LRDC Donates to Ebola Taskforce

first_imgThe Liberia Reconstruction & Development Company (LRDC) has donated 50 pieces of personal protective clothing to the National Ebola Taskforce in support of the ongoing nationwide fight against the deadly virus.The Ebola virus has killed over 300 citizens, especially doctors and nurses with hundreds of suspected cases being reported across the country.On Monday, a Chinese cargo plane landed at the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County with a consignment of medical supplies, valued at US$1.5 million, including personal protective equipment, thermometers, sanitizers and drugs to help fight the deadly Ebola Virus Disease.An experimental serum from the United States arrived here Wednesday, to be used on affected Liberian doctors.Making the donation in Monrovia on Wednesday, 13 August, LRDC managing director Yusef Johnson said the company is disturbed by the magnitude of the spread of the virus in the country and the unimaginable deaths it continues to inflict on the population.“It is extremely tragic that the virus is also taking the lives of our healthcare workers, who are at the frontline, risking their lives providing health care for the victims of this virus”, he said.Mr. Johnson said Ebola is a common enemy to all and Liberians must galvanize their best strength to fight and defeat the virus.“In this effort”, he said, “We at LRDC have come to make this modest presentation of a few dozens of personal protective clothing for use by our healthcare workers in the fight against the virus.”Receiving the donation on behalf of the special taskforce, Mr. Addy expressed thanks and appreciation to the LRDC for the personal protective garments.A member of the taskforce, General Services Agency director Madam Mary Broh, commended the LRDC for its effort, saying that it is a demonstration of passion for the country.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Armed Forces Day Letter to Liberia: Time for Systemic Change by Citizens, Not…

