Ex-minister decries salaries disparity

Former Justice Minister Cllr. Benedict F. Sannoh is recommending that the next government after the October 10 elections should review salaries disparity between the Executive, state-owned enterprises and the Liberian Legislature, which he describes as appalling.

He made the recommendation on Saturday, 18 February while addressing the 23rd Commencement Convocation of the Morris Community College and Airline Studies held at the Monrovia Christian Fellowship Center in Sinkor, Monrovia.
Cllr. Benedict who is one of the shortest serving members of President Sirleaf’s cabinet, stressed that the next government should critically review the amount of money allocated in the national budget for salaries, vehicles, gas slips, scratch cards, car maintenance, travel, housing, internet connectivity and allowances, among others, which he observed, constitute the bulk of the budget, thereby frustrating appropriate allocations for social and economic development.

He explained that the greatest contributor to the revenue is the private sector, which includes concessions, corporations large and small business entities and individual investors.
Cllr. Sannoh argued that considering the low levels of economic activity, promulgating laws increasing or imposing additional taxes only to underwrite increased government spending will suffocate the very sector on which the government relies for revenue.

“The government must be business friendly, and our laws must be business friendly, government must honor its contractual obligations to businesses especially, small Liberian businesses many of which are often paralyzed by unpaid debts due from the government”, he stressed.

He pointed out that businesses must likewise be honest players, paying legitimate taxes and deal with government with honesty and integrity, rather than through corrupt practices with functionaries of government.

The former attorney-general indicated that Liberians should reconsider the necessity of maintaining the constitutional limitation on citizenship and landownership to person of Negro descent, noting that it makes no sense to maintain these laws on one hand, and permit the unrestrained repatriation of profit from businesses conducted in Liberia.

By C. Arthur Brooks-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Peace sustainability rests with young people

The President and Executive Director of the Young Ambassador of Peace or YAP Momo Taylor, has said sustainability of peace in Liberia rests with young people, who are future leaders.

The YAP leader said statistics shows that about 60 percent of Liberia’s population is young people, who are direct custodians of the peace that citizens across the country are enjoying today.
Addressing reporters recently in Monrovia, Mr. Taylor pointed out that if Liberia must sustain the peace, inclusion of young people in decision making, and nation building must be taken into serious consideration.

“Our fight in this campaign is to create activities and program that will attract young people to stay away from issue surrounding violence and focus on youth empowerment, among other essential things”, he expressed.
According to him, one of the primary objectives of YAP is to get involved in issues that promote non-violence, noting that in the past the youth of Liberia had been blamed for violence, but this is no longer the case, as young people have walked away from acts that instigate violence.

“Our coming here is to inform the public about the upcoming national peace and reconciliation tournament that is expected to take place soon, we engage 35 percent of the 73 members of the House of Representatives to engage their various districts and to encourage youths in their various districts to form part of this youth tournament”, he added.

Mr. Taylor said the only way peace can be sustained in Liberia, young people, who are in majority, should come together and have peace activities to ensure that peace messages are taken across all 15 sub-divisions of Liberia.
“There is need that young people across this country get involved in activities that will promote peace instead of violence, against this; we thought it wise to invite young intellectuals from Pakistan and Kenya to share their experiences with our fellow youth on the importance of sustainability of peace.”

The YAP President said the pending election in October will be critical, because it is the first since 1944 where Liberians will witness free transfer of power from one administration to the other.

“This is an historic event that needs to be celebrated, because no one will be taken weapon or jump in the street to cause instability, but instead our weapon will be transcended into messages on issues relative to how best young people can be the full bearers of the sustainability of the peace across Liberia”, he concluded.

By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Citizen opposes aspirant

A citizen of Bong County has warned against the election of former Gbarnga City Mayor Josiah Marvin Cole. Bob Karpee says any attempt to elect Marvin Cole as Representative of Jorquelleh District #3 will be counterproductive to development programs.

Mr. Karpee told our Bong County correspondent that Marvin Cole lacks development skills pointing at his ill-leadership style while he was Mayor of Gbarnga.
The Bong County Citizen lamented that the former City Mayor brought complete set-back and frustration to the people of Gbarnga by breaking down their homes and business areas without any planned notice and compensation.

