Friday, August 26, 2011

In the fight against Corruption

Audit Reports are Not Taboos for the Public
-AG Morlu tells African Auditors General

AG Morlu makes presentation during the AFROSAI-E Board Meeting

The Auditor General (AG) of Liberia, Mr. John S.Morlu II has expressed regret that most of the audit reports conducted by some African auditors general are merely shelved and labeled as taboos to the media, civil society organizations and the public at large.

Speaking Tuesday, 21 April 2009 at the Sixth AFROSAI- E Governing Board Meeting held in Lusaka, Zambia, AG Morlu emphasized that if African auditors general must succeed, the public must be active participants in terms of dissemination of audit information to the public once they are sent to the legislature, president and the auditees.

Auditor General further stressed that the public must know how, where, what and when public monies are spent by those entrusted with public monies. The resources of a country, he said, do not belong to government officials. Government officials are just custodians in ensuring appropriate utilization of public funds, but it is the general public that own the monies and resources.

“The fight for transparency and accountability”, AG Morlu averred, “is not a one or two man show and so audit reports must not be seen like a big secret or sacred document only meant to be kept with the auditors, auditees and the government.”

Morlu then expressed concern that up till now the secretariat of AFROSAI-E are yet to specifically carve strategic plans and policies on the need and importance of communication in the auditing processes. He has the Secretariat has not recruited Communication Manager since a year ago that will plan, organize, carve and structure a general communication plan for AFROSAI-E members.

AG Morlu told his fellow auditors that unlike most auditing commissions; the General Auditing Commission (GAC) is far ahead in recruiting professional journalists for the Department of Communications as well as legal analysts for the Legal Department. Most of the auditing institutions in AFROSAI-E do not have communication and legal departments and he urged them to do so. GAC department of communications has a standard communication policy.

The Auditor General of Liberia, Mr.Morlu was among 22 auditors general from the English and Portuguese speaking countries who attended the Meeting.

Zambian President Rapheal Binda who spoke at the opening program highlighted the challenges and importance of auditing in the transformation of Africa from the shackles of graft, abuse of resources, corruption and fiscal improprieties.

If Africa must develop, President Binda indicated, the age old corruption virus must be fearlessly fought by African Governments. He then lauded the steady strive that some auditors general in Africa are making in protecting public monies.

For her part, the Auditor General of Zambia, Ms.Anna Chifungula expressed compliments to the auditors general for their participation. She said she was pleased that auditors are united in single front to ensure fiscal discipline in their various countries.

Meanwhile, the Chief Communication Officer of the GAC, Ernest S.Maximore cataloguing his experience during the trip to Lusaka, explained that he was surprised that the real and personal properties of public officials who were proved to have stolen government monies were confiscated and auctioned by anti-corruption commission or tribunal .

This he noted, is a worth noted move to deter would-be-corrupt officials from using public monies to own estates and other properties while majority of the people wallow in abject poverty.

He said he anxiously opts for the day and dispensation in Liberia’s history where the fight against corruption will truly match with empirical deeds and where people will not only be suspended or dismissed but made to restitute what they stole from the public treasury.

The Meeting zero-on revamping, restructuring and reinforcing AFROSAI-E six strategies imperatives; namely human resource management, quality assurance, performance auditing, the independence of the Supreme Auditing Institution(SAI),the optimal utilization of information technology in the auditing process and communication and the media.

AG Morlu’s delegation comprises five senior staff: Ron Mwambwa,Head of European Union(EU) Long Term Technical Team assigned at GAC, George Nubo, Director of Operations, Gloria Valhum, Chief of Office Staff, Office of the Auditor General ,Loraine Clarke,Executive Secretary, Office of the Auditor General, Ernest S.Maximore,Chief Communication Officer,Cornelius F.Wennah,Director of Legal Services and Lawrence W. Jackson Manager, Legal Services Manager.

The Delegation is expected home, today Monday,April 27,2009.The Sixth Board Meeting of AFROSAI- was held from 20th April to the 24th .

AFROSAI –E is an organization that succeeds the Southern African Development Community Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (SADCOSAI) which was established as an independent organization in 1991.

The objectives of AFROSAI-E, among other things include, enhancing the audit performance of Supreme Audit Institutions in the AFROSAI-E region; developing and share resources on local and regional levels; promoting and maintaining relations with national, regional and international institutions specializing in issues affecting the audit of public resources and to support regional institutions in promoting good governance.

