Monday, 18 April 2011


Given the magnitude of the criminal syndicate, the GAC sounded more robust in its concluding letter to Minister Tah emphasizing that Minister Samukai and his alleged partners in crime must be brought to book.


A string of documents obtained by FrontPageAfrcica has recommended for prosecution Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, the Manager of a rice supplying firm and others in connection with a fraudulent transaction.

Minister Samukai was indicted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) in  a two hundred and eighty-two thousand United States dollars (US$282, 000.00) transaction involving the Defense Minister and the Supplying West Africa Traders (SWAT).

SWAT is a business firm located on the Bushrod Island and involved in the sales and supply of rice in Liberia.

In a letter addressed to Justice Minister Cllr. Christiana Tah, Liberia’s Chief Prosecutor, the GAC revealed how Minister Samukai and SWAT are involved in a criminal syndicate in a deal meant to supply bags of rice to soldiers at the Edward Beyan Kessely Military barracks at Camp Schiefflin in Margibi County and Camp Tubman Military barracks in Gbarnga, Bong County.

The GAC’s letter to the Justice minister reads: “By this letter, I bring to your attention for legal action an irregular transaction involving the processing and payment of a voucher from the Ministry of Defense to Supplying West Africa Traders Incorporated (SWAT) in the amount of US$282, 000.00”.

In detailing the transaction to Minister Tah, the GAC noted, “The Ministry of Defense entered into a contract with SWAT for the supply of 18, 800 bags of rice and for the benefit of the soldiers at the Edward Binyah Kesseley Barrack in Schieffin and Camp Tubman Military Barrack in Gbarnga, Bong County. The total contract value is US$564,000.00”.

Detailing the transaction, the GAC narrated, “The first payment of the contract was made in December 2010 and did not undergo review process by the Physical Audit Unit at the Ministry of Finance, as there was no physical audit report made on the delivery of the rice to the Ministry of Defense”.

‘Fictitious Delivery’

The letter continued: “On 1 March 2011, GAC auditors at the Ministry of Finance received a disbursement voucher (DV) # MOD-011-2-15-ASU-6064 in the amount of US$282, 000.00 processed by the Ministry of Defense in favor of SWAT for the second payment of 9, 400 bags of rice for the benefit of the soldiers. The voucher was accompanied by purchase and sale contract, invoices and delivery note as evidence that the 9, 400 bags of rice were delivered to the Ministry of Defense for which payment was being applied”.

The GAC further observed that “On 2 March 2011, our team of auditors through review of the transactions documents detected that the delivery note did not represent the truth of the transactions and appeared fictitious in that the delivery note had 9, 400 bags of rice signed for and received by the Ministry of Defense, while the actual rice checked delivered on 2 March 2011 (i.e. 16 days from the date of delivery made per delivery note) was 800 bags”.

With the observations, the GAC through its Deputy Auditor General Winsley S. Nanka (CPA) noted that “Because of the concerns reported about the legitimacy of the rice deals, the legal Department Director and Executive Director of Audit Service of the GAC visited SWAT on Bushrod Island, for the purposes of verifying some facts pertaining to the entire rice transaction and the delivery note issued by SWAT. However, my Auditor and the Legal Director did not get cooperation from the Businessman because they were told that the businessman in charge of the company should not speak to anyone from the General Auditing Commission”.

‘Prosecution recommendation’

In emphasizing the analysis and conclusion of the audit to Minister Tah in a letter dated 4 April 2011, the General Auditing Commission through its Deputy Auditor General Winsley insisted that “The conduct of the businessman, the Minister of Defense, Brownie Samukai, Jr. and others at the Defense Ministry amounted to fraud or default”.

The Liberian Supreme Auditing Commission feared, “If the irregular acts observed had not been detected by the GAC auditors, the Government of Liberia would have incurred substantial loss on the transaction”.

Given the magnitude of the criminal syndicate, the GAC sounded more robust in its concluding letter to Minister Tah emphasizing that Minister Samukai and his alleged partners in crime must be brought to book.

“In view of this, we request that you [Justice Minister Christian Tah] consider the evidence presented and prosecute the General Manager of SWAT, the Minister of Defense and others who consummated the transaction”, concluded the letter by Deputy Auditor General, Winsley Nanka.

‘Show of disrespect’

The prosecution recommendation by the GAC against Minister Samukai and others is a result of a series of investigative audit and a communication written to Minister Samukai on March 8, 2011.

The GAC had drawn Minister Samukai’s attention to what it called “a show of insolence by a Lebanese businessman claiming to be claiming on his [Samukai] orders”.