Mr. Karpee maintained that the action of Marvin Cole was far away from development in the county and is blind to ably representing the people of Jorquelleh 3 at the National Legislature.

Former Mayor Cole declared his intention to contest in Electoral District #3 following his dismissal by President Sirleaf just into two months after officially taking office, a moveKarpeedescribed as transferred aggression.

Mr. Cole is said to have accused the man he is seeking to unseat, Representative George Mulbah as one of those who masterminded his dismissal, promising to ensure he is voted out.
On the contrary, Mr. Cole has gained a lot of admiration from some citizens for his tough stance on the development of Gbarnga.

By:Papa Morris-Bong County-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

IRCL claims discrimination in VR Process

The Inter-Religious Council of Liberia orIRCL says its attention has been drawn to the alleged growing waves of discrimination by voter registrars hired by the National Elections Commission or NEC to execute the voter registration for the October 2017 Legislative and Presidential Elections.

Addressing a news conference over the weekend at the IRCL offices on Clay Street, the Secretary General of IRCL, Atty. Musa M. Bamba, said his organization has discovered that some voter registrars were in the practice of denying people from registering on the basis of names, dress code, and religious affiliation.

Atty. Bamba did not state the voter registration centers where tribalism and nepotism are being carried out, but said, “If you are Musa, Kamara, Mohammed, Haja, Konneh, Kromah, you will be denied to be registered.”
Atty. Bambafurther alleged that at some of the VR centers Muslim women wearing hijab are mandated to take them off before being allowed to have their photographs taken or risk being deny the opportunity to register.

A hijab is a veil traditionally worn by Muslim women in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family, which usually covers the head and chest. “We want to make this clear, the hijab is different from the Nikab, the hijab shows the person face unlike the nikab which covers the entire face, in fact when a woman takes photo in hijab is the most beautiful photo” he said.

He alleges further that even the manner of approach by the NEC Workers toward those women wearing the hijab has not been favorable.

The IRCL official warned that discrimination will not help the country, as no group of Liberians is more Liberians than the others.
He urged voter registrars involve in such alleged acts of discrimination to immediately desist, and apply due diligence, “This election is very significant, therefore, we need to avoid acts that have the propensity to bring about confusion”.

By Bridgett Milton –Edited by Othello B. Garblah

YALI launches Citizens Education Project

The Young African Leadership Initiative-YALI in collaboration with the Mandela Washington Fellowship has officially launched a month long Citizens’ Education Project in Gbarnga.

Speaking at the launch of the project, YALI Liberia Chairman RalleyFallah said the initiative is intended to educate Liberians of voting age to exercise their democratic franchise in October.

Mr. Fallah said the Voters’ Registration Process is cardinal and encouraged all for Liberians to form part in order to improve conditions in the country. He said it is not healthy for people to stand by and watch the process.

The launching exercise brought together over seventy-five young people from different youth organizations across Liberia.

BY: Papa Morris-Bong County-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

MPC attacks LP, ANC

Three opposition parties are locked down here in heated exchanges,after the Movement for Progressive Change or MPC of businessman turned politician Mr. Simeon Freeman, accused the Liberty Party of Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine and the Alternative National Congress or ANC of ex-corporate executive Alexander Cummings of being alleged regime collaborators.

In a statement issued on Friday afternoon, February 17, Mr. Freeman’s MPC said it was foolhardy for the ANC and the LP to think that they could continue to disguise their true identities in the midst of a conscious Liberian population.

“MPC finds it compelling to unveil the true character of a few political parties claiming to be opposition, when in effect they are undistinguished from the ruling Unity Party. MPC, being the lone voiceof the opposition community in Liberia, realizes that the Liberty Party and Alternative National Congress are equal shareholders of the misgivings and underperformance of the Unity Party that they are pretentiously seeking to replace,” the party claims.

It alleged that it is now believed that Cllr. Brumskine and Mr. Cummings were currently battling for President Sirleaf's endorsement which will obviously hurt anyone who gets it, as was demonstrated in the 2014 Senatorial elections where majority of UP's candidates lost  miserably because of the President's failed legacy.

