Politics

GW indictees reject jury trial

After pleading “not guilty” to their indictment, past and present Liberian officials jointly facing economic sabotage trial have all rejected trial by jury, except for indicted U.K. - based Sable Mining executive Klaus Piprek  whose plea and decision regarding jury this paper did not see in the court minutes.


Following defendants’ resistance against prosecution’s request to qualify and sequestrate a jury panel for the trail on Thursday, 9 March, presiding Criminal Court “C” Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay said “the action of Defendants this morning, though legal, took the Court itself out of balance”.

The Judge had previously said on Thursday morning that considering the magnitude of the case in reference to the national and international interest it has generated, “it would have been … expedient to utilize the trial jury to dissect and analyze the evidence and facts and determine the faith of their countrymen in line with the law”.
Following a damaging Global Witness report in 2016 claiming that a U.K.-based Sable Mining had bribed Liberian officials with over US$950,000 to make a law declaring Mount Wologizi in Lofa County a non-bidding concession, government drew an indictment against former House Speaker J. Alex Tyler, former ruling Unity Party Chairman Sen. H. Varney G. Sherman and several others.

The indictment further drew in former Minister of State for Economic and Legal Affairs, now Sen. Morris Saytumah; former Lands and Mines Minister Dr. Eugene Shannon, Mr. Ernest C.B. Jones; Nigerian national
Christopher Onanuga; Willie Belleh; former National Investment Commission Boss Dr. Richard Tolbert; and Sable Mining executive Mr. Piprek.

The Court said it was “reluctantly” granting the defendants’ resistance against jury trial, having noting that trial by jury was a right of the defendant under Article 21 (h) of the Liberia Constitution and Chapter 22 Section 22.1 of the Civil Procedure Law.

“This Court however, wishes to put the parties on notice that it reserves equally [its] to take advantage of Chapter 23, Section 23.2 of the same Criminal Procedure Law at any state of the trial to empanel an adversary jury if need be”, Judge Gbeisay said.

A defense lawyer said prosecution had submitted 27 names as witnesses, but Judge Gbeisay had earlier said prosecution has voluntarily dropped one of the witnesses who is a lawyer representing former Speaker Tyler, Cllr. Johnny Momo from the witness list. The case continues at 9am on Friday, 10 March at the Criminal Court “C”, Temple of Justice.

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

“UP will not reach second round”

Opposition Alternative National Congress or ANC Chairman Mr. Orishall Gould has predicted here that the ruling establishment will not make it to the second round after the October legislative and presidential elections.


“It doesn’t appear to me that the ruling party will make it to the second round of the elections if there is a runoff. But I do believe that we the opposition will surely win”, ANC Chairman Mr. Orishall Gould said Thursday, 9 March on the Truth Breakfast Show at Truth 96.1 Fm in Paynesville.

The opposition ANC says it is confident of taking state power in the upcoming elections, while ruling out the possibility of the ruling Unity Party or UP reaching the second round if there will be a runoff election.

Chairman Gould narrated that it was about time that the opposition bloc here takes state power to bring the much needed change desired by the Liberian people.

The ANC executive has suggested that if the UP will reach the second round of the elections, then it will be the decision of the Liberian people to give the ruling party a third term.

While voicing his “respect” for the ruling UP on grounds that it has got something that the ANC hasn’t gotten yet, Mr. Gould, however, insisted that the ruling party will not get to the run off.

When quizzed whether the ANC is willing to combine forces with other political parties, the chairman responded that the ANC is a very responsible and law abiding party that is always opened to forming merger with other opposition aimed at bringing change to the people.

He said if the opposition must take state power, the best way forward was to form alliances.

Though Mr. Gould says the ANC does not share the same view with other political parties, he however said the party remains opened to anyone to have the job done in the interest of the Liberian people.

In concluding, Mr. Gould denied claims that the ANC was engaged in some irregularities during the voter’s registration exercise. He noted that the ANC has achieved about 85 to 90 percent of its target in the
upcoming elections, and will not want to get itself involved in things that will disrupt the peace that every citizen enjoys.

By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Winston W. Parley

 

Sub-regional bankers meet in Monrovia  

 

Senior executives of banking institutions in the West Africa sub-region have spoken of the need for continued coordination and collaboration in tackling the economic challenges confronting the sub-region. The executives noted that as countries confront the prevailing global economic challenges, the sub-region must adopt concrete measures to address the increasing demand for solutions.



The comments were contained in opening remarks on Thursday, March 9, 2017, during the opening session of the one-day 70th ordinary meeting of the Executive Council of the West African Bankers Association (WABA), convening in Monrovia.

