Index

Friday, August 17, 2012

Journalist Pelenah Pre-Trials Protracted

As Magistrate Grants Prosecution’s Motion for Continuance Pre-Trials of Pressman Darlington C. Pelenah, who along with two others was charged with crimes of armed robbery and criminal conspiracy, have been prolonged at the Monrovia City Court (MCC) due to the absence of a critical state witness. According to counsels for the prosecution in their motion for continuance, the absence of Officer John M. Kollie, who investigated the alleged robbery for which Mr. Pelenah, William Randolph and Benjamin Bookie Gbar were charged, was based on an investigation he (Officer Kollie) was undertaking in relation to violence at the Liberian-Ivorian borders. The Counsels for the Prosecution further prayed the court to enter a subpoena ad testificandum to have the officer come in court at a later unspecified date to give testimony that would linked the alleged suspects to the robbery offence that took place in the GSA Road Community in Paynesville against a money exchanger named Thomas Weeks. However, the counsels for the defense prayed the court to deny the motion as it was a calculated attempt by the prosecuting counsels to delay and baffled the case. The defense counsels contended that the government could produce the witness at any time without a notice of subpoena. They (Defense Counsels) further said that the police officer was secondary evidence to the case and the defendants should be admitted on bail since the prosecuting counsels was trying to delay the case. Having heard arguments from both counsels, said that the statutes of the court calls for speedy trial but granted the prosecution motion for continuance and subpoena ad testificandum based on the fact that the investigation that Officer Kollie was involved with is in the interest of national security. The Magistrate at the Monrovia City Court said the court was under obligation to take note of historical fact that it was not a hidden fact that the Ministry of Justice and security apparatus are investigating individuals linked to the crisis along the Ivorian-Liberian borders. Meanwhile, there have been concerns raised by the Pelenah’s Family that the life and career of the pressman could be ruined if his legal rights to the presumption of innocence and a speedy, free and fair trial are not protected in keeping with the due process of law. Mr. Pelenah was quoted by the FrontPage Africa Newspaper as saying: “my detention is based on my critical stance against societal ills but no link to any armed robbery, some big hand behind my prosecution”. Be as it may, the Monrovia City Court will be hearing the case of the embattled Royal Communications, Incorporated News Director who once served as Deputy Director General for Broadcasting at the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) based on a notice of assignment filed with the court.

Journalist Pelenah Pre-Trials Protracted

As Magistrate Grants Prosecution’s Motion for Continuance Pre-Trials of Pressman Darlington C. Pelenah, who along with two others was charged with crimes of armed robbery and criminal conspiracy, have been prolonged at the Monrovia City Court (MCC) due to the absence of a critical state witness. According to counsels for the prosecution in their motion for continuance, the absence of Officer John M. Kollie, who investigated the alleged robbery for which Mr. Pelenah, William Randolph and Benjamin Bookie Gbar were charged, was based on an investigation he (Officer Kollie) was undertaking in relation to violence at the Liberian-Ivorian borders. The Counsels for the Prosecution further prayed the court to enter a subpoena ad testificandum to have the officer come in court at a later unspecified date to give testimony that would linked the alleged suspects to the robbery offence that took place in the GSA Road Community in Paynesville against a money exchanger named Thomas Weeks. However, the counsels for the defense prayed the court to deny the motion as it was a calculated attempt by the prosecuting counsels to delay and baffled the case. The defense counsels contended that the government could produce the witness at any time without a notice of subpoena. They (Defense Counsels) further said that the police officer was secondary evidence to the case and the defendants should be admitted on bail since the prosecuting counsels was trying to delay the case. Having heard arguments from both counsels, said that the statutes of the court calls for speedy trial but granted the prosecution motion for continuance and subpoena ad testificandum based on the fact that the investigation that Officer Kollie was involved with is in the interest of national security. The Magistrate at the Monrovia City Court said the court was under obligation to take note of historical fact that it was not a hidden fact that the Ministry of Justice and security apparatus are investigating individuals linked to the crisis along the Ivorian-Liberian borders. Meanwhile, there have been concerns raised by the Pelenah’s Family that the life and career of the pressman could be ruined if his legal rights to the presumption of innocence and a speedy, free and fair trial are not protected in keeping with the due process of law. Mr. Pelenah was quoted by the FrontPage Africa Newspaper as saying: “my detention is based on my critical stance against societal ills but no link to any armed robbery, some big hand behind my prosecution”. Be as it may, the Monrovia City Court will be hearing the case of the embattled Royal Communications, Incorporated News Director who once served as Deputy Director General for Broadcasting at the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) based on a notice of assignment filed with the court.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pension Reform Proposed

Expected to Combat Corruption Members of the Liberia Cabinet including Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, last Wednesday held a lengthy discussion about where the country stands and how they could take it forward in getting government’s objectives achieved. According to the Liberian Information Minister, Dr. Lewis G. Brown, II, when he spoke at a Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) press briefing which was addressed by Mr. Cyril William Allen yesterday, one of the issue that the cabinet resolved on was a reformation of the Civil Service Pension Reform Scheme. The reformation, according to Min. Brown, was considered in the cabinet meeting as a way to end the recycling of poverty among Liberians. Min. Brown: “imaging we begin a journey in life all weary, we acquire education then we get a job and yes we start up pretty poor most of us. We get a job and then we are able to make it for the family and by means of age or some other constrain you lose the job and suddenly we return to poverty from where we began.” Dr. Brown said that reforming the pension system will not only change the way Liberians view pension but it will provide a sense of economic security to civil servants that would retire from the public sector thus helping to alleviate corruption in the Liberian society. “Numerous studies show and testify that corruption in third-world countries are fed more by a sense of insecurity on the part of individuals about the future,” he added, “if this new pension scheme assures people of a sense of security about the future that you will not lose their jobs and be recycled into poverty, then clearly you have less and less instants of people hands getting caught in the cookies jar.” When Director Allen took the podium to give more detail about the new pension scheme, which could minimize corruption among public officials, he said that pensioners would be able to withdraw their funds deposited in their name with interest. He said under the new pension system the pensioner will continue to receive their pension until their death at which time their spouse (male or female) will continue to receive 50% of such pension until their own death. “Even after the death of the spouse,” he said, “the youngest child will continue to receive the 50% pension until that younger child reaches the age of 18.” He said that such will provide more security for people working in the public sector which include all branches of government so that they would not be afraid to retire. “They will not be afraid because knowing that at the end of your active duty that you can retire with dignity knowing that your love ones will be taken care of,” he said.

Pension Reform Proposed

Expected to Combat Corruption Members of the Liberia Cabinet including Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, last Wednesday held a lengthy discussion about where the country stands and how they could take it forward in getting government’s objectives achieved. According to the Liberian Information Minister, Dr. Lewis G. Brown, II, when he spoke at a Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) press briefing which was addressed by Mr. Cyril William Allen yesterday, one of the issue that the cabinet resolved on was a reformation of the Civil Service Pension Reform Scheme. The reformation, according to Min. Brown, was considered in the cabinet meeting as a way to end the recycling of poverty among Liberians. Min. Brown: “imaging we begin a journey in life all weary, we acquire education then we get a job and yes we start up pretty poor most of us. We get a job and then we are able to make it for the family and by means of age or some other constrain you lose the job and suddenly we return to poverty from where we began.” Dr. Brown said that reforming the pension system will not only change the way Liberians view pension but it will provide a sense of economic security to civil servants that would retire from the public sector thus helping to alleviate corruption in the Liberian society. “Numerous studies show and testify that corruption in third-world countries are fed more by a sense of insecurity on the part of individuals about the future,” he added, “if this new pension scheme assures people of a sense of security about the future that you will not lose their jobs and be recycled into poverty, then clearly you have less and less instants of people hands getting caught in the cookies jar.” When Director Allen took the podium to give more detail about the new pension scheme, which could minimize corruption among public officials, he said that pensioners would be able to withdraw their funds deposited in their name with interest. He said under the new pension system the pensioner will continue to receive their pension until their death at which time their spouse (male or female) will continue to receive 50% of such pension until their own death. “Even after the death of the spouse,” he said, “the youngest child will continue to receive the 50% pension until that younger child reaches the age of 18.” He said that such will provide more security for people working in the public sector which include all branches of government so that they would not be afraid to retire. “They will not be afraid because knowing that at the end of your active duty that you can retire with dignity knowing that your love ones will be taken care of,” he said.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Undeclared Asset to Trigger Presidential Wrath

Attorney Isaac A. Jackson, Deputy Minister for Public Affairs at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT), last Thursday, June 28, 2012 cautioned officials of the Liberian government about the level of seriousness attached to asset declaration by the President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. He told journalists at the MICAT press briefing that the declaration of asset by public officials is essential in the fight against corruption which have menaced the Liberian society for a long period of time. Declaration of assets as the Minister puts is a policy of government that must be adhered to by all those serving the interest of the Liberian people. Atty. Jackson said there are letters being sent out from the offices of the President to several individuals holding public offices who are yet to declare their assets stating that non-compliance will not be taken lightly. Though the minister did not say what actions the President plan to take against individuals that may choose not the comply to the policy, when asked about actions that may result from non-compliance to the policy minister Jackson said the actions could be dismissal of the such individual.

