Was VP Taylor denied U.S. Visa?

As calls for the setting up of a war crimes court here intensify, speculation abounds as to which former or present government officials would join ex-president Charles Taylor in prison.

On Thursday, a local daily reported that Vice President Jewel H. Taylor, estranged wife of ex-president Taylor was initially denied visa to enter the United States, but an appeal was made on her behalf by some influential persons for a reversal of the decision.

The U.S. does not issue visas to individuals who may have participated or indirectly participated in aiding or abetting war crimes.

This paper could neither confirm nor deny the report with the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia. However, Vice President Taylor’s office says her visa was still in process, and that she had neither been issued nor denied visa.

“The Vice President has not been denied US visa, but is rather undergoing the normal Administrative process by the US Embassy near Monrovia,” a statement from the Vice President’s office Thursday reads.

The office further denies that she pleaded with the US States Department to reconsider the reported decision not to issue the visa, saying “…at no time did Hon. Jewel Howard-Taylor issue any communication pleading with the US Embassy to grant her visa after being denied”.

However, it confirms excerpts of the local daily’s report that the Vice President is currently in Ghana, awaiting formal response from the embassy on her request to travel to the USA to attend the sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

The release notes that the event is expected to take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 12 to 23 March 2018.

Liberians both at home and abroad are requesting for the establishment of war crimes court in the country to prosecute people who committed heinous crimes during the 14-year civil war as recommended by the former TRC.

Police boss apologizes

Liberia’s Police Inspector General Col. Patrick Sudue has made public apology to members of the Liberian Senate, after being summoned for adjusting restrictions on commercial motorcyclists’ movement and allowing them to drive through certain routes considered “no - go zones.”

His appearance Thursday before the Senate was marred by apologies and appeals to Senators for taking hasty decision to return commercial motorcyclists in the main streets of Paynesville affecting routes from Redlight to ELWA Junction and from Redlight to Freeport on the Somalia Drive.

Young men believed to be commercial motorcyclists barricaded surroundings of the Capitol Building on Thursday, 8 March to show support for the police chief while he faced the Senate’s full plenary.

He was invited before the Senate to answer to how the commercial motorcyclists were reappearing in the streets that were earlier considered by his predecessors as “no - go zones” in Monrovia and other parts of Montserrado County.

The Senators’ decision to invite Mr. Sudue followed a lengthy debate over two separate communications from Senators Geraldine Doe-Sherif of Montserrado County and Stephen Zargo of Lofa County.

The two Senators had called their colleagues’ attention to the resurfacing of commercial motorcycles in the principal streets of Monrovia.Following Senators’ disagreement on the decision, Mr. Sudue, without delay, said the decision he took to bring back motorcyclists was his decision.

Inspector General Sudue says he’s new in the position as head of the Liberia National Police and everyone has a period of learning curve. But he promises to build further consultations with all stakeholders in the future.

Police annual statistics reveal that deaths in road accidents last year were 175 while in 2015 a total of 215 people died in such mishaps. In 2016, road accident injuries were 1,539, compared to 1,118 in 2015.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Farmington Hotel in contempt charge

The House of Representatives has held privately - run Farmington Hotel in contempt, after being provoked by a communication purporting to come from the hotel in response to lawmakers’ order for the hotel’s appearance.

The House this week summoned the hotel to address concerns of alleged bad labor practices complained by local workers and an alleged incident in which a security at the hotel ordered a lawmaker out of the hotel.

By the House’s directive, the management of the Farmington Hotel was due to appear on Thursday, but a communication without a signatory’s name or any contact surfaced at the House instead on Wednesday, 7 March, purporting to come from the hotel with an excuse.

The communication claims that Farmington Hotel’s General Manager left the country on 7 March due to some alleged family problems “and should be back on April 2, 2018.”

As such, the communication requests the House to consider Farmington Hotel to appear before the Plenary in the first week in April at lawmakers’ convenient time.

But after the reading of the communication, lawmakers at the House of Representatives got angry and requested the Chief Clerk to write Farmington Hotel again to appear and give reason why it should not be held in contempt for writing a letter that contains no contact or name for the signatory.