The party said it was an insult to the Liberian people for partieslike ANC and LP to allegedly be soliciting the people's vote when both political institutions have allegedly conspired with the ruling Unity Party in an unholy marriage to exploit and deprive Liberians of theirentitled wealth for 11 years and counting.

The MPC has suggested that Liberians should not take the ANC and LP serious for the 2017 Presidential elections based on claims it is  making against the two parties.

But in response, the ANC said the MPC was speaking outof frustration over claims that about 80 partisans defected from the party last year and declared their support for the ANC.

Speaking to this paper on Friday, 17 February, ANC Deputy Communication Manager Mr. Jonathan Dolakeh claimed that the party has been in the corridor of speaking about the ills in society. He argued that the ANC will not blindly criticize when there is no need to do so.

He suggested that even though the Liberian people have already characterized the ANC and LP as 'regime collaborators, it was however incumbent upon the opposition community to garner collective support aimed at resisting the UP and its agents from securing a third term.
LP Vice Chairman for Political Affairs Mr. Darious Dillon could not respond to calls from this paper when he was contacted based on claims against his party.

-Editing by Winston W. Parley

Aspirant’s car kills 5

At least five persons died instantly and several others sustained serious injuries when a vehicle in which they were riding reportedly collided head-on with a motorbike at Todee Junction in Montserrado County.

The vehicle involved in the accident is said to belong to a River Gee County representative aspirant, Augustine Cheap. Mr. Cheap is reportedly an employee of the Liberia Commission on Small Arms.

The accident occurred on Friday, 17 February at Todee Junction when Mr. Cheap’s driver reportedly lost control and hit a bridge before colliding with a motorbike. Most of the victims, dressed in jeans and T-shirts, were said to be supporters of aspirant Augustine Cheap. They were on their way to Grand Gedeh County from Monrovia.

It has not been established whether they were being transported to the county by the aspirant to participate in the ongoing voter registration across the country ahead of the October 10th presidential and representative elections.

But the driver of the vehicle and four other occupants,who were onboard, died instantly, while two people on the bike and other occupants in the car sustained injuries when the white Toyota Hilux double cabin pickup somersaulted as a result of excessive speed, according to report.

The five victims include three females and two males, but they have not been identified, included the wounded. The motorbike was reportedly heading toward the main road from inside Todee District, according to eyewitnesses, when it collided with the pickup.

Over six victims, said to be in critical conditions were taken to the Charles Henry Rennie Hospital in Kakata, Margibi County for medication, while other survivors have been subsequently transferred to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia.

By Ramsey N. Singbeh, Jr. in Margibi-Editing by Jonathan Browne

S/Court bars former SG, judges from law practice

Liberia’s former Solicitor General and associate justice of the Supreme Court Cllr. Michael Wilkins Wrights and two circuit court judges have been suspended from the practice of law here after being found liable into a conflict of interest scheme that led to a fraudulent US$15.9m judgment against government in favor of a company.

The Supreme Court determined on Friday, 17 February that Cllr. Wrights deliberately obscured the fact of his lawyer-client relationship with the Finance, Investment and Development Corporation or FIDC/Sochor and
conceded to a US$15.9 million “fraudulent judgment against the Government of Liberia” which he was then representing as Solicitor General.

As for Judge KoboiNuta and Judge Emery S. Paye both of whom hadassignments at the Civil Law Court at separate court terms, theSupreme Court also found how one diverted the course ofjustice, while the other breached his sacred duty as judge.

The Supreme Court said Judge Paye diverted the course of justice inthe case, when on April 20, 2005, he awarded damages in the amount ofUS$15.9 million to FIDC/Juhaagainst the Government of Liberia,even though he was fully aware that the due process of law haddeliberately been withheld from the Government.

Concerning Judge KarboiNuta, the Highest Court said while he was servingas Assigned Circuit Judge of the same Civil Law Court, he was alsoadjudged in breach of his sacred duty as a Judge by engaging in actsunbecoming of a Judge.

The Court says Judge Nuta degraded the dignity and integrity of theJudiciary when he made the court a party to the case before him byhaving the court enter into a contract with a third party for the daleof iron ore and receiving monies [from there] in a questionablemanner.

