Four arrested over pastor’s disappearance

Police in Grand Kru County, southeast Liberia have arrested four persons over suspicion that they are allegedly responsible for the mysterious disappearance of a pastor in Jakapoh, Dorobo Statutory District.

The missing pastor in person of Dester Wiah is reported to have gone missing mysteriously after sweeping his yard in the early morning hours of Friday, 28 April. Prime suspect Victoria Wiah is alleged to have confessed to police in Grand Kru that she has turned the missing clergy over to her kidnapping club on grounds of his alleged refusal to give her financial assistance each time she makes request.

She has been arrested along with suspects Jerome Nyanatee, Alphonso Blamo and Elizabeth Sannoh. They have been charged with kidnapping and awaiting court trial. The NewDawn’s correspondent says suspect Victoria has told police preliminary investigation in Grand Kru that the missing pastor is working and earning money, but has refused to provide financial assistance for her.

Pastor Wiah is said to have been working as messenger in the office of Dorbor District Superintendent. The NewDawn’s correspondent says a police search team has been out in search of the missing clergy since his mysterious disappearance.

Our correspondent says the missing pastor has not yet been located up to press time. Police are said to be searching the district vigorously, and have arrested four persons for their alleged connection to the pastor’s disappearance.

The four arrested suspects are being held behind bars in the Grand Kru capital of Barclayville. The suspects’ detention in police custody in Jakapoh Town is also aimed at rescuing them from the hands of angry crowd, our correspondent says.

The head of the police search team and commander of Crimes Services Department in Grand Kru, Maxwell Tarwily says the police search team will remain vigilant to ensure that those arrested go through the due process of law.

He assures citizens of Grand Kru County that the perpetrators will not go with impunity. The CSD Commander has meanwhile called for more collaborative efforts from citizens of the district and county administration to buttress the efforts of the police. He concludes that citizens need not to panic on grounds that the Liberia National Police or LNP will do its best to protect lives and properties in that part of Liberia.
By George K. Momo/ Grand Kru-Editing by Winston W. Parley

Maryland Superintendent frowns on judicial actors

Maryland County Assistant Superintendent for fiscal affairs Mr. Roland S. Jallah Sr. has expressed disappointment in some judicial actors in the county.Speaking in Harper City on Monday, 8 May at the opening of the May Term of Court of the Fourth Judicial Circuit, Assistant Sup. Jallah said the county authorities have noticed that many judicial actors of Maryland normally come to the county late during court opening.

He has suggested that such action of the judicial actors concerned has the propensity to undermine the county’s justice system. Sup. Jallah contends that coming late to the county for judicial work by some of the judicial actors is becoming a normal hobbit, warning that it is not good for the kind of justice system Liberia is building currently.

During the recent court opening, the Coordinator of Trial Judges in Maryland Othello Dennis and County Attorney Cllr. Aloysius Allison were absent. The New Dawn’s Maryland County correspondent says the two officials had not returned to the county up to press time.

The resident judge of the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court in Maryland Judge Nelson Tokpah says the actors upon return will have to provide justifiable reasons why they were absent during the formal opening of the court for its ensuing May term.

It can be recalled that several months ago, Judge Tokpah fined judicial actors in the county US$100.00 and $150.00 for their failure to attend court opening to serve as deterrence.
By George K. Momo/ Maryland-Editing by Winston W. Parley

42-year old man in court for statutory rape

Police in Maryland County have charged and sent to court a 42 - year old man identified as Joseph Howe for allegedly raping a girl-4 in Pleebo, Sodoken Statutory District.

The victim’s grandmother Ms. Hannah Stephen told police that late on Sunday evening, 7 May, her granddaughter and friends were playing on the porch when the alleged perpetrator called her in his living room.

Ms. Stephen claims that suspect Howe undressed her granddaughter in his living room, set her on his lap and started having sexual intercourse with the mionr. Our correspondent says medical report claimed that the minor was tempered with.

The suspect is alleged to have been spotted in the process by the victim’s aunt and one of her friends. Complainant Stephen says the incident was immediately alarmed to her, following which she contacted the police in the county to launch an investigation into the situation.

Suspect Howe was subsequently picked up by police the next day following the alleged commission of the crime. Meanwhile, a source closed to the police has hinted the NewDawn in Harper that the alleged perpetrator refused to comment during police preliminary investigation.

He is said to have withheld comment as a result of a consultation he had with his defense counsel who allegedly told him to remain silent until he appears in open court. But he has been charged with statutory rape and has been forwarded to the Harper Magisterial court for trial. The suspect remains at the prison facilities in Harper while awaiting trial.

Family members who spoke to this paper at the LNP headquarters recently in Harper have joined the survivor’s grandmother in calling on government and other human rights organizations and civil society organizations to probe into the situation to see that justice is dispensed.