Speaking at the occasion, the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Mr. Milton A. Weeks, renewed his call for capacity building in the finance and banking sectors of the sub-region. Governor Weeks said the region, specifically Liberia, is faced with serious capacity deficits particularly in the financial sector. He expressed satisfaction, nevertheless, that progress is being made towards the establishment of a Banking Institute that would help bridge the capacity gap. The Governor urged the Liberia Bankers’ Association to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by having a number of financial training institutes attending the WABA meeting to establish ties with these institutions. The Central Bank Executive Governor has, meanwhile, stressed the need for more collaboration between the private and banking sectors to help address some of the challenges facing the region. “There is commonality in some of the issues we face,” Governor Weeks observed, emphasizing the need for a united approach in addressing some of the issues confronting the sub-region.

Other speakers at Thursday’s meeting included Liberia’s Finance & Development Planning Minister, Mr. Boimah Kamara; the President of the Liberia Bankers’ Association and Chief Executive Officer of the Liberia Bank for Development & Investment (LBDI), Mr. John Davies; and the Acting Interim President of the West African Bankers’ Association (WABA), Mr. Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Nwade.

The one-day meeting of WABA will, among other issues, review activities of the association including a financial report; a proposed Plan of Action and budget for 2017 as well as election of a new President. Liberia last hosted the WABA Executive Council meeting in 2013.

 

Stop undermining’

Bomi County Community College or BCCC president Dr. Zobong B. Norman is urging citizens of Bomi County to stop undermining the growth and development of the college.


Speaking Tuesday, 7 March at the BCCC 5th Commencement Convocation at the Tubmanburg City Hall in Tubmanburg in Bomi County, Dr. Norman said the usual Bomi County politics has been one of the greatest obstacles to develop the college over the years.

Dr. Norman explained that the use of misinformation and non - cooperation as weapon to tear down or undermine positive development at the college have clearly been visible.

“This has to stop! And it must stop now because this crab mentality does not help the college or county. It only hurts us deeply”, he Added.

Dr. Norman stressed that  it is time  for all  Bomi County citizens to support  the County administration to move  the development process forward, adding time for “talk, talk—talk, talk  is  over. It’s action time!”

According to him, the BCCC collective vision remains to make the college a true center for academic excellence and seek to build a college that prepares students well for productive and responsible leadership to contribute toward the overall development of Liberia.

While recalling that the BCCC was the first public community college in Liberia, Dr. Norman however said the college has been backward in many ways.

But he noted that it has started working towards achieving its vision 14 months ago.

According to him, 140 students stayed out of school during the last academic year for one semester, but the new administration worked very hard with the Liberia Nursing and Midwifery Board and the Liberia Government hospital   to reopen the program.

The college graduated 50 students  in various  disciplines such as agriculture, business , education and health science in associate degrees while other  received certificates  in  masonry, plumbing, and carpentry.

Dr. Norman emphasized that the nursing program which is the largest academic program at the college was shut down during the last administration for poor standards.

Members of Bomi County Legislative Caucus were not seen at the BCCC 5th graduation ceremony which was graced by Montserrado County District #6 Representative Edwin Snowe.
By  C. Arthur Brooks--Editing by Winston W. Parley

Parties search for running mates

Several political parties here are in search of running mates for the upcoming 2017 October Presidential and Legislative elections. This comes amidst speculated names within the local media linking individuals with parties’ standard bearer as suitable running mates.

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Ruling Unity Party standard bearer, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai and Liberty Party’s Charles Brumskine has been leading the lists of presidential candidates to whom several individuals have been linked as possible running mate.

But with information available to this paper indicates that the Alternative National Congress or ANC has also joined the search for its running mate a head of this year’s elections.

Reports say the Executive Committee of the party has begun considering few names amongst them Liberia’s former Ambassador to the US Mr. Jeremiah Sulunteh; former Foreign Affairs Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan; Nobel Laureate Laymah Gbowee and former Labour Minister Cllr. Taiwon Gongloe, among others.

This paper has been hinted that on the list of possible running mate being considered by the ANC, Bong native Amb. Sulunteh appears to be topping the discussion particularly given claims that he is being favored by ANC political leader Alexander Cummings.

Already, there are suggestions that Amb. Sulunteh is expected to pickup his membership with the ANC on 12 March, with the party rumored tobe preparing for an expected colorful event to mark the day.

Meanwhile, when the National Chairman of the party Mr. Orashall Gouldwas contacted over the weekend, he declined to comment on grounds thatthe ANC does not run its activities in the media.

Mr. Gould also hit back at people he calls detractors that are allegedly using the Code of Conduct to publicly harm the reputation of the party. The ANC Chairman argues that the opinion of the Supreme Court regarding the Code of Conduct does not affect his political leader Mr.Cummings.