Arms Trade Treaty to End Insurgency

New York will next month host a first of the kind conference on a potential multilateral treaty dubbed Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) which seeks to place regulations on the way conventional weapons are transfer from manufacturers to end-users around the world. The unregulated arms transfers between various borders have been regarded by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as one factor that fuel insurgencies around the world. At least a ten-man delegation is expected to represent Liberia at the conference which starts on July 2-27, 2012 at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, USA. Prior to the conference that could bring hope of lasting peace to conflict regions in the world the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) yesterday held a one day briefing on the conference with media executive. During the briefing held at the National Museum of Liberia, Ambassador Conmany B. Wesseh, Chairman of LiNCSA, give background of how the treaty came to the attention of the United Nations. He said the document was put forward in 2003 by a group of Nobel Peace Laureates who had vested interest in the peace and security of the people of the world was first addressed in the UN assembly in December 2006 when resolution 61/89 was adopted. According to Chairman Wesseh, the ATT would ensure that no arms transfer is permitted to a region if there is a substantial risk that could destabilize that region. Also speaking at the briefing, Mr. S. Sando Wayne, Deputy Minister for International Cooperation and Economic Integration said the conference is more like a “rich against poor” because the treaty tends to hamper the livelihood of arms manufacturers. Minister Wayne said that the ATT is not intended to stop the manufacturing of weapons but rather to make the arms trade a legal one in which arms transfers can be checked from the manufacturer to a country which would procure military, security and police arms. He said that some countries have been involve in giving other countries weapons as gift, such transfer are also to be tracked by the ATT to ensure that such weapons are not use to cause terror in other parts of the world. Minister Wayne said that Liberia along with several other African countries at the last African Union (AU) conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, came up with a position that they would present to the UN in support of the ATT. Asked what argument the Liberian delegation would present to powerful countries involve in manufacturing and selling arms, minister Wayne said that the delegation would tell those countries to prefer investing in ‘Liberia’s abundant natural resources” other than arms that would take away the lives of innocent people. Speaking on behave of the Civil Society of Liberia, Mr. J. Kofa Torbor, Executive Director of Liberians United to Expose Hidden Weapons (LUEHW) said Liberians know all too well the dire consequences of the irresponsible and poorly regulated trade in arms. He recounted the 14 years civil conflict that plagued the country leaving about 500,000 people killed and a million more displaced internally and externally. Mr. Torbor said in the absence of the ATT, unregulated arms trade will continue to fuel conflicts that results into gross human rights abuses, violation of international humanitarian law, destabilization of countries and region thereby undermining sustainable development. The LUEHW Executive Director used the occasion to present to the Government of Liberia a global petition under the theme No More Arms for Atrocities- Time for a Bullet Proof Arms Trade Treaty. The petition called on the government of Liberia and other governments the world over to agree to the ATT at the conference in New York because same will protect human rights, lives and livelihood. The petition: “The world needs a strong Arms Trade Treaty that will prevent arms transfer if they are likely to contribute directly to serious human rights abuses, war crimes or poverty. The treaty must cover all conventional arms including ammunition. We call on the Liberian Government and every other government to secure the ATT that effectively prevents arms from fuelling such atrocities and abuses.”

MICAT Warns Media against Ethical Transgression

The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) have cautioned media outlets in the republic to desist from what it called yellow journalism which malign the reputation of government officials and others residing in the country. According to officials of MICAT several newspaper have over a period of time been engage in carving out headlines which are maligning and a gross breach of the ethics of journalism. In an interview with journalists after the MICAT press briefing in which the concern was raised, Atty. Isaac Jackson, Deputy Minister for Public Affairs at MICAT, said media are ignoring their social responsibility by publishing articles that could tint Liberia recovered image. He made a reference to a National Chronicle Newspaper’s banner headline which termed the suspended Acting Monrovia municipal head, Madam Mary T. Broh, as “RUDE” and the headline the Corruption Watch Newspaper which stated that the Indian consulate was supporting gay activities in Liberia. Minister Jackson said that the Corruption Watch’s article was reported to the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) which promised to investigate the issue but the PUL is yet to inform the ministry about how far the investigation have gone. He called on media outlets engage publishing such maligning articles to desist from doing so because such would not earn for them the kind of readership that they sole desire. Minister Jackson: “What are those media houses trying to accomplish? Look at the National Chronicle’s June 25, 2012 headline. Is it the paper that is render judgments on Madam Broh? We need to rise above yellow journalism in Liberia.” The Deputy Minister for Public Affairs further called on the PUL to step up the work of the ethics and grievance committee to ensure that the media outlets does not go contrary to the norms of good journalism. Though the MICAT had a straight face on the issue which is likely to cause bad-blood between the government of Liberia and the media, Minister Jackson highlighted the fact that many other journalists are doing their best to uphold the ethics of the profession.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Millions Embezzled

GoL Dormant on “Big Cash” in Corruption Fight? The fight against corruption has been reiterated as one of the Unity Party led government focal priorities in reforming the dangling society left behind by the country’s rebellion that lasted for about fourteen years. Such commitment has been evident by the establishment of the General Auditing Commission (GAC) and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) which has the statutory mandate in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to cause the prosecution of corruption cases on behave of the Republic of Liberia. The LACC have cause the trials of several government officials who were alleged to have been depriving the state of much needed resources since the commission was enacted by the 52nd National Legislature on August 28, 2008. Some of the cases that can be recalled are the 2009 economic sabotage trials of Mr. Albert T. Bropleh, former Director of Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA), as a result of a US$71,022.00 allegedly embezzled by him from state coffers based on an audit conducted by the GAC. Besides the trials of Mr. Bropleh, several other cases have been tried and in recent times the trials for economic sabotage charged against former Director of Police Beatrice Munah Sieh in the tone of US$199,800 have rang through the media. A motion in the case questioning the LACC power to prosecute without collaboration of the Justice led to a ruling which stated that “the commission is competent, potent and possesses the legal authority, right and power to prosecute a case about corruption.” But have the Sirleaf led Government, which vowed to combat corruption and have created agencies which have tried to tackle the widespread phenomena turn a disregarded huge sundry funds that were embezzled prior to its incumbency? Such question have drawn attention to corruption cases involving officials of the erstwhile National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) who indictments have remain unheard at Criminal Court “C” since 2007 and 2009 respectively. One of such cases involve a theft of property charged against Mr. David N. Zarlee, who between the period of October 2003 and January 2006 raised and processed seventeen Ministry of Finance payment vouchers in various amount totaling US$804,125 that was never accounted for. The defendant according to indictment against him caused the government of Liberia paid to various vendors US$ 387,680 for goods and services that were never received by the Bureau of Budget where he served as Director during NTGL reign. Another case pending holds the charge of economic sabotage against four NTGL finance officials and a member of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA) who was alleged to have embezzled state resources in the tone of US$3,651,486.40 and L$11,640,000 respectively between the period of October 2003 and January 2006. The former NTGL finance officials indicted are: Lusinee F. Kamara Minister of Finance, Tugbeh N. Doe Deputy Minister for Administration, Pyne Wallo Deputy Minister for Expenditure and Debt Management, Albert E. N. Quaye Chief of Anti-Fraud Unit and NTLA member Tapple E. Doe. According to the indictment standing against them, the defendants connive, conspire and collude with each other to and additionally used others namely: Roterta Francis and Christiana Cummings in their scheme to and steal the sundry sum from the Government of Liberia. All of the above mention individuals have been indicted by the grand jury of Montserrado since the time of their indictment (2007 and 2009) are said to be roaming society on bail bonds while the state has been struggling to have most of its programs implemented. Why have the LACC and/or the Ministry of Justice not caused the prosecution of the individuals so as to recover some of the funds that could supplement the national budget for the betterment of the state? A synopsis that could answer the question goes back to the former Director of Police, Madam Sieh case; on September 30, 2011, the MoJ issued a clearance certificate which stated that the ministry had conducted an investigation into the allegation against the defendants but did not gather sufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution of the matter.

