New Liberian Diplomatic Envoy To U. S. Commissioned

Monrovia, Monday, December 31, 2018: Liberian President George Manneh Weah has commissioned Ambassador George S.W. Patten, Sr, Liberian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary designate to the United States of America.

New Liberian Ambassador To U. S. George S.W. Patten Sr.

Ambassador Patten Sr. replaces Cllr. Lois Brutus.

According to a Foreign Ministry release, the commissioning ceremony took place on Saturday, December 29, 2018.

President Weah encouraged Ambassador-designate Patten to represent Liberia’s best interest at his new assignment. President Weah also advised Ambassador Patten to be mindful of the special relationship subsisting between Liberia and the United States of America.

According to the release, Liberia’s Ambassador-designate to the United States, Ambassador George S.W. Patten Sr, promised to promote and push Liberia’s Foreign Policy to the highest level while performing his duties and responsibilities to the best of his ability. Ambassador Patten thanked President Weah for the opportunity and the confidence reposed in his ability to serve Liberia at that ambassadorial level.

Ambassador George S.W. Patten previously served as Liberia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, and Chargé d’Affaires a.i., at Liberia’s Permanent Mission to the UN, the government release said.

West African Journal Magazine

 

 

Liberia: Two Former PUL Officials Say They Will Defend Right To Freedom Of Speech For All

Boston, MA USA December 28, 2018 – Two former officials of the Pres Union of Liberia (PUL) say they will continue to strongly defend the inalienable right of freedom of speech of every Liberian and the media, irrespective of whether views expressed are contrary.

PUL President Charles Coffey
PUL President Charles Coffey

In a press statement issued on Friday, December 28, 2018 from Boston, Massachusetts, the United States and copied to West African Journal Magazine, Messers Isaac Bantu and Emmanuel Abalo, two former Presidents of the journalists Union said their attention had been drawn to a decision by the PUL to suspend the membership of Liberia’s Information Minister Mr. Eugene Nagbe for a statement attributed to him in which he referred to the PUL as “useless”.

 The former PUL Executives said although the derogatory characterization of the Union by the current Information Minister was unfortunate and highly irresponsible, the attempt at curtailing his right to express an inconvenient view of the Union by suspending his membership pending his apology contravenes the very essence of the business of the PUL; to protect the alienable right of Liberians to freely and responsibly express diverse views through media reportage and serve as a watch dog in society.

 According to the two, the PUL has a duty to encourage and defend the right of every citizen who expresses an alternate view in the public square, even if that view makes the PUL, Government or public officials uncomfortable.

 

Liberia Information Minister Eugene Nagbe
Liberia Information Minister Eugene Nagbe

Meantime, Messers Bantu and Abalo have strongly criticized a statement calling for the expulsion of the Information Minister from the PUL without due process.

Liberians must be reminded, they said, that for some who are calling for the extreme position of the expulsion of Minister Nagbe from the PUL for expressing a contrary view, it was some of the same individuals who presided over the arrest, incarceration and mal-treatment of media personnel, including the closure of media houses for their reportage which were viewed as critical of past Governments.

The PUL must not be used to repeat the tactics of marginalization of free speech as was done in the past by public officials, according to the former PUL officials.

 “The current climate of intimidation and threats against the media as enunciated by senior governments officials are unacceptable and the Government of Liberia has a duty to protect all citizens, equitably enforce the Constitution and sanction its officials who threaten press freedom and media personnel. Freedom of speech and press freedom are scared rights that all Liberians should enjoy in a democratic environment,” the two media executives concluded.

