Several burnt to death

At least seven persons or more are assumed to have burnt to ashes when a transport pickup in which they were riding from Montserrado County towards Margibi County reportedly collided with two motorcyclists headed from the opposite direction and summersaulted before bursting in flames.

The vehicle was reportedly packed with passengers mainly women and children and goods, including drums of gasoline. The incident occurred on Monday, March 13, 2017 in Morris’ Farm Community, Montserrado County not too far from Margibi County.

The misfortune, according to eyewitnesses, occurred when two motorcyclists heading from Kakata to Montserrado County rode parallel in the middle of the road, occupying both lanes and collided with the pickup commonly called cat-motor coming from Monrovia at about 7:00 pm.

According to eyewitnesses, one of the vehicle’s tyres burst and the driver lost control, running into the motor cyclists, who were killed instantly in a curve. In that process, the car gutted fire and all occupants on board, including the driver are assumed to have burned to death.

The car somersaulted and fell by the roadside, burning to ashes with nothing left to be identified by onlookers, who spoke to this writer. An infant who survived the incident was rushed to hospital but all other occupants approximately six, including the driver are yet to be found with suspicion that they may have burnt to death.

By Ramsey N. Singbeh, Jr in Margibi

Ellen sets up office of Ombudsman

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has issued Executive Order No. 83 pertaining to the Office of an Ombudsman specially to handle the controversial code of conduct which bars several government officials from contesting the pending elections.

“Whereas, Article 90 (c) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia empowers the legislature to prescribe a Code of conduct for all public officials and employees, stipulating the acts which constitute conflict of interest or are against public policy, and penalties for violation thereof,” excerpts of the Executive Order reads.

Executive Order No. 83 noted: “Whereas, consistent with the constitutional provision above, the Legislature on March 6, 2014, passed an Act Prescribing a National Code of Conduct for all Public Officials and Employees of the Government of the Republic of Liberia, which Act was approved on March 31, 2014, and published on June 20, 2014 (hereinafter referred to as the Code of Conduct.”)

Accordingly, Part XII of the Code of Conduct established the Office of Ombudsman as an independent autonomous body with responsibility to enforce, oversee, monitor and evaluate adherence to the Code of Conduct.

The Executive Order further notes: “Whereas, it has been observed that the Code of Conduct did not provide details pertaining to the Office of Ombudsman including qualification and tenure of the Ombudsman, which amongst other things, have made it difficult to appoint suitable persons to the Office of the Ombudsman and thus begin implementation of certain provisions of the Code of Conduct. That whereas, in the exercise of the Executive Power vested in the President by the Constitution, the President may issue executive orders in the public interest, either to meet exigencies or address particular situations, which cannot await lengthy legislative processes.

“Now Therefore, I, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, by the power vested in me, do hereby establish, by this Executive Order and for the purpose of the foregoing, set out below, with specificity matters pertinent to the office of the Ombudsman for the enforcement, oversight, monitoring and evaluation of adherence of the Code of Conduct.”

Under section 1: Definition and Interpretation – “All words shall have the same meaning and interpretation as defined in the Code of Conduct”. Section 2:- “The objective of this Executive order is to meet exigencies and or address particular situations, which cannot await lengthy legislative process”. Section 3 - provides that: “The application of this executive Order shall be consistent with part II, section 2.1 and section 2.2, of the Code of Conduct”. Section 4 – postulates: “The Office of the Ombudsman is hereby empowered to investigate, on its own initiative or on complaint by any person, or cause such investigation to be carried out, into the violation of the Code of Conduct”.

Section 5 (a) (b) (c) and (d) – of Executive Order No. 83 – highlights the composition of the Office of Ombudsman; appointment of three persons through a gender-sensitive lens with the consent of the Senate – one of whom will be appointed as Chairperson; the qualification; Term of Office; and Removal from Office
Meanwhile, Section 6: (a) (b) and (c) – encapsulate the Role of the Chair; Delegation of Powers; and Decision Making. The decisions of the Office of the Ombudsman shall be by simple majority in all administrative hearings and shall be in writing.

Section 7: (a) (b) (c) (d) and (e) of Executive Order No. 83 underpin Grants, vis-a-viz their application; Rules and Regulations; Budget; Reports – the Office of the Ombudsman shall make periodic (quarterly) reports to the President and Legislature on progress made in fulfilling its mandate; and Amended Act – mandating that the Office of the Ombudsman shall draft an Amended Act consistent with the provisions of this order within 60 days. In light of the spirit of Section 8 – “This Executive Order took immediate effect on 13th March, A.D. 2017.

Aspirant vows to unseat Rep. Solomon George

Montserrado County Electoral District#7 representative aspirant Alfred P.K. Cassell has vowed to unseat incumbent CDC Lawmaker Rep. Solomon George at the ballot box in October.

