Several local officials being investigated in a US$9,000 saga in Bong County have been placed under siege by angry citizens with Salala District Commissioner Karmoh Kanneh, narrowly escaping death.
The officials involved include Bong County Superintendent, Selena Polson Mappy, County Inspector William Kollie, District Commissioner Karmoh Kanneh, and Assistant Internal Affairs Minister for Legal Affairs, Lusene Bility, who headed the probe.
The probe followed a vote of no confidence forwarded to the Ministry of Internal Affairs by citizens of Salala District against Commissioner Kanneh for allegedly misapplication of funds and disrespect. Angry crowd erected barricade, preventing the local officials from entering the grounds of the investigation last weekend.
Assistant Minister Bility, who headed the probe, was blocked at the entry on his way out by hundreds of protesting youths, chanting: “No Road; We want justice.” Bong County Superintendent Mappy, in another scenario, was also blocked from entering the building, while the door was slammed in her face, but she was hurriedly taken away by an office staff.
For nearly 30 minutes the disenchanted group could hardly allow Minister Bility to speak as it held him at the door. For his part, Commissioner Kanneh, said to be the prime suspect, was nearly killed by the angry crowd, who sieged his car and prevented him from boarding the vehicle.
The crowd shouted, “Rouge! Rouge! at the commissioner, while others attempted to strike him, but officers of the Liberia National Police rescued Kanneh and quickly threw him into a building where he spent a very long time before taken away subsequently by the police.
The undeterred crowd demanded the police to release Kanneh, calling him name such as “Karmoh Corrupt Kanneh.” Eventually the protestors, predominantly youths, calmed down and decided to listen to both Assistant Minister Bility and Superintendent Mappy.
The officials said that the matter was still being probed and assured that justice would prevail, but many of the protestors called for the dismissal of Commissioner Kanneh, if peace should be restored to the district.
However, Minister Bility reminded the citizens that appointment and dismissal powers rest with President Sirleaf, adding that he does not have authority to dismiss or appoint a new commissioner for Salala.
Commissioner Kanneh allegedly expended portion of a US$9,000 entrusted in his care to purchase some items on behalf of the district and misapplied portion of the money. The aggrieved citizens said the commissioner failed to consult them on the usage of the money, and single-handedly decided what to do on behalf of the district. They also accused him of disrespecting them.
During the probe, it was further revealed that Commissioner Kanneh, besides allegedly giving US$1,200 to Bong County Inspector William Kollie, both officials did not hold any consultation on what to do with the money.
When Assistant Minister Lusene Bility inquired from Kollie what he did with the amount (US$1,200) in question, he boastfully replied: “The money was used for administrative cost.” According to him, Superintendent Selena Mappy knows nothing about the money because she was never consulted.
Meanwhile, the two officials, including County Inspector William Kollie, who allegedly misapplied US$1,200 on administrative cost and Salala District Commissioner Karmoh Kanneh, who unjustifiably expended US$335 of the US$9,000 placed in his care have been told to restitute the amounts within 15 days, beginning August 21, 2015.
Speaking to reporters following the investigation, Assistant Minister Bility said, even if the two officials repaid the money, the law will take its course. Salala District Coordinator Daniel Tubman, was also told to restitute US$30 within the same period, which he admitted crediting from the amount in question. By Ramsey N. Singbeh, Jr. in Margibi – Editing by Jonathan Browne