− reiterates Town Clerk must goBY Utamu BelleLinden Mayor Carwyn Holland has denied reports highlighted in some sections of the media that he and Deputy Mayor Waneka Arindell expended over $500,000 in travel/fuel expens from the time of taking up office on April 1.Holland, reportedly overseas at the time of the allegations, sought to set the record straight during a press conference in Georgetown on Monday. He said the impression presented to some sections of the media and the public that he “treats the municipality of the Linden Mayor and Town Council’s (LM&TC) funds like his personal piggy bank” are not only untrue, but signals a clear attempt to incriminate and bring the Mayor’s office into disrepute with malicious slandering.He pointed out that it is the Linden Town Clerk (TC) Jenella Bowen, who administers and more so has access to the Council’s funds, also stating that not even the Deputy Mayor has such access to the funds.Councillor and acting head of the council’s Finance Committee Derron John who was also present, reported that from the period April 1 to now a total of $255,464 was expended in vehicular travelling by the mayor and deputy mayor, instead of over the $500,000 that was reported. “Let me begin by first asserting that these allegations are completely untrue and are a gross exaggeration of the actual expenditures…the actual sum expended on fuel by the mayor and deputy Office is almost half of what was wickedly presented to the media…It is the responsibility of the municipality to provide a fixed sum for travel to the capital city Georgetown on Council business. On many occasions I have travelled to Georgetown and not requested funds to travel,” Holland noted.According to Councillor Wainwright Bethune, who was part of the press conference, the reports of over $500,000 in spending was an error which had been recorded but that the amount was corrected at a Finance Committee meeting. He explained that the municipal treasurer had also relayed the correction to the TC.He noted that while he is not making allegations against the TC, there was circumstantial evidence which proved that a document, which only TC had access to, was out in the public domain prior to the Finance Committee meeting. Bethune noted that some members of the municipality have also indicated their belief that the incorrect figures could have been leaked to the public by the TC.Bethune posited that because of the incorrect information being peddled, it was decided that the recent no-confidence motion be passed against the TC. He said that while the decision was made in the absence of the Mayor, Holland supports the decision of the Council and reiterated that the TC must go.Meanwhile, the mayor went on to state that he is aware of the Council’s financial situation, with it being over $200 million in the red but denied the exorbitant spending.“I am not now, nor have I been an exorbitant spender, nor one to be fancied over frivolous things. Instead, I know myself to be charitable especially to my town and have been fighting ever since we took office for stricter financial accountability and prudent spending,” Holland remarked.Further, Holland reiterated that he does not have any direct access to Council funds and that no spending of the Council is done without the passage and signature of the Town Clerk.Holland said he was forced to send a letter of complaint to the Communities Minister regarding what he described as the malpractices of the TC while he was on vacation. He believes there was a deliberate attempt to besmirch his image and that of the Deputy Mayor by inflating expenditures. He is contemplating legal proceedings; and will only recant when he gets a public apology. He added that the no-confidence motion was not a deliberate plan, but came from a recommendation from a Finance meeting of the Council where the accusations of the improprieties came up, which pushed the Council to make a recommendation for the no-confidence motion to be discussed at the level of the statutory meeting.He also denied allegations that the TC was locked out of office and noted that tardiness on the part of the TC was the main reason for the motion.
