Bong residents appeal for safe drinking water

Residents of Fullah Town in Bong County are appealing to authorities for safe drinking water to help stop the spread of waterborne disease and other harmful skin diseases in the town.

Mr. Omo Fullah recently told an interview with a student of the University of Liberia or UL that the people of Fullah Town were living a dangerous life due to the water they use for drinking and cooking.
Another resident of the town, Mr. Prince Fullah said there was no safe drinking water for the town that he claims has more than 500 dwellers.

Speaking further, Mr. Fullah said the people in Fullah Town use water from nearby creeks and swamps for cooking, drinking and bathing. As a result, he said they suffer from various illnesses and skin diseases.

He suggested that safe drinking water in the town would promote good health and reduce the high risk of disease. He has therefore asked government to provide safe drinking water to stop the spread of waterborne diseases and other harmful skin diseases. Majority of the people in Fullah Town are said to have settled in the area from neighboring counties including Lofa and Nimba since the Liberian civil war.


Grass-rooters take over UP

Despite the current wave of exodus of big names from the ruling Unity Party, the UP boasts here that grass-rooters are now taking over the party, maintaining that the exodus is even making it stronger.

In barely three months, the ruling party has lost three of its stalwarts and executive committee members to the opposition Liberty Party notably beginning with Mr. Musa Hassan Bility, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s campaign manager for Montserrado County, Forestry Development Authority Managing Director Harrison Kanwea, and recently, former Amb. Jeremiah Sulunteh.

But commenting briefly on what is no doubt becoming worrisome for the presidential bid of its standard bearer Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, UP National Chairman Wilmot Paye said, the exodus of big names indicates that the party is now property of grass-rooters and getting stronger.

According to him, the UP is now of people-orientated especially, grass-roots Liberians, who many think are of less importance.
Speaking to this paper via mobile phone, on Monday, February 20, Chairman Paye said that the Unity Party has lot to do than waste its precious time on people, who couldn’t pull votes at the needed time, so their departure has created a corridor for people considered by the public as downtrodden to take charge of the party for the October 10, Representatives and Presidential elections.

He said the departure shows there’s more love, unity and that the party is getting stronger by the day in order to take state power for the third time succession.
He noted that some of the defectors that the media referred to as ‘big names’ could not pull votes for the party both in 2005 and 2011.

However, amid the exit of stalwarts, the UP recently witnessed the entry of Nimba County Senator Thomas Grupee from the de-certificated National Union of Democratic Progress or NUDP, formerly of ex-presidential candidate Sen. Prince Y. Johnson, who became kingmaker in 2011 when he threw his weight behind President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the run-off for her second term bid.

Providing justification for his exit in in a communication to the ruling party dated February 15, former Ambassador Sulunteh wrote, “This letter comes to inform you of my decision to disengage with the Unity Party effective today, February 15, 2017. This decision is predicated on the need for me to have an independent mind on my future endeavors.”

He subsequently told a news conference in Monrovia the same day that over the years, the Unity Party has experienced lapses in the implementation of its own promises, saying, “When some of us pointed to these lapses and proffered suggestions, we were branded as internal opposition in the Unity Party. Be that as it may, we did not waiver in our effort to support the party. For example, in March and April, 2015, we used our two months home-leave and conducted an analytical assessment of the party in seven of the 15 counties in Liberia at our own expense.”

Sulunteh recounted that during the 2011 general and presidential elections, when he declared his bid for the senatorial race, the Unity Party created a situation as if he and former superintendent Ranney Jackson were fighting in Bong County, saying, “The party through its standard bearer asked Sulunteh to abandon his senatorial bid to allow Mr. Jackson to contest on the ticket of the party. The result was a loss.”

He disclosed that again in 2014 during the Special Senatorial elections, when he positioned himself for the second time for the senatorial race, he was advised that it was in the best interest of the country to continue the good work with the American people in mobilizing much needed support for the Ebola fight.

