Politics

Counterfeit war overwhelms Security

Liberia’s Police Inspector General Col. Patrick Sudue says it will take half of the officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) to be deployed to adequately man the porous borders here to stop suspects from entering the country with counterfeit banknotes.


“To get men to adequately man … that border, you will be talking about probably half of the LNP because the border is porous,” Col. Sudue said Tuesday, 10 July.

Speaking hours before the LNP charged and sent Nigerian suspect Ogochukwu P. Odom to Court for multiple charges including economic sabotage, the police chief told journalists that the guys that are entering Liberia with these monies are not passing through the original border points, but rather using any means like canoes to enter the country.

Suspect Odom allegedly told police that he came from Nigeria, travelling through Benin and Cote d’Ivoire and managed to enter Liberia with the counterfeit banknotes unnoted.

Col. Sudue says Odom was arrested on 5 July based upon intelligence received by LNP officers and picked up from his hotel with LRD$2m counterfeit banknotes.

A police charge sheet accompanying suspect Odom to the Monrovia City Court on Wednesday, 11 July indicates that the Nigerian suspect photocopied into several pieces one hundred Liberian Dollars banknote, producing LRD$1,373,400.00 in 100 bills denomination.
Police say the suspect narrated that the illegal printing of the money was done with the consent of defendants Ayo, Amandu and others to be identified who are believed to be residing in Nigeria.

When the suspect entered Liberia, he allegedly booked a hotel room in Ganta, Nimba County and then met money exchanger John K. Smith near a gas station and contacted him to convert LRD$10,000 counterfeits for LRD$5,000 legitimate banknotes.

The Nigerian man was said to be in negotiation with Smith when patrolman Kardaka received intelligence concerning the matter and arrested the suspect.

Printing of counterfeits Liberian Dollars and dumping them on the market to extract the US Dollars through high exchange rates against the Liberian Dollars appear to be enriching some Nigerians and Fulanis here overnight while damaging the economy.The exchange rate is now at US$1.00 to LRD$160.00, which impacts prices of goods and increases the economic hardship here mainly against the poor.

By Winston W. Parley--Editing by Jonathan Browne

Liberty Party warns Rep. Gray

Opposition Liberty Party (LP) is warning here that the George Weah - led government and Montserrado County District #8 Rep. Moses Acarous Gray are treading into dangerous waters to plan impeachment of Associates Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh of the Supreme Court of Liberia.


The party says in a press release issued Tuesday, 10 July that Liberians are again being awakened to the bruising realities of misrule that has always punctuated successive administrations, and set the stage for conflict in national life.

LP claims that it strongly believes that government is trying to witch hunt Justice Ja’neh with impeachment due to his involvement in the 2017 electoral case involving the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the LP and Unity Party (UP) that was characterized by fraud and several irregularities.

Signed by party Chairman Sen. Stephen Zargo and Secretary General Jacob Smith, the LP release warns that Liberians may be on yet another powder keg, as the Weah Administration and its agents allegedly continue to flout the laws with their utterances and actions.

LP cites Mr. Gray’s recent announcement that he is submitting an impeachment bill against Justice Ja’neh, but fell short of mentioning why such action is being taken.

LP claims that it is common knowledge that during his football years, President Weah acquired French citizenship, urging him to stop pretending to be the Angel that touches the water to induce healing.

The party says the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC )government should be well advised to focus its attention on improving the economy, the exchange rate which is killing the average Liberian and get drugs in the hospitals, among others.

“But we can understand why nothing of such is forthcoming simply because we are being led by an institution that has no governance direction,” LP claims further.

The party says it is without any doubt that Justice Ja’neh stands out as a man of integrity, not only as a member of the Supreme Court Bench, where he has distinguished himself, but also as a Liberian citizen, a man of great honor.

“So, it does not take a smart person to realize that the real reason why the Weah-led government would want to remove Justice Ja’neh from the Supreme Court is because of the role he played in the case,” the release alleges.

LP says Justice Ja’neh’s presence on the Bench also keeps the hope and aspiration of many Liberians for a strong and independent judiciary alive.--Press release

MYS reacts to Rep. Smith’s proposed bill

The Minister of Youth and Sports D. Zeogar Wilson has reacted sharply to Montserrado County District #2 Rep. Jimmy Smith’s introduction of a bill to the House of Representatives calling for an “Act to Detach the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC) from the Ministry of Youth and Sports.


