National Ophthalmology Hospital is in crisis

first_imgDear EditorThe Government has the power to ensure Guyanese pay taxes, but, in return, it must ensure quality services are delivered to the Guyanese people.Definitely, this is not the policy of this APNU/AFC coalition Government. Recently, Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence visited the National Ophthalmology Hospital in Region Six and announced the re-opening of this important national hospital, it was later confirmed — when the Director of Health Services announced at the April statutory Regional Democratic Council meeting — that in the next two weeks, the National Ophthalmology Hospital would be reopened for cataract surgeries to the public.This was welcome news for thousands of poor Guyanese who are awaiting cataract surgeries over two years now. Unfortunately, to date, the National Ophthalmology Hospital has been unable to commence cataract surgeries.This was confirmed when a senior Government official called the doctors, who said that only screening of patients is been carried out, not surgeries. Definitely, persons who are awaiting services from this National Ophthalmology Hospital might either become blind or may have to pay privately at an exorbitant price to get their surgeries done, all because of the incompetence of the Minister of Public Health, the Director of Health Services, and the APNU/AFC coalition Government’s incompetence to ensure that the much needed medical supplies were procured to fix this crisis.We have seen that shortages of the drugs and medical supplies continue to be a national issue, and cannot be fixed because the APNU/AFC coalition Government favour certain suppliers because of huge kickbacks.Public officials who mislead the public should be held accountable with disciplinary actions. Billions of taxpayers’ monies are being spent to ensure ministers and public officials enjoy the good life, while the poor and vulnerable continue to suffer.As a representative of the people of Region Six, I urge Guyanese to demand that this National Ophthalmology Hospital be fixed immediately to avert a national crisis.SincerelyZamal HussainChairmanRegional HealthCommitteeRegion Sixlast_img read more

AFC identity is completely lost

first_imgDear Editor,It is now the foregone conclusion of the masses in Guyana and the Diaspora that the Alliance for Change has long become subservient to the PNC-dominated coalition Government to the point of being totally consumed. The identity is completely lost. They further opined that the leaders, namely, Moses Nagamootoo and Khemraj Ramjattan have been relegated to “rubber stamps” status, merely regurgitating the views, utterances, opinions and policies of the PNC. We have seen numerous examples: when Granger illegally appointed Patterson as GECOM’s Chairman, when the four estates were heartlessly closed and when the PNC wilfully embarked on a course of violating the Constitution and flout the CCJ’s rulings among others. This is in stark contrast to the coalition in 1964 between the UF and the PNC.Let us take a look at the first coalition which was formed between the UF and the PNC to oust the PPP from Government. The United Force was formed by Peter D’Aguiar on October 5, 1960, and won 16.38 per cent of the votes in the 1961 elections, but a point of vital importance is the fact that the elections were won by Dr Jagan’s PPP by a “slim majority” when compared to the totality of votes garnered by the UF and the PNC. This aroused the dictatorship instinct in Burnham and gave him the opening he needed. This “slim majority” by the PPP indicated that a coalition by Burnham and D’Aguiar could win if the electoral system was changed to proportional representation. The same mindset prevailed in 2015.Then the manipulators, the UK and the US, gave Burnham exactly what he needed to begin his quest for absolute power – proportional representation just in time for the 1964 elections. This move saw the coalition of the PNC and UF, who together won 52.9 per cent of the votes. This resulted in Burnham getting the prime ministerial post and D’Aguiar, the Finance Minister as agreed. However, D’Aguiar was not a corrupted person, he was used to wealth and its accompanying opulence and in September 1967, he resigned from the Cabinet because of blatant corruption by the PNC faction. He became totally disgusted by the corruption of Burnham’s PNC. He even went further. In October 1968, D’Aguiar joined hands with Jagan and walked out of the National Assembly and in January 1969, D’Aguiar appeared in a documentary, “The Making of a Prime Minister”, in which he expressed deep regret and disappointment about coalescing with the PNC. But the damage had been done and it took more than two decades of suffering and anguish to finally rid the nation of the PNC scourge which he was duped to install. Ironically, the elections in 1992 was held on October 5, the same day that the UF was formed, and the PPP emerged victorious as it always did. However, D’Aguiar must be given full credit for making such a hasty departure from the PNC and his total rejection of that party and its leader!Now let us look at the Alliance for Change which was formed in 2005. It was formed by three disgruntled members of Parliament who claimed that both the PPP and the PNC destroyed the socio-economic fabric of the country and cannot be trusted to be in Government. The people needed change, they claimed. The AFC’s message appealed to some and in 2006 it won 6 seats and in 2011 it won 7 seats or 10.3 per cent of the votes. However, the leadership of the AFC, influenced by the arch enemies of the PPP, Moses Nagamootoo and Khemraj Ramjattan, created an unholy alliance with the PNC, not spurred by change but by greed for power and material gains. Nagamootoo and Ramjattan saw an opportunity when the PPP gained a slim majority in 2011, not unlike the 1961 elections. After joining forces in the National Assembly to frustrate the Donald Ramotar Administration, the AFC signed the Cummingsburg Accord on Valentine’s Day 2015 and handed Guyana on a platter to the Burnhamite PNC.Unfortunately, Ramjattan and Nagamootoo are no Peter D’Aguiar, these people are thirsty and greedy for power as well material gains and they made no effort to mask this as the coalition plundered and pillaged the Guyanese nation day after day. They immediately transformed themselves into the “fat cats” and began to live the “Cadillac lifestyles”, which Nagamootoo had vehemently advocated against. The AFC shamelessly forsook their founding principles and the “rubber stamps” were born on May 11, 2015.Today, these two “rubber stamps” are vying for the title of “Best Rubberstamp”, but the caretaker President has made it clear that the AFC cannot select the prime ministerial candidate and that prerogative belongs to him. It now seems that the titles of First and Second Vice Presidents and prime ministerial portfolio will be snatched from the AFC and they will have to settle for the crumbs which the master would fling at them. Unlike D’Aguiar, the unprincipled and self-seeking duo, Nagamootoo and Ramjattan, is holding on to the PNC for dear life! They cannot depart in honour! It’s a shame to see how low some people can stoop – people who were once thought to be heroes of the people!But time will dictate an ignominious and humiliating end for this duo who sold their souls and misled the people who unwittingly believed in them.Yours sincerely,Haseef Yusuflast_img read more