first_imgYesterday was the celebration of Armed Forces Day. We love the men and women of the military and wish them well in their career. On Armed Forces Day, it’s fair to say that the army and police protect the politicians. Politicians have body guards, drivers and cooks. Most of the politicians in Liberia claim to be trained in the United States. However, all across the United States most public servants, including senators and representatives, do not have personal body guards. So while the Liberian National Army is protecting the politicians, who protect the citizens? Service to the country must begin with those at the top. If they cannot serve, they cannot lead. If those who cannot serve are the ones who lead, then the system in which they lead cannot benefit the people. If the system is not benefiting the people, the system must be changed.The current political system in Liberia, like those in most post-colonial African countries is lacking in its legitimacy because the government is not representative of majority of the citizens it governs. From the very inception of the republic of Liberia in 1847 the system of governance deliberately excluded a vast majority of citizens from voting and any input in decision making.  Centuries later, in the just concluded ‘2014 Special Senatorial Elections’ the question of legitimacy has worsened with a whopping 74.8% of registered voters seeing no reasons for which to vote. They refused to legitimize a political ‘merry-go-round’, which, by design, can never benefit majority of the citizens. Contrary to the Constitution, it is politicians – not citizens – who have supreme powers in Liberia. Even if the current cohort of senators did win 100% of the 25.2% of registered voters who bothered to vote in the 2014 Special Elections, those in power today lack the mandate to rule because the system into which they are being baptized is intrinsically corrupt and out of touch with the majority of the electorate.In a democratic system, public servants are paid to serve. In Liberia, politicians are not servants so exactly what are they paid to do? With the 2015 annual budget of $660 million, Liberian representatives each earn at least $84,000 per year while cabinet ministers and heads of public corporations can take home up to $180,000 excluding benefits such as gas slips, medical benefits, and housing privileges. Compare the salaries in poverty stricken Liberia to Massachusetts, USA, where the 2015 annual budget is $36 billion dollars and where lawmakers earn $62,000 salary yearly. In New Hampshire with a budget of $11 billion dollars, senators and representatives earn a meager $200 USD per two year term. In both cases, these American lawmakers receive no cars, no drivers, no gas slips, no body guards, or other tangible benefits.The Liberian presidency now wields more power than President Barack Obama, the Pope and the Queen of England combined. Unlike Obama, the Liberian president appoints all governors of all 15 political subdivisions, all mayors of all cities across Liberia, all cabinet members, all heads of public corporations and the judges at Supreme Court. With such greater powers, things have gone from bad to worse. Thousands of students in colleges and universities will never get a job upon graduation and everyone is sending their children to school. Liberia is in trouble and the politicians are not going to talk about it because the flawed system benefits them.In order to provide civic education to Liberians and prepare citizens to lead, four Liberians have been selected to attend the Citizens’ Initiatives annual conference and training at Citizens University, Seattle, Washington will convene on March 20, 2015. Scholarships are awarded to deserving participates based on their accomplishments and organizing skills for social change.Universal Human Rights International (UHRI) is inviting 10 individuals from Africa to join me, including 4 Liberians. The goal is to give Liberians the necessary skills to peacefully change the corrupt system in Liberia by incorporating citizens Initiatives into the laws of Liberia. Citizens Initiatives gives supreme powers to citizens, not politicians, allowing citizens to propose laws and repeal laws without the permission or approval of the legislature or president. In 2014, there were over 150 ballot measures across the USA, including one in Washington State to increase minimum wage to $15 an hour and another in Arizona to limit the salaries of politicians.  Liberia needs systemic change. Change, consistent with Article one of the Constitution which clearly states that the citizens, not the politicians, have supreme powers in the republic. Liberia is neither a real republic nor a true democracy because supreme power in Liberia rests in the hands of politicians, not citizens. Everyone knows this. And no one can clean up a pool of muddy water by jumping into it. Contrary to what the President says, ‘dual citizenship’ is not the answer. Election is not democracy. Liberians have been voting since 1847 but citizens will never benefit from their citizenship until the politicians become public servants and citizens become the masters of the republic. Therefore no matter who runs for office, nothing will change until the corrupt system is changed peacefully by the people, consistent with Article one of the Constitution, which says the people have a right to change the system if it ceases to serve them.Liberia works but it works only for the elites. As long as politicians have supreme powers, anyone running for office does so to enrich themselves and their families but not to serve the common good.The names of Liberians attending Citizens Initiatives training in the United States are Joe Luamba Jr. graduating senior, University of Liberia and country Director for UHRI Liberia; Kelvin Demey, Journalist; Elvina Kolleh, Nurse; and Activist, Samuel David. They will be joining thousands of people from around the world to learn new skills on how citizens can bring about systemic change to their countries. The training will be in Seattle Washington State beginning on March 20, 2015.Citizens’ Initiative is a process of a participatory democracy that empowers the people to propose legislation and to enact or reject the laws at the polls independent of the lawmaking power of the legislature or the president. The purpose of such an initiative is to permit the electorate to resolve issues where their elected representatives fail to do so or refuse to proceed with a change that the public desires. Citizens’ Initiative exists in Switzerland, The European Union and United States. No country in Africa has currently has citizens initiatives.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Lebanese Regrets Brutal Treatment of Liberian Girls in Lebanon

first_imgThe president of the World Lebanese Cultural Union (WLCU), Ezzat N. Eid, told a news conference yesterday that his office in collaboration with some higher ups in government have been working behind the scenes to ensure the safe return of Liberian girls reportedly trafficked in Lebanon. Mr. Eid, who could not deny or confirm whether the girls were sexually abused, however regretted the inhumane treatment they suffered in Lebanon.He disclosed that there are over 500,000 house maids from all over the world that are currently residing in Lebanon that are being well cared for by their employers. “We are against the abuse of any Liberian, be it man or woman, who is employed as a domestic worker or house maid,” Mr. Eid told reporters in Monrovia. According to him, reports concerning the alleged trafficking of Liberians girls have troubled the entire Lebanese Community.He said, efforts are being made, including efforts by his office in close collaboration with Liberian authorities to establish the exact number of girls involved and ensure their safe return. At least eight of them have already returned to Liberia, he added.“People that are working in Lebanon, especially foreigners who are from all over the world, are cherished by their Lebanese hosts, but if there is any problem with his or her employer, the matter is normally handled by the appropriate authorities,” he said.As for the girls being held and ill-treated, Mr. Eid explained that some of the girls worked in domestic homes, noting that, “Full investigations are needed into the reports about those who were abused.”Recently it was gathered that an indictment has been drawn against individuals involved in the alleged trafficking of the girls with promises of a better future in Lebanon.Authorities at the Liberia National Police, the Ministries of Labor and Justice have all disclosed, following the return to Liberia of eight of the girls, that they are being kept at an unidentified location to avoid making of them a public spectacle.  The law provides that a person is guilty of the offense of trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling, and also for money laundering and terrorist financing when they subject a person to slavery. A representative of the Liberian community in Lebanon recently said one of the remaining victims was picked up by armed military men in the middle of the night from her home and taken to an unknown destination, while some of the remaining girls were transported to dangerous and inaccessible locations. The law also provides that an individual is guilty of trafficking when they subject another person to forced labor. This newspaper learnt that when the girls were taken to Lebanon, they were marketed to their agents for around US$3,000 to US$3,500 each. It has also been established that they were used as “sex slaves; and subjected to forced labor, and other forms of slavery.” Some of the girls revealed that they were physically assaulted whenever they refused to have sexual intercourse with their owners. The girls further alleged that their passports and other travel documents were seized and they were denied communication with the outside world.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 Wins Good Friday Duel?