Friday, June 15, 2012

LACC Empowered to Prosecute

The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission’s (LACC) power to prosecute corruption cases was yesterday unveiled by Judge Yussif D. Kaba, at Criminal Court “C” when he handed down a ruling on a motion growing out to the lawsuit involving former Director of Police Beatrice Munah Sieh Browne and others. Madam Sieh Browne, Col. Harris Manneh Dunn, former Deputy Commissioner for Administration, Prince O.A. Akinremi Proprietor of Ultimate Investment & Holding Company, Kaymah N. Zeon and Nebo Garlo, former physical auditors of the Ministry of Finance were all indicted by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County for economic sabotage, theft of property criminal facilitation and criminal conspiracy. According to the indictment, during the period of October 2008 the above defendants in total violation of the statutory laws of Liberia made and provided with criminal and wicked intent to deprive the Government of Liberia of US$199,800 through the Liberia National Police (LNP). The indictment states that the defendants carry on the act “knowingly, feloniously, purposely, criminally, maliciously willfully and intentionally. LACC’s allegation against the defendants stated that the Government of Liberia was made to pay for LNP uniforms which the police issue the delivery note confirming the receipt of the uniforms when they were neither delivered nor supplied to the Emergency Response Unit (ERU). The complaint was filed to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) for the individuals involve to be prosecuted under the laws of Liberia to set deterrent against such act. On September 30, 2011, the MoJ issued a clearance certificate which stated that the ministry had conducted an investigation into the allegation against the defendants but did not gather sufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution of the matter. The certificate: “this document therefore serves as a clearance, absolving Mr. Prince O. A. Akinremi and Ultimate Investment and Holding Company, Madam Beatrice Muna Sieh Browne, Col. Harris Dunn and Ms. Martha B. Sonpon, Chief of Logistics LNP, from the charges, as the Ministry of Justices has concluded that it cannot win the case with the evidence available…” The LACC not being satisfied with the position adopted by the MoJ one year later filed an application to the First Judicial Circuit, Criminal Assizes “A” presided over by his Honor James W. Zotaa praying said court to permit it to enter the room of deliberations of the Grand Inquest. The purpose was to pray for a presentment growing out to the report which was submitted the MOJ and against which the said ministry issued clearances to the defendants; out of those prayers came the indictment of economic sabotage, theft of property criminal facilitation and criminal conspiracy. However, the defendants thru their legal counsels on June 1, 2012 filed in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the LACC due to the lack of capacity by the commission to sue. According to the movants motion, under the law, the sole prosecuting arm of the Government of Liberia (GoL) is the MoJ. The movants said the statue establishing LACC named one function of the commission is the right to cause the prosecution of all cases on corruption is the manner provided in its acts in coordination with MOJ. They added that the LACC was informed and rather that augmenting the evidence and demonstrating that the evidence were acquired illegally, the commission proceeded to obtain the indictment in question and attempting to further prosecute the defendants which the motion regard as contrary to the law. The LACC thru their legal representation responded the movants were either deliberately mis-interpreting the law or the movants lacks appreciation of the law. Though the respondent agreed with the movant that the new executive law confer sole prosecutorial authority on the Ministry of Justice, it said the act establishing the LACC at section 15.1 withdrew the exclusive authority for the prosecution of corruption cases in this jurisdiction from the Ministry of justice. The respondent denied ever receiving any request from the ministry of justice for the augmentation of the evidence presented to the ministry or and information relative to any of the evidence submitted to the ministry as being obtained illegally. His Honor Kaba in his ruling said in addition that by the statute establishing the LACC and following the theory of recency of law, the court under the circumstances as exist in this matter the LACC is competent, is potent and possesses the legal authority, right and power to prosecute the case. Judge Kaba: By prosecution, it is the intent of the lawmakers that the same commences from the process of obtaining an indictment up to and including the final determination of this matter. Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, this court hereby denied the Moto to Dismiss and ordered this matter be proceeded with in keeping with the law.”

Critical Deployment

The Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) has deployed men to the country’s porous borders in defense of possible threats form reported non-state actors who have been operating around the borders with Ivory Coast. A report released by a group called Human Rights Watch accused the government of not doing enough to stop the recruitment of young Liberians who support the manpower of non-states actors who are determine to bring instability to both country as Information Minister Lewis G. Brown have said it. He also criticized the group’s report when he said the group did not check with authorities of both countries to understand the level of consultative agreement that have been reached in collaboration with the United Nations Missions in Liberia and Ivory Coast. Until recently, the Liberian borders with neighboring countries were manned by relatively few joint security personnel that worked to see that no illegal activities intended to cause insurgency in any country happen on an inch of Liberian soil. However, during the 2010 political stalemate which saw the Ivorian Ex-president Laurent Gbagbo ousted and President Alassane Ouatarra inaugurated there were reports of Liberians fighting on both sides of the front as fortune fighters. The Information Ministry has announced that the justice ministry was to turn over to the Ivorian authority individuals who were arrested for their alleged participation in the country’s anarchy, which cause more than 70,000 Ivorian to flee into Liberia as refugees, to be prosecuted. The Human Rights Watch report stated that the non-state actors operating between Liberia and Ivory Coast are focused on creating instability in the Ivory Coast, probably against the regime of the incumbent President Ouattara. But the ripple effect of rebel war cannot be ignored as same have been evident by the entrance of the defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) into Liberia in the late 1989. Since the first rebellious shot was fired in the Liberian town of Boutuo along the borders with Ivory, Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast have known the atrocities associated with rebel movement. When the Liberian Civil Strife ended in 2003 the United Nations deploy 15,000 troops aside from civilian staffers to provide security to the country which is still nursing the burnt of the power struggle which plagued Liberia for more than 15 years. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in her address to a gathering at the 2012 commencement of the Massachusetts University Medical School on June 3 said her government inherited a wounded country with dysfunctional institutions. She listed low medical staff and insufficient health facilities as some of the wounds on Liberia and those situations arose from the war led by Ex-Warlord and President Charles G. Taylor. With the news of armed men just across or infiltrating the Liberia borders from Ivory Coast, the progress made over the last eight years towards stability in Liberia which have seen spectacles of development have being regarded by many Liberians as threatened. Some students studying political science at various universities in Liberia have begun to say that it is now time for the UN Security Council look at the situation with a more radical approach instead of watching Liberian and Ivorian troops go to hold the border line against those non-state actors. One of those students, Amadu Konneh of the University of Liberia, said that the situation could become as severe as 14 years ago when the systems that have been restored to some extend got damaged beyond repair. Student Konneh: “I understand that the AFL has been deployed at the bodies and the UN Missions here and in Ivory Coast have started are still supporting both Liberia and Ivory Coast. “I think what the UN should do now to stop the situation from going out of hand is to find whosoever is behind what could be an insurgency and acquire what is their interest and how could it be negotiated. By brother, we don’t want to run any more. I love my country and want to live here in peace not in another man’s country, including the US, as a refugee.”

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Quest for or Escape from Justice?

Counterclaims and accusations have characterized the testimonies of the four defense witnesses in their trials for an alledged US$1.8m fraud which happened at the Liberia Coca-Cola Bottling Company (LCCBC). The trial started with eleven indicted defendants. But is the trial in pursuit for justice against the indicted employees for fraud as the prosecution has presented it or an attempt to put to rest a US$ 10 million libel against the LCCBC by defendant George M. Paye? Defendant Paye who have taken the witness stand since his co defendants: Emmanuel R. L. Tyler, Sam Oye and Tonia Kparteh, decended have been testifying that no fraud happened at LCCBC and the trial was aimed at getting him out of the company. “… Seth Adu-Baah came to Liberia, took over as Country Manager and decided to kick me out of LCCBC,” witness Paye said in his April 26th testimony before the court and jury while answering to questions relating to internal audits conducted by Dina Asmaa Zouhir for the year 2010. The co-defendants had earlier testified that officials of the management staff called them to a meeting told them the case was not about them but George Paye who have been unleashing instruments into evidence to prove their innocence. Those co-defendants further alledged that LCCBC’s Country Manager Seth Adu-Baah and Human Resource Manager Gibreal Johnson had promised to have them of the indictment list if they said negative things about defendant Paye; they alledgedly refused. However defensive the defense witnesses’ testimonies may be, the prosecution witnesses’ testimonies have linked the four defendants in the dock to the crime alledged. The defendants are on trial for alledged misapplication of entrusted property, Criminal Facilitation and Criminal Consparacy that evantually led to a US$1.8m loss to the LCCBC. In his April 27th testimony, defendant Paye said because he refused to drop a US$10m lawsuit against the LCCBC other accused in the case were asked to distance themselves from him. He earlier explained that after he was served his suspension letter and turned over to the Liberia National Police (LNP) for investigation, several weeks went by and the LNP could not charge them because they (LNP) were awaiting evidence from LCCBC. Defendant Paye: “In the absence of such evidence they could not charge us. It went on for almost three weeks. So my lawyers decided to file Hebeas Corpus to restrain the LNP from futher investigation and subsequently came ti the Monrovia City Court. My lawyers urged me to go home. “Then the company hired Cllr. T. C. Gould to be their lawyer and at the same time decided to carry out publications in newspapers and on television that we have stolen US$1.8m dollars. So I got angry and asked my lawyers to sue the LCCBC for damages. They filed a lawsuit in the tone of US$10M.” When this was done, defense witness Paye said he send an email to the company’s owners in Spain which contain the newspapers’ publications and the lawsuit agains the LCCBC after they had called him to inquire why he had not been responding to their emails. Such communication as defendant Paye puts it, astonished the bosses in spain and they instructed LCCBC’s country manager to come back to liberia to “face the mess that has been created.” He added the one morning he was at his house and five men (one uniformed) came and served him a writ of arrest which he received and got ready to meet his lawyers. “When I was about to get in my car,” witness Paye said, “two men approached me and said to me ‘you are not suppose to ride your car. You have to ride the car we brought.’ So I said to him, who are you, are you from the court, where is your identity.” According to witness Paye, the uniformed Sheriff told him that the four other men were Cllr. T. C. Gould men. He said upon that statement he (Paye) requested the Sheriff to call the judge that if the men continue to force himm he won’t follow; he then climbed into his car and lock the doors. The witness said the arrest order was at a standstill for about 45 minuets before the Sheriff decided to ride with him in his car. “Upon reaching here I was told that the four men wer being instructed to take me to South Beach because I was very stubborn and I had no right to sue the company,” witness Paye said. He added after a bond was obtained his lawyer told him that Cllr. Gould had arranged a meeting with a condition that he (Paye) will drop his lawsuit against the company before the meeting could happened but he (Paye) refused; but two months later, another meeting was scheldule by Cllr. Gould at his office which he (Paye) attended. Defendant Paye: “At that meeting, LCCBC lawyer, Cllr. T. C. Gould said to me, ‘George, what has happened has happened. You got to admit to certain things so that we can resolve this issue.’ So I got angry and to my lawyer if that is what i was called for then I will not sit in that meeting. “Then I turn to Seth and said that he should provide evidence against me. Cllr. T.C. Goulc said again, ‘this reciept to U.N Drive [Supermarket] is it not true that you collectd the money for yourself.” The man who is at the center of the US$1.8M fraud said he did not answer the question and told Cllr. Gould that if he wanted answer to any question, he (Cllr. Gould) should take him to court. “So because of my rebuttal to drop the ten million lawsuits against the LCCBC, other accused were asked to distance themselves from me,” witness paye said. One of said asccuse is defendant Emmanuel Tyler, who according to witness paye called him to tell of the offer made to him (Tyler) but he (Paye) told Tyler to do what was best for himself. The prime defendant said it was proven that the LCCBC lawsuit was against him by the prosecution’s request to have his bank account subpoena and not the other defendants. Defendant Paye: “Am I the only one in the dock? The answer is an obvious no. to conclude I want to make this clear to the court and jury that there was nothing like thief of money at LCCBC. As I explained the forensic report how they derive at their figures? How can a company surviving on over draft claim that US$1.8m was stolen in eleven month?” Upon completing his testimony, the defense counsel requested that the US$ 10m lawsuit that defendant Paye talked about to be admitted into evidence which was done by the Judge at Criminal Court “C” and said instrument was marked D/22. Mainwhile, the trials seems far from over, as the prosecution has promised to produce several rebuttal witnesses to rebut some of the defense witnesses’ testimonies.