Captain surrenders after hit-and-run, remains in custody

first_imgPomeroon boat collisionThirty-four-year-old Tyrone Da Silva of Grant Lower, Pomeroon River, in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), will soon face charges for causing the death of 29-year-old Ryan DeFreitas, who died as a result of multiple injuries he sustained from a boat collision on August 31.The results of the autopsy which was conducted by Government Pathologist, Dr Nehaul Singh, on Friday at the Suddie Mortuary, revealed that the gold miner lost his life due to multiple injuries from the boat collision. DeFrietas was heading to Charity with two other passengers when he met his demise.Meanwhile, Da Silva, who is the captain of the other boat involved in the collision, remains in Police custody. According to Police sources, Da Silva was under the influence of alcohol when he collided with the miner’s boat in the vicinity of Burn Bush Grant, Lower Pomeroon. A breathalyser test was conducted by detectives from G Division (Essequibo Coast and Islands).In addition to Da Silva being under the influence, information revealed that he failed to render assistance to passengers after the collision. Instead, it is alleged he ‘hit-and-run’, later surrendering to Police.Wednesday night’s accident claimed the life of gold miner, Ryan DeFreitas, 29, called “Steppy” of Coven Garden, Lower Pomeroon. Information revealed that DeFreitas was driving his employer’s 40-horse powered engine boat heading South on the right bank of the Pomeroon River, while the other boat, driven by Da Silva, was heading North when the collision occurred.The boat, which was captained by the now dead man, measured 18 feet in length and carried two other passengers – Felix DeFreitas and Ray Marks. They both received minor injuries from the collision. The deceased’s body was recovered by residents living in the Pomeroon River.Da Silva’s boat was reportedly ferrying his wife Afeeza Amin and his three-year-old daughter. They also received minor injuries. The funeral of Ryan DeFreitas is scheduled for Sunday. The file concerning the accident has been dispatched by Police to the Director of Public Prosecutions for advice.last_img read more