Mr. Cassell says his immediate goal is to ensure that the district benefits from good leadership that will bring about transformation. Speaking over the weekend in West Point Township, the political seat of district# 7, when he was petitioned by thousands of residents, Cassell said though he wants to bring relief to his people, he does not have power on his own to unseat the incumbent, but rather it is the decision of his constituents to do so by going to the ballot box to vote come October.

Reading the petition statement on behalf of the residents, spokesperson Ivor S. Moore said, “In two consecutive elections, we the residents of district# 7 exercisedour democratic franchise, where we went to the poll and elected two persons to the Legistature with the commitment, and expectation that they would perform their statutory responsibilities of Lawmaking, Representation, and Oversight”.

Mr. Moore said while other districts in Montserrado are proud about choices they made at the polls in previous elections, the people of distrtcit#7 continue to bow in shame and their expectations shattered by the bad leadership of Rep. Solomon George, so they have petitioned aspirant Cassell who they believe would deliver them from bad leadership.

He said in spite of their disappointment, they always believe with a thorough search they can find someone competent in their midst to represent their interest at the Legislature.

Accepting the petition, Mr. Cassell promised to work with the people of the district to bring the long awaited changes they want, saying though he has not made a decision which party to join to contest, one thing is center that he will surely contest in the upcoming elections to rescue district#7 from bad leadership.

By Lewis S. Teh

Gov’t defends GW email evidence

Prosecutors are mounting defense in support to email evidences introduced in the trial of several past and present Liberian officials accused by British watchdog group Global Witness of receiving bribes amounting to over US$950,000 from U.K.-based Sable Mining to change a concession law here.

“Respondent submits that the instruments were written in the course of transaction with the co-defendant H. Varney G. Sherman, Heine Van Niekerk and Paul O’Sullivan while the latter two voluntarily turned over all of the email communications that are subject of these proceedings to the investigators”, prosecution said Tuesday, 14 March.

During the course of gathering evidence against those accused by Global Witness in the alleged bribery scandal, prosecutors claimed to have “directly and/ or indirectly” acquired email communications from two recipients in persons of Heine Van Niekerk and private investigator Paul O’Sullivan.

After prosecution’s first witness Mr. Marc N. Kollie, a senior investigator from the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC testified last weekend, the defense team returned this week with an objection against government’s production of email evidences on grounds of alleged violation of rights to privacy.

Government is prosecuting a long list of former and present high profile officials including former House Speaker J. Alex Tyler, Grand Cape Mount County Senator Cllr. H. Varney G. Sherman, former Lands and Mines Minister Dr. Eugene Shannon, former Minister of State for Economic and Legal Affairs, now Sen. Morris Saytumah and former National Investment Commission Boss Dr. Richard Tolbert.

Other indictees include Willie Belleh, Ernest C.B. Jones, Nigerian national Chris Onanuga, and U.K.-based Sable Mining executives Klaus Piprek and Andrews Groves for bribery, economic sabotage, money laundering, criminal facilitation, criminal conspiracy and criminal solicitation.

In their objection to the email evidences filed with the Criminal Court “C” that is handling the case, counsels for the indictees were claiming alleged illegal search and seizure, as well as hacking and doctoring of [contents] to create evidence against the defendants.

But in a resistance filed early Tuesday morning, 14 March, prosecution contended that the evidence obtained did not fall under any principle of the law cited by the defense, adding that the emails were acquired directly or indirectly from Niekerk and O’Sullivan.

“Prosecution also says that it is Heine Van Niekerk who gave all the emails subject to these proceedings to the investigators, the said Heine Van Niekerk also did give the private investigator Paul O’Sullivan the very same emails and other documents including the business records of Liberia Iron Ore Investment”, the State said. Presiding Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay has assigned the hearing of the case to Thursday, 16 march.

By Winston W. Parley

Japan, four organizations sign US$290,170 contract

The Government of Japan under the Grant for Grassroots Human Security Projects or GGHSP Scheme has made a grant provision of about US$290,170 available to four different communities in the country for developmental projects in various sectors.

Signing the contract agreement on behalf of the Japanese Government on Wednesday, 15 March at Corina Hotel in Sinkor, Japanese Ambassador to Ghana Mr. Kaoru Yoshimura encouraged staffs of each of the organizations involved and community dwellers to ensure maximum use of the facility.

The four organizations that benefit from the contract include Africa 2000 Network Liberia, Kids Educational Engagement Project, Development Education Network-Liberia and Youth Crime Watch of Liberia, respectively.

Africa 2000 Network Liberia received up to US$80,896 for the construction of cassava processing facilities and shallow wells for irrigation in Careysburg District, Montserrado County.

It will additionally provide two cassava processing facilities, two cassava processing machines, two equipment for value addition and 24 wells for irrigation. Kids Educational Engagement Project also received up to US$71,546 for the construction of kids educational library at Sappema, Gbarpolu County. The group is also contracted to construct an educational library as well as all other ancillary facilities.