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 27th Ruling Awaits LCCBC Fraud Case

Ruling in the lawsuit against four indicted employees of the Liberian Coca-Coca Kola Bottling Company (LCCBC) is expected to be handed down by Judge Blamo Dixon in the chamber’s section of Criminal Court “C” on the 27th day of April AD 2012. The ruling could bring the jury’s trial to an end, when the jurors would come up with a verdict of acquittal or conviction that may put to rest whether or not a US$1.8M fraud actually happened at the LCCBC. The indicted employees were charged with three counts; including misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation. The crimes engendered an alledged US$1. 8M loss to the entity. The defendants now under trial are George M. Paye, Emmanuel R.L. Tyler, Sam Oye and Tonia Kparteh. Each of the defendants had in open court pleaded not guilty to the allegation. If the charges levied against them are found to be true, the defendants’ reputation will be stained and careers may crumble. During the early stages of the case hearing in open court, the prosecution counsel paraded eleven witnesses including expert witnesses as well as five nolle prosequi defendants in person of Emmanuel Wleh, Chris Freeman, Eddie David, Williams Toe and George Grant. The prosecution witnessed testified to fourteen evidences that were marked, confirmed and admitted into evidence labeled from P/1 through P/14. These evidences consist of about forty instruments to include transaction records, letters of communication, miscellaneous sheets of paper and an audit report of an audit conducted by the company after it noticed the eleven defendants that were initial indicted have been doing budiness contrary to normal course. The initially indicted defendants were the managements of the UN-Drive and the Exclusive Supermarkets, the five nolle prosequi defendants-turn-prosecution witnesses, and the four defendants now on trial. Those edvidences presented to the court by the prosecution and attessted to by their witnesses tend to link the defendants to the allegation against. However, they (defendants in dock) have since April 11 taken the witness-stand to testify to their innocence. Three of the four defense witnesses who had been testifying have rated the prosecution evidences as flawed with a prejudicial motive against prime defendant Paye. When he took the stand, first defense witness Tonia Kparteh said the management of LCCBC promised him that he would be exonerated from the fraud case if he said negative things about defendant George Paye. He allegedly refused on grounds that he would not lie about defendant George Paye because he knew nothing negative about the individual who he had only got to know at the office as a professional person. During his time in the stand, second defense witness Sam Oye gave similar testimony about the offer made by official of the administrative staff of the LCCBC. These testimonies by the witnesses tend to impute that the lawsuit must have been masterminded by some individual to get at defendant Paye. Presenting his testimony, defense witness Oye told the court and jury that no fraud had occurred at the LCCBC in which he and his co defendants were involved in. He noted that reports on credited goods and sold products were presented to the commercial manager on a daily basis for accountability. He further told the court that all the proofs presented by the prosecution to justify that a fraud actually happened were flawed and lacked substance. Oye to the jury: “Those entire audit reports lack substance. They are all covered with flaw because those that conducted the audit did not adhere to the principle of audit.” He added that the audit was professionally erroneous in that the auditees who were the custodians to the audit were never seen or talked to while the audit was being carried out. Third defense witness Emmanuel R.L. Tyler offered a charged testimony to the court and identified some irregularities in the prosecution evidences when he pointed out to a daily sales settlement form that did not include the signature of salesman, Anthony Sartee nor the commercial manager. When asked by the prosecution counsel to compute figures in P/1 in bulk to determine whether there were shortages, witness Tyler to the court that if the prosecution wanted him to carry out such computation they should make available the module set up by LCCBC which is used in tallying sales records. The prosecution counsel, Cllr. Theophelius C. Gould, petitioned the court to grant forty minuets to get the module the witness asked for but such request was denied based on the defense counsel’s, Atty. Arthur T. Johnson, resistance. The resistance according to Judge Blamo Dixon was granted because the practice adopted by the prosecution was strange. He ruled that under the laws governing the courts in liberia, if a witness give an answer that the prosecution was not satisfy with, like the request made by the witness for a computer module that was not currently available, the proper remedy is to give a notice to produce a rebuttal witness. Be as it may, the defense witnesses are still on the stage to justify their innocence to the allegations against them. Their substantiated proofs of innocence will inevitably save their reputation and careers from being damaged now for the future. The Prosecution Counsel, Jury, and Court will rest on the third witness. This may eventually lead to prime defendant Paye taking on the witness stand. The LCCBC fraud case has now reached a critical point with the court’s ruling expectedly coming up in about three days from today. The ruling will have the defendants acquitted or convicted.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chinese Businessmen Detained for Tax Evasion

At least five Chinese businessmen have been arrested and detained at the Monrovia central prison on charge of contempt of court for their delinquency to appear before the Tax Court for Montserrado County since June of 2011 to answer to why they have not being paying tax for the businesses they are operating in the country. Those arrested business men include: Lian Zhi, Xu Li Xin, Duan Yong Hou, Ne Jzan Ping and Liang Jle, who as per the order of the Her Honor Eva Mappy Morgan, are to remain in jail for the period of thirty days. It is likely that they may get a bond or remain in jail as they undergo trial for the act of evading tax in the tone of about US$50,000 by changing the name of the construction materials business located on Tubman Boulevard opposite S.D. Cooper road. The businesses, currently named Chain Builders and Modern Builders, where close down yesterday, April 19, 2012 by sheriff of the Tax Court supported by the Liberia National Police and Cllr. Aaron B. Kparkillen, Assistant Minister for Taxation at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). According to the closure order carried by the Tax Court’s Sheriff, China Construction Material Super Market, China Quality Building Material Corporation, Liberia China Investment Group and China West African Building Material Store, names the businessmen previously operated, are found in violation of Section 1900 (Tax Evasion) of the Revenue Code of Liberia. The Chinese Businessmen that were in the Chain Builders and the Modern Builders stores were arrested and taken to the Tax Court at the Temple of Justice from where they were taken to the Monrovia central prison to serve their 30 days term. When asked why the Chinese were being taken into custody, Cllr. Kparkillen said the businessmen had evaded tax and have failed to appear in court since June of 2011 when they were summoned. He said such act was a gross disrespect to the Liberian authority and such would not be taken lightly because the men would not have dared to do that if they were in China. The effort of having the Chinese arrested was to set presidence to others who are likely to engage in tax evasion adding that ‘Liberia is a country of Law not men’.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cases Overflow Courts’ Dockets

Judge Blamo Dixon Asserts; Suggest ways forward The Judge of Criminal Court “C”, A. Judge Blamo Dixon, last Tuesday disclosed that the docket of the court is loaded with about 300 cases that are yet to be heard. Such overwhelming number of unheard cases according to Judge Dixon could be due to the fact that the court spends a whole term or pratically two terms hearing a single case while parties in the other cases continue to run around to have their cases heard. “This court and Civil Law Court their dockets are crowded. We have almost 300 cases on the court “C” docket. People are going up and down to hear their cases. We only spend a whole term or practically two terms of court on just one case. And all the other cases are ‘put on ice’”, Judge Dixon said. The Court “C” judge has been talking with some lawyers about ideas that could significantly reduce the amount of cases on the courts’ dockets. “I have talk to one or two lawyers regarding jury term or the jury section suggesting that the number of days be increased or we can have two terms of court like criminal court “E” which has six months first term and six months second term,” he said. Judge Dixon said there could also be a strategy in which judges will still rotate at the will and pleasure of the Chief Justice but courts would only open once or twice a year instead of having the courts closing and opening four times a year. “Maybe we could only open court one or two times a year. Instead of having the court open for February term and after 42 days we open court for May term; after 42 days we open court for August term and another 42 days we open for November term”, he averred. The Court “C” judge also suggested that there should be amendments made in the Rule of Court which prohibits a judge from hearing two jury cases at the same time in the interest of the Liberian people because such could increase the number of cases being heard in a single court term. “I also suggested that the rule of court prohibits a judge from holding two jury sections at the same time. This is what the rule of court says, but adjustment could be made in the interest of our people to have judge hold two jury sections at the same time when that rule is amended,” he said. He urged those in authority of the Judicial Circle of the Republic to see how best they can manifest such ideas into reality. Judge Dixon made the above comments when he announced the closure of the February Term of court in the edifice of the Criminal Court “C” where the Jury Trial for the Liberia Coca Cola Bottling Company’s (LCCBC) US$1.8M fraud case is being heard. Though the jury section of the February term of court has come to a close, Judge Dixon said that the case would continue in the chambers of court as to have it concluded and the sequestrated jury hearing the case disbanded. He acknowledged the effort of the jury to sit through court trials and help the court come up with its verdicts in cases. Also speaking at the close of the Jury section for the February term of court was Assistant Minister for Litigation at the Ministry of Justice, Cllr. Augustine C. Fiayiah, who urged the jurors to be sincere in carrying out their task. He told the jurors present in court that if the civil society accuse the justice system of being corrupt, such accusation reflicted back to the public because the jurors where from the civil society. Another speaker, Atty. Arthur Johnson, a Public Defender of Monstserrado County highlighted the sacrifice that the jurors make to sit in the court on cases. He believed that they were not sitting in court for the US$6 per day that they receive but rathet to ensure that justice is served to those who deserve it. In closing Cllr. Theophileous C. Gould, President of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA), promised the Judge that the association will work to see how it could help make the idea of adjusting the term and rule of court a reality.

