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How lawmakers shared Ebola money

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Ebola money NDMembers of the Montserrado County Legislative Caucus have since denied having any participation in the distribution of funds that were allotted to the county’s 17 electoral districts and offices of two Montserrado senators, but documents obtained by this paper detailed how they signed for their respective electoral districts individually despite lying to the public.

A three-page document dated August 20, 2014, under the topic ‘Special Resolution for the combating of Ebola in Montserrado County, bearing the official letter head of the House of Representatives  shows that of the 19 lawmakers representing Montserrado,  only three did not affix their signatures to the distribution of the funds.

They are Representatives Acarous Moses Gray, District #8; Bill Twehway, District #5; and Munah Pelham Youngblood, District #9.  It is not clear why these lawmakers did not affix their signatures, and whether in fact, they did not receive shares for their respective districts.

However, some time ago, the people of District #8 had threatened to protest and demand account from Representative Gray for funds mobilized in the name of the district to fight Ebola, which the lawmaker is yet to provide to his people.

The document furthered that the legislative caucus realized that the Ebola scourge which started in Liberia in March 2014 hit Montserrado severely and took into account the county being densely populated with remote villages and urban slump communities.

The lawmakers indicated through a resolution that one approaches deemed effective in fighting the virus at the time was public education and community outreach, explaining that in a caucus meeting, it was agreed that the county engages in massive public sensitization campaign through community outreach.  

The resolution reads: “It is resolved that the Ministry of Internal Affairs, through the Ministry of Finance make available the amount of US$276, 500, 00 (Two hundred and seventy six thousand five hundred United States Dollars) from the County Development Funds and Special Development Funds account for the purpose of undertaking massive community outreach for the purpose of breaking the chain of transmission in Montserrado County.”

It said the objective and activities of the funds included preventing further infection, stopping the spread, community awareness outreach, contact tracing using community people, psychosocial counseling and livelihood sustenance.

Following the adoption of the resolution and with the agreement of relevance government’s institutions responsible for releasing funds from the state’s coffers, the monies was provided with space provided each of the 19 lawmakers to sign.

Those that affixed their signatures include former Senator Joyce Musu Freeman Sumo and current Senator Geraldine Doe Sherif, Representatives Josephine George Francis, SekouKannah, Henry B. Fahnbulleh, Thomas Fallah, Edwin Melvin Snowe, and Solomon George.

Other are: Representatives Julius Berrien, J. Gabriel Nyenkan, Richmond Anderson, Saah Joseph, Abraham V. Corneh, Adolph Lawrence, Dr. Edward Forh and William Dakel. It may be recalled, several citizens of Montserrado County have alarmed over “discrepancy” in the disbursement of funds intended to fight the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in the county.  More than 1, 900 Montserrado residents died of the deadly virus since the outbreak began in Liberia in March, 2014, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Sometimes ago, US$270,000 was taken from the County Development Fund (CDF) of Montserrado County to help combat the deadly virus, but the money was distributed “unevenly” by the county authorities. Montserrado County comprises of seventeen (17) electoral districts. Some districts received L$800,000, 500.000 and 300,000 respectively from the county’s authorities.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor – Edited by Jonathan Browne

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