West African Journal Magazine

Liberia Bars Housing Bribery Scandal Suspects From Leaving Country

In the ongoing alleged bribery scandal involving the head of Liberia’s National Housing Authority (NHA) and his principal deputy, the country’s Ministry of a Justice says,”…the officials of Government mentioning in the recording categorically reject any suggestions that Messers Duanah Siryon, Tugbeh C. Tugbeh and Augustine Weah acted on their behalf or with their consent…”

Duanah Siryon, NHA Managing Director

A Press Statement issued on Sunday afternoon in Monrovia confirmed the existence of a government investigation into the scandal saying,” …based on a petition filed by the Ministry of Justice filed on Friday, November 23, 2018, the Criminal Court “A” at the Temple of Justice has issued the Writ of Nea Exit Republica barring Messers Duanah Siryon, Managing Director of the National Housing Authority, Tugbeh C. Tugbeh, Deputy Managing Director of the National Housing Authority and Augustine Weah from leaving the bailwick of the Republic of Liberia pending conclusion of the investigation.”

Siryon and his Deputy Tugbeh were reportedly arrested by state security on Friday for questioning following disclosure of a tape which implicated top government officials allegedly soliciting bribe for the warding of a housing contract to GELPAZ, a Burkinabe company.

Minister of State in the Liberian Presidency Nathaniel F. McGill

Strangely, the Justice Ministry, in its statement, is already appearing to side with those mentioned on the tape by amplifying their denial, while its investigation is ongoing.

The Justice, Finance and Ministry of State in the Presidency are all entangled in the alleged bribery plan as heard in discussion on tape. Their cut of the money was referred to as the “VIP Package”.

Liberia Minister of Finance and Planning Samuel Tweah

“The Ministry of a Justice (MOJ) wishes to emphasize that the solicitation, offer and acceptance of anything of value as consideration for the rendition of a public service constitutes bribery, a felonious offense punishable under Subchapter D, Subsection 12.50 of the Penal Code of the Republic of Liberia…,”the Press Statement said.

Depiction of Bribery

Liberians in and out of the country are outraged at the plethora of financial scandals plaguing public officials in the Weah Administration.

An ongoing investigation for $16 billion Liberian dollars has yielded no update since the Ministries of Justice, Information and the Central Bank all gave conflicting accounts of the missing money.

Also, the Liberian Government has yet to clearly explain the process of the infusion of $25 million USD in the local economy to stem its rapid decline.

Liberia Justice Ministry Press Statement

Some Liberians say that they less confident of any credible accountability in these scandals.

The Weah Administration is under heavy pressure to provide economic relief to suffering Liberians.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

PRESS STATEMENT ON THE RECENT POLITICAL VIOLENCE IN LIBERIA NOVEMBER 21, 2018

I was a member of the Cabinet on November 7, 2011, when the headquarters of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), then an opposition political party where the scene of violence and unwarranted bloodshed took place. 

Attorney Samuel Kofi Woods, Founder- Liberia Law Society

Despite my position in government at the time and holding true to my values as a human rights advocate, I condemned the government’s actions, the senseless tragedy and bloodletting; and declared the act a bad omen for our democracy. I called for a full investigation of the incident, emphasized the need for accountability, and demanded the reopening of radio stations that were summarily closed in the aftermath of the incident.  An independent Committee was later appointed, inquiry conducted and some of its recommendations implemented.

Today, in the wake of the recent election-related violence in District#13, I am painfully reminded of that November 7, 2011 incident and concerned that bloody political contests searing our conscience and decency might become the new norm. 

I hereby condemn the Saturday November 17, 2018 act of lawlessness and call on the Government to conduct a comprehensive investigation and ensure that the alleged perpetrators are brought to justice. “There must be no sacred cows”.

The violent incident over the weekend casts a cloud over the elections in District #13 undermining faith that theprocess and its outcome will be free, fair and transparent. It also puts a dent in the gains made over the years in consolidating our nascent democracy. This is an onslaught on human rights and a threat to peace and stability. However, it is convincingly reinforcing the case for accountability in Liberia.  The indifference and disdain for human dignity persists due to the level of impunity indulged by our government and people.

 Liberians have suffered over the years and would spare no price to resist attempts to intimidate, harass and impose inhumane treatment against those whose only crime is to freely associate and participate in a democratic competition and fulfill the full enjoyment of their fundamental rights

Flag of Liberia

We have had Two dark Novembers where blood has been shed and people killed for exercising their rights and civic duties. With victims of the previous incident now governors of the state, a repeat of this act of violence is unconscionable and unacceptable. Liberians look forward to a redemption of history and a conscious effort by the current leadership of this country to demonstrate its commitment to the tenets of democracy and peace. Government must realize that it is the agent responsible to protect all Liberians, not just some Liberians.