The Independent Human Rights Monitor of Maryland County S. Boniface Nyema has expressed dismay over the act, but assured the family that his office will do all that is humanly possible to work with the court to ensure justice is dispensed.A family source says the minor is undergoing medical treatment, adding that she is gradually responding. The source says recovery will happen gradually.
By George K. Momo/ Maryland-Editing by Winston W. Parley

ECOWAS urges collaboration in money laundering fight

The Direct Representative of the President of ECOWAS, Amb. BabatundeOlarewaju Ajisomo has told an Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering or GIABA in Monrovia that winning the fight against money laundering requires collective struggle among member states.

Speaking at the Monrovia City Hall on the 4th day of GIABA’s 27th Plenary on Thursday, 11 May, Mr. Ajisomo said the fight can only be won in the context of more opened and sustained international cooperation.

The event which began here on Monday at the Monrovia City Hall, offers an opportunity for members states to come together to share their experiences with respect to the challenges they are facing in the implementation of the anti- money laundering and counter terrorism financing measures.

The ECOWAS Envoy says “We all are aware” of the effect that money laundering has on the African Continent, noting that if the continent must make progress against such fight, its people must not forget that all efforts are needed on grounds that money laundering remains a threat to the sub-region.

Mr. Ajisomo adds that the sub-region cannot allow money laundering and the financing of terrorism mitigate its collective resolve to make the sub-region an investment destination for potential investors.

He has pledged ECOWAS’ support to the West African region in its quest to fight money laundering. According to Mr. Ajisomo, ECOWAS assures all its regional and international partners of its readiness and commitment to collectively build a region of peace, freedom, good governance and sustainable development for the benefit of its citizens.
The plenary meeting is an assembly of experts, including representatives of GIABA member states, development partners and observers in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

It brings together officials of government and the diplomatic corp. Liberia’s Vice President Amb. Joseph N. Boakai and Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks graced the meeting.
By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Winston W. Parley

ECOWAS progress towards integration

Amb. Conteh makes remarks at Wednesday’s opening Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja Liberia’s Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Professor Al-Hassan Conteh says the ECOWAS region has recorded progress in achieving its integration goals under the dynamic leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The Liberian Ambassador named the recent successful elections in Ghana and in The Gambia, among others, as part of President Sirleaf’s drive to make the region peaceful and ECOWAS programs sustainable within the context of ECOWAS Vision 2020 over the past one year.

He noted that election in The Gambia was preceded by the successful mediation of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government under President Sirleaf’s leadership as testimonies to the regional body’s progress.
Ambassador Conteh’s remarks were contained in an opening speech he made behalf of the Permanent Representatives of ECOWAS Member States at the opening ceremony of the ECOWAS Parliament’s session.

The 4th Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament commenced its deliberations for the First Ordinary Session for 2017 in Abuja on Wednesday, May 10, 2017.

Ambassador Conteh also expressed profound thanks and gratitude to the ECOWAS Parliament for the supportive role it continues to play in the peaceful resolution of regional crises.

According to a dispatch from Abuja, Conteh particularly thanked the Parliament for the role it played in helping to resolve the Gambian crisis and ongoing efforts to solve renewed tensions in Guinea-Bissau, and the security challenges in Mali, and northeastern Nigeria.

He noted, “These crises are occasioned variously by terrorism, the breakdown in political dialogue, armed insurgency, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, illegal fishing, transhumance, human and arms trafficking”.

Ambassador Conteh then congratulated the Speaker of the Parliament, Hon. Moustapha Cisse Lo and the entire body for the delocalized meetings it recently held in Liberia, Mali, and Cape Verde which discussed urgent matters affecting democracy, health and youth in the region.

“These moves on your part, in our view, are intended to bring our Community Parliament closer to the people of the region, and to create awareness amongst our Community citizens about the work of the ECOWAS Parliament”, he stated.

Speaker Cisse Lo, in his opening remarks, applauded the concerted efforts of the ECOWAS leaders for the success recorded in the anti-terror campaign so far.

“Indeed, the concerted efforts of our leaders, both at the national and regional levels, in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, have led to significantly reduce terrorist attacks that sow desolation and cause our populations to mourn on a daily basis”, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament stated.

The ECOWAS Parliament is 115-Member Parliament which sits in session three times a year with two ordinary sessions in May and September. There may however be an extraordinary session at any time in the course of the year to discuss any urgent and specific agenda.

Liberia has five representatives to the regional parliamentarian body. They are Senators Prince Y. Johnson and George M. Weah of Nimba and Montserrado Counties respectively, and Representatives Jefferson Karmoh, Edwin M. Snowe and Fata H. Siryon of Sinoe, Montserrado and Bomi Counties respectively.


