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GeneralLiberia news

CDC rally money lands students in jail

By Patrick N. Mensah, Maryland County

A magisterial court in Harper, Maryland County has ordered two student leaders jailed for misapplying L$250,000 provided by the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) for distribution with multiple student leaders.

Harper Magisterial Court recently found former Tubman University Student leaders Victor Williams and Sawlodi Doe guilty of misappropriation of entrusted property following their trial for the L$250K.

The court sentenced them to six months imprisonment each, but they have appealed against the ruling.

The two students ran into trouble in handling the money after CDC Chairman Mulbah K. Morlu, Jr., donated the cash during his visit to Maryland County.

Morlu visited Maryland at the same time Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor was rallying citizens in Southeast Liberia to take advantage of the Biometric Voters’ Registration (BVR) process which ended in May.

Morlu made several cash donations to citizens including L$3m to both heads of the Pleebo General Market and Pleebo Town Small Market in Maryland County.

He also made donations to marketeers at the Harper General Market and L$1.1m donation for four government high schools in the county for their projects.

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According to a ruling by the Harper Magisterial Court, Williams and Doe are among other young men who are supporting President George Manneh Weah’s re-election bid in Maryland County.

The court said they were given L$250,000 on 11 April by Mr. Morlu for donation to the Cape Palmas High School.

The L$250,000 was part of the L$1m intended to be distributed to the four government high schools in the County for their school projects.

During the trial, Williams and Doe chose to represent themselves instead of hiring the services of a lawyer.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges of misappropriation of entrusted property. 

“The purpose of the funds, according to the CDC chairman, was for the schools to undertake student council projects.”

“And the L$100Kwas for the school to transport the students who had gone to see him back home,” state witness Annie Sleweon said. 

The four government high schools are Cape Palmas and John Hillary High School in Harper district, and Pleebo High and Pleebo Sodoken Central High Schools in Pleebo district. Each of the schools should have received L$250,000 for their projects.

But Williams, in his testimony, told the Court that while Morlu promised L$1 million for school projects and an additional L$100,000 for transportation, there was a change of instructions later from Morlu and CDC’s Maryland Chapter Chairman, Scearis Doe.

Our correspondent tried to contact Chairman Morlu and Doe but did not get a response. Chairman Doe said he was in a meeting. 

“Doe and Morlu demanded some part of the L$1 million for some guys at the city hall who were dissatisfied,” Williams alleged.

For his part, defendant Doe told the court that he was not around when the instruction was changed.

But he remembered that L$155,000 was distributed among the other schools.

According to Doe, Cape Palmas High School refused its portion of the money, expressing dissatisfaction over how the money was distributed.

The Court, after hearing the case, determined that the two accused were guilty of the crime and ordered them to restore the money and present it to the school.

“Because of the defendant’s inability to produce Chairmen Doe and Morlu to validate their claims, the court thereby convicts and sentences them to six months imprisonment at the Harper Central Prison. They are to also restore the L$250K to Cape Palmas High School,” the ruling said.

Williams and Doe took exception to the Harper Magistrate Court’s ruling and filed an appeal before a Circuit Court in Maryland.

They have been given 15 working days to perfect their appeals before a determination is made. Failure to do so, the magistrate court’s judgment stands.

The two accused spent days at the Harper Prison before they were let out to pursue their case in circuit court.

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