UN Envoy Extols Nigerians’ peacekeeping Role in Liberia

Says they are ‘ Face of UNMIL’

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Ms. Ellen Margrethe Løj has extolled Nigerian military personnel serving with the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for their valuable role in maintaining peace and stability in the country
Ms. Løj made this statement recently in Monrovia when she awarded 1,648 UNMIL Nigerian military officers, seventy-two of whom are women, received UN peacekeeping medals for their contribution.

“You have indeed performed your duties honorably; and I know that it has not been easy”, she told the Nigerian peacekeepers. Reminding them of the formidable role they continue to play in maintaining peace and stability, the UN Envoy spoke of the protection of lives and properties, including assistance given to almost one half of Liberia’s population. “You are, more than anybody in the Mission - the Face of UNMIL”, the SRSG pointed out.

Ms. Løj expressed optimism that the goal of consolidating peace in Liberia will be accomplished as a result of collaboration between the UN, Liberians and other partners. This collaboration, she noted, will help in tackling security and rule of law challenges - the prevalence of armed robbery, rape and drug trafficking. “However, in doing so, we must never forget that ultimately, Liberia’s future rests firmly on Liberians’ shoulders”, the UN Envoy reminded, adding that, “Liberians have the opportunity to build a new country today”.

Paying tribute to former Nigerian Contingent Commander, Brig.-Gen. Ezekiel Olu Olofin, Ms. Løj described how he brought to the Mission qualities and values based on hard work, respect for diversity, generosity and compassion for humanity. “We in UNMIL benefited immensely from his leadership”, she emphasized. The UN Envoy expressed confidence that his successor, Brig.-Gen. Ebiobowei Bonna Awala will contribute equally well.

Reflecting on Nigeria’s contribution to peacekeeping, the SRSG said Nigeria has exemplified the leadership and generous disposition through its unmatched record in peacekeeping and conflict resolution in Africa and globally. She extended thanks and appreciation to the Government and people of Nigeria, for their unflinching commitment and support to peace, especially in Liberia. Nigeria is one of the largest troop contributors to the United Nations and has been for most of the past four decades.

Attending the medal ceremony was the representative of the Chief of Defence Staff of the Nigerian Military, Chief of Research and Development, Defence Headquarters, Maj.-Gen. FNN Osokogu. Others attending were the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Rule of Law, Ms. Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu; Acting Force Commander, Maj.-Gen. Carl Modey; Director of Mission Support, Mr. Stephen Lieberman; Command Officer-in-Charge, Armed Forces of Liberia, Maj.-Gen. Suraj Abdurrahman; Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Liberia, Mr. Essien Ntekim, other members of the Diplomatic Corps, and senior UNMIL Military officers.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Motor Accident at Bomi Highway

At about 6:30 A.M. yesterday, a heartbreaking motor accident occurred at Monrovia-Bomi Highway, leaving at least eight passengers dead.
Three passengers including two women and a man died instantly at the accident scene and five others at the John F. Kennedy Hospital in Sinkor, Monrovia.
Eyewitnesses said a commercial bus, heading towards Sass Town market on the Bomi highway was smashed and dragged by a ten-tire MACK truck, with license plate marked BT 1324.
The bus driver died instantly while several others sustained serious injuries and were subsequently rushed to Island Clinic at Tweh Farm on Bushrod Island and John F. Kennedy Hospital in Sinkor.
The bus, which contained mostly market women caught fire after it collided with the truck and burned for over 20 minutes, making it impossible for the other two bodies to be physically identified.

Eyewitnesses said the 18- seater mini-bus was carrying about 20 passengers. The bloody incident attracted hundreds of grieved stricken onlookers.
Although JFK officials could not be reached for formal comment on the conditions of the injured victims, credible sources at the hospital said eight of the seriously injured motor accident victims died by 2:30 p.m. some upon their arrival.
This information could not be officially corroborated by authorized medical personnel at the state-owned hospital.
Eyewitness said the bus was heading for Sass Town where several market women were going to purchase goods for their various businesses.

According to Abraham Gurmo, husband of one of the victims identified as Saybah Morris, he had earlier cautioned his wife not to go out because it was too early for her to the house but she insisted.

Other eyewitnesses said that the accident was the fault of the truck as it was driving with a single light.