In view of these unfolding developments, I call for the following:

1. A comprehensive investigation into the election-related violence that occurred over the weekend of November 17, 2018 and the incident involving the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the Executive Protection Services (EPS) on Sunday, November 18, 2018.
2. All named perpetrators must be brought to justice
3. All religious, civil and political organizations must ensure redress for the victims of such violence and campaign for the necessary punitive measures and sanctions against individuals and organizations who continue to engage in violence in our country; thereby undermining our peace;
4. The National Legislature must conduct open session on these events and act to secure and protect our fledging democracy;
5. International and regional organizations must take note of these developments and act to sanction individuals and organizations that seek to undermine the democratic gains made by our country;
6. Where the Liberian Government fails to act properly, individuals are encouraged to take advantage of other avenues including the ECOWAS Court to ensure that government’s duty under international and domestic laws are adhered to;

7.      Any investigation must consider the violation of the code of conduct for public officials and the extent to which it has been violated.

The Liberia Law Society is open to participate as a full partner to ensure that these recommendations and other suggestions are considered and implemented. IF IT WAS WRONG THEN IT IS WRONG NOW!

Signed:

Atty. Samuel Kofi Woods, II

Legal Consultant & Founder

Liberia Law Society

 

 

Liberia: Opposition ANC Leader Alex Cummings Cites “Ineptitude and Incompetence” For Deteriorating Governance

Monrovia, Liberia – November 23, 2018: The leader of Liberia’s opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) Political Party says he takes full responsibility for the performance of the party in the last Presidential and General Elections in the West African country. 

ANC Political Leader Alexander B. Cummings of Liberia
In a rather honest and harsh introspection and response to charges of the dismal national performance of his party,  Mr. Alexander B. Cummings told a local radio interview in the capital Monrovia on Thursday, “…there are a few things we learned; looking at the post mortem in no particular order…we were not very effective, I believe, in communicating with the youths, the young people. Our candidate selection process was not as robust as it could have been, in terms of the kind of choices who were on the ANC ticket. Our organization, you have to remember that this is the first time the ANC ran in any elections. And so our experience around the organization of the campaign  was not up to par. And so those are just the facts. And I think that just impacted our performance…” the ANC leader said.