As for Development Education Network-Liberia, it received US$54,416 for the construction of school block at Tellewoyan Public School and to hold a workshop. Finally, the Youth Crime Watch of Liberia received US$83,312 for the construction of professional skills and development academy complex in Sanoyea District, Bong County, which will include a training complex, a hostel block and equipment.

During the signing ceremony on Wednesday, Japanese Amb. Yoshimura sounded a caution to the beneficiaries to sustain the projects for generations ahead. He appreciated the hard work and commitment of all stakeholders who contributed to the success of the initiative. The Japanese Envoy expressed hope that the four projects would meaningfully and positively contribute to development here and further deepen the cordial relationship between Liberia and Japan.

In separate remarks, representatives of the four organizations that signed the contract expressed their respective organizations’ gratitudes to the Government and People of Japan for the gesture.

The head of Kids Educational Engagement Project or KEEP, Madam Brenda Brewer Moore; Africa 2000 Network Board Chairman John Y. Yukom; Development Network-Liberia Executive Director Dorothy K. Toomann and the Executive Director of Youth Crime Watch of Liberia, Zuo D. Taylor assured their organization’s preparedness to effectively execute the projects they have signed.
By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Winston W. Parley

UPP risks lawsuit

One of Liberia’s oldest opposition parties, the United People’s Party or UPP appears to have come into trouble with its long – serving Secretary - General Mr. George Brown.

Report available to this paper suggests that party Secretary General Mr. Brown has allegedly threatened to institute legal action against the UPP at the Supreme Court of Liberia for breach of the party’s resolutions and congress compliance report of 2005.

Making the disclosure to reporters on Tuesday, 14 March in Monrovia, the UPP Chief Scribe claimed that his decision to sue the party results from its alleged refusal to permit he and the former chairman only identified as Mr. Alexander that were elected in 2005 in Greenville, Sinoe County, during the UPP’s 4th National Party Congress to preside over a recent congress.

Mr. Brown argues that he and Mr. Alexander’s leadership was charged with the responsibility to conduct the affairs of the party in 2007.

Already, Mr. Brown says his lawyers are ready to sue the UPP, arguing that the party resolution that came from the 2005 Congress mandates that the 2016 congress be conducted and that power be turned over subsequently to the newly elected officials.

But Mr. Brown claimed that the UPP acted contrary to its 2005 resolution, pointing fingers at Blamo Nelson and T.Q. Harris on grounds that their “so-called leadership” has refused to abide by the party’s final resolutions and compliance report.

Mr. Brown says he would pray for the Supreme Court to cancel the result of the recently held congress that brought Mr. McDonald Wento as the UPP Standard Bearer. He claims to have overwhelming support of the party’s gross rooters.

The long - serving party Secretary-General also said that while they were alive, the organizers of the congress chose to go ahead with the so-called National Congress in violation of the party’s legal instruments without their consent.

He branded UPP’s recent congress as “bogus”, and further accused Mr. Nelson and other officials of the party of unilaterally collecting money from some individuals including Mr. McDonald Wento to make them officials of the party.

After being dethroned from his post, UPP former Secretary General claimed that Mr. T. Q. Harris was a chartered Secretary General who knows nothing about the party’s activities, while also claiming that Mr. Wento was a purchased Standard Bearer. When contacted, via mobile phone, Mr. T.Q. Harris said he did not know Mr. Brown.
By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Winston W. Parley

96,000 register at Upper Bong

Hours to the closure of the one -week extended time for voter registration across the country, Upper Bong Election Magistrate says over 96,000 persons have turned out and registered.

Magistrate [Daniel] Newland told our Bong County correspondent on Tuesday, 14 March that prior to the National Elections Commission or NEC allowing a one - week extension period, over 92,000 persons had registered under the normal time earlier provided.

He said the one week extension period saw additional 4,000 voters registering, thus raising the number to 96,000 registrants at Upper Bong County alone. But on the last day of voter registration on Tuesday, 14 March, Mr. Newland told our correspondent that most of the registration centers were relatively empty as many citizens who had not register failed to turn out to get registered. He said this prompted many of the registration centres to close ahead of time.

While acknowledging that there were challenges at the start of the voters’ registration exercise, Mr. Newland noted that the NEC workers were able to cope with the challenges and ensured that all centers remained opened throughout the exercise. Mr. Newland concluded that he would have begun recalling NEC workers on Tuesday on grounds that there might not be another extension.
--Editing by Winston W. Parley

LP gives equipment to Radio Gbarnga.

Former Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority or FDA Managing Director Mr. Harrison Kanwea who recently fled the ruling Unity Party to join opposition Liberty Party has presented equipment to Radio Bong in Bong County, after the local station was hit by heavy storm.