Having laid out the different roles played by the top lawyers inaction that went against government, the Supreme Court suspended Cllr.Wrights from the practice of law within the Republic of Liberia for aperiod of 12 calendar months.

The Court has also suspended the Resident Circuit Judge of the EighthJudicial Circuit of Nimba County, Judge Emery S. Paye and the ResidentCircuit Judge of Criminal Court “B”, First Judicial Circuit forMontserrado County, Judge Karboi K. Nuta.

The Supreme Court held that the conduct of Cllr. M. Wilkins Wrightconstitutes gross conflict of interest in breach of Rules Eight andNine of the Code for the Moral and Ethical Conduct of lawyers.

Rule Eight states that “It is the duty of the lawyer at the time ofretainer to disclose to the client all of the circumstances of hisrelations to the parties, if there be any and any interest in orconnection with the controversy, which might influence the client inthe selection of the counsel. It is unprofessional to representconflicting interests.”

As for Rule Nine, it states that “Within the meaning of this rule, alawyer represents conflicting interests when, on behalf of one client,it is his duty to contend for that which duty to another clientrequires him to oppose.”

Rule Nine further specifies the obligation to represent the clientwith undivided fidelity, and not to divulge his secrets orconfidences. It forbids also the subsequent acceptance of retainers oremployment from others in matters adversely affecting any interest ofthe client with respect to which confidence has been reposed.

Given Cllr. Wrights’ breaches to the rules cited, the Court hassuspended him from the practice of law directly and indirectly withinthe bailiwick of Liberia for 12 months with immediate effect.

The Court noted a consistent pattern of misconduct by Judge Paye inviolation of several Judicial Canons, and has thereby suspended himfor a period of twelve 12 calendar months with immediate effect.

As for Judge Nuta, the Court said his conduct was also in breach ofseveral Judicial Canons and he was suspended for a period of sixcalendar months with immediate effect.

During their suspension, the Court says the judges shall forfeit theirsalaries, allowances and other emoluments.

While suspending the lawyers, the Supreme Court has also expresseddisappointment in Cllr. SaymaSyreniusCephas and Cllr. Roland F. Dahnfor their failure as lawyers to thoroughly review the files of thecase.

The Court said Cllr. Cephas and Cllr. Dahn would have discovered the[scheme] calculated to defraud the Government and for furtherchallenging the constitutional authority of the Supreme Court ofLiberia by attempting to subordinate it to the ECOWAS Court.

The court held that it was in contravention of Article 66 of the 1986Constitution of Liberia, and there warned them that a repetition ofsuch course of action shall lead to stringent disciplinary action.

The case in question involved Messrs. Liberia Mining Corporation orLIMINCO represented by and through its President, S. CiaphaGbollie,and Mr. Jonathan Mason (the Government of Liberia) as petitioners.

The other party to the case which is the respondent, involved JudgeEmery Paye, and Messrs. FIDC, Inc., a duly registered Corporation,under the Liberian laws, represented by its President, shareholder andchairman of the Board of Directors, Mr. Vladimir Juha and CorporateSecretary, Mrs. Daniela Geohova, with offices in Monrovia.-New Dawn

UMC gives Ellen her flowers

The United Methodist Church here has honored President Ellen Johnson -Sirleaf for her sacrificial services, hard work, and dedication to duty, strong will, integrity and trust in God.

What has been termed as a high honor from the new Methodist Bishop, Mrs. Sirleaf was honored alongside two others-outgoing conference leader, Rudolph Merab and conference secretary ChuckuPadmore, while Mr. Tolbert Nyeswa elected conference lay leader.

At the honoring ceremony which was held on Friday, 17 February in Ganta City,Nimba County , at the Liberia Annual Conference or LAC of the United Methodist Church, the church praised President Sirleaf for “steering the Liberian Ship from a war - torn and divided country to a nation of peace and transition of hope and development” for nearly 12 years.

“For these and many other reasons, all United Methodists are proud of you and the LAC/UMC is pleased to honor you by memorializing your legacy with the establishment of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Scholarship Fund for high school girls who excel in science and mathematics and those who provide exemplary leadership in students governance”, the Church said.