While admitting that Mr. Cummings, a former Coca Cola Company Executive turned politician was appointed as board member at the Booker T. Washington Institute or BWI, Mr. Gould, however, insists that Mr.Cummings did not receive a dime for his service and therefore did not accrue any benefit from government.

He had earlier told a press conference in Monrovia that the ANC will not be deterred of the negative propaganda, noting that Mr. Cummings will be the next President following the October polls.

“We would like to formally clarify that Mr. Cummings’ candidacy for president is in no way impacted by the Code of Conduct Act of 2014 and the Selena Mappy-Polson Ruling”, Mr. Cummings said.

He claims that the opposition was attempting to distract and demoralize supporters of the ANC, claiming that they have resorted to their old tricks to swindle the public and to stop the rapid movement that will change the country.

But he remains confident that the Liberian people are not gullible and will not be so easily tricked into sustaining the status quo which the opposition holds so dearly.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor--Editing by Winston W. Parley

Monument swaps massacre site

The infamous massacre site in the Waterside Community of Du-port Road outside Monrovia where unarmed people perceived to belong to certain ethnic groups were summarily executed and dumped in a mass grave during the civil war in 1990 has been swapped by a US$59,000 worth monument.

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President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf, accompanied to the site by government officials and the Independent National Commission on Human Rights or INCHR and partners including the UN, cut ribbon to the monument on Wednesday morning, 8 March before laying wreaths to other grave sites elsewhere in Monrovia.

During a tour of grave sites on National Decoration Day, President Sirleaf laid wreaths at a mass grave in the premises of the St. Peter Lutheran Church in Sinkor where former president Charles Taylor’s father Mr. Philip Nelson Taylor is listed among several victims buried after an astonishing massacre that took place inside the church.

President Sirleaf says government may not be able to do the entire 155massacre sites identified by the INCHR, but noted something symboliccould be done to memorialize all of those places.

She assured the INCHR of government’s commitment to work with it, and thanked partners including the UNDP that managed the funds through the Peace Building Funds to get the project work successfully.

Having commended the new group of commissioners at INCHR for startingin the spirit for which the commission was established, PresidentSirleaf said there was now a roadmap to follow.

She, however, challenged residents at the Waterside Community of Du-portRoad to take care of the newly erected monument, noting that they musthave felt the hurt on grounds that some of them may have witnessed theincident that had others lost their lives during the war.

An official at INCHR Mr. Adolphus Wade said the Peace Building Funds provided US$59,000 for the project, and it was managed by the UNDP.

While remembering the dead, UN SRSG to Liberia Mr. FaridZarif urgedthat “we” must not forget that there are tens of thousands whosurvived the war but are carrying deep wounds of the war.

He warned that without peace in the mind, there can be no peace in thecommunity, urging the need to reach out to all schools, churches andmosques in the society.-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

 

MFDP dismisses SOE chief

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning or MFDP has with immediate effect dismissed Mr. Siafa Chowo, head of the State Owned Enterprise or SOE Unit at the Ministry for allegedly stealing over US$47,380.00 and L$1.9 Million.


Finance Minister Boima Kamara told a news conference in Monrovia Tuesday, 7 March that Mr. Chowo had secretly operated an account to which he allegedly diverted funds that were intended for national government.

“So we call this press conference to inform the public that Mr. Siafa Chowo will be made to restitute the amount of 47,380 US Dollars, and the 1. 9 million Liberian Dollars that he took from the account. And all those along with him that participated in stealing government funds, suspension will apply and he will therefore be turned over to the Ministry of Justice for justice to take its course”, Minister Kamara said.

The MFDP Boss announced that Mr. Chowo’s service has been terminatedas a result of opening a secret account through which he allegedlystole the amount in question without seeking his (Minister Kamara’s)approval.

Minister Kamara says, Mr. Siafa Chowo and the Accountant General Mr.Sekou Sannor opened an account without his (Minister Kamara’s)permission. He said their action was wrong on grounds that the Public Financial Management Law dictates that any public account that shall be opened must meet the full approval of the Minister of Finance.

With support of his dedicated colleagues, Minister Kamara hasreaffirmed that the ministry under his watch has turned a new page toallow for respect in adherence to the rules that govern the managementof government resources.

He pointed out that the PFM Act is there to direct how government’s resources must be spent, and anybody that goes outside of the ruleswill be found wanted.
--Editing by Winston W. Parley

Ellen honored at Colloquium

President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf has been honored at the climax of atwo - day celebration of International Women’s Day at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville.

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The Women of Liberia, regional body ECOWAS, and German Professor Frank Stangenberg-Haver Kamp, separately presented awards to President Sirleaf, and read statements outlining her achievements and support to women issues and empowerment.