As Liberian boxers cry for support and promotion, their Ghanaian counterparts are moving ahead as Middleweight boxer Joshua Clottey recently vanquished his Australian opponent in a title fight in Australia.Though reports from Ghana indicate that since Clottey’s victory, he is yet to receive his title, he is set to return to Ghana without it.Clottey outpointed Australian Anthony Mundine in Newcastle, Australia in their World Boxing Association (WBA) International light-middleweight title.Reports further say it is a traditional practice for a boxer who wins a match to be presented with his title, the absence of the WBA International belt on the night of April 9, 2014 is very much troubling.”I raised questions but it seemed to me that they did not expect me to win the title,” Clottey told journalists after the bout.Reports also say he called his manager in the United States on the matter who also spoke to the authorities in Australia and was promised his title within days.Clottey’s next is opponent is American boxing legend, Floyd Mayweather Jr sometime this year based upon terms and conditions that defined his fight with Mundine.Clottey, 36, automatically becomes the number one contender to Mayweather Jr’s light-middleweight crown. Clottey, has recorded 38 wins, including 22 knockouts, and four losses.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Seven of the 18 persons accused of mercenary activities in neighboring La Côte d’Ivoire may be set free, if their pleas are accepted by Criminal Court ‘D’ at the Temple of Justice.The 18 men were arrested between 2010 and 2012 in Grand Gedeh County by state security. They were subsequently indicted and charged in 2013 for alleged mercenary activities.In their 19-count “Motion for Judgment Acquittal,” lawyers for the defense argued that witnesses who have testified for prosecution have already admitted that the seven co-defendants knew nothing about fighting in La Côte d’Ivoire.They further argued that the co-defendants should be acquitted as a matter of law, stating that “The state failed to produce evidence against them.”The lawyers said state witnesses had failed to produce evidence showing that any of the co-defendants was arrested with arms, while returning from La Côte d’Ivoire to Liberia, where they were arrested.The defense team added that prosecution failed “miserably” to satisfy the “burden of proof” in the matter as required by law, alleging the evidence was insufficient to convict the men of the charge.They also argued that government failed during the trial to prove their indictments with clear and cogent evidences, as there were material variances (contradictions) in the testimonies of their witnesses.Therefore, the lawyers prayed that “This Honorable Court should accept the motion and discharge the co-defendants from further answering to the charge of mercenarism, and grant unto them such further relief it may consider just and legal”.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Gun, ammo bustpolice are now in pursuit of two suspects in connection to the guns and ammunition found at an abandoned mining camp on Saturday.This is according to Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum, who indicated that the Police are tracking two individuals based on information they received. Blanhum related that these two suspects were named as the occupants of the said mining camp.Police in Mazaruni discovered the two firearms and quantity of ammunition at an abandoned mining camp at Blackwater, Cuyuni, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni). A Police report stated that Police conducted a search of the abandoned mining camp and found two 9mm pistols along with 27 matching live rounds.In recent months, there has been an upsurge in illegal weapons being found in possession of persons, particularly miners in the Region Seven area, for which a number of persons have been arrested.On February 4, 2016, three men were arrested at Turtle Creek, Mazaruni, after they were found with an illegal .32 pistol with three matching rounds and a .38 revolver with three matching rounds. Then on February 11, a miner was arrested when an illegal firearm was found in a mining camp he was occupying. Also in February at Honey Camp, Issano, Police found an unlicensed shotgun along with two cartridges.In March, a man was arrested and charged after he was found with an unlicensed 9mm pistol and seven matching rounds at Itaballi Checkpoint, Mazaruni. All of these persons have been placed before the courts for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
The Liberia Karate Federation LKF, under the leadership of President John Horace has announced the reopening of karate schools.Karate schools were shut down following announcement made by the Ministry of Youth and Sports to close all sporting activities in the wake of the Ebola fight.Technical Director Virgile Segbeya named the schools as Yang-Lee, Ogu Temple, Go-You –Lee, Keing-Go-Tan, and Yang-Lee located on Michelin Street.He said regular training is in progress and it is scheduled only on Sundays until the Ebola virus disease is out of the country.Segbeya explained that karate is contact sport and as a result the sport will be in full swing when Ebola is declared not in Liberia.Meanwhile President Horace has called on all karate athletes in the country, including their masters to keep courage and train harder to keep fit.He also called on all Ruling Counsels of the federation to come together and make it next to none in the country.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