‘Beware of Detractors’, Senator Wotorson Cautions President Sirleaf

first_imgAn influential member of the 53rd Legislature has called on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to remain steadfast and beware of detractors as she steers the affairs of the State, especially in this critical period of the country’s history.Speaking at the head of a high level Senate delegation to the office of President Sirleaf where they had gone to identify with her on the occasion marking her 76th birth anniversary last week, Senator Cletus Wotorson, told the Liberian leader that there would be many detractors, as it has been in the past.  But he urged her to remain focused and do what is right for the Liberian people.The delegation, which included Senators  Frederick Cherue of River Gee County;  Alphonso Gaye, and Isaac Nyenabo of Grand Gedeh County; Joyce Musu Sumo of Montserrado County and others, met the Liberian President in the Cabinet Room of the Foreign Ministry.Senator Wotorson, who is also a former President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, did not indicate what triggered his admonition, but since the Ebola outbreak, there have been sentiments of public opposition to government’s leadership of the response.Many called on the Liberian leader to relinquish her post as head of the National Taskforce on Ebola and at the same time outsource the response initiative to a reputable global health organization such as Médécins Sans Frontieres and the World Health Organization.But President Sirleaf said the fight would not be outsourced, indicating that Liberians are capable of handling the situation if they received the needed support and that the handling of the fight by Liberians would give them the requisite experience to handle any future outbreak of the virus.The calls for outsourcing  the fight came at a time when MSF and WHO were already heading major response components, leading several, including the Chair of the Senate Committee on Health,  Dr. Peter Coleman, to wonder, “What else do these critics want for government to outsource?”The Liberian leader was also recently criticized when she sent a letter to the Liberian Senate requesting ‘additional power’ to curtail some rights and privileges in an attempt to curtail further spread of the Ebola virus.But Senator Wotorson, speaking on behalf of the Senate said, “Madam President, we have come to wish you a happy birthday. We want you to be steadfast as you lead us through this difficult period. We want to let you know that there are many detractors and there  will continue to be, but do not give them heed as long as you are doing the right thing for the Liberian people.The Senate promised that despite hiccups now and then, they will continue to work with the Liberian leader in forming a common front to foster the country’s development.The Grand Kru County Senator said the Senate had recently passed into law four financial bills in preparation for the post-Ebola era. He noted that the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, Gbehzongar Milton Findley, would have loved to be present, but was en route from his home county, Grand Bassa.President Sirleaf expressed appreciation to the Senators for their visit and called on them and all Liberians to unite and not to give up the fight against Ebola as signs are beginning to show progress being made.She admonished all Liberians to brace up for the post-Ebola era as the outbreak has placed lot of development projects on hold and it will only take a united front to catch up with projects delayed by the Ebola outbreak.She noted that the commemoration of her birthday should be a moment of reflection for all Liberians and partners standing up together in the difficult period to fight Ebola.Others officials and functionaries of government who visited President Sirleaf on her birthday included the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, members of the Cabinet, staff of the Ministry of State, Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), the Land Commission, the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) Alumni Association, Guaranty Trust (GT) Bank, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Burying Our Ebola Dead: MOH Cannot Escape Its Urgent Professional Responsibility

