Monday, April 16, 2012

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.