UL Boosts Students’ Confidence

The University of Liberia (UL) last Thursday held its first job fair which affords several thousands the opportunity to gain exposure to potential would be employers. More than 30 private corporations and Government agencies were at the fair issuing out forms to and collecting curriculum vitaes (CV) from students who queued at the Firestone Quadrant (FQ) Building on the UL’s main campus where the event took place. According to Rev. J. Samuel Reeves, Director of Student Academic Advisement and Career Counseling Center at the university, the job fair was intended to have the students familiar with the ways people go about searching for a job. He said a two-day workshop was conducted with the students on how they could develop their resume that would help expedite their chances of being hire by an employer if they apply. The Student Academic Advisement and Career Counseling Center Director envisioned that having students and citizens of a country employed is significant in the strive for a peaceful and crime free society. Rev. Reeves carryout a theoretical equation which states that “the higher the employment rate in a country the lower the crime rate; and vise versa”. Speaking with some of the students who queued at the FQ building, they said the job fair was an opportunity which will help them get a job to sponsor their education. Jonathan Moore, one of the several students who spoke with the INSIGHT thanked the administration of the UL for being farsighted to initiate such program that would boost their confidence is the search for jobs. He hoped that he event will continue and that the corporations and agencies that were on ground issuing forms, and collecting credentials would actually employ or hire most of the students for internship. Also making comment on the conduct of the event which was aimed at having students exposed to job opportunity and provide workforce to the growing number corporations and entities in Liberia, Dr. Wede Elliott-Brownell said the event has created an atmosphere in which many UL students would get internship jobs. Dr. Elliott-Brownell who is the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost of the UL added that students who were participating in the fair cross-cut the entire student populace (23,000 plus) from all colleges at the university. She told reporters who attended the event that many students at the tertiary level of education in the country have not been able to obtain a job because they could not just go out to companies and say employ me when they don’t have the requisite experience. The UL Provost hoped that the job fair event would amplify at a frequency of at least twice a year in order to give more students at the university a chance to get some job experience that would compliment their academic credential. Job fair such as the one just ended is a new phenomenon that has been introduced by the University of Liberia to address the age old problem of students not getting a job after they graduate because they do not any job experience in there area of discipline. Asked if there were plans of incorporating other universities on the UL’s job fair, madam Elliott-Brownell said the university will not incorporate other universities on the program because the current amount of students of students at the university is expected to project by next year and subsequently in years that follow. Madam Elliott-Brownell however said the UL is willing to work with other universities in the country to develop such program for the benefit of Liberian students.

Whistle-Blower Whistle Sounds L$700M Libel

The Management of the Movement in Defense of the Downtrodden (MDD) is currently facing a L$700M libel lawsuit filed against it by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) for tarnishing the reputation of the institutions over transactions surrounding the completion of the “New Central Bank” office building on Ashmun Street. The MDD (defendant) is being represented by its Executive Director, Alfred G. Togbah, sr., Board of Directors and Officers while the CBL is being represented by its Executive Governor, J. Jones Mills, Board of Directors and Officers. According to the Plaintiff’s Written Direction filed before the judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit Civil Law Court of Montserrado County sitting in its December 2011 termed, the defendant, with malice and intend to tarnish and damage the good name and reputation of plaintiff issued a press statement which is libelous on its face. The press statement issued by the defendant provided four counts to the public through the media which, according to the plaintiff written direction, clearly imputes to the plaintiff criminal offences including theft, corruption and bribery. The defendant in its press statement alledged that plaintiff flagrantly abrogated the Public Procurement and Concession act of Liberia by not conducting a bid of preferment for a company that would complete the above mention building and that the present cost for the completion of the building has nearly trippled the initial amount estimated for the completion process. Furthermore the statement alledge that the company now selected for the completion of the building had earlier submitted a cost far less than the current cost but was bargained with the plaintiff to increase the cost in order have been awarded the contract and the CBL’s management benefits share of the bargain. The statement finally alledged that the CBL acted contrary to the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to release information or documents surrounding the project to it during MDD’s investigation. The plaintiff however denied hindering the MDD of information that they requested because it provided the organization with an office space at the bank’s facility were they could peruse all information on the project. When asked by the jurors in the case if he (Togbah) had a chance to view the documents relating to the project which his institution the MDD had taken the CBL to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and the media, defendant Togbah said when he requested fot the documents the CBL ushered him into a room of ‘voluminous documents’ that could take several months to complete. He said he could not go through the documents at the bank’s facility on grounds that investigation was not an event but a process that require time and two of fear of getting thirsty and asking for water from the CBL. The outcome from the case cannot be preempted but whatever it would be it may either encourage or discourage civil society organization like the Movement in Defence of the Downtrodden to challenge alledged graft/fraud in the country.

Hadid Electronics Suffers Fire Desaster

Hadid Electrionics Incorporated, sole distributor of Samsung products in Liberia, yesterday April 10, 2012 gutted fire which brought normal traffic activities on Randall Street to a standstill for more than four hours. Smoke began to rise from the store’s warehouse at about 12:30pm according to eyewitnesses who looked on as firefighters of the Liberia National Fire Service (LNFS), Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC), and United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) struggled to have the fire extinguished by about 5:00pm. According to information gathered from some of the firefighters who braved the thick fumes rushing out of the warehouse, they had problem entering the store which had being on fire before they arrived. Speaking to Mr. G. Warsuwah Banoul Sr. Director of the LNFS, he lauded the effort of the sister fire services that worked along side his agency to contain the fire from not spreading to other buildings that were in close proximity to the scene. He used the occasion to call on archeticture who design buildings to include fire escapes and sprinklers which are vital in dealing with fire before the LNFS and other fire services can come in. He said the firefighter faced problem reaching the source of fire because the building had a one way entrance which was heavily guided by steel door that they had to break through before commencing extinguishing the fire. He said that people needed to revisit the way they constructed houses in the country so as to have enough space between the houses to avoid the fire from spreading to another building if there was an incidence like the one yesterday. Director Banoul cautioned Liberians and business people to be mindful in handling fire because if could be a good servant or a wicked master if it in not handle properly.

Friendship Turned Deadly

Flower Pot Community off the Du Port Road turned into a scene of drama on March 19, 2012 when two intimate friends, Augustine David and Prince Zammie, got involve into an argument which left one of them dead. The alleged aggressor, Augustine David age 20, having fled the scene that day was arrested by Liberian National Police (LNP) Corporal Jerry Wymah in the Chicken Soup Factory Community on March 20, 2012, investigated and subsequently charged with murder. Defendant David was charged for violating Chapter 14; Sub Chapter B; and Section 14.1 of the revised penal code of the Republic of Liberia have since been forwarded to court to face trails for purposely, knowingly and intentionally causing the death of Prince Zammie. According to the details of offense stipulated in a police charge sheet dated March 27, 2012, both defendant David and his victim Zammie attended the same school and played for the same football team, the school team. Besides attending the Chirstain Bible Faith Academy located in the Joe Bar Community in Paynesville, the defendant and victim lived as next door neighbors in the community where the young Prince Zammie met his untimely dismay. The police charge sheet furthered that it was revealed by detailed inqueries coupled with eyewitnesses’ accounts that on March 19 both the victim and defendant returned from school together and when off back to Joe Bar for football practice. When the practice was over, the defendant and victim were accompanied by two other players who were going to have meal at the victim’s (Prince) home. According to one of the players that was with them (victim and defendant), while they enroute to the victim’s house, an argument broke out between the victim and the defendant which called out the bad blood that led to the death of the late Prince Zammie. The eyewitness said that the victim call off the argument saying he (victim) did not want noise with the defendant on grounds that the defendant once visited his (victim) home and vomited over the floor. Besides that the eyewitness said the victim further accused the defendant of misbehaving at his (victim) parent’s home in the presence of his grandmother who reported the defendant misconduct to his (victim) mother. By that accusation the eyewitness said defendant David called the victim’s grandmother a liar but the victim cautioned him (defendant) not to insult his (victim) grandmother because by that he (defendant) was insulting his (victim) mother and if the defendant did not refrain from that there was going to be a fight. The eyewitness narrated that the defendant asked the victim if he (victim) have never insulted his (defendant) parents, when the victim refused to accept that he have ever insulted the defendant’s parents, the defendant exclaimed “F*C* your people.” It was then according to the eyewitness that the two friends entered into a fight that the eyewitnesses intervine and had calm. When they got home, as the eyewitness puts it, the victim brought his food outdoor for them to eat; while eating the defendant came from the back of the victim and stabbed him (victim) in the upper right back with a kitchen knife and throw it away; the weapon was later recovered from the crime scene by the police. The victim was rushed to the ELWA hospital where he expired while undergoing treatment for the severe wound inflicted by the blow of the aggressor’s blade. When he was arrested, defendant without cohesion admitted to the committing the murder and is awaiting cour trial in due time.