A high-power Liberian delegation leaves the country Thursday for Lebanon in an effort to fast track the return of seven Liberian girls whose search for greener pastures resulted to dehumanizing treatment they have reportedly endured in that country.The delegation, headed by Labor Minister Neto Zarzar Lighe includes Jeddi Aman, Assistant Minister for Legal Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) Commissioner Lemuel Reeves and Joseph Flomo, (105 Liberia National Police.)The mandate of the delegation, according to Minister Lighe is to ensure that the Liberians return home peacefully while arrangements for the possible return of other Liberians believed to be facing similar situations in Lebanon, are rescued immediately.Minister Lighe disclosed that the Liberian government is closely working with Interpol and Beirut to search for and identify other Liberians living under adverse conditions and to evacuate them in the soonest possible time.“The intent of this trip is to get first hand information about our citizens living in Lebanon and address their condition,” Lighe told the Daily Observer.He noted that it is important to be on the ground and ask the right people the right questions other than sitting in Monrovia and holding telephone conversations with people in Beirut.Lighe said all efforts and procedures have been put into place to ensure that the girls return home to the safety of their families. He said, “We have done everything possible to make sure that these girls get their passports and return home to Liberia. The girls’ return will be made public and things are on course.” The girls are Rema Nyepan, Ayres M. Jasper, Bernice Gbar, Muffitte N. Panma, Grace K. David, Emma T. Swaber and Patience King. Reports have indicated that they were abused by their hosts, claiming thousands of dollars spent to get them to Lebanon. According to Minister Lighe, who also chairs the National Taskforce on Anti-Human Trafficking in Liberia, the girls agreed to leave Liberia after being deceived that they would have a better life in Lebanon. Minister Lighe explained that, “Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world and promise of good life elsewhere attracts its citizens.” The seven Liberian girls were reported to have been used as housekeepers earning little for themselves.The Minister described the seizing of the seven girls’ passports by their Lebanese hosts, and demanding over US$4,000 from each of them as payment for their air fares, as an unfortunate act.The minister said through the help of international partners and Interpol, the Liberian government has so far succeeded in rescuing the girls, and they will be coming home soon, though he could state how soon. Minister Lighe said some of the perpetrators of the girls’ trip to Lebanon have been arrested by the Liberia National Police, in collaboration with the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and are awaiting prosecution by the Justice Ministry.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
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The most appreciated Liberian government official, Mary Broh, has said that everything she does is meant to give a good image of the country she loves and cherishes so much. She is therefore urging Liberians to show similar affections if the country is to be developed.“I love this country! I really love this country because this is the place I call home and everything I do, I do it in the best interest of this country,” Madam Broh, affectionately called ‘General Broh’, said at the Liberian Series of the African SHEROES Awards over the weekend.Madam Broh was one of several honorees at the event, where she scooped the Outstanding Female Government Official Award. In this category, she edged out Paynesville City Mayor, Cyvette Gibson, and another nominee.After being presented with the accolade, Mrs. Broh, who is known for her no-nonsense approach to ensuring that Monrovia and its environs are kept clean by residents as well as taking on every task presented by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said: “Liberia is a place that I hold so dear to my heart. This country is a sweet place but we all must work to make it so.”“President Sirleaf similarly loves this country.”She said it will take only Liberians to make Liberia better. “No one will come from anywhere to do it for us. This is the only place we have,” she said.The GSA boss was recently given a month-long task of giving Monrovia and its immediate environs a facelift for the festive season; which she, as usual, ably executed, though many described her actions as “anti-developmental.”The African SHEROES Awards is a newly initiated premier international awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful and inspiring females of African descent, with the Liberia edition being the first of its kind to kick-off this year.President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was the biggest winner at the award ceremony, taking home the maiden edition of the highest and most prestigious award of the African SHEROES Awards (ASAs), The Ultimate SHEROES Award.The president was not