Minister Wilson terms the plans to make MVTC an autonomous institute as “appalling, contrary to good governance, and a recipe to dismantle government ministries and agencies.”

Rep. Smith recently accused the Ministry of operating a “bureaucratic bottleneck system which, according to him serves as an impediment to the smooth running of the school, among other things.

In a communication to House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, dated 9 July, Minister Wilson outrightly rejected the lawmaker’s allegation.Minister Wilson writes that like any other government entity including the Legislature, the Ministry only follows the Public Financial Management (PFM) and Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) laws of the Republic of Liberia in the discharge of its duties.

He says Rep. Smith’s claims of bureaucratic bottleneck at the Ministry is rather unfortunate that a lawmaker will refer to the law of the land as such and seeks to make an organ of government-run institution autonomous simply because the ministry follows the law.

According to the communication to Speaker Chambers, Minister Wilson says since he took over as Minister of Youth and Sports, Rep. Smith has not brought to his attention concerns he has had in the past that were not addressed.

He adds that Rep. Smith has not also informed him of any concerns he has with his administration, noting that the lawmaker’s action is so surprising to the ministry.
“Therefore the Act introduced by Representative Smith is contrary to good governance. It is a recipe for dismantling of government ministries and agencies and sends a message that following the law is a crime, if allowed to survive,” he says.

Concluding, Min. Wilson calls on the House of Representatives and all sub-committees of the Legislature to reject the proposed bill by Rep. Smith.

By Sally Gaye--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Aggrieved Exsecon guards demand severance

Several aggrieved guards of the private Executive Security Consultancy or EXSECON here are demanding severance pay from management.The aggrieved EXSECON employees, totaling about 750 explain they were assigned in various counties with the United Nations Mission in Liberia for six years, but since the contract with UNMIL ended, it was prudent that EXSECON Management pay them off.


In a communication issued recently in Monrovia, they write, “We the aggrieved workers of Exsecon want to inform the Management of Exsecon that since the contract we had with UNMIL came to an end on the 28th of June, we hereby request the management to produce our severance or redundancy pay.”

Spokesman for the group Ralph Yancy, outlines several things that affected them while on the job, including lack of medical benefit, leave opportunity, deduction of Five United States Dollars each from their monthly salaries, among others.

Ralph discloses that they have resolved to go to court to seek redress since the Management of Exsecon is ignoring their plight.“We wrote authorities at the Labour Ministry, complaining the management of Exsecon Security Consultancy for practicing bad labour, there is no way people will work for over six years and not get severance pay”, he laments.

According to him, they wrote a formal complaint to the Minister of Labour Moses Y. Kollie on July 3 2018.Copy of the letter obtained by this paper reads; “We were employed in May of 2012, by the Management of Exsecon Security Consultancy to provide security for UNMIL for six years and above.”

It details that management also deducted US$5.00 from their foro Absence Without Leave or AWOL, buy uniform and other equipment from Management, face molestation and abuse, and that they benefit no increment during the entire six years with UNMIL.

Ralph notes that since the contract with UNMIL elapsed, management does not want to pay them their benefits, further disclosing that management also deducted Eight United States Dollars from each officer’s salary as insurance premium paid to Secure Risks besides the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation or NASSCORP, including denial of rights and privileges.

By Lewis S. Teh--Editing by Jonathan Browne

Primary education is prerequisite for sustainable development

An official of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection Mr. Benedict D. Nyae says primary education is an absolute prerequisite for sustainable development in Liberia.


The Montserrado County Gender Coordinator made the assertion recently when he served as Guest Speaker during the closing program of the Robert Bruce Williams Elementary School in Gbokpalasuah, Careysburg District.

Speaking on the importance of primary education, Mr. Nyae said poverty is the main reason for pupils to be missing school because their parents cannot afford school fees, uniforms and books.

According to Mr. Nyae, the purpose of primary education is also to give children a strong foundation in the basics of a general curriculum with emphasis on reading and writing.

The Gender Ministry official notes that primary schools are incubators for the next generation of thinkers, leaders and innovators, adding that primary education is foremost right of every child.

He observes that the role of primary education is to further ensure broad - based development of pupils as well as helping them to develop their social emotion, culture and physical enhancement for future career.