Drugs On Monrovia’s Streets

Monrovia- It can be recorded that in the early months of 2009, the P.H.P community on Lynch Street was raided of ghettos. Thugs that were residing in the area have been reduced to a great extent that people can now feel free to visit the area at night. Having been dislodged from their P.H.P base, many thugs have migrated into communities where drug houses already exist. The fact is known the world over that drug is one of the factors that threaten security in any country, as it give rise to armed robbery among other art of violence in order to keep its market running. Several areas in Monrovia, including Vlagba, West Point and Trench Town among others, have been earmarked as areas where drugs are visibly being sold and little is being done by law enforcement agency to put stop to the act. According to residents of a community in Central Monrovia, Vlagba, there are many drugs houses that are being run despite the existence of the Liberian National Police (LNP) depot in the area which make them feel insecure. A dweller of the community, who prefer anonymity for fear of retribution, in a chat with the Newsline expressed graved concern over the sale of illicit drugs in the area, which he said ‘have effected some youth and my young children are exposed to the abuse of narcotics.’ He narrated how drugs moved into the area and that it has grown into companies which are gradually developing into a clan that could become strong enough to resist the law. It has been proven that these criminals and some national security officers are in the dealing of drugs. Despite the danger it poses on the health and thoughts of many youngsters, narcotics are flowing on the Liberian street especially in Central Monrovia where a higher level of national security offices is concentrated. The problem of drug abuse in Liberia goes beyond just the users. Farmers are tempted to grow cannabis rather than other crops because its profits are higher and the drug can be trafficked relatively easily throughout the region, 100km and 150km from Monrovia. The Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) in June of last year simultaneously disposed of a huge consignment of narcotic drugs valued over L$24million in the 15 political sub-division of the country. In April of this year, DEA agents in Greenville, Sinoe County accused some law enforcement officers in the county of aiding drug traffickers. Apart from the cannabis grown in rural Liberia other synthetic drugs such as cocaine, Italian White, Dugee, morphine among others are found on the streets of Monrovia. Information gathered in the area indicated that some national security officers and the drugs dealers in central Monrovia are in a very close tie and the ghettos hardly get raid. According to an informant, who preferred anonymity, the only time ghettos get raided is when an order is issued from headquarters for a general raid which last took place in January of this year. Besides the general raid, the police often visit some of the ghettos on Self Interest Operations SIOs at which time the narcotics dealers organized some funds for them. For the ghetto at center street there is more than one dealer. Each of these dealers operates on certain day of the week in other to get their product going. According to a resident of Center Street, recently, one of the many ghettos has been attended to by the LNP in the area which they termed as a flow-show because other drug house is still functioning on Center Street. One of the areas noted for trade in drugs is the Casablanca “video center” on Center Street. Visiting the Casablanca “video center” (drugs center) for the first time you may mistake it as a mare video center or a place where “direct” (Marijuana Tea), is been sold, but rather this place is a hide out of many street thugs who rage terror in the Liberian society at night. Many of the thugs hidden in the area often venture the night streets ravaging the security of citizens by raiding valuables and also dealing injuries or possible death to some who hesitate in giving up their belongings. Apart from the Casablanca “gap” (drugs house), there are other gaps in the same area. An unfinished house opposite the drainage beside the previous LNP Metro station on Center Street. Speaking to some street thugs, identified as Abu and Joe, who have been dealing drugs and raided, they said that the master minds of the many armed robberies that happen at night are the drugs dealers. According to Joe, many other thugs often take “dangerous risk” (go armed robbing) at night and take their loots to the drugs dealers in exchange for drugs. This indicates that the strong urge to have narcotics in their thuggish body has giving the dealers the influence of a ruler, who could at any time instruct these thugs and they will obey no matter the risk. Joe ,said he was once raid on center by some member of the Police Support Unit (PSU), in the early part of July but got free based on the bagging between the police and the dealer. “In Vlagba, I was there the PSU came and raid us. After they raided us, they when strict to the dealer and the dealer ‘advised’ (pay ransom to) them and they let all of us that was raided to go,” he said. According to one ex-police officer, such influence becomes even more dangerous when the dealers also have influences on some national security by placing them on payroll. According to informant, every Sunday many thugs assemble in an area located in the Center-Lynch Street block where dealers issue “market” (Drugs) to some addicts, in other to keep their customer ship running. Verifications have been made that the exact location is behind the tailor shop opposite the Fofana store on Benson Street, approximatly 100 meters away from the LNP Depot.