A heavy storm recently swept through Gbarnga, Bong County, completely taking away the roof of the building that hosts Radio Bong and further destroying several working tools including computers and television, among others.

Making the presentation on behalf of the Liberty Party or LP over the weekend, Mr. Kanwea expressed regret over the situation and promised to return with additional assistance. The materials donated include
five bundles of zinc and ceilings.

Mr. Karnwea said he got informed about the destruction at Radio Bong when a staff of the institution sent him a text message following the incident. On behalf of LP Standard Bearer Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, Mr. Karnwea extended sympathy to the station for the lost.

Mr. Kanwea said under and LP led -government, the issue of disaster will be taken very seriously. Receiving the materials on behalf of the station, Radio Gbarnga Editor - In- Chief Clarence Jackson commended the LP and called on others to follow such example.

By Papa Morris, (Bong Correspondent)-Editing by Winston W. Parley

Supreme Court warns politicians

Liberia’s Supreme Court has warned politicians here that where a party in an electoral dispute elects to embark on means that are not within the contemplation of Article 83 (b) [of the Constitution], that party Can not cry foul and expects a listening ear from the Supreme Court.

In sounding an early caution over anticipated election cases during the opening of the March Term of the Supreme Court on Monday, 13 March, Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr. said the Court will not condone “any slothful indifference” to one’s own interest or to the law.

President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate Amah Jallah and members of the Senate as well as members of the diplomatic corp attended the Supreme Court’s opening.

“The Court will not do for the party what that party fails to do for himself or herself,” the Chief Justice said, having earlier remarked that the law requires all litigants to surround their cases with the necessary safeguards of the law as to secure them against any miscarriage of justice for their own interest.

He had earlier reaffirmed previous pledge that the Supreme Court had resolved and committed not to take vacation at the end of the March and October Terms this year in order to devote full attention to hearing and deciding election cases.

Chief Justice Korkpor said in accordance with the Constitution, the Supreme Court heard and decided all electoral matters growing out of the December 2014 special senatorial elections that were appealed to the Highest Court from the National Elections Commission or NEC.

He said one case that had exception was a case that had lingered due to the failure of the appealing party through its counsel to pursue the right path and the appropriate course of action.

Concerning judicial matters, he reported that out of 77 petitions heard for attorneys at law that applied to be admitted into the Supreme Court Bar, five were denied and 72 attorneys were submitted to two standing committees for examination.

He said seven of the 72 attorneys were granted dispensation from sitting the exams, concluding the 37 attorneys passed the exams out of 56 candidates. In separate responses, the Attorney General of Liberia, Justice Minister Cllr. Frederick D. Cherue extended warmest greetings and felicitations to Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court on behalf of President Sirleaf and the Executive Branch.

He wished the Supreme Court a successful term and hoped it would be rewarding for the country. Minister Cherue appealed to lawyers who will be representing politicians in electoral cases to avoid filling unnecessary complaints to stall the election process. He concluded that there was no political prisoner in Liberian cells, as Liberians enjoy freedom of speech.

Liberia National Bar Association or LNBA President Cllr. G. Moses Paegar endorsed the Supreme Court’s decision to suspend judges and a lawyer, saying it was within the confines of the law. He also commend the Court’s decision not to take a break until the elections are held and a new administration is installed.

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

Rotten fish, chickens on sale

Huge consignment of decomposed imported frozen fish and chicken substances are being sold at the Paynesville Red Light General Market outside Monrovia by some Lebanese businessmen, who run frozen food companies.

Investigation conducted by The New Dawn indicates that the expired food products, which were previously sold between LRD2, 500 and LRD3,500 per cartoon, are now being secretly sold a reduced price of LRD800..

This paper also discovered that the contaminated frozen items are being taken to various parts of Monrovia and its environs by marketers and sold to interested buyers.
The presence of the rotten commodity at the Red Light General Market is causing serious health pollution in the environment densely overwhelmed by thousands of sellers and buyers.

There are also indications that the unhygienic poultry products are at the result of prolonged stay in defective cold storage at Red Light. Several business individuals, who spoke to this paper on anonymity said, government needs to immediately intervene to ensure that importers involved are arrested and prosecuted in line with guidelines and regulations of both the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Environmental Protection Agency.

They said frozen food companies such as Fresh Frozen Food (FFF), Caroline Frozen Food (CFD), Africa No. 1, Cold Storage, and West Africa Enterprise Inc., among others.
However, some importers contacted, could neither deny nor confirm importing rotten products, but pointed accusing fingers at some of their colleagues, whom they claimed are in the constant habit of selling expired goods.

The contaminated fish and chickens are contained in outsized blue sugar bags and reportedly sold under the cover of darkness to buyers. When the Ministry of Commerce was contacted on Monday, this paper was informed that the ministry’s chief spokesperson was out on official matter.

By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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