Suspended health officials demand audit
By Emmanuel wise Jipoh
Suspended Health Ministry officials are demanding an immediate audit to clarify an accusation that they allegedly misused US$801,693.00 given to the Margibi County Health Team.
The US$801,693.00 was reportedly given as part of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Health Service Assistance to the Ministry of Health.
It was allegedly given through the Fixed Amount Reimbursement Agreement (FARA) Program, but that Money is said to have been allegedly misused by the Margibi County Health Team administrators.
There have been claims that Margibi County Health Officer (CHO) Dr. Augustine Nyankun Fannieh and other senior staff of the County Health Team allegedly discussed their involvement in the alleged financial scandal.
The scandal allegedly involved fraudulent billings and the collection of kickbacks from vendors.
Other accused of being involved include the County Health Services Administrator, Leroy Darworzia, County Health Services Department Director, James Tamba Varney, Compliance Officer, George Y. Gaykpua, Finance Officer, Roland M. Reeves, Assistant Finance Officer, Kusie E. David, and Procurement Officer, Dornuu Horace.
But Margibi County Health Services Department Director Mr. James Tamba Varney categorically denied the allegations in an interview with journalists Friday, 17 February 2023.
The scandal, reportedly captured in an audio recording from a reported senior staff meeting, allegedly occurred more than five months ago.
There are rumors that a rift grew out of concerns over the alleged unfair distributions of kickbacks from alleged corrupt dealings.
On the contrary, Margibi County Health Services Department Director Mr. James Tamba Varney explained that at no time did the Margibi County Health team ever receive the amount of US$801,693.00 from the Ministry of Health as part of FARA funding to the County Health Team.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Varney denied the fraud allegations brought against officials of the Margibi County Health Team.
Mr. Varney, one of the suspended Health Officials, has challenged the Government of Liberia (GOL) through the Ministry of Health to conduct an immediate audit into the alleged misuse of the US$801,693.00.
“Let me tell this to the journalists, at no time did we receive such money toward that program. The Ministry has [not] given us a dime,” he alleged.
“Since … my life, I have never held such money. [I] will receive it and come tell you that the County Health Team didn’t receive any money?” he asked.
“At no time did we receive such money from the Ministry of Health (MOH), it is a blatant lie, and the Ministry is just trying to hide the huge corruption engulfing that Ministry,” he said angrily.
Mr. Varney confirmed that the Margibi County Health Team is aware of the FARA Program, but at no time, did it receive any money from the Ministry of Health.
He claimed that the Ministry of Health allegedly promised to deliver the funding in four installments, which he claimed was put at US$200,000 per installment.
However, Varney alleged that the County Health Team has not received any money from the Ministry.
“If I am accused, I want the public to demand the Ministry of Health to issue prompt investigation to satisfy the growing concerns,” he challenged the Ministry.
Meanwhile, Mr. Varney has alleged that Deputy Health Minister for Administration Madam Norwu G. Howard has threatened to them over to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) allegedly in the absence of an internal audit.
Deputy Minister Howard could not be reached up to news time as her phone rang tirelessly.