It said: “Honorable Samukai, we visited the SWAT Business Center in the Clara Town Community to ascertain some facts concerning delivery notes issued by SWAT Business to the Ministry of National Defense in relations to rice allegedly supplied to the Armed Forces of Liberia and to also verify the recipients but were told by the man identified as the one in charge that he will not speak to anyone from the General Auditing Commission because you had said to him not to do so”.

The GAC protested the alleged orders of Minister Samukai reminding him through the letter signed by its Legal Service Director and ATTORNEY-AT-LAW Cornelius Flomo Wennah that “Let me hasten to bring to your attention that the Executive Law of 1972 in Section 3.3 paragraph (b) among other things give the Auditor General the authority to perform audits of all property accounts and transactions of all government agencies and organizations and that such audits shall be conducted as far as practicable at the place or places where the property and records are located”.

In informing Minister Samukai of the authority of the GAC to audit, the GAC sounded a caveat to him to comply with its audit as it is legally mandated to audit all transactions involving government and there is no exemption to anyone or any Ministry like the Defense Ministry which is being run by Minister Samukai.

“In of the forgoing, we ask that you kindly use your good offices to prevail on the management of SWAT to cooperate with the General Auditing Commission by coming to our offices by or before Thursday March 10, 2011 at 3:00pm to have us gather information on the delivery notes as well as carry out investigation on the recipients or leave use with no alternative but to have the management of SWAT forwarded to the Ministry of Justice for appropriate action”.  

The General Auditing Communication informed Minister Samukai that all communications between it and him as it relates to the fraudulent rice transaction are being communicated to the Ministry of Finance. This it stressed was to “request a halt to all payments to SWAT pending compliance”.

The March 8, 2011 letter by the GAC has now been followed by the recommendation for the prosecution of Minister Samukai and his partners in crime with the Justice Ministry through Minister Tah given the evidence to institute and proceed with the prosecution.

‘Previous questionable deals’

Minister Samukai is a strong ally of President Sirleaf who has on several occasions served as Acting President or chair of government in the absence of the President.

He has in the past been linked to dubious transactions involving the awarding of contract values over thousands and thousands of US$ to some GSM companies as part of the rental of the New Defense Ministry building where the cell-phone companies’ are stationing their transmittal towers.

The situation led to the summon of Minister Samukai by the House of Representatives where he refused to discuss the contract in public because of what he considered ‘national security’ implication. At the time, the Minister insisted that he could not divulged sensitive security information as it relates to the contract to the House in public unless he was authorized by the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. With his insistence, Minister Samukai and members of the House went into a closed-door session and no detail emerged over the dubious contract with the cell-phone companies, the Minister was left off-the-hook.

Also, during the course of last year, the Defense Ministry came under series of strong criticisms after AFL soldiers at the Edward Binyah Kessely Military Barracks at Schiefflin complained of extreme hunger due to the lack of food supply and thus they were forced to fetch for plumbs as their daily meal.

The reports at the time sparked widespread condemnation but Minister Samukai rejected such, insisting the desire of the soldiers to eat plums was not because of hunger but human nature.

In the wake of the string of documents linking Minister Samukai and some individuals at the Defense Ministry along with a businessman to a fraudulent business deal, it remains to be seen what action the Justice Ministry will institute as the GAC through its Deputy Auditor General Winsley Nanka has forwarded Minister Samukai and his alleged partners in crime for prosecution.

The Justice Ministry it must be noted has in the past received several audit reports from the General Auditing Commission but in most instances no practical action has been taken to prosecute individuals indicted by the GAC for fraud, waste and abuse. This has made many skeptics to lament the government’s lack of political will to bring to book individuals who misapplied, abused and misused state resources without the benefit of hundreds of thousands of poverty stricken. It has also led to question over President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s professed war on corruption which she declared public enemy # 1. Many like Human Rights Activist Aloysius Toe believe ‘corruption is public friend # 1 to President Sirleaf and her government.