President Sirleaf who recently concluded a farewell visit to counties in western Liberia where she similarly received praises for leading the country peacefully, had been told by the United Methodist Church in Ganta that the honor is a grateful acknowledgement of her exemplary leadership in Liberia and beyond.
The Church particularly said it was honoring President Sirleaf for her exemplary leadership in the United Methodist Church where she has variously “shown that our Master and Savior Jesus Christ” has taught
her to properly serve humanity.
As a distinguished and honorary member of the First United Methodist Church Council, the Church says President Sirleaf is contributing and participating in the work of her local church.
Over the years, it says President Sirleaf has significantly contributed to the Liberia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, citing her direct, indirect and quiet giving which can be seen in the many FUMC outreach programs.
The Church cited the SiaffaKeh School Project in Grand Cape Mount County as a more recent project to which President Sirleaf’s contribution is manifested.
Born and baptized in the Presbyterian Faith, the United Methodist Church says President Sirleaf became its member through marriage.
Having joined the Methodist Church through marriage, the Church says President Sirleaf fully learned and got absorbed in the true Wesleyan practice and fashion of doing good to humanity through personal example.
“By your sacrificial services, hard work, dedication to duty, strong will, integrity and above all, your trust in our Lord and His grace, you rose through the ranks of the church and state to become the first elected female President, not only of the Republic of Liberia, but in Africa”, the Church added.-New Dawn

MOVEE reacts to Nathaniel Blamah

The opposition party Movement for Economic Empowerment or MOVEE has strongly reacted to recent criticism by the Liberia National Union (LINU) against its standard bearer, former central bank governor Mills Jones, whose policy at the CBL has been blamed for the depreciation of the Liberian dollars.

LINU leader Nathaniel Blamah, said loan scheme initiated by Dr. Jones while serving as Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, uncontrollably dishing out unspecified amount of Liberian dollars to citizens across the country, is grossly responsible of the rapid depreciation of the Liberian dollars, and skyrocketing of the exchange rate between the LRD and the U.S. dollar with the former hitting triple digit until recently.

But in a statement issued in Monrovia on Sunday, February 19, MOVEE cautioned Mr. Blamah that it is better to keep quiet and let people think he is properly informed than to open his mouth and confirm that he’s not.

“We have little sympathy for Mr. Blamah because as one hoping to take leadership position in Liberia, he should learn to speak responsibly. As a political leader, he owes it to the Liberian people. Blabbing just to be heard, about a subject for which he is out of his depth, and against an individual for whom he is no match, is hardly the mark of leadership,” the statement read.

In his recent criticism of Dr. Jones, Mr. Blamah noted that loans were reportedly given to people who did not have the capacity of using the funds here, instead; many of the borrowers took the money out to foreign lands for exchange of goods and services.

“This is totally contrary to explanations for the pressure on the Liberian dollar, given by both the current Minister of Finance and the current Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, as well as many others. Mr. Blamah must certainly know something that many serious-minded people do not. However, the only thing more ridiculous than Mr. Blamah's statement is that it is coming from the leader of a political organization”, MOVEE responded in defend of its standard bearer.

According to the party, had Mr. Blamah taken time to read reports from the CBL, he would have known disbursements under the microfinance initiative, rather than being "unspecified" to use his word, amounted to approximately L$ 644 million (six hundred forty four million Liberian dollars) during the period January 2012 to December 2015--a three year period,” the party said.

According to MOVEE, the CBL under Dr. Jones initiated a policy of selling Central Bank Notes in order to help control Liberian dollar liquidity in the economy.

It pointed out that during the period July 30, 2013 to August 14, 2015, about the same time when the microfinance loans were initiated, the CBL sold more than Liberian dollar 9 billion worth of CBL Notes, that is, liquidity withdrawal through the CBL Notes was more than 13 times the amount of the loans.

“This is not what one would call expansionary monetary policy. During this period, the CBL also had a weekly auction program, selling US dollars mainly to businesses. What this means, essentially, is that the CBL was taking Liberian dollars in while putting US dollars out into the economy. This helped to stabilize the exchange rate, even during the Ebola crisis,” the party further argued.

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