at the ceremony, but Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister Julia Duncan Cassell received the award on her behalf.The President was selected by the organizers for the highest honor because of what they termed as her great achievement in politics and setting the bar for other African women to follow. The ultimate SHERO is a woman who has continuously risen to the challenge of matching social impact with economic value and broken the glass ceiling, organizers of the event said.The ASAs, a Liberian event, was created specifically to honor women who strive for success in spite of the limitations society put on being a female. The organizers are Barkue Tubman and Salamartu Duncan. The awards were won in both youth and adult categories, with many young girls emerging as winners.Tubman and Duncan, speaking at the ceremony, promised that each year the organization and its partners will recognize African women for demonstrating excellence – from economic growth to social change, from local to global, across multiple sectors.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
By: Lekpele M. NyamalonThe Phrase ‘Aluta Continua’ was the rallying cry of the FRELIMO movement during Mozambique’s war for independence. It was used popularly by the nation’s first president and leader of Frelimo, the beloved Samora Machel. Translated to English, the phrase is interpreted: “the struggle continues.”Literally, in the life of the people, the masses, the people who legitimize power for politicians, are conduits for politicians to attain power, although they are usually trashed after that.In my country, Liberia, there is the ‘dump-truck theory,’ a theory that the truck that builds the castle is not allowed there when the castle is fully constructed. The people that give power through their votes are left stranded, destitute, neglected and poor, by corrupt and sometimes inept men who hold the keys to power.The firebrand face of the progressive movement in Liberia, the radical G. Bacchus Matthews, is credited with preceding the phrase with the clause, “in the cause of the people.”So, the people are the common denominator in the fight for power in a democracy. They are akin to a voiceless child, whose sentiments, emotions and pains are heard and known to the hearts of mothers. A child’s mother understands when the child is hungry, in pain or probably just needs attention. The people are unable to communicate their feelings and hold discussions as a group, save through their elected leaders. In other words, they give their voice to one figurehead to go out there and speak for them and put their cases before the larger body. In a democracy, the legislature is a body of men and women that are the direct voices of the common man to ensure checks and balances, to avoid, among other things, domineering leaders in the executive branch of government to rule unchecked. Usually, there is either a conspiracy of power or a collision of power. When the leaders entrusted by the people collide, conspire or connive to betray the voice of the people, the result is frustration, dissent and the urge to revolt.When the people become frustrated and disenchanted, it gives rise to a new group of opportunists and power enthusiasts: the demagogues. These are the brand that appeal to popular sentiments capable of rallying the masses to follow their loose rhetoric with little direction and incoherent logic. The demagogues have a script that appeals to the soul of the masses. They neither have a thorough understanding of the issues nor a blueprint to solutions. They are a stitch in time; they slide in when those in power close the line of communication with the people and ignore their cries. The people, in constant need of reassurance, are mesmerized by the rhetoric of the demagogues and follow them. Sadly, and often so, when the demagogues ascend to power, they leave the masses staring at the gates, thus leading to a vicious cycle of a rise in demagogues at different points in time in history. Demagogues are so influentially dangerous that they are able to rally the masses to war and destruction.Disappointedly, when the people lose faith in demagogues, they retrieve their power from everyone and take it in their hands. When power is not used wisely, the people reveal, through frustrations, that they are the real custodians of power. History has proved this. People can remove kingdoms.During the French Revolution, market women led a march that ended the independence of King Louis XVI in what became known in history as ‘The March on Versailles.’ This was one of the several events leading to the French Revolution. The market women along with some agitators grew in their ranks and began a revolution that brought reforms in France. Hunger and women’s despair in the economic realities in France were cited as reasons for ‘The March on Versailles.’ This is symbolic of the power of people to effect change, sometimes disorderly and leading to chaos.In all regards, the power of the people is best utilized when their elected representatives use them sensibly to benefit the cause of the people. If not, either aroused by a demagogue or fed up with the system, the people, taking back their power violently from their elected leaders, can be disastrous. The raw use of power by the people can have positive or negative effects. There is an insatiable urge for representation and fair dealings in a democracy, which leads its subjects to allow the rise of insincere leaders who use the backs of the people to cross over. They then end up whipping the backs of the masses to submit, and rain insults on those that gave them the keys to power. Until the people can understand and define the crux of the struggle for rights, social justice, empowerment and upliftment, the journey is long and uncertain. Aluta Continua!Lekpele M. Nyamalon is a Writer, Poet, Pan Africanist and the Founder of Africa’s Life. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