first_imgWe carried on Monday a very sad, disturbing story about two decomposing Ebola bodies in Weala, Margibi County, that have had a traumatic effect on the town and its inhabitants.  The deceased, members of the Tate family, had  been dead for well over a week and all attempts to get Health workers there to remove the bodies have proved unsuccessful. This terrible episode has forced inhabitants of the neighborhood to flee the area, becoming displaced persons in their own town. Only last Tuesday, August 5—coincidentally the very day the Tates died—we published an editorial calling on government to return to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare its professional responsibility for burying the Ebola dead.  We argued that caring for the dead is not a political function relegated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), as suggested by Health Minister Walter Gwenigale, but rather a medical and scientific function that often involves a medical doctor, especially with specialization in pathology. And now here we are, with people dropping dead all over the place and the seeming total confusion and incapacity of government to handle their remains.  In the Jos Hansen area of United Nations Drive down Waterside last weekend, another corpse was found and neighbors had to put it in a plastic bag and haul it by rope to be buried in a shallow grave.  In Grand Cape Mount, too, an Ebola body was recently abandoned in a home, where they left an eight-child.  The child also died.It is very sad that the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH) has rejected our argument that they, more than any other GOL agency, are responsible for dead bodies, most especially the highly contagious Ebola dead.  On Tuesday morning, Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bernice Dahn, told the Daily Observer that MOH “is no longer responsible for Ebola bodies, but the Ministry of Internal Affairs.”  This means that MOH has failed to see that because they have surrendered their medical and scientific responsibility, leaving Ebola bodies to politicians, who have NO expertise in this business, bodies continue to lie unattended, causing greater spread of the epidemic.MOH does not see that the Ebola corpse crisis continues.  On Tuesday we reported that some 45 bodies had been improperly buried, again in Johnsonville, and the stench has driven people from their neighborhoods.  When contacted, of MIA officials issued the alarming statement that “Removal of dead bodies is not relevant!”Can Doctors Gwenigale and Bernice Dahn now see what we are talking about?  The MIA is NOT the proper agency to handle this matter because that is not what they were trained to do.We call on the President immediately to return the responsibility for Ebola bodies to the MOH and give them the money, equipment and supplies to do this urgent job, lest the spread of the Ebola virus will continue.What happened in Weala and now again in Johnsonville should never be allowed to happen again, for such a situation is highly dangerous, and could further expose people in the surrounding areas to the virus.The MOH and its local and international partners should develop a comprehensive strategy to handle Ebola corpses.  The MOH and partners should equip the handlers with full protective gear, with the chemicals they need to spray the remains, and with sufficient and well organized transportation to ferry the bodies to recognized  burial sites and the crematorium.  MOH should lease vehicles from Monrovia’s rental dealerships to carry out the task at hand.  But we can understand if some rental agencies may be reluctant to get involved.  GOL should then purchase of a fleet of minibuses specifically to be used as hearses for the Ebola dead.Another problem we at the Daily Observer have heard about is that the Ebola response hotlines are not functioning.  We have heard countless complaints from people who say they have called these hotlines repeatedly and no one answers.  We hope that the MOH can fix this other problem, too, by deploying and crash-training non-essential hospital staff to manage the hotlines.  These operators should be strongly instructed to be helpful, clear and empathetic, realizing that they are dealing with people in distress.   Non-English speakers should be connected to operators who speak their languages.  This can be done and such a system can be well established and continue to everyone’s benefit even after Ebola.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Cartoon October 28, 2014

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2 Defense Witnesses Withdrawn

first_imgDrama unfolded yesterday in the ongoing US$20K counterfeit  case in Criminal Court ‘C,’ involving a former female employee of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) and the bank, when  one  of  her lawyers asked two of her witnesses not to testify on her behalf, a request that   was accepted by presiding Judge Peter W. Gbeneweleh.Defendant Margretta Dorbor is on trial for her alleged role in the disappearance of over US$100K from the bank, as well as for being in possession of 200 pieces of counterfeit United States dollars, all in US$100 bills, valued at US$20K.It all started yesterday when everybody, including Judge Gbeneweleh, was seated, waiting for defendant Dorbors’ lawyer,  Atty. P. Jagba Nah, to introduce his two defense witnesses, Ijeoma Okeke and Angeline Leo.Okeke and Leo were both in the employ of the bank and close friends of defendant Dorbor. However, Dorbor alone was accused of being in possession of the US$20K counterfeit banknotes, which the bank alleged were discovered under her desk at its Gardnersville branch, where she served as a new accounts officer.Dorbor is also accused of withdrawing over US$100K from customers’ accounts at the bank, though the bank management admitted that she was a teller but was not authorized to do so.Interestingly, Atty. Nah stood up from his defense seat in the quiet courtroom and informed Judge Gbeneweleh that he had an application to make before his witnesses could take their positions to testify.Judge Gbeneweleh then gave him the opportunity to make his request, and surprisingly Atty. Nah announced that he was no longe interested in the testimony of Okeke and Leo.“They have failed to cooperate with me and I am afraid that their testimony could make the case difficult,” he said.Judge Gbeneweleh again accepted Atty. Nah’s application and disallowed the testimony of defense witnesses Leo and Okeke.Immediately after the court’s action, Okeke and Leo, who should have been the only persons to support defendant Dorbor’s initial testimony, walked out of the courtroom.Their action left their friend and co-worker in total disbelief and shock as she bowed her head.Judge Gbeneweleh also dropped the contempt of court charge that was levied against Okeke and Leo for their initial refusal to appear before the court to testify on behalf of defendant Dorbor after they had been subpoenaed. A subpoena is a court order requiring a person to appear at a legal proceeding, at a place and time designated. If an invited person fails to appear as ordered by the subpoena, he or she may be found in contempt of court and sanctioned with jail time and fines.Besides dropping the contempt charge, the judge again trashed the writ of arrest earlier issued against them.Another curious circumstance in the case is the failure of the prosecution to produce all of the 200 pieces of counterfeit United States dollars all in US$100 notes.Out of the 200 counterfeit notes, prosecution managed to produce only a single US$100 bill and claimed that the remaining 199 pieces were destroyed.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