Monday is National Holiday

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has by proclamation declared Sunday, May 14, 2017, as “National Unification Day” to be observed on Monday, May 15, 2017 throughout the country as a National Holiday.

According to a Foreign Ministry release, the National Legislature, realizing the benefits to be accrued from the Unification and Integration Policy passed an Act in 1960, declaring May 14th of each year as National Unification Day throughout the Republic.

The Liberian leader, in the proclamation, noted that the Government of Liberia adheres to the principles of justice, equality, fair play and equal opportunities for all, regardless of tribe or clan, section, creed, religion or economic status so that Liberians might be united in a consolidated whole.

She indicated that because of this national aspiration, a Unification and Integration Program was enunciated and perused in the country. President Sirleaf stressed that since the Unification and Integration Policy became a cogent part of the National Development Plan, the people of Liberia have seen marked progress and improvement in all spheres of national endeavor, particularly in the economic, educational, communication and social fields.

She noted that being mindful of the years of civil strife in the country and its harmful impacts on the people of Liberia, it becomes imperative that all Liberians embrace the noble ideals enshrined in the Unification Act to promote unity and peace among all Liberians.

The Liberian leader, in the proclamation, notes that the wisdom of the Unification Policy has found expression in the national fabric through the representation of all sections of the country in the Legislature and every other branch of Government, thereby promoting conditions for peace and unity.

Speaker entangles in US 2.2m

More revelations are emerging from the Salala Rubber Corporation or SRC in Margibi County, accusing House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay of allegedly lobbying with some of those affected by SRC’s expansion project to get an alleged repayment of US$2.2m compensation from the company in Margibi County Electoral District #3.

When contacted over the weekend surrounding SRC’s allegations against Speaker Nuquay, Communication Officer Mr. Philip Moore trashed the claims as erroneous. Mr. Moore says at no time did his boss Speaker Nuquay request citizens of the district to pressurize the SRC management to repay US$2.2 million to persons affected under the company’s expansion project.

SRC Administrative Manager Mr. Jallah Mensah claims in an interview with journalists recently in Margibi County that the money in question was paid to people who were affected by the company’s expansion project in District #3 of Margibi. But he expresses shock that the community leaders are returning to the company to reclaim money that they have allegedly received from the company.

According to the SRC administrative manager, authorities of the company were forced to discontinue all political activities at the surrounding area of SRC due to Speaker Nuquay’s alleged unwavering political manipulation at the plantation.

He adds that the decision is aimed at ensuring that the company’s operations are not interfered with by those seeking political positions at the detriment of the company.

SRC General Manager Mr. Nicolas Bergeort did not confirm or deny claims that Speaker Nuquay was negotiating with the company to sack the President of the Salala Agriculture Workers Union or SAWU Mr. Anthony Moses when he was contacted at his office in Margibi.

Mr. Bergeort says SRC intends to communicate with his company’s Board of Directors in Belgium for transmission to the Government of Liberia about the attitude of a politician that he failed to identify.

He says SRC is a private entity operating here and it will not be dictated to by anyone to terminate the services of people working with it. Speaker Nuquay have declared his intention to contest the 2017 representatives’ elections.
By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Winston W. Parley

CDC ready for battle

Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC standard bearer Senator George Weah says the Coalition is ready for the battle for the Executive Mansion, despite the CDC suffering exodus of partisans.

Weah has lost hundreds of partisans both to the governing Unity Party, the Liberty Party and other political parties here with the recent being former Ambassador Nathaniel Barnes.

The Coalition is a marriage involving his own Congress for Democratic Change, the former ruling National Patriotic Party of jailed ex-Liberian president Charles Ghankay Taylor, and Liberia People Democratic Party of criminally indicted ex-speaker Alex Tyler.

Speaking here on Wednesday, 10 May when he received the former national treasurer of the Liberty Party, Madam Nuwoeh Scott, barely 48 hours after she resigned from the LP, Sen. Weah says that the CDC is mentally, economically, politically, and socially prepared to battle any opponent for the Presidency in the October elections to emerge victorious.

Madam Scott also served executive secretary to Liberty Party standard bearer Cllr. Charles Brumskine. Beginning his comments with usual battle cries, which were strongly supported by members of the youth wing of the CDC, Weah notes: “We’ve fought many battles, we drawn none and we won all. These elections are another battle that we will engage with all our might and energy.”

He says the impeding presidential election could be the last opportunity for the CDC, especially him as political leader for a party that is considered as ‘grassroots movement’ to come close to the presidency.

He explains that it is time for all Liberians, who called themselves CDCians to demonstrate their love for the party by identifying with the Coalition in very available means.
Also speaking, vice chairman for mobilization MulbahMorlu said that the CDC was created by God and anyone who wants to fight the party will meet the wrath of God.
Sounding like a gospel prelate, he says if God Almighty is for the poor and the CDC is a party of the downtrodden, then God is a CDCian and He will stand with the party in tough political times, especially when it struggling to obtain state power.