– Advertisement – Justice Banks: “Our mistake for not deliberating on section 5.9 was brought to my attention by a young child” Associate Justice Philip A.Z. Banks last Friday publicly clarified that the Supreme Court’s opinion (Judgment) did not address section 5.9 of the controversial Code of Conduct.He said the court, however, managed to deal with sections 5.1 and 5.2 respectively.Section 5.9 provides that, “Any public official, after due process, who is found guilty of violating any provision of this section shall be immediately removed from the position or office held by him or her, and thereafter, no part of the funds appropriated by any laws for such position or office shall be used to pay compensation to such person.”It can be recalled that the Supreme Court on March 3 declared the Code of Conduct constitutional, with two of the justices against and three in favor of it.Associate Justices Banks and Jamessetta Wolokollie were the two justices that voted against the affirmative decision of Chief Justice Francis Saye Korpor and the two other Associate Justices.At a ceremony to admit five new Attorneys-at-Law into the Montserrado County Bar Association, Justice Banks said their mistake not deliberating on section 5.9 was brought to his attention by a person he described as a “young child.”“As you know, we recently dealt with the Code of Conduct, and I was one of the justices who had dissenting (contrary) opinion. But as we had concluded this matter, we taught it was now behind us,” Banks explained.Justice Bank said, the child met him and congratulated his and Justice Wolokollie’s dissenting views on the Code of Conduct.“The young child said he has read my opinion, but in the entire judgment, all five justices left-out 5.9, and we only dealt with 5.1 and 5.2, and all of these were part of the same chapter,” Justice Banks quoted the child, adding, “I went back and looked at our opinion, and I said to myself, ‘how come we did not reference 5.9’ because it was very important to our opinion.”Banks reminded his audience, among them the newly admitted attorneys, that they shouldsee the profession as a continuous learning process.“Our experience on the Code of Conduct should tell you that the law is a continuous learning process for all of us; and for those who are still debating our opinion, go and read 5.9,” Banks told the young lawyers.The controversy surrounding the Code of Conduct came about when Bong County Superintendent Selena Mappy-Polson filed a “Petition for Declaratory Judgment” claiming that sections 5.1, 5.2 and 5.9 are unconstitutional.Meanwhile, section 5.1 states that “All officials appointed by the President of Liberia shall not: a) Engage in political activities, canvass or contest for elected offices; b) Use government facilities, equipment or resources in support of partisan or political activities; c) Serve on a campaign team of any political party, or the campaign of any independent candidate.”And 5.2: “Wherein, any person in the category stated in section 5.1 herein above, desires to canvass or contest for an elective public position, the followings shall apply: a) Any minister, deputy minister, director-general, managing director and superintendent appointed by the President pursuant to article 56 (a) of the Constitution and a managing director appointed by a Board of Directors, who desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post at least two years prior to the date of such public elections; b) Any other official appointed by the President who holds a tenured position and desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post three years prior to the date of such public elections; c) However, in the case of impeachment, death, resignation or disability of an elected official, any official listed above, desirous of canvassing or contesting to fill such position must resign said position within 90 days following the declaration by the National Elections Commission of the vacancy.”The aforementioned sections are compulsory commands and every aspect of them was expected to be followed by the framers. In spite of the fact that it took the Legislature more than 28 years to pass into law the Code of Conduct, in and of itself a further abuse of the Constitution, the Legislature was without a choice to make the Code not applicable to Liberians. Any deviation, as was couched in the Code, making Sections 5.1 and 5.2 applicable only to members of the Executive, with the exclusion of the president and vice president and their staff (and definitely by the exclusion of the legislators), rendered the Code, even without referencing the equal protection clause of the Constitution, discriminatory and hence unconstitutional.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)