Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Government Offers Bribe?

In Morias’ Gboyo Case: US$ 10, 000 Offer Exposed 

After parading several witnesses in the Maryland County murder trial involving H. Dan Morias and nine others, some family members of one of the defendants, Mle Merriam has written the Executive Director of the Catholic  Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) that their son has been detained  at the various police depots so as to lie on the accused.
The letter under the signatures of Grace Y. Merriam, aunty of the alleged detainee and Michael Merriam, was dated Monday, April 4, 2011 and addressed to Cllr. Augustine Toe, one of the lawyers representing the 10 accused.
The family members of defendant Merriam told Cllr. Toe in their letter that their relative was arrested in the Ivory Coast on March 19, and taken to Monrovia on March 28, 2011.
“Since the arrival of our brother we have been checking for him at the Monrovia Central Prison Compound and other nearby police station in order to see him. On Tuesday, March 29, Mle was seen at Slip Way Police Depot, and on April 1, we went all around Monrovia, including the Slip Way Police Depot, or any other depots that we visited to search for Mle, but to our surprise, we did not,” the letter stated.
The family members also alleged in the letter that on April 2,  Mle was seen in handcuff at the Zone One police depot, located on Bushrod Island, without clothes and later told them that the police has been taking him from one depot to another, including Slip Way, Airfield and Congo Town police depot, referred as Zone Three.
“Mle further told us that since his arrest, all has been told by Samuel Jacobs, the government lawyer is to implicate those that are currently on trial for the murder case of Tumu Yuade Allison,” the letter alleged.
The letter, a copy of which was filed with the court along with a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus for the government to produce the living body of Mle, confirmed that because of his refusal to lie, he has been allegedly tortured, deprived of food and slept naked on the alleged order of Cllr. Samuel Jacobs, a state prosecutor.
According to the letter, Mle accused Cllr. Jacobs of promising US$ 10, 000 if he serves as one of the state witnesses in the case. This, he said happened on March 28, 2011.
Lawyers for the defendants on Monday filed a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus on the Government of Liberia, (GOL), stating that petitioner was arrested by officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) in Maryland County   and transported to Monrovia on March 25, 2011.
Petitioner submitted that his liberty has been restrained by the authorities of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), without any court order and argued that (he) petitioner has been detained beyond the statutory period of 48 hours without having his day before a court of competent jurisdiction to prove his innocent.
One of counsels for the petitioner also observed that since the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) monitors the police depots in the country, he has been transferred from depots to depots and from cells to cells.
The defense emphatically maintained the action of the prosecution is in violation of the judge’s earlier ruling, warning the state to refrain from all contacts with the defendants.
Counsels insisted that the Respondent/State have showed no reason why the petitioner’s liberty should be restrained up to the filing of the petition.
The lawyers noted that his client has been illegally, unnecessarily and restrained unjustifiably by the government.
This is the second time for the defense to file a complaint against the state prosecutors for allegedly interfering with the defendants.
Last month, defense accused the prosecution of handcuffing and taking two of the defendants from the Monrovia Central Prison Compound to an unknown destination for several hours.


“Ivorian Refugees, A Threat To Liberia’s Peace”

Refugee Influx Reaches 120,000 

Nat Bayjay, nat.bayjay@frontpageafricaonline.com (231-77-402737)

As the influx of Ivorian refugees reaches a peak of 120,000 along the Liberian border, visiting United Nations’ Under-Secretary-General (USG) for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, has warned that the refugees’ presence has the potential to destabilize Liberia---a nation too that is emerging from nearly 14 years of civil war.

“I think it is wrong to try to judge these different crises. What we are seeing in La Cote d’Ivoire has the potential to destabilize Liberia”, Valerie Amos told journalists at a news conference over the weekend at the National Headquarters of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in Monrovia.

She disclosed that with only 23% of the total amount needed available, there are risks that the host nation might be on the brink of being let down. “We have only 23% of the money we need. We must not let Liberia down. Investing in humanitarian aid is also investing in Liberia’s peace and security. A stable Liberia is first and foremost good for Liberia but it is also good for West Africa,” she emphasized.

She disclosed that out of US$147 million that has been appealed for, only US$35 million has been realized representing just 23% of the total figure. 

The USG who fears that the locals who are playing host to the refugees added:  “Not so long ago, some of the locals were refugees themselves on the other side of the border.”

Already, there are some 120,000 refugees in Liberia, according to her. The figure, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), is estimated to reach between 150,000 and 250,000 people June. The vast majority of refugees remain along the border, with just over 8,500 relocated to safer areas.  A main camp established in Bahn, Nimba County, houses approximately 2,500 refugees. Site clearance continues in preparation for a second site in Garwee, Nimba County and two sites in Grand Gedeh County have now been identified.