Guns and Drugs Seized in Salala

Joint Security officers operating in Bong County last Sunday arrested several guns and a huge consignment of marijuana during a routine check at the Salala Check point. The firearms and drugs arrested were in the possession of Alfred Dellond, 33, who was conveying the illegal items on board a commercial vehicle from Gbarnga to Harbel, Margibi County. How the arrested weapon and confascated drugs was going to be used remain a mystery yet to be answer. According to police spokesman, Commissioner George Bardue, when he give an update of the police activities in the country, suspect Dellond was arrested with three single-barrel pistols and a bag of marijuana. He said that the suspected was informed of his constitutional rights, investigated and has been forwarded to court on charge of illegal possession of firearm and the illegal possession and sale of narcotic drugs. The police spokesman futher said that at least one person identified as Fred Saylee have died in Gbarnga due to maltreatment against him by two individuals who claim to be agents of the Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA). Commissioner Bardue said the suspects identified as Henry Flomo and Francis Kollie alledgedly pursued victim Saylee and subdued him with stick (baton).

GOL Braces for UNMIL Departure

Starts to Decentralize Justice and Security Services With the departure of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawing closer, the Government of Liberia (GoL) has begun building several Regional Hubs around the country in efforts to decentralize justice and security services to all parts of the country. The Regional Hubs (Justice Centers) are being built with support from the United Nations peacebuilding fund and other partners who have pledged unweavering support to the infant peace and democracy the country has enjoyed since 2003. Accordign to the Cllr. Christiana P. Tah, Minstier of Justice, there are going to be five regional hubs which will have a Criminal Court and a Circuit Court built across the country in about three years when the UNMIL will be leaving the country. She said the hubs will also include a Liberia National Police (LNP) office, a Bureau of Immagration and Naturalization (BIN) office, and a public outreach and service office where Public Defenders, County Attorneys, Corrections and Human Rights officers will be deployed. The Attorney General of Liberia added that the effect the hub will have on the communities, justice, and security system include: fostering linkagages among rule of law actors, increase security response capacity, strenghten command and control, foster community security initiatives and increase public access to security and justice accountability mechanisms among others. She said that it was about time that the justice system spread out of Monrovia which has been the custodium of justice in the republic of Liberia for ages. Cities targeted for the constuction of the significant justice centers are Gbarnga, Bong County (ongoing); Harper, Maryland County; Zwedru, Grand Gedeh; Tubmanburg, Bomi County; and Buchanan, Grand Bassa County. Each of the hubs will be providing services to the counties that are in proximal to the county it is station. The Harper will provide services to Grand Kru, River Gee and Maryland; the Zwedru will provide services to Sinoe and Grand Gedeh; Tubmanburg will provide services to Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount, and Bomi; Buchanan will provide services to River Cess, Margibi and Grand Bassa while Gbarnga will provide services to Lofa, Nimba and Bong Counties. Asked how much each of the hubs will cost, Minister Tar put the funds expended on the Gbarnga hub alread at about US$4.2M for the structure and furniture. She said in the next three years the Government is looking forward to doubling the strenght of the LNP because it will be taking over most of the tasks UNMIL will be abandoning.

Fake Drugs Roam Liberia’s Market

Says Acting Asst. Minister Pewu Dr. Moses Pewu, Acting Assistant Minister for Curative Services at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) have called on Liberians to be cautious in procuring medical drugs in the country because there are lot of fake drugs on the market. According to Dr. Pewu, most drugs being sold as antibiotic in the country have being tested and proven to be mere cassava powder enclosed in capsules or caked as tablets to have people that are desprite for a cure, fooled to subscribe to them(fake drugs) With many Liberians over the years have become accustom to the act of purchasing medicine from quack pharmacists (street drugs vendors) and pharmacies around town without any medical advise, Dr. Pewu said he could not determined how many liberian have died as a result of the usage fake drugs. He cautioned Liberians not to buy drugs based on their own prescriptions from any unrecommended pharmacy or street vendors because some of these medium have the tendency to put money above the well-being of the ill individual. The acting Asst Minister recalled that some time ago one pharmacy (name withheld) which dealt solely in antibiotic and diabetic drugs compromised medical ethics by selling the diabetic pills as antibiotic to some individuals. “I remember there was a time one pharmacy which sold antibiotic and diabetic drugs in town here began to sell the diabetic drugs to people as antibiotic when their antibotic supply ran out. This may have been for economic gain. But what happens if a non-diabetic person takes drugs meants for diabetic patients,” Dr. Pewu asked. He explained that the effect was that the amount of sugar in the non-diabetic person body is drastically reduced which usually results to instant death if that persons falls off. The Acting Assistant Minister for Curative Services made the remark when he was asked to confirm media reports of expire drugs at the nation’s prime referral hospital, JFK, during a press briefing held at the UNMIL headquaters in sinkor. Dr. Pewu respond to the question was that there have being a case of expire drugs at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Medical Hospital earlier this year but there are measure being taken to ensure that such case does not recur. However the existance of street drug peddlers in Liberia have being popularized in the country since the late 1998 when medical facilities in the country was disadvantaged in providing pharmaceutical services to the country’s population. But those street drug peddlers are still predominant on the Liberian market eventhough there have been vital reforms in the health sectors which have improved the way health services are delivered to people in the country.

Libel Per Se Absorbs Whistle-Blower

MDD Togba Says he’s not deterred Though the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) is still conducting investigation of an alledged fraud surrounding the rehabilitation of the new office building of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), the whistle-blower Movement in Defense of the Downtrodder (MDD) and its Executive Director Alfred G. Togba, Sr. has been found liable of liber per se against the CBL. Jourors in the Case Last Thursday returned from their chamber of deliberations with a verdict which charged the Defendants to pay to the CBL L$250M for damages done by a handbill issued as press statement which, according to the prosecuting counsel, imputed the CBL to theif, bribery and corruption. The case had been before Judge Yusus Kaba at the Civil Law Court for about two week, where both the defense and prosecuting counsels paraded several witnesses to prove and disprove that a libel was committed by the MDD for releasing in the media a statement which was libelous on its face. On April 12, 2012 AD, during the final argument between the defense and prosecuting counsels before the court and jury, the defense counsel in person of Atty. S.L. Lofem Kaneah, Jr. and Atty. Gayflor Zayzay prayed an acquittal verdict for the defendants while the prosecuting counsel in person of Cllrs. Emmanuel B. James, A. Kanie Wesso, Rose-Marie Banks James, Esther Barcley and Joseph Jallah, argued that the defendant liable for the libel it commited. Each side argued for an hour before the jury retired into its delivery room and came back with the verdict of liability to which the defense is expected to file a motion for retrial in about four days after the verdict was passed. The defense counsel during their final argument cautioned the jury to be mindful in deciding the verdict for the case because the allegation of corruption which had prompted the lawsuit was still being investegated by the LACC. The defense counsel said the libel lawsuit should have been after the LACC concluded its investigation which could have inflicted actual damages on the plaintiff, CBL. Defense counsel further argued that if the defendant was convicted, such verdict may butress or contradict the outcome of the LACC investigation, thus opening a Pandora box which will have government institutions sueing individuals who intend to speak agains corruption. The counsel lamented that the plaintiff was hiding behind the lawsuit because it the verdict was rendered in favor of the CBL it would make the LACC investigation into the corruption allegation irrelevant. They however raised qualm over the appearance of Cllr. Francis Johnson Allison to testify in the case rather than the investigator who was investigating the MDD accusation against the CBL. During the defense witness testimony, defendant Togba alledged that the CBL got a US$3M kickback of the initial US$6M given to the contractors for the completion of the CBL office buliding to which the prosecution noted they were going to present a rebuttal witness. Failure on the part of the prosecution to produce a rebuttal witness to the allegation, the defense argued that, that was a clear admittance that such action did happened. The defense counsel noted that they were not in court to do the work of the LACC but rather to prove that there was no libel commited. Earlier the prosecution counsel argued that the alegation made against their client by the MDD was based on hearsay with no concrete researched edvidence to prove such statement. The prosecutions counsel exonerate the governor of the CBL from acts of corruption during his present life time saying that the MDD was trying to tarnish and damage such reputation. They argued that some people who wanted to get into government use individuals and institutions like the MDD to castigate those in the position that they want to occupy. Prosecutions counsel added that the condemnation of CBL officials to by the MDD in its press statement clearly indicates that the group was being funded by some individuals that does not mean well for the country. Arguing further, they said the defendant was an extortionist who targeted government officials with threats of blackmail. According to them (prosecution) if the jury did not fine the defendant liable for his actions and go unpunished, he would not desist from maligning other people’s character. They argued that if whistle-blowers can say anything without concrete prove, it would be a bad presidence for the state and could bring many reputable individuals and institutions to disrepute. Citing Article 15 of the Liberian Constitution which states “Every person shall have the right to freedom of expression, being fully responsible for the abuse thereof...” the prosecution meantained that the defendant had abused such right by defaming the character of the plaintiff. The defense counsel stated and restated that the MDD had committed no libel against the plaintiff and at such the case must be rule in favor of its client to insure that odinary Liberian got justice. However, Judge Yusuf Kaba when he charged the jury said that libel can occur in two forms; libel pro code which reflects quantified damages and liber per se which does not quantify the amount of damages that was done. He told the jury, before they could when into deliberation room, to focus on the press release issued by the MDD and edvidences surrounding since in civil cases the superior species of evidence determines who the verdict will favor. Speaking to the defendant Togba after the reading of the verdict which states that he is guilty of libel, he said the trial was a test for the jusicial system and the verdict have proven that ‘there was no justice for the poor.’ He said the just ended lawsuit was intended to silent the advocacy against acts of corruption. “I am not deterred. This was just an energizer for us. There are more Alfred Togbas other than me. I may go to jail today but it will not stop the advocacy against corruption in this country,” Mr. Togba said.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Freedom Struggle