“For the sake of our country, we did not contest again, which was serious disappointment to our many supporters. As if, this is all that was meant for Sulunteh in the Unity Party, there is now an artificial rift being created between Ambassador Sulunteh and Dr. Henrique Tokpa for a possible vice presidential pick, which continues to hang a dark cloud over Bong County,” he concluded.

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

Gov’t request live screening of bribery trial

Prosecutors are requesting the Criminal Court “C” to allow live videorecording and broadcast of the ongoing economic sabotage trial ofseveral Liberian officials and U.K. - based Sable Mining officials tovindicate Liberia’s justice system, ensure that “justice is seen to bedone” and “the verdict is universally accepted”.

The indictment against the officials claims that over US$950,000 wasoffered in bribes by Sable Mining to have a law made in its favordeclaring Mount Wologisi in Lofa County a non-bidding concession.
The allegation by Global Witness caused former House Speaker AlexTyler to be dethroned last year by his colleagues after being indictedalong with former ruling Unity Party Chair Sen. H. Varney G. Sherman,Nigerian national, Chris Onanuga and Ernest C.B Jones.
Another indictment drawn later last year combined officials of SableMining in person of Andrew Groves and Klaus Piprek with more Liberianofficials including former Lands and Mines Minister Dr. Eugene Shannon, Mr.Richard Tolbert, Sen. Morris Saytumah and Mr. Willie Belleh.
Government’s request for video recording is prompted by a doubt raised by one of the defendants; Mr. Groves. Mr Groves has allegedly questioned thecredibility of Liberia’s justice system suggesting to the UK Government and its people that he cannot get a fair trial in Liberiabecause the country’s justice system is deeply flawed and corrupt.
“Further, applicant says that this case has generated suchinternational attention and attraction that the trial of this mattermust not only ensure that justice is done but that justice is seen tobe done,” prosecutors pleaded.
The government further contends that since the adoption of Rule 11 ofthe General Rule of Court, there are advancements in technology whichmake the presence of live screening and broadcast of courtroomactivity possible with less intrusive means and distraction.
“That because it will be in accordance with international bestpractice that high profile cases of this nature which garnerinternational attention with vested interest of family and compatriotsin more than one jurisdiction is made available to instantaneousviewing the world over”, the government adds.
Prosecutors have also cited a compelling public outcry interest here“to allow for this kind of transparent presentation of judicialprocess”.
The court has not yet begun hearing the main case as it continues toreceive multiple motions and resistance. A government motion filedrecently to amend the two indictments which carry the same charges washeard on Monday, 20 February, but the Court did not make any rulingimmediately.
It has instead ordered all parties involved to submit their LegalMemorandum in 12 hours, advising the Court to rule. On Monday, 20February, defendant Richard V. Tolbert filed two separate motions, oneseeking separate trial while the other opposed amendment of theindictments.
Earlier on Friday, 17 February, defendant Sen. Varney Sherman filed a Bill of Information with the Court, complaining that up to thetime of filing his Bill of Information, prosecution had “failed andrefused to file with the Clerk of Court” list of witnesses that areexpected to testify and to serve him a copy.
He asked the Court to issue the necessary order directing governmentto file its witnesses’ names alongwith a summary of what each witnessis expected to testify to.-Edited by Othello B. Garblah


Man stabs security officer to death

Dozens of marketers and ordinary members of the public who were going about their normal businesses ran helter-skelter when a man in his mid-30s, believed to be a coconut seller reportedly slashed the throat of a private security guard with a sharp knife, killing the victim instantly within the vicinity of Kebbeh Freeman Gas Station in Red Light, Paynesville outside Monrovia.

An eyewitness, Dennis Marshall, narrated to The New Dawn that the incident which occurred on Saturday, February 18, started when confusion ensued between the late private security guard only identified as Beyan and the suspect over disposal of garbage near the filling station.

He continued that the deceased had on numerous occasions warned the suspect to stop dumping coconut dirt in the vicinity of the gas station, but he refused to adhere.
Dennis said despite the warning from Beyan, the suspect returned to the gas station to again dump coconut dirt when he was prevented by the security officer, noting that the coconut seller suddenly got enraged and threatened the victim in the presence of several onlookers, some of whom also do business around the Kebbeh Freeman Gas Station.