WHO: West Africa Ebola Outbreak Could End This Year

first_imgFollowing the increasing successful stories of zero Ebola infections in Liberia and further stories of drastic reductions of infections in neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced at the United Nations headquarters in New York, that the end of infections could be reached at the end of 2015.In plain language, she said there could be no more Ebola and that Liberia, (already enjoying zero infections) could be joined by Guinea and Sierra Leone to be free, too.Speaking at the U.N. Security Council via video link from Hong Kong last Thursday, Dr. Margaret Chan, head of the WHO said that Ebola in West Africa could be “soundly defeated” by the end of this year.The report quoted Dr. Chan as telling the U.N. Security Council that current surveillance and response capacities have greatly improved and health workers have a better picture of how the disease spreads.She noted that the three most affected West African countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, have made huge progress to the extent that new cases in Liberia have stopped, and in Guinea and Sierra Leone a total of only three cases have been reported during each of the past two weeks.“If the current intensity of case detection and contact tracing is sustained, the virus can be soundly defeated by the end of this year. That means getting to zero and staying at zero,” she said.Like the success story of Liberia, contact tracing is on high agenda and the last reported case saw the swift response of health officials to identify and trace all those that might come in contact with the last known victim.To date, health officials in Liberia are like hawks, said a health official who was contacted for this story, “to pounce on any rumor of an outbreak,” so that Liberia can continue to enjoy its Ebola-free status.However, Dr. Chan said the latest outbreak of Ebola in Guinea and Sierra Leone and even the most recent in Liberia will not be officially over until there are zero cases of the virus. Affected countries need to have no new reported cases for 42 days before they can be declared free of the virus.Thankfully, latest reports in Liberia suggest the country having achieved the required number of days (42) and is significantly virus free, though health officials are not prepared to pack up their PPEs any time soon.Dr. Chan mentioned the establishment of communicable disease control systems in West Africa by the African Union and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help African nations better prepare for future potential outbreaks.There have been nearly 28,000 cases of Ebola and more than 11,000 deaths.“When Ebola is defeated completely,” said a young man who lost three family members in Monrovia, “we will have the chance to rejoice.”While celebrating the defeat of Ebola would be high on any government’s agenda, stigma both at home and abroad remains and Liberians and their neighbors would have a herculean fight on their hands, many Liberians have observed.Reports from outside Liberia indicate that Liberians have experienced isolation, humiliation and even harassment because their country was invaded by the Ebola virus, in spite of the international travel precautions that were taken at all airports to monitor passengers from the infected region.Even Liberian nationals who were not in the country during the Ebola crisis, and known as Liberians have suffered such an international stigma of humiliation and isolation, said a Liberian who went through such humiliation in a recent travel abroad. “We need the WHO to get the world to understand that Liberians were also victims to the scourge and therefore like the international effort to defeat it, they need solidarity of the world and not isolation and humiliation,” the man quoted earlier stated.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Task Force Hands Over Prosecutorial Role to MOJ

