there was another pathetic scene where an abandoned woman gave birth in the kitchen and was later rescued and brought at HIGAB headquarters in Monrovia.

By Emmanuel Mondaye--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Bush takes over Bong Supt. Office

The structure hosting the office of the Superintendent of Bong County, other local government officials and the County Service Center is heavily engulfed by bush.

Former Superintendent Selena Polson Mappy’s successor Esther Walker is yet to operate from her official home since taking over about five months ago for the same reason.

Our Bong County correspondent says the Gbarnga Administration Building and the Superintendent Compound have drastically lost beautification as grass continues to enter the Superintendent’s house and the Administration Building.

Our correspondent’s tour has established that passersby and residents of nearby communities are using the abandoned backside of the Administrative Building and the Superintendent’s compound as places for defecation.

The back of the Administration building faces the National Election Commission Bong County head office which has also been used by some members of nearby communities to ease themselves.

Our correspondent says NGO Workers, especially those that go to Gbarnga for workshop usually complain about the poor maintenance of the facility.

There are claims that the Gbarnga City Hall is constantly being rented by the county leadership without account of how the money is being used.

During the administration of former Superintendent Mappy, some members of a local women group under the banner “Whlekerma Women United for Development” (WAWUDE) were usually seen at the two public facilities working to give them facelift.

Despite the collection of city fees from businesses in Gbarnga, the Gbarnga City Corporation appears to be paying deaf ears to the situation as Mayor Lucia Hebert has traveled to the United States of America.
She said to have promised to give the city facelift during her induction as Gbarnga City Corporation (GCC) Mayor, but it appears that nothing has been done about the situation since four months of being head of the city government.

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

China and Great Britain laud LNP

China and Great Britain have lauded the effectiveness and efficiency of the Liberia National Police (LNP) in combating crimes, a release says.

An LNP release issued Tuesday, 17 July says the commendation was made through written communication to authorities at the Liberia National Police and the Ministry of Justice.

The Chinese Government through its Embassy near Monrovia thanked the LNP for its prompt and professional manner in which the alarming wave of criminality was handled over the past weeks.

The Embassy then recommitted its Government’s fervent support to the rebranding process of the Liberia National Police, especially in the areas of logistics, technology and human resource development.
“The Embassy would like to express sincere gratitude to the Liberia National Police for the prompt and professional response to the above mentioned incidents,” the Chinese are quoted as saying.

The release also adds that the British have said thanks to the police force here for being so responsive to “our security.”

Receiving the communication on behalf of the Government of Liberia, Justice Minister Cllr. Musa Dean applauded the Government and people of China and Great Britain for recognizing the gallantry, effectiveness, promptitude and professionalism exhibited in the arrest and subsequent investigation and prosecution of criminal suspects who have been terrorizing peaceful residents of Monrovia and its environs.

Speaking on behalf of the LNP, Police Inspector General Col. Patrick T. Sudue recounted the much needed assistance the people and Government of China have given the police here, especially during the Ebola crisis and the just ended Presidential and Representatives elections in October and December 2017 respectively.

Col. Sudue vowed to fight crimes no matter what color or form they may appear, or whoever is involved.--Press release

Nigerian humanitarian among Golden Image Award recipients

Chief Clifford Nzeruem with Liberian Embassador to Nigeria Dr. Al-Hassan Conteh, Ambassador Dew Mayson, and some members of the Liberian Community in Nigeria.

A Nigerian philanthropist, Chief Clifford Obioma Nzeruem is among about 12 international personalities to be honored at the Golden Image Award (GIA) in Monrovia, Liberia.

Chief Nzeruem, a former Honorary Consul General of Liberia to the State of Lagos, is being honored for his unending humanitarian assistance, particularly to Liberians in Nigeria and adjoining countries, a release from the Liberian Embassy in Nigeria quotes the vetting committee of the GIA.

A total of 30 national and international awardees are expected to be honored at this year’s GIA event which takes place at the Monrovia City Hall in Monrovia on Thursday, July 19, 2018.

According to the release, President George Manneh Weah will convene the event, while the ‘Image of the Award’, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia will co-convene.

Chief Cliff, as he is well known in the Liberian Community in Nigeria, especially among Liberians residing in Lagos and adjoining states, is described as “a selfless and altruistic humanitarian”, who has been using his own resources to assist Liberians in difficult situations, ranging from refugee welfare to domestic problems.

He is also accredited with encouraging and supporting the formation of the Organization of Liberian Communities in Nigeria (OLICON) which comprises all Liberian groups in Nigeria’s 36 states and its Federal Capital, Abuja.

He currently serves at his own expense as Protocol Attaché to the Embassy of Liberia in Abuja by assisting the Embassy with the provision of protocol and hospitality services to Liberian officials, business people and students visiting or transiting Lagos. Now in its 8th edition, the Golden Image Award (GIA) forms part of this year’s (171st) Independence Day celebrations of Liberia. Dispatch

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