Sunday, February 14, 2010

Liberia's Internal Affairs Minister A.B. Johnson Resigns - Upon Ellen’s Request

02/14/2010 - Rodney D. Sieh, rsieh@FrontPageAfrica.com

Monrovia -
Source: http://www.frontpageafrica.com/newsmanager/anmviewer.asp?a=10612&z=3

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf exercised what insiders are describing as her boldest move yet when she asked her cousin and Minister of Internal Affairs A.B. Johnson to resign his post effective immediately. Johnson, FrontPageAfrica has been informed, responded in the affirmative Sunday and tendered in his resignation.

Presidential Press Secretary Cyrus Wleh Badio told FrontPageAfrica Sunday that the President has indeed accepted Johnson’s resignation which was made upon her request.

NTA board dissolved

FrontPageAfrica has also learned that the President has with immediate effect dissolved the board of the National Transportation Authority headed by Jackson E. Doe. The action follows a recent FrontPageAfrica revelation that Doe has been busted in a major scandal involving the deposit into an account bearing his name and signature - an amount of $US125,000. The documents show how Jackson E. Doe, Chairman of the Board of Directors at the National Transit Authority (NTA) processed and deposited US$125,000 on a voucher dated December 22, 2009 from funds appropriated for the NTA into a new account at Eco Bank with Doe and another member of the NTA Board as the only signatories. Doe's action to secretly transfer such huge sum of money illegally comes amidst the growing transportation constraints facing residents of Monrovia and other parts of the country.

While the board dissolution will be welcome news for transport commuters, it is the dismissal of Minister Johnson which caught many by surprise. In recent months, Johnson had become a potential political liability for Sirleaf heading into the crucial 2011 elections amid concerns and allegations that Johnson had mismanaged county development funds in vote-rich Nimba County.

Alarm blows on Nimba funds

Last year, Senator Prince Y. Johnson(Independent, Nimba) declared that Johnson, using the letterhead of the office of President Sirleaf, and the phrase ‘by directive of the President’ transacted financial deals under the pretext that those deals are sanctioned by the President of Liberia, is common in the current administration, as several transactions have taken place in such fashion relating to thousands of United States dollars.

Johnson also said that the IA Minister and the Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy tampered with funds provided his county by Arcellor Mittal Steel, a leading steel company operating in the county using the letterhead of the Ministry of State. The company by now should have paid US$6 million over a four year period, US$1.5 annually as quota for the use of the county resources, but Johnson confirmed that there is US$5 million currently deposited at the bank for the county, but failed to state when the remaining US$1 million will be paid, or whether it has been expended.

“The letter that Eugene Shannon wrote, he used the Ministry of State letterhead, telling Ambulai Johnson that the office Mittal Steel was using to do our paper work, when they leave it in June, we should pay the sum of US$100,000. As a Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy he did not write it on his letterhead, or the Project Management Committee letterhead, but rather, he wrote on the Minister of State letterhead, in their quest to get this money quickly, they were confused; he wrote this letter on the Presidential letterhead”, Senator Johnson told reporters last year.

Senator Johnson said, President Sirleaf expressed anger over the communication written on the letterhead of the Ministry of State, by Minister Shannon, but has not done anything up to present.“I took the letter to President Sirleaf, and showed her the letter; she said only the Minister of State can write on this letterhead. She expressed anger in my presence in her office. What has she done with this matter, somebody who wrote on her letterhead to extort money from us”, Johnson narrated.

Continued Johnson”: “The involvement of Ambulai Johnson in our money is discouraging, and disappointing. I have been to the President's office on several occasions on this matter, appealing to her to intervene but nothing has been done, and Johnson and Eugene Shannon just playing with the money”, the Nimba Senator indicated. He said some time ago, the county was requested to submit a listing of all the projects earmarked for the usage of the US$ 5 million and that was done but instead, Minister Johnson insisted that the document be summarized.

“When we submitted all the projects and programs, including buying yellow machine to fix our roads, building of schools and clinics to be implemented to the Minister of Internal Affairs, the minister summarized the document into four pages and requested that US$12,000 be paid to him as fee for the summary, US$3,000 per page”, Senator Johnson continued.

Speculations galore over Johnson's luxury home, Jaquar

For months speculations had surfaced that the President had been bombarded by reports highlighting the speed at which Johnson built a mansion on the Robertsfield Highway and also purchased a flashy Jaquar in a short period of time.

Observers say letting Johnson go signals that Sirleaf is on course to rid her administration of deadwoods which hurt her politically in 2011. Earlier this year, the President also accepted the resignation of her former Minister of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism Laurence Bropleh who was forced to resign amid allegations that he mismanaged more than $200,000 of his ministry’s funds. Solicitor General Cllr. Wilkins Wrights said last week that Bropleh was indicted along with the Comptroller and Chief Accountant of the Ministry. According to Cllr. Wrights, Dr. Bropleh and the two others have been charged with Theft of property, Forgery and Criminal Facilitation. The Solicitor General told Star Radio, the indictment followed police preliminary investigation linking the men to an alleged financial scandal at the Ministry. The financial scandal which led to the resignation of Dr. Bropleh is in the tone of over two hundred thousand US dollars. Cllr. Wrights said the men were indicted by a special Grand Jury and are expected to be tried during the February term of Court. Several other ministers including Education Minister Joseph Korto and Lands, Mines and Energy Minister Dr. Eugene Shannon have also been linked to corruption allegations and cited by the General Auditing Commission(GAC).

Bropleh’s elder brother, Albert has also been indicted amind allegations he mismanage and misused money intended for the Liberian Telecommunications Authority(LTA).

Sources closed to the President told FrontPageAfrica Sunday that President Sirleaf was particularly disappointed in her cousin and IA minister and went to great pains to finally asked him to resign. The action supports a declaration by Sirleaf in a 2005 Time Magazine interview in which the newly-elected President spoke of her disappointments in people who have let her down. "I've been disappointed many times in the trust that I've put in people. And I can sometimes be a bit harsh; I guess that's where my "Iron Lady" nickname comes from," Sirleaf said.

As the 2011 election rolls around, insiders say more deadwoods and those likely to pose a political liability to Sirleaf will likely take their exits as the President aims to address a major handicap and challenge to her reelection and political legacy - the issue of corruption and what critics says is her lack of political will to cure - or curb the cancer.

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Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah



Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah

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