A Jinkins James Advanture
Seated and determined to complete the 10th grade at the Victory Chapel Academy this year, Jinkins Janmes, 21, narrated how he became a rock crusher to support his education and himself. “My aunty Rita brought me to Monrovia from Douplay in Nimba County to attend school in 2005. She paid my tuition for just one semester and told me I was responsible for myself. That was how I got into this struggle,” He explained to the Insight. In 2007, two years after selling doughnut for his aunty, Mr. James gained his freedom from Ms. Rita who was only providing him with shelter and less than enough food to survive, as he sold her pastery from one point of Paynesville to another. According to him, since then he had been trying to achieve academic education the best way he could by venturing different types of business. Taking up time from crushing a stockpile of huge igneous rocks, Mr. James futher explained that he sold earrings and later became a masoner-helper to raise money to attend the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC), where he study tiles laying and masonery, while he lived with friends. Though crushing rocks without the approprieate mechinery is a difficult task, the young James said it was better because he can now pay his own rental, buy clothe and food, and most importantly pay his own tuition. “Thank God I left Aunty Rita’s House, today I can take care of myself and things that I need. You may ask while I am bursting rocks instead of doing masonery, the answer is simple. It gives me fast money than working as a masoner helper,” he said. Asked if he had the opportunity to work with the cico during the renovation to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Congo Town about 1.5km away from his Kpelle Town home, Mr. James said he did not work along with the company because they were offering low wage. “In a week’s time, If business is not good, I make about three thousand dollars (L$3,000) from selling rocks; if business is good I make up to five thousand dollars (L$5,000). While should I leave that to go work for seventeen dollars (US$17) weekly,” Mr. James asked. He said with the rock crushing he was sure that he would not drop from school because people around the country are untaking construction that required crushed rocks which means he would not run out of money to meet his needs. Mr. Jinkins James considered himself as an underprivilaged young person who have made significant strides despite the oppression he suffered from his aunty who decieved his parents that she was bring him to go to school. “I will like to tell people up country to know who they are giving their children to because I am a victim who is still hoping to make my people happy the day I meet them,” he warned. The act of some rural parents letting their children come to Monrovia with an aunty or uncle in order to acquire education goes a long way back into history. During the early 1890s and before then, settlers visited the hinterland of Liberia and adopted children of the aborigines; some of those children became prominent people in the society then and today. However, many more like Jinkins James became mere house helpers who did not find their way “back to their roots.”

Liberians Pay Homage to the Dead

Cemeteries around Liberia Last Wednesday received an influx of families, friends and love ones who when out to paint the tombs and clean the graveyards of their falling ones. As a tradition to most Liberians, every second Wednesday in March, marks the day which the burial place and graves of love ones should be tidy as a sign of respect for the dead. Our reporter visited several cementries including the Muslim burial place situated in the old road community to get a feel of how people in the country observed Decoration Day. Some of the cementries, besides the Muslim burial place, toured by our reporter were the J.C.N. Howard Cemetery, Congo Town Cemetery and the Palm Groove Cemetery on Center Street which had dramatic scenes of people weeping, mourning, drinking, cleaning around the graves, and meeting old friends. From early morning on March 14, to the afternoon hours, the old rugged weedy graveyards became brillantly sparkling with colors of all sort and all the grassed were cut and either burnt or thrown away. But such moods was unique to ‘Christain’s graveyards’ as the ‘Muslim’s burial place’ was perhaps, not visited, by the relatives of those falling Liberians who were buried there. Some may agree that there is nothing at the Muslim Cemetery to be decorated because the graves of several thousands Liberian Muslims who were have been buried there cannot be recognized by tombstones. Speaking to one a professed Muslim on how they when about observing Decoration Day, Asatu Kromah, 46, said since she was a child she remembered her parents having feast for the dead rather than ‘waisting resources’ on the graves of people that would benefit nobody any more. She said “monies used to build comfortable tombs, buy luxurous caskets, get expensive suits and decorate graves for the dead” as a Muslim tradition were diverted to helping an impoverished family member who is alive while the dead is wraped in special clothe and buried in the dirt. But many professed Christains who spoke to our reporter viewed Decoration Day as the day when they should paid homage to the people who they loved. “I am a little taking aback to hear that is how the Muslims regard their falling ones. Check the Bible it is there, ‘do onto others as it shall be done onto you.’ In everyday life if you want to other people to respect you must respect them, and it can also be applied to the dead,” Mr. Morris Milton said. The past Decoration Day was sad thoug people tried to make it seem like a festive day. It became more saddened to people who where at the J.C.N. Howard who discovered the remains of an individual loitering between some graves. Accordign to some of the people who lived around the area, people often dumped the body of their dead relatives in the cemetery durng the night for reasons best known to them. Some said the remains that was discovered could have belong to a family who could not afford funeral cost to give the person whose remain was found a befitting burial.

Monday, March 12, 2012

60% Focus Needed

- Says Ms. Juli Endee on girl’s empowerment Ms. Juli Endee, from Liberian Crusaders for Peace, have called on the government and people of Liberia to give at least 60% focus to girls empowerment if women are to be on par with their male counterpart. Madam Endee said as an African tradition, it was only boys who had the opportunity to go school while the girls stay home and dealt with house chores which had kept some Liberian girls far behind men. According to Ms. Endee when she spoke at a press briefing which focus on the activities for celebration of today, March 8, International Women's Day, it was about time that girls empowerment be prioritized so they can become productive citizens in society. These statements were based on the fact that several young women in the country according to reports have become ‘sex workers’ in other to support themselves and their families. Ms. Stella Twea, UNFPA Gender Adviser who presented on behave of United Nations family, their work with regards to working with national and international partners in strengthening the development opportunities for women and young girls in Liberia, alluded to the fact when she addressed the press briefing. She said girls around the world are being pushed by poverty into sex work and early age marriage in order to get what they must to survive. The Gender Adviser at UNFPA pointed out that most sex workers and under age (below 18) girls who are married out are vulnerable to implications which increases the country’s mortality rate. Though UN agencies and the GOL have worked to empower girls in the country, Ms. Twea said in years the UN and government of Liberia will be implementing programs that promotes girls empower as one unlike now. She acknowledged that there are vocational training programs which is improving the lives of many young women and girls and victims of sexual exploitation in urban areas of Liberia but stressed the need for women and girls in rural parts of the country to feel the impact of those programs. Ms. Twea disclosed that since January there have been at least 62 reported rape cases of which 58 involved young girls in their early teen age.