The ANC did not win the Presidency or any Parliamentary seat.
In the radio interview which covered several topics, Cummings cited some of his own challenges in the Liberian political theater which led to the party electoral losses such as being viewed as “new” to the scene, the perception that some Liberians held that he was un-electable because there were “others who were in line for this job” to become President because they have been contesting for some time and that he didn’t “connect” well. He promised to continue to work to address those perceived challenges.
As part of re-positioning his political party for the future in Liberia, sources disclose that Cummings is reaching out to all Liberians in the country and the Diaspora to solicit their ideas and support to change the deteriorating trajectory of governance,  a major meeting is planned for the weekend of December 7-8 in Maryland, the United States between Cummings and Liberians residing across the US.
Organizers have confirmed attendance from Liberians in US Midwest, the northeast, Minnesota and the southeast.
The ANC Leader, in his radio interview,  said after nearly a year, governance of the country,  under the Weah Administration, was rapidly deteriorating, citing “incompetence” and “ineptitude”.
Cummings expressed anxiety about the early direction of the country but said Liberians should hope that something may change.
Local Money Changer
Asked what he would have done if he had become President, Cummings said he would have focused on the economy, “…because at the end of the day, it’s all about the economy, it’s all about jobs, it’s all about the currency…”
According to him, he would have focused on having the best economic team at the Finance and Commerce Ministries, finding waste in Government in order to reinvest in the Liberian people. Cummings said he would have lobbied the various branches of government for salary reduction in order to use that money to offer better pay to teachers, police officers and health workers.
The Liberian opposition leader said his Administration would have focused on the area of Agriculture to create jobs and food security, support the growth of Liberian businesses through local availability of credit and loan facilities, relaxation of government’s taxation regime to easily facilitate business growth and investment and improving the reputation of Liberia to attract much needed investments.
On the current effort to impeach Supreme Court Associate Justice Kabineh Janet,  Cummings characterized it as “misplaced”, adding, “I think there’s no basis for the judge’s impeachment. I think it’s an attempt by the Executive branch to try to control a separate branch of government; the Judiciary branch and its a violation of the separation of powers. I fundamentally disagree with the case that is being propounded to impeach Judge Janeh.”
Several lawmakers led by ruling party legislators are pursuing impeachment articles against the high court justice.
Commenting on the ongoing saga of the mission billions in Liberian dollars from the National Bank ANC Leader Cummings called for inclusion of discussion of the 25 million US dollar the Weah Administration claimed it infused in the economy to mop up deteriorating local currency.
Liberia Finance and Planning Minister Samuel Tweah
The country’s Finance and Planning Minister Samuel Tweah recently disclosed at a Parliamentary hearing that unnamed local money changers were used by government to undertake the “mopping up” of Liberian dollars on the market instead of commercial banks.
A forensic investigation is underway into the missing money.
“…I think that’s perhaps what most Liberians should be angry about is the fact that you have a  government where the Justice Minister said one thing about the mIssing money, you have the Information Ministry saying something else, you have the Minister of  Finance say something else and subsequently change on what he said and you have the Governor saying something else. You wonder why we are not getting investors in this country…that’s one of the primary reasons because business people and investors are confused, they are alarmed…”, Cummings explained.
In a separate development, Liberia’s National Security Council (NSC) has identified the lack of citizens access to electric power as “…a national security emergency and, as such, MUST be treated with the outmost sense of urgency…”
According to a Press Statement issued on Friday, “….the NSC has instructed the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) and it’s partners to take advantage of the relevant provision(s) of the PPC Law dealing with National Security matters by single sourcing ALL electricity procurement processes.”
Liberia has struggled for nearly 20 years with the inability to generate reliable power since major infrastructures were destroyed, damaged or looted during the country’s devastating civil wars in the 1990s.
The Liberian NSC decision comes at the same time a Report was made to President George M. Weah on a scary standoff and shooting incident on last Sunday.
Some Members of Liberia Presidential Guard – File Photo
A soldier of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) was shot and wounded by a member of the elite Presidential guard just prior to a scheduled international soccer match between Liberia and Zimbabwe at the national sports stadium outside of the capital Monrovia.
Recommendations of the investigation report,  which has been approved by President Weah, called for the dismissal of the Chief of Operations of the Presidential Guard Shadrick Nyantee, and the dismissal and prosecution of Special Agent Abu Thompson for unlawful discharge of a fire arm.
Five other Special Agents involved in the incident were suspended, according to the NSC Press Statement.
By Emmanuel Abalo
West African Journal Magazine

US House of Representatives Passes Resolution for War Crimes Court Establishment in Liberia

Washington, D.C. – The US House of Representatives File Photo

House of Representatives tonight passed H. Res. 1055to reaffirm strong U.S.-Liberia ties and call for full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations.

On the House floor prior to the vote, Chairman Ed Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):

“I rise in support of H. Res. 1055, which affirms the strong ties between the United States and Liberia and calls for full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations. I want to thank Reps. Donovan and Johnson for their work on this resolution.

During my time as Chairman of the Africa Subcommittee, we held hearings and passed legislation to bring attention to the brutal civil war in Liberia and Sierra Leone that killed 200,000 people and displaced more than 1 million – one of whom, who was also orphaned by this conflict, worked in my own office in Congress. We heard a young girl – no more than 10 years old – recount the atrocities she herself endured during the war, a gruesome illustration of the horrific and lasting impact this conflict had on the people of Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The Africa Subcommittee worked across party lines and alongside the international community and the people of Liberia to apprehend the notorious warlord Charles Taylor. Today, he remains behind bars.