Humanitarian concerns come amidst heightened tension in the Ivory Coast where fighters trying to install Ivory Coast's democratically elected president began besieging the main city of Abidjan on Thursday as the top army commander fled his post in the face of a lightning offensive that saw several towns and a seaport quickly falling.
Some 90 villages and towns, according Amos, are serving as host communities for the refugees spread across Nimba, Maryland, River Gee and Grand Gedeh Counties. 

“It’s unfortunate that my first trip here as Under-Secretary General responsible for humanitarian affairs comes amidst the crisis that is unfolding in neighboring Cote d’ivoire where tens of thousands of people seeking refugee here. I returned this evening from the East where I met men, women and children who are glad to be alive but sad and fearful about what is happening in their country.”
The LRRRC Executive Director Wheatonia Dixon-Barnes recently told reporters that 30, 000 refugees of the refugees are currently based in Toe Town, Grand Gedeh County, River Gee County, Bahn in Nimba County, while Maryland County is hosting about 300.

But the USG’s worry follows the same line as other humanitarian agencies: quick pumping in of money.

“With more money, we can deliver more food, provide more shelter and offer more medical treatments to those who are sick. And we can do more”, she said.

With a plea for donors to fast-track humanitarian assistance, the Under-Secretary fears the worst when the rain begins to fall: “When the rainy season starts, getting the aid in will prove even more difficult. We need our donors to dig deeper.”

The United Nations Children’s Fund Deputy Executive Director, Hilde Johnson, visited refugee sites throughout Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties this week to call global attention to the humanitarian needs of both the refugees and the Liberian communities hosting them.

More than 60 percent of those crossing the border in Liberia are children. UNICEF estimates that crisis is impacting a total of 85,000 children from both the refugee and host communities.

“This is a massive humanitarian crisis. It is a children’s emergency and we need to make sure they are protected, fed and educated. Children should not become victims of political disputes,” said UNICEF global second-in-command, Hilde Johnson in a release.

According to UNICEF, approximately 80 percent of the refugees are women and children. In total, approximately 85,000 children (from refugees and Liberian host communities) have been impacted by the crisis, according to the UN agency.

While Amos cries for a balance of US$112 million, UNICEF on the other hand needs about $50 million to provide what it said is critical assistance to children and families in Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire affected by the crisis.


Backing Fromayan

Student Union Wants Weah, Others Focus On Mobilization Than Attacking
Nat Bayjay, nat.bayjay@frontpageafricaonline.com (231-77-402737)

‘Rather than attacking the head of the National Elections Commission (NEC) and crying foul, opposition figures should divert such energy to mobilize their supporters nationwide that will ensure their election or re-election,’ warns the University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU).

“ULSU’s focus has been attracted to recent move by some opposition political parties participating on the National political landscape to dub the National Electoral body-NEC as a partisan body and thus incapable of refereeing the ensuing 2011 elections”, states a release coming from the campus-based student group.
The student group’s concern comes in the wake of what have now become sustained attacks and condemnation coming mainly from opposition figures and some civil actors on the head of the NEC, James Fromayan.

Since he assumed the Chairmanship of the electoral body in 2006 following the exit of now head of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) former Chairman Frances Johnson-Morris, Fromayan continues to be accused of having a close tie with the incumbent and that the elections under him will not be transparent. His appointment to the Chairmanship came two years following his appointment as a co-chairman where he supervised the general administration of the Commission and assumed leadership role in the absence of the then Chairman.

ULSU calls particularly on the political leader of the Congress for democratic Change (CDC) Amb. George Weah and all other political Parties to busy themselves on preparing for the elections slated in about seven months rather than making statements that could lead to undermining the integrity of the electoral body. It believes that this could reduce public confidence in the institution which could as well set the stage for a “very chaotic pre and post elections atmosphere.”
ULSU believes that comments emanating from Amb. George Weah espousing that Chairman Fromayan has “worked” for President Sirleaf before and as such incapable of superintending an impartial election is “incredibly ludicrous and does not have a single grain of truth in it.”
Counting successes under Fromayan’s belt, ULSU said: “However, if this comment is anything to go by the nine different Legislative by-elections conducted under the stewardship of Commissioner Fromayan would not have ended up in such fashion and form with opposition political Parties winning four out of nine including the most decisive one in Montserrado County with Madame Geraldine Doe-Sheriff of the CDC winning the Senate Seat.”
The university students through its Union said another classic example worth bringing to the attention of Liberians is the fact that the Commissioner could not have even influenced in the slightest of manner the River Gee County By-Elections when his best friend Commany Wesseh who he has known for over 30 years contested against and was defeated by the now senator Nathaniel Williams and many others.
Looking at relations within the Commission, ULSU said: “If the relations card was to be an influencing factor in these elections which is not the case by all stretch of imagination, it would have best played for Amb. Weah who is a blood cousin to Commissioner Elizabeth B. Nelson which he has not hidden both in public and private.”
The under-fire NEC boss himself continues to defend himself against the allegations. In a recent FPA interview, he said he is not deterred by them. Says Fromayan: “The point to underscore here is that there is no way anybody here can help another person here out there who’s in the race.”