first_imgThe Chairperson of the Special Presidential Task Force (SPTF) investigating the Global Witness (GW) alleged bribery report – The Deceiver – Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa, Thursday, June 2, announced that the Force has handed the prosecutorial role over to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).Although the Force also has prosecutorial powers given to it by the President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Ministry of Justice, however, is the government’s statutory arm that prosecutes cases in courts. The SPTF is a tripartite entity which includes the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs (MOS), the Ministry of Justice and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).Speaking yesterday at the regular press briefing of the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Cllr. Koffa, who is also the Presidential Affairs Minister in the Office of President Sirleaf, disclosed that at least four persons (names not given) from one corporation have been indicted and that several indictments will be served to individuals, whose names, he also did not mention, by next week.He stated that even though being Chairman and still having “prosecutorial patent,” he was taking the backseat, allowing the MOJ to take the lead because active prosecution has begun of people linked to the GW Sable Mining report. Min. Koffa said that he and others will be in the background providing all the necessary pieces of evidence needed to successfully prosecute all persons who will be indicted.He added: “We went into this work and came out extremely impressed by the skills and competence of the investigators and members of the LACC and the lawyers at the MOJ. We are proud to be able to provide support.”Cllr. Koffa, who before accepting his ministerial post, was chairman of arguably the third largest opposition political party – Liberty Party – said that in the next few weeks, SPTF is going to assist the LACC and the MOJ in “compiling the mountain of evidence they have obtained in a fashion in which prosecutors will be able to present them to a jury” in court, in order to ensure a successful prosecution of all who will be indicted. During his response to questions from journalists, one of the concerns raised was the issue of whether he has the moral integrity to prosecute the case being a former convict in the United States. He has come under harsh criticism with people calling on him to step aside from theSPTF. However, others have urged him to not be distracted by those comments and that he should go ahead with his mandate.Responding to the issue of moral integrity, Cllr. Koffa said: “Everybody is entitled to their own opinions; I doubt if they are entitled to their own facts, so I suggest that people go and review the facts and then give their opinions and we will let the people judge.”Another concern he responded to was whether the British government will allow one of its corporations—Sable Mining— owned by its citizens, to be prosecuted by a Liberian court.Cllr. Koffa: “We are working with the British government to have an arrangement by which justice is served on those, including Sable Mining, who may have committed wrongful acts here in Liberia.” He clarified that their discussions with the British government were not yet concluded, and did not provide further details. Also speaking, Cllr. Frederick Cherue, two days into his ministerial role at the MOJ, thanked Cllr. Koffa “for the job done so far,” with the case. Although the Minister of Justice accepted the task of prosecuting, he, however, added: “We will rely on you and your people for the pieces of evidence you have, for all the materials that are available to you, both humans and materials.”The new Justice Minister said that while some people have commented that the process was a witch hunt, he strongly feels that a few in the society does not think so, and that the process is good for Liberia’s democracy. “Comments that are being made, negative or positive, are good for our democracy,” Cllr. Cherue, who was brief in his remarks, added. Responding to one question about him “being a very good friend” of one of the indictees – Cllr. Varney Sharman – who being Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Liberian Senate had to recuse himself of his role when his friend Cllr. Cherue had gone to the Senate for confirmation for his position as Justice Minister, stated: “I have integrity, which I have exhibited over the years in my career unless you have a reason to challenge that. In answering your question, I tell you when we get to that bridge, we will cross it.” BACKGROUNDThe Global Witness (GW) report alleged that over US$950,000 in bribes and other suspicious payments were made by UK mining firm Sable Mining through its Liberian lawyer Cllr Varney Sherman. The report, titled ‘The Deceiver,’ alleges that Cllr. Sherman, one of Liberia’s best-connected lawyers and current Chairman of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party, in an effort to secure the Wologizi iron ore concession in northern Liberia, paid bribes to senior officials to initially get Liberia’s concessions law changed. According to GW, Sherman then began distributing Sable’s money to some of Liberia’s most important government officials, some of whom have also been indicted. 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Vandalark Freed, Archie Sarnor Still Detained