Liberian President George M. Weah

In 2003, the Government of Liberia, rebel groups and political parties signed a comprehensive peace agreement. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created, which recommended the establishment of a war crimes tribunal to ensure justice for the people of Liberia.

Former Liberia TRC Head Counselor Jerome Verdier

Unfortunately, however, this war crimes tribunal has never been established, although Liberian government figures and activists alike have continued to call for one. This resolution repeats this important call.

We have turned the page on this horrific chapter in Liberia’s history. In March, the U.N. peacekeeping mission there officially ended. It is not often we get to celebrate the successful end of a mission, and we remember the 202 peacekeepers that lost their lives to bring peace and stability in the region.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was democratically elected in 2005 and reelected in 2011 before stepping down from power. Last year, the country experienced its first democratic transition of power since November 1944. This further strengthened democratic institutions and set an important precedent for future leaders.

Liberian Peace Activists March For Justice

Much more needs to be done to crack down on corruption and create a more conducive environment for trade and economic investment. The government must ensure policies are in place to encourage businesses to invest, grow and create jobs.

But this resolution affirms the U.S. commitment to continue to partner with Liberia to support civil society, rule of law and good governance. We stand by the Liberian people in their continued efforts for a more prosperous and democratic Liberia.

The United States and Liberia have shared close historical, political and economic ties over the course of a nearly 200-year relationship. The United States is home to an estimated 80,000 people of Liberian ancestry. This resolution commends this diaspora population, which has been instrumental in America’s efforts to build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Liberia.”

Source: Foreign Affairs Committee, US House of Representatives

Press Statement: PEACEFUL PROTESTORS ARE TRUE PATRIOTS, NOT NOISE MAKERS

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE GROUP ( IJG)

PRESS STATEMENT

For immediate release

Peaceful protests is a fundamental right of free speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution of Liberia, Universal Declarstion of Human Rights and multiple international covenants and declarations of theUnited Nations, the AU, ECOWAS, to which Liberia is a part is undeniable.

The Americans and European Bodies also have guaranteed that espouse and respect the right to freedom of speech and expression.

Liberia House Speaker Bhofal Chambers

For the Speaker of the Liberian lower House of Representatives to declare that demonstrators are noise makers exposes a fundamental flaw in the Speaker’s understanding and appreciation for “contemporary democracy”.

Liberia’s peaceful demonstrators are the Bosses of the Honorable Speaker. They are the ones who pay his fat salary, he is accountable to them and this Government of President Weah must listen to them.

Said statement appearing in the October 19th Edition of the Frontpage Newspaper, attributed to the Honorable Speaker is callously reckless and irresponsible. It demonstrates that the Honorable Speaker doesn’t know his place in Government and is unfit to be the people’s representative.

No immunity from criminal Investigation

Ongoing investigation or future investigations into the very shameful “missing money” saga is of the nature a criminal investigation from which there is no immunity for members of the Honorable National Legislature.

The immunity they enjoy is to ensure they perform their job, the business of the people of Liberia, without hindrances and restraints but not to shield the Honorable members of the National Legislature From criminal investigations, crime or prosecution for the commission crimes. A member of the National Legislature can be arrested for a misdemeanor as low as infraction of public peace or disorderly conduct or any infamous crimes in hot persist.

There is no protection of a Legislator from investigation for the commission of a crime. HONORABLE

LEGISLATORS ARE NOT ABOVE THE LAW, AND NO ONE IS.

“Contemporary Democracy” puts no one above the law, nor does it shield anyone from justice who does a wrong, breaks the law or conspire to steal money, launder money or engage in currency manipulation and economic crimes. While the entire body of the HonorableHouse of Representative may not be subject to current criminal investigations, but individual members may so be where the evidence leads and be prosecuted and they cannot hide under the cover of that Honorable Body to extenuate impunity and impede the ends of justice.

