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Crime & PunishmentGeneralLiberia news

Sen. Sogbie, others in hot water

-Over RiverGee County Meet money

The 2024 County Meet victory celebration in Rivergee County appears to have exposed a deepening rift among politicians, causing the celebration to lose steam.

Monrovia, May 28, 2024-It appears RiverGee County Senators Jonathan Boye Charles Sogbie, Francis Dopoh, and Superintendent Mike Swengbe have found themselves in hot water weeks after the 2024 County Meets.

County citizens have accused both men of siphoning funds entrusted to their care during the competition and now want them to account for funds received from citizens and supporters.

They claimed that Supt. Swengbe, who served as chairman of the Rivergee County Steering Committee, allegedly received several funding requests from citizens in the diaspora. Citizens view his alleged action as a conflict of interest.

Sen. Sogbie was said to have received US10K from President Boakai on behalf of the team and gave US5 K to the team, indicating that the remaining 5 K would have been spent on future expectations.

Sources told this paper that the Senator and Superintendent collected thousands of United States Dollars from citizens of the county both home and abroad and sympathizers, including House Speaker Cllr. Fonati Koffa gave the team US12000, while former Executive Mansion Chief of Protocol Nora Finda Bondoo and Cllr. Kukuyon Wleh was tagged as a top supporter.

But that Sen. Sogbie, Sen. Dopoh and Supt. Swengbe, who is handling the finances, has since refused to account for their stewardship.

The men have also been accused of politicizing the victory celebration, which was planned to be held in the county last week. This forced some players and citizens from other districts in the county to boycott the program and insist that they account for the entrusted funds.

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This paper has tried contacting both Sen. Sogbie and Supt. Swengbe to comment, but to no avail. On Sunday, May 26, the New Dawn sent messages to their respective WhatsApp numbers after several failed calls and followed up with calls on Monday.

However, Supt. Swengbe answered his phone on Monday but got disconnected due to a bad connection. He later called just before press time, denying the allegation and stating that the team is still being paraded and that after that, they will provide all financial reports. He also denied a split within the county as a result of their handling of the victory celebration.

He opined that Rep. Williams misrepresented the facts about the happenings within the county as it relates to the celebration.

Pushed for the county leaders to be held accountable came after RiverGee won the 2024 County Meet against Lofa County on penalty kickouts. This is RiverGee’s second time competing in the finals.

The first time RiverGee went to the final was in 2009, but it lost to Bomi, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s county of origin.

Split in the celebration as political intent looms.

It has been widely observed that the team’s lead supporters, Finda Bondoo and Cllr. Kukuyon Wleh, whom they named “Talk and Do,” were allegedly sidelined by Sen. Sogbie and others during the victory celebration planning process.

Both Cllr. Wleh and Ms. Bondoo have been popular with the teams. With Sen. Sogbie’s seat up for grabs in 2029, he fears that with such soaring popularity, one of those two individuals could unseat him.

However, Cllr. Wleh and Ms. Bondoo were not the only two to be sidelined by Sen. Sogbie and Supt. Swengbe. RiverGee County District #3 Representative Johnson Williams Sr. was also sidelined.

Speaking on a local radio station last week, Rep. Willaims condemned and called out Sen. Sogbie and Sen. Francis Dopoh for stage managing the trophy presentation ceremony in the county.

Rep. Willaims Sr. opined that almost everyone, including national actors, spent money for the county’s victory, but the two acted as if they bankrolled the teams.

Rep.Williams Sr. said the actions of Sen. Sogbie and Sen. Dopoh were undermining the true intent of the National County Sports Meet, which River Gee recently won.

Rep. Willaims, the Secretary of the RiverGee Caucus, believes that decisions on how to present the trophy in Monrovia and back in the county should be unanimously reached by all Members of the Caucus and stakeholders.

Instead, he argued that Sen. Sogbie and Sen.Dopoh were using the victory that every member of the Caucus supported as a pre-campaign program.

He asked members of his district to boycott the victory celebration in Fish Town, RiverGee, because the essence of the trophy presentation had been lost.

Noticeable absentees

Rep. Willaims and the people of his district were not the only citizens absent from the victory celebration. Notable absentees included Ms. Bondoo and Cllr. Wleh, who are regarded as top supporters.

Others who boycotted the program included seven key players and the two captains: Alvaro Anderson, Derrick Weah, Polamo Weah, Jusu Dukuly, the competition’s best defender, and Daniel Toe (MVP).

The alleged exclusion of several personalities by both Sen. Sogbie and Dopoh has left citizens hugely divided.

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