first_imgAuthorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP) yesterday confirmed the continued detention of Archie Sarnor, a rights activist, and half a dozen others, who were arrested during the Monday, Feb. 29 riot on Capitol Hill, Monrovia on multiple charges ranging from “incitement leading to disturbing public peace.” While Vandalark Patricks, for whose cause the protest was held, was released on bail from further detention on Tuesday, March 1, some of his associates including Sarnor have remained in police custody.Police spokesman Sam Collins told the Daily Observer late yesterday via mobile phone that police will “properly process, charge and forward to court for prosecution Sarnor and all those arrested in connection to the riot,” adding that “this country is a country of laws, not men.” Today makes two nights since police arrested and detained Sarnor and colleagues on Monday. Patricks’ ReleaseMeanwhile, following a week of detention at the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP), Vandalark Patricks was yesterday released after his legal team secured a US$3,000 criminal appearance bond to allow him wait his sedition and criminal libel charges levied against him by government. Though unconfirmed, the Daily Observer learned yesterday that businessman and opposition political figure, Benoni Urey, made the cash available to secure the bond for Patricks’ temporary release as he prepares for trial. Though Mr. Urey could not be reached to confirm his involvement, Cllr. Gongloe did say that the politician had contacted him concerning Patricks’ case. However, Gongloe told the Daily Observer via phone yesterday that Woods Nyanton of Voice FM brought the US$3,000 cash to him and that he (Gongloe) did not know whether the money originated from Mr. Urey. At the central prison yesterday Patricks’ supporters were jubilating when his lawyer, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe escorted him outside his cell.Immediately after release, Cllr. Gongloe drove Mr. Patricks to the Gongloe and Associates Law Firm on Ashmun Street, where a brief welcome ceremony was held for the defendant.Cllr. Gongloe used that occasion to inform the gathering that his client was wrongfully detained.“In the first place, he should not have been jailed for speeches he made under our law. Government action is an idea of repression,” Cllr. Gongloe added.“The President signed the Table Mountain Declaration regarding freedom of speech. Why will she now arrest people because of that?” Cllr. Gongloe wondered.After Cllr. Gongloe’s remarks, Mr. Patricks expressed gratitude to his supporters, but advised them to remain violence-free.While in my cell, Patricks claimed that the LNP physically and psychologically tortured him.“These are the scars on my body, but we need to be non-violent in our approach for peace sake,” Patricks said as his supporters greeted his statement with rounds of applause.“We are people of peace and yielding to see a free society, because yesterday those generation went into the bushes and brought untold suffering on our people,” he said, adding, “we should not allow ourselves to repeat those same mistakes; we should use the pen, our intellect and the microphones to champion the cause of justice, this is the message of freedom.”‘Misplaced aggression’Patricks was arrested after he read a communiqué on behalf of a consortium of political parties and civil society organizations on February 21 calling for a mass citizen action on March 11.He also accused the government of hiring assassins to murder the former managing director of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC), Harry A. Greaves Jr., and eliminate other political opponents of the government. Mr. Greaves’ body was discovered January 31 on a beach near Monrovia. He went missing two days later.Mulbah Morlu, vice chairman for operations and mobilization for opposition Congress for Democratic Change party (CDC), told reporters at a press conference on Monday, following the riot, that Patricks must be released “immediately or else the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will have no peace.”“We believe Mr. Patricks’ arrest is a misplaced aggression of judicial authority, because he was a representative of the different political groupings and civil society actors that came together to issue that statement. So, we hold that his arrest is arbitrary; his arrest is unwarranted. And so, we will stage a very pro-protest on the premises of the Temple of Justice to insist that government has no business holding Mr. Patricks at the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP),” Morlu said.He said the consortium of political parties and civil society groups issued their statement, because they had been concerned about the number of recent “politically motivated” mysterious deaths, which reminded the people of the dark days of the past.“You remember there was a murder on the Congo Town back road of standard bearer of the Free Democratic Party, Ciapha Gbolee. No arrest was made. There was the murder of human rights activist and anti-corruption whistleblower, Michael Allison. No arrest was made. And now the latest is the murder of Harry Greaves. Mr. Patricks was simply reading a document that was making a documentary that was authorized by different political institutions,” Ralph Brown, a representative of Media United to Enhance Democracy, interjected.What started as a peaceful sit-in protest advocating the release of jailed youth political activist Vandalark Patricks escalated into a violent confrontation between protesters and police at the Temple of Justice, involving hurling of stones and teargas, from respective sides. Monday’s altercation quickly worsened after some individuals in the vicinity of the University of Liberia violently engaged the Police by pelting them with more stones. Several vehicles were damaged from flying rocks, according to eyewitnesses on the scene. The demonstration was intended to force government to release detained rights Patricks, who was arrested by the government last Wednesday and charged with sedition and criminal libel. The demonstration turned violent when police denied the protesters from forcing their way onto the grounds of the Temple of Justice, where they had earlier prevented the convoy of Chief Justice Francis Saye Korpkor from accessing the premises.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more