first_imgLISCR FC captain Mohammed Varney has expressed confidence of thrashing BYC FC 3-1, and would score more than one goal in the Good Friday’s match.Skipper Varney told the Daily Observer through facebook chat on Tuesday that his side is determined to whip the current football champion to serve as impetus of winning the 2015 LFA League after two years of title drought.“We are confident, we are strong, and we believe in our capacity to restore the years,” Varney said.For his part, BYC’s goalie and team leader laughed off Varney’s assertion and stated that he’s entitled to his own opinion.“We are a side to reckon with and LISCR will feel us on Friday,” goalkeeper Sherman said.Tomorrow’s game at the Blue Field is a friendly encounter to encourage players to see rivalry as violence, BYC President Sekou Konneh told the Daily Observer yesterday.“The game is also intended to prepare the players ahead of the league after being match rusty for over eight months,” Konneh opined.Additionally, the friendly is in celebration of the 2015 Good Friday, (Holy Friday) –traditionally the Friday immediately preceding Easter Sunday, the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

House Elects Delegates to ECOWAS Parliament

first_imgThe House of Representatives on Tuesday elected a three-member delegation to the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for a four-year term.Those elected to the ECOWAS parliament are Jefferson Kanmoh of Sinoe County, Haja Siryon of Bomi County and Montserrado County Electoral District #5 Representative Edwin Snowe.Karmoh and Snowe, according to the Liberia News Agency (LINA), were elected on white ballots, while Siryon defeated Representative Munah Pelham Youngblood, 45 to 11 votes to claim the spot. Two invalid ballots were reported during the counting process.Prior to the conduct of the election, Kanmoh and Siryon as well as Eugene Fallah Kparkar of Lofa County were representing the House of Representatives at the ECOWAS Parliament.Kparkar did not contest the 2015 election, which was conducted by the Chief Clerk Mildred Sayon in keeping with the rules of the House.Meanwhile, barely ten days after President Sirleaf requested the House of Representatives to postpone its recess by six weeks, the House on Tuesday failed to convene session.President Sirleaf’s request was intended to allow the deliberation and passage into law of several bills, including the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) Compact, Electricity Bill and Police and Immigration Acts sent to the Representatives several weeks earlier.Legislative reporters and members of civil society had gathered at the House as usual to witness the session, but the doors of the House Chambers remained closed throughout the day, indicating that they were not sitting.Reasons for the failure were not established, but sources close to the leadership of the House, who opted not to be named, told the Liberia News Agency that the legislators did not convene because they were preparing a resolution to legitimize the extension as requested by the President.In keeping with the Constitution of Liberia, in the event the President requests the legislators to extend their sitting, there should be a resolution signed by a two-thirds majority of the membership of the body.Under the Constitution, the House should take its annual break in September and return in January the following year.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Greaves, Orogun Deaths ‘Suspicious’