Sirleaf’s Tour of the Southeast Offers Chance to see plight of Ivorian Refugees

Zwedru – Grand Gedeh County –  President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf over the weekend visited several districts in Grand Gedeh County, hosting thousands of refugees fleeing the political crisis in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire. Accompanied by officials of Liberian and International relief agencies, the President made stops at a Liberia Repatriation & Resettlement Commission Compound in Zwedru, home to refugees who have settled on the compound since 2002.
An Executive Mansion dispatch says the President also visited refugee transit centers in the towns of Zai, Zleh and Toe, a major transit point for refugees fleeing the recent political crisis in Cote d’Ivoire.  Toe town, UNHCR sources says, is hosting the highest number of refugees in Grand Gedeh County.
The President, during interaction with refugees at the various centers, expressed regrets over the situation which has forced them to seek refuge in Liberia.  The President hoped for a speedy return to normalcy of the political crisis in Cote d’Ivoire to enable the refugees to return home.
The Liberian leader assured the refugees, mostly women and children, of Government’s protection during their stay in the country. She informed the refugees that Government is working with local and international refugee agencies to provide more suitable resettlement centers for them, urging for understanding and patience while the efforts are being exerted.
The President said Government will provide tools and seeds for the refugees to engage in farming activities.  “That is the only way you can sustain yourselves and achieve self-dependency,” the President noted. 
The President also assured the refugees that Government would work in close collaboration with local and international refugee agencies to provide educational opportunities to children at the centers.
The Liberian leader has, meanwhile, presented several relief items and other basic needs, including clothes to the refugees, in a gesture they described as loving and unprecedented.
They lauded the President for the visit and concern she has demonstrated for their wellbeing and expressed the hope that the United Nations high Commission for Refugees will move swiftly in responding to their needs.  They complained of inadequate food, accommodation, health and nutritional supplies.
 More than 22-thousand Ivoirians have fled to Grand Gedeh County since the political crisis in their country.  Since 2002 the county has hosted nearly 2-thousand five hundred refugees.
Meanwhile, the President is now in Bong County, dedicating and inspecting a number of development projects in the area.  Following an overnight stay in Ganta, Nimba County, the President arrived in Gbarnga, Bong County Saturday afternoon to a rousing welcome by residents of the County.  Following arrival ceremonies, the President inspected a number of projects including the future sites of a police barrack and the Gboveh Community College. Construction work on the projects has already commenced. The President traveled to Jocquelleh and Kokoyah districts Sunday for the dedication of a number of projects including two clinics and a public school.  More dedication of projects continue Monday in  Sanoyea Town and Fuamah District, where the President will dedicate the Kelebah clinic and later hold a townhall meeting in the area.
Cyrus Wleh Badio – Press Secretary to the President – Zwedru – Grand Gedeh County.


Enhancing Food Security

Agriculture is The Key To Liberia’s Future, Says Amb. Greenfield

Wade C.L. williams

The United States Ambassador to Liberia, Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield says agriculture is the key to Liberia’s future as it relates to food security.
“A nation that can feed itself is a nation that will survive, a nation that can feed itself is a nation with a future,” says Ambassador Greenfield.
The U.S diplomat, speaking in Suakoko Bong County at the agricultural fair hosted by the Cuttington University’s College of Agriculture, congratulated farmers who turned out to display their farm produce.
Agriculture becoming greatest priority
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says government must now move in making agriculture its greatest priority not only for the nation to be able to feed itself but to be able to go back and restore those exports that  had many years ago. “We must do more if we are going to support agriculture and increase the awareness and appreciation of the results of agriculture, making agriculture profitable giving all the risk associated with farming,” says president Sirleaf.
The Liberian leader noted that several of the refugee camps she visited along in Grand Gedeh County she noticed that food was the major concern.
The President appealed to local and international organizations supporting the refugees to supply them with farming tools and seeds, so they can be able to grow their own food adding ‘That’s the only means whereby they can be able to sustain themselves.’
Pres. Sirleaf congratulated the farmers for showcasing the fruits of their labor and thanked organizations that supported the process stressing that there is a need for it to be replicated all over the country.
Farmers from the thirteen districts Bong County came together at the CUC in Suakoko to showcase their farm produce.
The agriculture fair was supported by the United States Agency for International Development USAID through the capacity building arm of the U.S. Government’s Feed The Future- Africa Lead. It was also a partnership of the CUC and the Sierra Leonean Embassy.
 Africa Lead is a key capacity building arm of the United State’s government’s Feed the Future initiative. It operates in three regions with offices in Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa. It is also in at least thirteen sub-Saharan Countries working across public, civil society, university and private sector institutions.
Standing beside a bag of locally produced rice, Gomah Quena from Zota district says she spends long hours working on the farm “I plant bitter balls, rice okra, pepper, cassava to sell to feed me and my children,” says Quena.
Showing her hand turned rough from years of tilling the soil to a visitor Quena says, it is from the proceeds that she gets from her farm that she is able to send her six children to school.
Joseph P. McGill from Jokolleh District displaying his harvest says he and his children cultivate four acres of land on which he plants different variety of crops. He appealed to donors to help farmers with tools and seeds so they can be able to increase production.