He then thanked the administration of the school for molding the minds of the children, the nation’s future leaders.He also thanked parents for the sacrifices they are making to send their kids to school.

By Emmanuel Mondaye--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Olympic Committee meets Weah

President George Weah has met in audience a delegation of the Liberia National Olympic Committee (LNOC) headed by Youth and Sports Minister Zeogar Wilson, the Executive Mansion says in a statement issued Wednesday, 11 July.


The Mansion says the meeting took place at President Weah’s Foreign Affairs Office in Monrovia. The delegation is due to travel to Algeria for this year’s “All African Game” hosted in Algiers, the Algerian capital this month.

Speaking to the delegation, President Weah encouraged the team to ignite all efforts in raising the flag of Liberia and to represent the nation as ambassadors who are serving on a duty for a national cause.

The Liberian Leader said the team should view their presence and participation in the pending tournament as a means of lifting the flag of Liberia through sports and should ensure that Liberia achieves the purpose for their participation on the African Continent.--Press release

NPA Wins US $7 Million Case @ Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court of Liberia has ruled in favor of the National Port Authority in a case involving a group under the banner “the Executive and Work Committee of the Consolidated Leave Employees and Beneficiaries of the ALICO pension fund” vs the NPA.


An opinion dated 4th July, 2018 under the signatures of the full bench of the Supreme Court of Liberia cites the lack of legal and factual merits in the case; adding that the informants suffered waiver and laches by waiting for fourteen years before attending to their alleged grievance rather than pursuing same when the supreme court handed down its opinion and judgement as prescribed by law in such case.

The thesis of the July 4th opinion in favor of the National Port Authority follows arguments and contentions advanced by the parties in the Hight Court' s Chambers during the March term of court.

The informants had prayed the Supreme Court to set aside the 1998 opinion handed down by the Gloria Musu Scott full bench which discharged the National Port Authority from all liabilities of the ALICO funds.

The bill of information now dismissed by the full bench of the Supreme Court, was filed by and through counsellors Theophilus C. Gould and Fredie R. Taylor Jr, of Kemp and Associates legal consultancy claiming seven million United States Dollars .

But National Port Authority In –House Counsel Dexter Tiah Sr, argued that the Informants should have filed for re argument within three days after the opinion of the Gloria Musu Scott bench of 1998 which is by law.

The Respondent prayed the court to have the bill of information dismissed – arguing further that the bill of information was untimely and without legal or factual merits.


The Clerk of Court has therefore been ordered by the full bench to have the case stricken from the docket – stating that the costs have been adjusted against the informants

Meanwhile, a release from the National Port Authority quotes acting Managing Director Celia Cuffy –Brown as describing the Supreme Court's judgment as a landmark legal victory for the Weah's led government and a milestone accomplishment for the Port.-Press release

Top police official Mickey Gray dies

Assistant Police Director for Operations Mickey Gray has died, anonymous senior police officials have said. According to information gathered by this paper Tuesday, 10 July, Mr. Gray died Tuesday at the S.D. Cooper Hospital in Sinkor, but cause of death is yet to be established.


Reliable sources within the LNP indicate that Mr. Gray’s wife is also critically ill, and that he had just buried his late mother before his death Tuesday.Mr. Gray served as Chief of Traffic in the previous administration of former President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf before being elevated as Assistant Police Director for Operations (105) in the current administration of President George Manneh Weah.

Minutes after Police Inspector General Col. Patrick Sudue addressed a press conference relating to different issues here, the headquarters of the Liberia National Police (LNP) suddenly appeared sad when news broke out Tuesday afternoon, 10 July over the death of Mr. Gray.

Immediate past Police Inspector General, now head of the National Bureau of Concession Col. Gregory Coleman was seen at the police headquarters Tuesday, though purpose for his visit there was not known.Mickey Gray has served the LNP for many years in various positions.

According to sources, Mr. Gray’s remains have been deposited at the Samuel Striker Funeral Home already.

By Winston W. Parley & Bridgett Milton-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

War crimes court closer?

At least four Liberian advocacy groups reportedly appear before the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva on Tuesday, 10 July to seek justice for war crimes victims here.


Global Research and Justice Project, Coalition for Justice in Liberia, Fubbi Foundation for Development and Sustainability, Inc and Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia, are among a total of 76 groups in Africa and outside the continent that are leading the campaign for justice for victims of hideous atrocities committed across Liberia during the country’s civil crisis, spanning over 14 years.