Morlu notes that the coming of the former Liberty Party official is a clear indication that more big names are on their way the CDC in coming weeks. Later, Madam Nuwoeh Scott said, her coming to the party is an added strength to the women wing of the CDC.

Her resignation from the LP was characterized by the tearing down of party posters, stickers, emblem and license plate after she lost a slot for representative seat.
Madam Scott said that the warm reception accorded her is a clear message that the CDC has a special place for women, if given the Presidency, adding that since entering politics, she had never seen such love and attention shown her.

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

Gboyo hits Nimba

A 52-year-old man from Nimba County electoral district#9 has been found dead near the St. John River between Bong and Nimba counties with several body parts reportedly missing.

The late Patrick Saye, a father of four, had left his home town, Beneakain in Yarwime-mehnson District for the farm. Family sources told our Nimba County correspondent that the deceased usually went ahead on the farm before his wife and children followed him subsequently.

According to the family, the late Patrick also used to cross the St. John River into Bong County to visit a friend, whom they thought he had gone to visit, but never returned until his remains were discovered recently. According to family sources, after waiting three days without seeing their late father and husband, they launched a search for him, which led to discovery of his dead body recently.

The mysterious death of the late Patrick Saye has generated concern among family members and residents with the former protesting that the body will not be interred until traditional rites are performed to establish the cause of death. His death in the county brings to four the number of citizens from the same town, who had died under mysterious circumstances with body parts missing.

Of recent, a man drowned in the St. John River in the same area, but his remains were found less than 24 hours. There have been no arrests so far in connection with the deaths. Few days ago, the body of a 36 years old ObediahLormie was found with body parts missing.
The deceased hailed from Graie Township along the Saclepea-Tappita highway, and had gone to visit his senior brother, a businessman in Dubazon Town, Kparblee administrative district.

Remains of the late ObediahLormie were discovered near a bridge with parts allegedly extracted. No arrests have been made in connection with the deaths of these individuals.  The situation has created panic among citizens with reports that women no longer go along on their farms.

By Franklin Doloquee, Nimba

Juror faces contempt hearing in LRA trial

The Criminal Court “C” that is handling a bribery case against employees of the Liberia Revenue Authority or LRA at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia has issued an order for contempt hearing against one of the newly empanelled juror Ojuku Gaye “for his unexcused” absence from Court on Wednesday, 10 May.

“The Jury Management Office is instructed to assist the Court in having Mr. Gaye appear for the contempt hearing”, Presiding Criminal Court “C” Judge Yussif D. Kaba ordered on Wednesday.

The Court says juror Gaye’s failure to appear for hearing on Wednesday constitutes a violation of his civic duty, thus ordering the Clerk to issue out a citation for his appearance on Friday, 12 May at 1pm “to show cause if and why he cannot be held in contempt for his unexcused” absence from Court. The Court has already dropped juror Gaye from the case due to his absence on Wednesday, bringing up to two, the number of selected jurors the Court has dropped so far in the early stage of the trial against LRA’s Custom Officers defendants Joseph Weeks, Linda Sumowood and a broker Varney Johnson.

The other juror in person of Princess N. Tarpeh was dropped from the case after the Court granted her excuse due to “her inability to be on the panel citing educational engagement”. The Court has therefore suspended trial of the case and reassigned it for Friday, 12 May at 10:30am, and ordered the Clerk to communicate with the Jury Management Office to summon the remaining venire [prospective jurors] for the purpose of selecting the replacement of the two jurors that have been dropped from the case.

The jury panel when completed is due to hear facts into multiple charges of economic sabotage, bribery and criminal facilitation levied against defendants Weeks, Sumowood and Johnson. The indictees are accused in a three - count indictment of allegedly demanding and receiving from businessman Abraham GumbalaSinayoko an amount of US$500 in December 2015 so that and alleged US$2,352.91 that they claimed he owed government could be waived.

But prosecutors are insisting in the indictment that LRA has nothing in its records to show that Mr. Sinayoko owed government additional duties on a container for which the defendants were allegedly soliciting bribes to cut down his debt from US$2,352.91 to just US$500 for their personal uses.

Prosecutors say defendant Weeks was captured on a Closed Circuit Television or CCTV security system installed in the Custom Business Office or CBO when he received the US$500 from defendant Johnson who was the broker of Mr. Sinayoko.

The matter drew the attention of an assigned police officer when argument erupted between defendants Weeks and Johnson due to the latter’s demand for his share of the US$500 that had already been pocketed by defendant Weeks.

Defendant Sumowood is accused in the indictment of hiding the US$500.00 after Weeks placed it in the cartoon on her desk at the time he was walking to meet Officer Peters.-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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