The event was graced by foreign guests including former Spanish DeputyPrime Minister and Minister of the Presidency Ms. Maria Teresa Fernandes De La Vega who co -convened the event, Rwandan House Speaker Ms. Donatille Mukabalisa and foreign diplomats accredited near Monrovia.

There were live performances in open view at the stadium tocommemorate the International Women’s Day, with the Kissi, Kru, Bassaand Central Monrovia Choirs and veteran Liberian musical star Ms.MiattaFahnbulleh, Mr. SundaygarDearboy and other stars separatelyshowcasing their talents.

After being honored, President Sirleaf did not make any speech, butcalled up Gender Minister Julia Duncan Cassell and Ms. Fahnbulleh to join her in singing the first stanza of Ms. Fahnbulleh’s song “I’m awoman”.

The head of Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia Mrs. Ruth Caesar saidthey were proud to honor and showcase a woman who has stood up to herleadership role on the national, regional, continental and globallevels, respectively.

Madam Caesar said “our” needs are not homogenous, suggesting that if President Sirleaf had met everyone’s needs, she may not have met someone else’s needs somewhere. But she argued that one thing that everyone can see here is the 12 years of peace enjoyed under the Sirleaf administration.

Deputy Gender Minister Madam Lydia Mai Sherman praised President Sirleaf for pushing women rights and having a stronger anti-rape lawin place and restoring the image of Liberia since her ascendancy to the presidency. She said President Sirleaf has also restored women’s dignity and ensured justice for all.

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

Out of schools kids here to benefit from USAID 33.9m program

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announces the award of a $33.9M contract to Education for Development Center for the implementation of USAID’s new Accelerated Quality Education for Liberia (AQE) activity, which focuses on over-age and out-of-school learners whose education was disrupted by the prolonged civil crisis.

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In particular, AQE will use various interventions through an Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) to increase access to education for approximately 48,000 out-of-school children ages 8 to 15 in six targeted countries. ALP condenses six years of the primary education cycle into three years. It is based on the national curriculum and covers four core subjects: Math, Science, English and Social Studies. The ALP curriculum is delivered in three levels, each equivalent to two years of primary schooling. Courses are delivered on an alternative afternoon schedule.
The AQE activity will provide technical assistance and build partnerships with key Ministry of Education (MoE) counterparts and host country systems, particularly to institutionalize a nation-wide legitimate and credible accelerated education program, strengthen the policies, systems, and resources that are available to the MoE, especially in the area of accelerated education, and foster positive gender norms, including a heightened attention on women and girls, who are the least likely to have access to education in Liberia. It is expected that the implementation of the AQE activity will lead to the development of an ALP regulatory framework and increased eligibility of learners to transition to formal education.

Gibi District endorses Nuquay

After two successful terms as lawmaker for Margibi County electoral district#5, citizens of Gibi, have for the first time pledged their support for the reelection of Representative J. Emmanuel Nuquay, who is also Speaker of the House of Representatives.

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Nuquay has served Margibi District #5 from 2006 to 2017, but has not been getting the support of the district for the past two terms. The people of Gibi district have always told Representative Nuquay that they could not support him because one of their kinsmen was in the race against him, which has been demonstrated by less votes obtained over the years from the district.

Recently (March 3, 2017) in Worhn Town, which is the headquarters of Gibi, thousands of citizens turned up to honor Nuquay for his numerous contributions in the district and then petitioned him to seek a third term.

Town chief, general town chiefs, clan chiefs, paramount chief and commissioner of Gibi, including ex-senator Mr. David S. Menyongar, graced the ceremony. Other local authorities from the county were also present along with the Margibi Legislative Caucus and the administrative leadership.

During the program, the citizens indicated that Speaker Nuquay has immensely contributed to the development of district #5 and Gibi is a beneficiary of the development.
According to them, the lawmaker has the leadership ability to transform the district and no other aspirant should expect their support in the pending elections.
Former senator Menyongar, said to be the brain behind galvanizing the support of Gibians, sounded a political warning to other aspirants to stay away from the district.

Menyongar, who served in the 80s, maintained that any other politician going to get their support will be fooling him or herself, adding they should rather use their little money to send their children to school and take good care of their families.

Responding to the petition, Representative Nuquay promised to stand by the people of Gibi in the upcoming elections.  He promised to construct a radio station, health center and school in the district after the polls. He had built a modern palaver hut with a DStv set in Worhn Town, Gibi District which was officially dedicated during the petition program.

Margibi County District #2 Lawmaker Ballah G. Zayzay cautioned the people of Gibi to stand by their word by overwhelmingly electing Nuquay for a third term, adding that to pledge support is one thing, but voting the individual immensely is another thing. By Ramsey N. Singbeh, Jr. in Margibi

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