Serious Crimes we’re committed

The investigation into the “missing money” saga are potentially very serious crimes and the Government of President Weah must regard it as such. Indications are that the saga points to a conspiracy to commit crimes like money laundering, currency manipulation, insider or illegal dealings in currency and counterfeiting and if this Honorable Body is found to be involved, liable or found to be complicit or culpable, the Honorable Legislature will be thereby discredited, its immunity lowered to face justice or be disbanded.

Servant Leadership

In our scheme of democracy, our leaders are expected to be servants of the people, subject to their desires for good governance and accountability.

So, when the people demand “bring back our money” they are not saying they know where the container of money is, Mr. Speaker, they are saying they know that the authorities of state took the container of money and it is the authorities who, therefore know where the money is, and the money is their (public) property and are demanding you all must bring back their money from under your beds, in your cupboards and closets, garages, in your cars and wherever they have new started to elude suspicions and discoveries.

Legislative Break

The National Legislature is entitled to annual breaks, which the late President Samuel Doe designated as “agriculture break” so legislators can spend time with their people in their constituencies to emphasize the importance of agriculture to Liberia’s economic resurgence.

This break by the Legislature is compulsory, constitutional and must hold. It is not within the purview of the Honorable Legislature to, on their own accord, terminate their annual break. So, they must continue on break and if they end it for any reason other than Presidential Perogative, then they are on their own and any monies paid to them will be illegal, corruption amounting to gross abuse of public office and authority.

Map of Liberia

The Honorable National Legislature can only be recalled from break by The President for state emergency reasons or similar inputs. Since no such state of emergency exists, at the moment, President Weah will be well advised not to recall the Legislature and spare the national treasury such High sum to pay US$10,000 as legislators are said to be demanding. So, please, Mr President, Dr George M Weah, let the Legislators enjoy their break to rest and interact and consult with their constituencies inkeeping with law. In the absence of the Honorable Legislature on recess any law you desire can wait and Executive Orders are available to remedy such situation pending their return.

Authority to Print Money

While the Honorable National Legislature May have intended to limit the CBL to printing a certain amount of new Liberia Currency to 5 Billion Liberia Dollars, the communication transmitted to the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) is suspect.

The communication, wether by design, miscommunication or a criminal conspiracy or scheme from which individual members of the Honorable Legislature or the entire body benefited is yet undetermined.

Instead of limiting the CBL, the communication from the National Legislature to the CBL did not express or contain any such restrictions or limits. Instead, the communication authorized the CBL to use all the constitutional authority of the National Legislature to print new money when in closing the Honorable National Legislature unwittingly and unnecessarily said “ In view of the above and with the Power assigned to the Legislature under Article 35(d) of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, this shall constitute your legal and sufficient authority “

With this expressed authorization and Blessings of the National Legislature coupled with the scope, power and authority conferred on the CBL by the CBL ACT, the Legislature explicitly delegated, assigned and arrogated to the CBL all its powers and authority to print new Liberian Currency in any amount the CBL so desires.

And, with information becoming clearer and clearer that some members of the National Legislature shared in the proceeds of the looted container of Liberian money, we may be getting closer and closer to a grand national conspiracy to commit fraud, theft of property, money laundering. and other economic crimes against the people of Liberia, on a scale like never

before seen in the history of Liberia.

Recommendations

1. That the Government enacts very strong anti-corruption laws that makes it easier to punish corrupt officials of government and recover stolen assets for public use. The IJG offers its services and is willing to assist government in this direction

2. That the Government of President Weah establishes a SALARIES AND RENUMERATION COMMISSION to regulate, set parity standards that creates equity and fair standards in salaries and renumeration in the public sector to reward experience and merit and encourage productivity in the public sector and bring in line the very high salaries of public sector officials with economic realities and the living standards of the people, which at the moment is disproportionately too high or at best unrealistic.

3. Review of the CBL ACT to remove any and all anomalies found within the act so that the relationship between the. Legislature and the CBL can be less suspicious which clarification of roles, scope of functions and authorities will eliminate.

ISSUED BY AUTHORITY

IJG

This 20th day of October, AD 2018

Signed:

Jerome J Verdier, Sr (Cllr)

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

-END-