first_imgAs the reality of Mr. Harry Greaves’ mysterious death and the discovery of his stark naked corpse on a beach early Sunday shock and alarm the public, Justice Minister Benedict F. Sannoh yesterday described the death as suspicions, also mentioning the death of Dan Orogun, former Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank Limited.Mr. Greaves, former Managing Director of Liberia Petroleum Refinery Corporation, of late has been a vehement critic of government policy on several issues.Mr. Greaves had advocated for the passage of the New Electricity Law to privatize electricity to lower the cost for ordinary Liberians. However, he was unhappy when the law was passed because “it allowed the independent regulator to be the Ministry of Lands, Mines, & Energy…”Cllr. Sannoh, speaking at the regular MICAT press briefing on Capitol Hill, said “These two deaths are suspicious. Under our law and practice, we are required as a government to conduct a comprehensive forensic examination with the view to ascertaining the cause of death.”He said the government is interested to examine the circumstances surrounding Greaves’ death, and to bring to justice, where warranted and appropriate, those suspected of being responsible directly or indirectly. “This is a sovereign responsibility and I have come to inform you that this government has taken all the necessary steps and actions, and in a timely manner, in furtherance of the effective discharge of this responsibility,” he said.Minister Sannoh said in the case of the late Orogun, he appointed and authorized Professor John Obafunwa, a forensic pathologist from Nigeria, on Thursday, January 28 to conduct a comprehensive examination on the body for and on behalf of the Government of Liberia and to submit the findings to his office as soon as possible.“This examination was conducted promptly on the same day, Thursday, January 28 at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center with representatives of the Liberia National Police, and family members present. Professor Obafunwa returned to Nigeria on Saturday January 30, and the findings are expected soon,” Minister Sannoh said.In the case of Mr. Greaves, Minister Sannoh said an arrangement has been made with Professor Obafunwa to return to Liberia to conduct the forensic examination.He said Mr. Obafunwa is expected to arrive in Liberia today, February 2, and will be accompanied by another forensic pathologist who will assist him in the examination.“While the government is doing everything possible to investigate these deaths, we note with concern that some Liberians here and abroad, with gross insensitivity and callous disregard for the agony of the bereaved families during this difficult period, and of the consequences on the country, have already reached conclusions as to the cause of death, especially of Mr. Greaves,” said Minister Sannoh.He assured the public that the death of Mr. Orogun and Mr. Greaves will be thoroughly investigated and if it is determined that any one was responsible directly or indirectly, the government will promptly charge, arrest, and prosecute any such person or persons without fear or favor.“Ours is a responsible government committed to the rule of law and to the protection of human rights. This government will not, under any circumstances, condone impunity. We therefore encourage all citizens and foreign residents in our midst to desist from making conclusions on these deaths until forensic examination results are provided,” he said.Meanwhile, the Government of Liberia has expressed profound regret over the deaths of Mr. Greaves and Mr. Orogun and urged their families to take heart.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

50 Ebola Survivors Begin Psychosocial Training

first_imgAbout 50 Ebola survivors from Montserrado and Margibi counties over the weekend began three days of intensive psychosocial training in Sinkor, Monrovia.The training, according to the organizers, is part of the leadership’s effort to empower survivors with knowledge and lessen the dependency syndrome.“We call you here today to impact new knowledge into you because we believe that knowledge is power. We are delighted as leaders of this group and anticipate your full participation in this training,” Korlia Bonarwolo, president of the Ebola Survivors Association of Liberia (ESAL), told the participants.Bonarwolo said the leadership believes when all survivors are informed, they will be transformed, as well as make decisions that affect their lives positively. 20 females and 30 males from are benefiting from the training.It was gathered that the rest of the survivors from Bomi, Grand Cape Mount and Grand Bassa counties will show up at a later date for a similar training.According to Mr. Bonarwolo, the upcoming training will focus on proposal writing to empower the entire leadership.“Individuals and organizations have been providing these trainings for some of our survivors, but as survivors and leaders of the organization, we have decided to engage in such an initiative by bringing together people that will provide the quality of training to ensure that we contribute to society in different ways. At the end of the training, we want to see our beneficiaries playing a greater role in society,” he said.Mr. Bonarwolo said some organizations and individuals continue to get rich in the name of providing training for Ebola survivors, noting that this is due to the inability of survivors to initiate or engage in lobbying for finance to support training and other activities for themselves.Joseph W. Doe, Jr., executive member of the West African Ebola Survivors and Affected Organization (WAESAO), said the three-day training was the two organizations’ way of giving the survivors hope and ensuring that they manage their own affairs.He then hailed organizations and individuals, particularly Sheilk A. Sackor, a Liberian, and Mrs. Oretha J. B. Yates, who lost her job in the United States while supporting Ebola survivors in Liberia. The two individuals have helped them in many ways, he said, and thanked them for their tireless efforts in contributing to the Ebola survivor community.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Koikoi`s Suit