By Bridgett Milton--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Sinoe lawmakers’ expulsion tabled

A plan by Sinoe County Legislative Caucus to expel two of its members has been suspended by the leadership of the caucus, after accepting an appeal from elders, women and youth of Sinoe County.

Elders, women, and youth in Monrovia from Sinoe County pleaded with the Caucus to suspend the expulsion of Rep. Matthew Zarzar and Sen. Joseph Nagbe, pending the outcome of a peace meeting due in Greenville, Sinoe County later this month.

According to a release issued in Monrovia Thursday, 8 March, the caucus reached the decision at its third meeting held in the office of Representative Jay Nagbe Sloh at the Capitol Building.

The release issued under the signature of the Secretary General of the Caucus Rep. Sloh says the expulsion action and other key issues concerning peace and development in Sinoe will be dealt with at the Greenville assembly.

Sen. Joseph Nagbe and Sinoe County District #3 Rep. Matthew Zarzar were removed from the Caucus due to disagreement within the Caucus. Amidst intense backbiting among members of the Sinoe County Legislative Caucus, three out of the five-member Caucus elected Senator J. Milton Teahjay as their chairman.

Sen. Teahjay on Thursday, 13 February, replaced Sen. Nagbe at the Caucus’ second meeting since it resumed session at the 54th Legislature. Teahjay served as co-chair of the Caucus since 2016. Also elected as co-chair was the county’s District #1 Rep. Crayton Oldpa Duncan, while District #2 Rep. Jay Nagbe Sloh, becomes the Secretary General.

Sen. Nagbe and Rep. Zarzar did not participate in the election because the two Legislators and their elected colleagues are in disagreement with the ruling by the 14th Judicial Circuit Court of River Cess County that imposes a fine against Sen. Teahjay after finding him guilty of violating the procedures and processes of the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC) in the awarding of contracts for the implementation of county development projects.

By Bridgett Milton--Edited by Winston W. Parley

LWSC Deputy MD denies corruption claims

Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) Deputy Managing Director Moseray Momoh is denying media report that he was dismissed from the corporation due to alleged corruption while working at LWSC.

He told a press conference on Thursday that a local daily here is alleging that he was dismissed in 2015 from the corporation due to allegation of corruption. According to Mr. Momoh, he served as procurement expert/ Urban Water Supply and Sanitation, but he allegedly resigned from the LWSC as procurement and contract management expert in July 2015 for the African Development Bank project under title ‘Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Project (UWSP).

He claims that his resignation was due to his new job at the United Development Program (UNDP) which he said was unarguably higher than his previous job at LWSC.

The Deputy MD argues that he was neither a party nor an owner of any company that participated in any bidding process as insinuated by the local daily.

He says in accordance with the rule and guideline of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and in line with Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC), he provided an expert advice to the technical team but the technical team didn’t following both AfDB guideline and the PPCC Act.

Mr. Momoh concludes that as a result of the technical team’s alleged failure to heed to his advice, the contract was reportedly awarded to an unqualified contractor which was later terminated.

By Ben P. Wesee--Edited by Winston W. Parley

U.S.-based Liberian wants Pres. Weah

A Liberian based in the United States has written President George Manneh Weah, urging him to keep focus on the country’s problems, with emphasis on improving the living condition of ordinary Liberians.

The Executive Director of Democracy Frontline International (DFI) Amish Amara, based in Fargo, North Dakota, outlines some of the problems as abject poverty, high cost of living, high unemployment and deplorable road network. Mr. Amara wants President Weah to initiate programs aimed at addressing the challenges sooner than later.

“Please also be aware that Liberia’s deep seated troubles including high unemployment, did not vanish with the departure of the Unity Party-led government; neither did it spell the end of challenges that previous administrations faced”, he writes.

The DFI director further cautions that the overwhelming mandate given President Weah at the 2017 polls is not the end of the sufferings of the masses, but simply a means to that end.

He notes that failure on the part of the Weah Administration to deliver on grass root expectations, would be a disappointment to the nation, particularly those who believe in his ability to redeem and transform Liberia.

