Agriculture Minister Jennie Cooper has expressed total sadness in the administration at the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) headed by its Officer in Charge, Paulette Findlay. Following a day-long meeting Wednesday, 29 July in Suakoko, Madam Cooper said CARI under the regime of OIC Findley has lost its integrity amidst a series of media reports branding CARI as a corruption center.
The meeting was convened by the Chairman of the Committee of Agriculture at the House of Representatives Prince O. K. Tokpah and the Agriculture Minister Madam Jennie Cooper. The duo then reaffirmed the commitment of President George MannehWeah’s government in restoring the integrity of the only research institute in the central region.
Furthermore, the Liberian Agriculture Minister appeals to residents of Bong County including employees of CARI to remain calm as the committee headed by Nimba County Rep. Prince O. K. Tokpah applies every effort to address their plight.
Meanwhile, a group under the banner ‘Concerned Youths of Suakoko District’ have petitioned the committee on Agriculture at the House of Representatives to investigate Madam Findley amidst the alleged media reports on the looting of the entity’s properties.
The aggrieved youth in their letter dated July 29, 2020 brought to the attention of the committee chair Rep. Tokpah, the alleged looting of the institution’s assets which allegedly occurred last November.
According to the youth, this was flagged out by one of the employees, Arthur Wenneh whose salaries have been seized and has been illegally driven out of CARI by the current management.
They also named the disappearance of the USAID project fund in March of this year which led to the redundancy of staff from those projects, the recent leaked audio which unearthed massive looting of the entity’s assets and the unlawful dismissal of employees.
Additionally, the youth alleged huge salary cuts from employees without clarity on the percentage of how much the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning imposed.
“We all know that CARI was established for the sole purpose of contributing to productivity through adaptive research and promotion of knowledge and the attainment of food security, job creation and poverty alleviation,” the group says.
The group notes that it believes that the essence of the establishment of CARI has not been upheld by the Officer in Charge Madam Paulette Findley and her cohorts, evidenced by the leaked audio.
In the audio believed to contain voices of Madam Findley and David Tokpa who headed the Natural Resource Department at CARI, discussion is heard surrounding the alleged selling of a 50KVA generator and other valuable items donated by the United Nations Mission in Liberia to be used by Bong County through CARI.
The young people argue that this act is not only to scare away international partners from CARI and is detrimental to the agriculture sector, but also undermines the agriculture component of President Weah’s agenda.
They therefore recommended speedy investigation preferably to be conducted by the General Auditing Commission or the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission into this matter and those found responsible be brought to justice and CARI’s assets retrieved.
The youths want Madam Findley to be withdrawn from her assignment pending the outcome of the investigation and subsequent report.
Moreover, the aggrieved Suakoko youths want Arthur Wenneh and all those illegally driven out of CARI to be unconditionally given access to the promises of the entity with all emoluments deprived thereof.
By Joseph Titus Yekeryan in Bong–Edited by Winston W. Parley