They want the Government of Liberia to undertake fair and credible prosecutions of international crimes committed during two rounds of civil wars in the country, that left about half million persons killed in various gruesome manners, including massacres.

According to a dispatch from Geneva, the United Nations Human Rights Committee monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its states parties.

Liberia’s submission was scheduled for July 9-10.

“Since the war ended in 2003, the Liberian government has skirted the issue of criminal accountability for war crimes,” says the executive director for Monrovia-based Global Justice and Research Project, Hassan Bility, noting that “Not one person has been prosecuted for past violations.”

The submission by the 76 groups identifies urgent steps to be taken by the Liberian government to help ensure accountability for serious crimes in the country, to be considered by the Human Rights Committee. It also makes recommendations for additions and changes to the commission’s proposed court to enable fair and credible trials.

“The Liberian government should swiftly establish a committee to develop a roadmap for justice for grave crimes,” stresses Elise Keppler, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “Liberia should also support efforts by third countries to bring universal jurisdiction cases for civil war-era crimes.”

The dispatch notes that Liberians suffered tremendously over the course of the two armed conflicts spanning more than 14 years, and that abuses included summary executions, large-scale massacres, rape and other forms of sexual violence, mutilation and torture as well as widespread forced conscription and use of child combatants.

Two well-attended marches were recently held in Monrovia in support of a war crimes court, with prominent Liberians calling for justice, including Nobel Peace laureate Leymah Gbowee, and leaders in the Liberian Council of Churches.

“People in Liberia are taking to the streets and insisting their leaders take steps to ensure justice for past crimes,” said Nushin Sarkarati, senior staff attorney at the Center for Justice and Accountability. “The victims and families deserve to see perpetrators held to account.”

Although the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Liberia in 2009 recommended a war crimes court to investigate and try people responsible for grave violations of international law, the dispatch notes that the country has never moved ahead with this recommendation, specifically pointing out that the few cases addressing civil war-era atrocities here have occurred outside Liberia, notably in Europe and the United States.

“With a new government elected on a platform of ending corruption and upholding the rule of law in the nation, our organizations call on Liberia to meet its international obligations to prosecute serious crimes and provide justice to victims of the civil wars,” said Adama Dempster, secretary general of the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia.

 

Appointment backfires?

National Lottery Authority (NLA) Deputy Director General Ms. Agnes Effiong’s lawyer Cllr. Stanley S. Kparklin says his client will return to work on Wednesday until her tenure expires this September, following Supreme Court’s ruling in her favor in a case challenging her removal by President George Manneh Weah.


The Supreme Court cited the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the NLA to a conference due Tuesday, 10 July, following Ms. Effiong’s claims of police threat to force her out of office and install new presidential appointee Mr. Neved Kortu.

But Cllr. Kparklin told journalists Tuesday, 10 July after a closed door conference with Justice in Chambers Jamesetta Wolokolie that the State allegedly conceded, saying “they had no argument to raise.”
“Certainly the Deputy Director General will go to work tomorrow as per the Minister of Justice’s position and that they have nothing to do to tamper with this,” he says.

In her complaint to the Supreme Court, Ms. Effiong claimed that President Weah was in violation of the Liberian Constitution because he does not have the power and authority to make appointment for the position of Deputy Director General at NLA, but such power rests with the entity’s Board based on the Act creating it.

She says she’s a member of the Group of 77 here and that she was appointed by NLA’s Board of Directors on 20 September 2016 as Deputy Director General. She says the position has a statutory duration of two years and it runs up to September 19, 2018.

She said while going about her normal duties, one Neved Kortu visited NLA in June 2018 to take over as Deputy Director General over claims that he had been appointed by President Weah.

Ms. Effiong says when Mr. Kortu’s planned takeover did not materialize, he allegedly issued threat that he would return with police to have him take over the office.

On 29 June, Ms. Effiong adds that Mr. Kortu returned with police loaded in three pickups, allegedly blocking NLA’s entrance in demand of Mr. Kortu’s installation.

She says the installation did not take place again that day because she was not in office, but the officers allegedly left warning that they would return Monday, 2 July to break into the office if Ms. Effiong did not turn it over to Mr. Kortu.

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

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