UNMIL Exit Not Soon

TAM Head of Mission Predicts Longer Stay As UNMIL Gets Reconfigured Mr. Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General of Peacekeeping Operations and head of the United Nations (UN) third Technical Assessment Mission (TAM) to Liberia has predicted that the UN Mission in Liberia could spend more years in the country before the mission is withdrawn. According to Mr. Mulet when he addressed a news conference last Friday at the UNMIL Pan African Plaza Headquarters in Monrovia, an exit strategy for UNMIL would be premature; rather the mission which has been in the country for about nine years would be reconfigured to support the priorties of the Liberian Government. He said members of TAM has been in the country for about two weeks and has been holding series of consultative meetings with state actors on the progress the country has made since the end of the civil conflict that plagued the nation. Among those with whom the TAM has met, are President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, Several Cabinet Ministers and some stake holders who have given the assessment mission information that could reflect a well rounded view of the entire situation in the before the TAM arrived. Though he did not disclose the details from the meetings, Mr. Mulet said the UNMIL will leave the country when the Government of Liberia becomes fully ready to take on the roles being occupied by the mission. “We have been meeting with the president and other stakeholders to discuss the remarkable progress the country have made since 2003. Let me say this, UNMIL is not leaving now. An exit strategy for the mission will be premature. Right now our [UN] focus will be on building the capacity of the various sectors in the country,” Mr. Mulet said. From all indications, it seems that the UNMIL has completed phase 1 of its existence in the country which has to do with the consolidation of peace and is currently at phase 2 where it is implementing draw downs and providing supports to the government to build a vibrant society that would sustain the peace after phase 3 of the mission which is withdrawal. According to the TAM Head of Mission, there still exist challenges and risks in the country in areas of economy and social development, unemployment, and nation’s security sector among others. He said because the country is fast evolving, there was a need for the UNMIL to adapt their over all strategy to meet the needs of present-day Liberia; thus prompting the reconfiguration of the mission. “You are adapting your own priorities now. We too have to adapt to support the government. During the reconfiguration of the mission, for instance, there maybe some draw downs, like we could be reducing the Military force and keep the UNPOL and the FPU; but we will do nothing to distort the peace in Liberia,” Mr. Mulet said. Asked how soon could he predict that the UNMIL will be pulling out of the country, Mr. Mulet said the mission coming to an end depends on the government own speed in preparation to take over from the mission. The Assistant Secretary-General of Peace Keeping Operations stated that there could be more Technical Assessment Missions coming to the country over the next four years to view the progress the country would make during the reconfigured stay of UNMIL. Mr. Muler re-emphasized the need for a stronger economy, social and budgetary empowerment strategy in the country in preparation for the Mission’s withdrawal. He called on all Liberians, international partners and the UN to work together to improve the Liberian society. Although he did not say that the Liberian Government activities was centralized or concentrated in Montserrado alone, Mr. Mulet stated that deconcentration and decentralization of all every public activities are part of a democratic process and Liberia must work towards that. Mr. Mulet recommitted the United Nations to stand by Liberia, one of its funding member states, during its endeavor toward lasting peace. Meanwhile, the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) to Liberia, Mr. Moustapha Soumare, also at the news conference, answered to questions of alleged rebel activities in the forest of Liberia. The acting SRSG said, the issue is of concern to the UN as it is to the people and government of Liberia. He re-echoed that investigators from UNMIL as well as the Liberian government are probing the allegation whether it is factual or mare speculation. “The UN remains committed to the sustainable peace in Liberia and will do all it can to keep that peace unhampered,” he said.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Amb. Greenfield Gets Liberian Passport

As the State Bid Her Farewell
Love your country more than you love yourselves President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson has honored outgoing U.S. Ambassador, Her Excellency Linda Thomas Greenfield as the first honorary citizens of the Republic of Liberia. The honorary citizenship was conferred upon Ambassador Greenfield during the souvenir program for the farewell reception and investiture ceremony held in her honor at the ministry of foreign affairs. Speaking at the program, President Johnson highlighted the ambassador’s role in helping to build the capacity of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the justice system in the country. She said the Ambassador Greenfield was a critical partner who helps in identifying lapses in the country and provided ways forward. According to the Liberian President, Madam Greenfield did for the Liberian people what deserve commendation. “During your time in Liberia you have many accomplishments. It is not what you have done but what you have shared with us is what really matters,” President Johnson said. In further remarks the Liberian leader said the U.S. Diplomat had come to Liberia when the country was making strides toward where it is today and have stood tall by the Liberians ‘unlike others who would sit in the comfort of their offices.’ She said because of such commitment to the country Madam Greenfield has become Liberia’s first honorary citizen who did not require a visa to the country. Besides the honor of becoming Liberia’s first honorary citizen, the guest of honor was also admitted into the Humane Order of African Redemption by President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson. President Sirleaf thanked the Government of the United Stated for their ambassador of the country. The souvenir Program was a glamorous event attended by H.E. Joseph N. Boakai and many high profiled individuals from the Government of Liberia, civil society, international NGOs, the United Nations, the United Nations Mission in Liberia, members of the 53rd National Legislature, Cabinet Ministers, staffers of the United States Embassy, journalists and the Armed Forces of Liberia Band Unit. Ambassador was dressed in a neatly pattern country cloth gown by Chief Zanzan Kawor, on behave of the National Traditional Council of Liberia. He hoped that the next ambassador of the United States to Liberia will be as their predecessor Linda Thomas Greenfield. At least eleven government ministries and agencies presented gifts of appreciation to the outgoing U.S Ambassador for the level of support she had given to each of them. The Ambassador received carvings, customized photos of her and President Johnson, police officer uniform, frame designed with the 16 ethnic group dance masks and a plaque with the map of Liberia and a pigmy hippopotamus in it. In response to the numerous praises and honor bestowed upon her, ambassador Greenfield thanked the gathering and said she intend to return to Liberia some days. She give a brief African-American history on which Liberia has its bases as a people who were not wanted in the Americas and were repatriated to Africa and became pioneers of the Republic of Liberia. The outgoing ambassador used the occasion to call on all Liberians to love their country more than they love themselves. “Love your country more than you love yourselves. It is not a hard thing to do. I have been in the country for about three years and I have seen so much selfishness and less care for the common man,” the critical Ambassador said. She further said the potential of Liberia progressing is so great though the country have gone through many dark years. “Liberia will be a better place. I pray that Liberia prosper and make all Liberians proud of being a Liberian,” madam Greenfeild stated.

3 Media Executives Summoned

For Reports on Alledged ‘Mis-applied’ US$1.2M by Supreme Court At least three media executives have been summoned by Justices of the Supreme Court to give reasons, if any, as to why they should not be held in contempt for publishing articles surrounding the alledged misapplication of some US$ 1.2 Million intended for the purchase of 27 vehicles to be used by circuit court judges around the country. Those summoned to appear before the Supreme Court judges today include: Mr. Jerome Dolieh, Managing Editor of the News Newspaper, Mr. George D. Watkins, Managing Editor of the Daily Graphic Newspaper and Mr. Rodney Sieh, Managing Editor of the Front Page Africa Newspaper which published the allegation on this February 7, 8, and 22 respectively. According to the Writ of Summons for Contempt addressed to the Marshall of the Supreme Court, the News Newspaper in its February 7, 2012 Vol. 23, No. 185 published an article under the headline US$1 Million Dollars Diverted at Temple of Justice, while the Daily Graphics in its February 8, 2012 published another article titled Rotten Supreme Court. The writ which also mentioned the Front Page Africa (wikileaks) which February 22, 2012 publication entitled High Court Scandal- Supreme Court Justices Feast on US$ 1 Million intended for Courts had an attached web article copied from the FPA website entitled Liberia Supreme Court Justices on Fire after US$1.2 Million Feast. Accordign to the attached web article, President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, who allocated the funds, had promised to establish a full-scale investigation into the why the US$1.2 Million for vehicular purchase was not used for its intended purpose. The article alledged that the four associate Justices of the Supreme Court, namely: Philip A.Z. Banks, Francis S. Kporkor sr., Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie and Kabinah M. Ja’neh, received about US$125,000 of the mis-applied funds, while Chief Justice Johnny Lewis refused to take his US$150,000 share of the funds. Despite the refusal of his portion to the alledgedly shared money, as the article puts it, reliable sources told the FPA that the Chief Justice approved the funds for the purchase of vehicles. It is not clear what level of damages the various newspapers’ articles have inflicted on the third brench of government, but it has been speculated that the articles could bring the Judiciary to disrepute. It can be recalled that in 2006 when His Honor Johnny Lewis took over the Supreme Court as Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia, he promised to eliminate corruption in the judicial circle of Liberia. With the recent reports circulating in the media about the diversion and mis-application of entrusted funds given to the Supreme Court to help strenghten the capacity of judges in the country, some critics have begun to argue that corruption has intensified in the justice system. Since the writ was issues, some critics have been saying that the action is intended to silent the media from reporting on frauds in the justice system and the government as a whole.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Media Recounts Electoral Challenges

Several media practitionals and supporting partners over the weekend gathered at the Baptist Youth Camp off the Robert’s International Airport (RIA) highway for a two-day media retreat held under the theme ‘the Media and the 2011 Elections: Best Pratices and Lessons Learned’ to critique the role of the media in the past elections. The retreat was organized by the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) with support from the USAID and IREX in efforts to identified issues of short comings on the part of the media during the 2011 elections and how those issues can be addressed to enhance the performance of the media in future elections in the country. Making solidarity remarks during the first day of the retreat, Mr. Kenneth Y. Best, Managing Director Liberia Observer Corporation, Mr. Norris Tweah, Deputy Minister for Information, Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism, and Tilly Reeds Chief of Party IREX commended the media for its credible performance during the elections. Though the orators lauded the media for performing fairly well during the 2011 election, they also noted there were some short-comings in the media that needed to be addressed. According to Deputed Minister Tweah, during the 2011 elections, the media was faced with the challenge of subjectivity and objectivity which led citizens to term some journalists as ‘partisan-journalist.’ He hoped that the retreat was going to draw guidelines that would help journalists to rise above fraud in the implementation of their duty to the people of Liberia. Day-one of the retreat was characterized by the solidarity remarks, plenary sections on various sectors of the Liberian media. During the plenary sections, it was learnt that in 2011 elections, some individuals used the media to tarnish the reputation of others; which some participants at the program said shouldn’t be accepted. Such usage according to some of the participants is usually backed by corruption because those who write maling articles collect money from the individual the story originated from. It was argued that those journalists who collected money from newsmakers were doing so because the media houses to which they belong was not paying them attractive salaries to compensite their daily lives. But such argument was debunked by Peter Quaqua, President of PUL, when he said that nothing should give journalists the audacity to compromise the profession. It was also learnt at the event that many journalists where not pushing too hard to get an accurately balance story, thus seeking refuge in the cliché ‘all efforts to contact party X prove futile.’ According to Prof. James Wolo, Head of UNMIL Media Monitoring Unit, who critique the points raise during the plenary, the media should strive for truthfulness because that what is expected of it.