He added that while officer Beyan wasn’t paying attention, the suspect allegedly pulled a long knife that he usually used to peel the coconuts for his customers and stabbed the victim deep in his throat before pulling the knife down with force thereby causing the deceased to bleed profusely and subsequently gave up the ghost on the spot.
According to the eyewitness, after observing that officer Beyan was bleeding profusely, the accused immediately escaped the scene and headed for his residence in Paynesville.

However, he was apprehended on Sunday, 19 February by the Liberia National Police (LNP) after a man from whom the accused usually rent wheelbarrow to carry on his coconut trade, led the police to the suspect’s residence where police arrested and subsequently reminded him at the Monrovia Central Prison Compound, pending trial.
In a related development, police in Paynesville have also arrested a suspect (name not disclosed) for killing a man in Thinker Village, on the Roberts field highway.

Reports gathered revealed that the accused reportedly pulled the two feet of the victim, while he was inattentive, trying to intervene in a misunderstanding that ensued between the suspect and a women over electric wire.
It was also gathered that the unidentified woman had complained about constant theft of her electric wire by unknown individuals, not until she spotted the accused tempering with her wire when she requested the assistance of some of her neighbors to help inquire from the doer what was he doing on her light pole.

It was at that moment when the accused attacked the unsuspected victim by pulling his legs from under him thereby smashing his head on the concrete floor, leaving him to bleed profusely.
Prior to the bleeding, the deceased reportedly became mentally unbalanced when blood ran into his brain the following day, but died upon arrival at the James M. David Memorial Hospital in Neezoe, Paynesville City.
The alleged attacker has since been arrested and detained by the Liberia National Police, pending court trial.

By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne

LRA boss co-chairs ATI

Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Commissioner General Elfrieda Stewart Tamba has been selected as one of the co-chairpersons of the Addis Tax Initiative (ATI) Steering Committee.

Commissioner Tamba is also a member of the Governing Council of the African Tax Administrative Forum (ATAF) and Chair of West African Tax Administration Forum (WATAF).
A press release from the LRA says the ATI is a body of 45 Countries across the world that includes the United States of America, the Netherlands, Ghana, Germany and several other countries in Europe and Africa including Liberia.
The Steering Committee oversees the work of the ATI Secretariat and provides strategic direction, in consultation with members.
The ATI aims to catalyze significant increases in domestic revenue and to improve the transparency, fairness, effectiveness and efficiency of tax systems in partner countries. The ATI provides a new and dynamic framework for action to enable partner countries to increasingly rely on domestic revenues to fund their development agenda and meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
In addition, the ATI plays a coordinating role to monitor and report on the commitments made under the Initiative, maintain the network of countries and international organizations that joined the Addis Tax Initiative, monitor that the specific points mentioned in the declaration are addressed, i.e. that partner countries receive the desired support for capacity building in international tax issues, among others.
In a communications to member countries, ATI Co-Chair Christopher Heffernan of Canada said: “It is with great pleasure that we announce key changes to the composition of the Addis Tax Initiative Steering Committee. Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority has taken on one of two co-chair positions. Mari Khurtsidze, Head of the International Taxation Division in Georgia's Ministry of Finance has also joined the Steering Committee.”
Mr. Heffernan said the ATI is “very pleased to have two strong representatives of partner countries on the Steering Committee.” He explained that Commissioner General Tamba brings extensive experience to her new role.
This new profile is part of CG Tamba’s many initiatives aimed at attaining LRA vision through compliance with international best practices and the strengthening of tax administration and policy coherence to facilitate the enhancement of sustainable domestic resource mobilization on the African continent with her emphasis on Liberia.
CG Tamba has meanwhile thanked the hardworking staff and partners of the LRA for their support and commitment in the strife to make the institution a modern tax agency in the region.
The Commissioner General says she committed to strengthening domestic resource mobilization and live up to the confidence reposed in her by ATI member countries to help in the process of ensuring the strategic objectives of the ATI are achieved as scheduled. Press release


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

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