Amara acknowledges that while it is true that the President and his team cannot accomplish the task alone, “nothing is clearer to the common man in the street than the promises made to alleviate, if not end poverty in their midst”.

He says as a nation, this is one of the human sufferings the people have endeavored for generations to solve, but to no avail. “I personally believe that one of the keys to defeating this menace is improving the standard of education and job creation”, Amara suggests.

One of the areas that the social worker wants President Weah to commit his government is road construction and rehabilitation; mainly farm-to-market roads, which he notes would boost agricultural production and by extension, economic growth. He then commends the World Bank and the government and people of France for the financial donation and pledge to Liberia.

-Editing by Jonathan Browne

UN certificates LRA staff

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has awarded a professional certificate to a staff of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Zechariah Geedehgar Munford, as an International Trade Facilitator Trainer.

According to a press release, Mr. Munford, Senior Officer for Valuation in the LRA Customs Department, received the global recognition following completion of a two-year intensive international trade facilitation training program.

Before being certificated, he completed the five modules of the empowerment program and also obtained satisfactory marks during evaluations.

“With the level of training acquired from the [program], I am well placed to make vital contributions to quality trade reform initiatives in Liberia,” Mr. Munford says.

He expresses gratitude to the UNCTAD for the training opportunity and the professional recognition as a certified trainer. This, he said, will enhance his ability to produce quality results in trade facilitation training.

The release says the training initiated by the UNCTAD began in 2016, as a result of Liberia’s membership accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The program was intended to strengthen members of the Liberia National Trade Facilitation Committee (LNTFC) to institute vital trade reforms including provisions of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

LRA Commissioner General Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, congratulates Mr. Munford for the achievement, describing it as a pride for the LRA and Liberia.

Madam Tamba urges Munford to use the skills to positively impact the collection of lawful revenues and meeting the country’s domestic resource mobilization agenda.

At the same time, the LRA says it will determinedly enforce the collection of lawful revenues, while working with all stakeholders, especially the business community, to enhance compliance and boost domestic resource mobilization.
The Authority wants businesses in the country to operate in the confines of the law and pay their taxes in line with the Liberia Revenue Code to foster national development.

The LRA Domestic Tax Department made the commitment during a one-day interactive discussion recently with several business stakeholders at its headquarters in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.

The discussions focused on issues hindering the accurate filling of tax records including timely payment of taxes by taxpayers meanly in the Medium and Large Tax sectors.

Eddie H. Howe, LRA Large Tax Manager for Analysis, Assessment and Accounting says the initiative was further intended to identify issues affecting the taxpayers and the LRA respectively in the payment and collection of lawful revenue.

Light International School holds 8th Annual Science Fair

The Light International School System (LISS) in Monrovia situated celebrates its 8th Annual Science Fair, bringing together over 40 different groupings. LISS Vice Principal for Instructions, Mr. Benedict S. Nagbe, says the objective of the science competition is to build the knowledge of students in various areas of science and technology.

Addressing guests and parents at the festival, he says when students are adequately prepared, they can participate in future competition outside Liberia by demonstrating skills and knowledge that they have acquired.

Mr. Nagbe notes that for the first time since the institution started the science competition, the Catholic Secretariat of Liberia has designated two of its schools, St. Theresa Convent and Don Bosco, respectively to demonstrate the ability of its students in the competition.

Meanwhile, during the competition, various student groups demonstrated to the general public what they have invented and experimented in the areas of producing wet cell battery, solar system, how to make mayonnaise, floating eggs (density), and how to make apple cider vinegar, including its health benefits.

Others demonstrated their talents in the fields of making black soap and its health benefits, sink and float oranges, producing hydrogen gas from aluminum, water and sodium hydroxide, how to make air cool at home, and preparatory reaction between potassium iodide and lead nitrate, among others.

According to Mr. Nagbe, winners of the competition will be announced today, Friday, March 9.

The participants were placed into groupings representing their various projects by explaining how they arrived at making it happened. The LISS has an enrollment of 200 students and has won several trophies and medals from similar competitions.

Liberia’s former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, had graced previous science competition at the LISS.

By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Gov’t gets more lashes