first_imgBack in a small village called Malamai lived Koikoi and Bobo, two best friends among the villagers.Koikoi and Bobo did things in common in tapping palm wine, fishing, farming and most of the cases eating together. If one had killed an animal, he would give a potion to his friend for his family even if the friend was away.At times, they did their farm work together as Kuu, from brushing to that of clearing and fencing. Their friendship was not just limited to that but the two men were traditional healers. Koikoi was the town head traditional healer while Bobo was the head traditional healer of the Clan.The villagers used to admire the two men so much that many people felt that not one of the men could be brave to cheat on his friend due to their hand work and fear of God.The two men were sent to partake in the poro festival in the nearby clan. As the two men arrived in their host village in the clan, Bobo was given a room first while the chief and elders were finding a sleeping place for koikoi. After thirty minutes, Bobo told the people not to worry; he and his friend will stay in the same room. He told the people that he knows that logging business is always a serious problem during such an occasion because others traditional healers are here and many more to come in few days so that laid Koikoi`s logging to rest.The next evening, Koikoi told his friend Bobo that when he is going to bed, he should lock the door for him, Koikoi was sleeping out. Bobo agreed but never ask KoiKoi where or with whom he was going to sleep because they were all men on their own.At about 7:30 p.m. Koikoi walked back for two hours to their village but before reaching his village he spent some time with a friend in a nearby village. At midnight, Koikoi entered Malamai because he did not want people to see him, mainly his wives or even to know that he was there. Koikoi entered the village and walked straight into Bobo`s house and in his room. KoiKoi met his friend Bobo`s second wife, slept there and wrestle with her in bed naked. Early the following morning, Koikoi left so that no one sees him including those in the next village. When Koikoi got back, he met Bobo had just got out of bed and unlock the door to come out. This went on for a period of two weeks and three days before the story change hand.That wonderful evening, Bobo told Koikoi that he was going also somewhere and would be back late, so he should manage things.Koikoi asked Bobo, have you your keys with you? Yes, Bobo answered. Then good bye, if you return and don`t see me, we will meet in the morning as usual, said Koikoi.Bobo didn`t commit but walked out and straight to his village. When Bobo got home, he went around the village and greeted everyone including Koikoi`s family. Koikoi` wives and children were very happy to see Bobo and to get some information about their husband and father’s wellbeing. Bobo told them that his friend Koikoi was well and strong and no problem. In fact we both are sleeping together in the same room. Everyone laughed and then Koikoifirst wife said “two friends one brother”. Bobo turned and went home. When the dusk sat in, Bobo told his second wife to go and sleep in the big house with the other women and children. The woman asked him, why didn`t you send message that you were coming today and secondly, you are asking me out of the room? Bobo smile and said to his second wife if I`m coming to my village and to my house, who should I ask? And I am a traditional healer that travels at my will. The woman murmured while walking out of the room, “let me tell you this is not fair,” she said.Bobo did not care whether fair or not, he took off his cloths but forgot to lock the door and went to bed. As he was between sleep and awake, he heard a sound of the door opening. He pretended to be in deep sleep.Koikoi walked in, took off his short trouser suit and hanged it behind the door, spoke but no response. Hun-hun, Korpo, I`m sorry for coming late today, but is there any food for me? No response. Koikoi went over to the bed and begin to play with Bobo on the bed thinking that`s Korpo.Bobo never shake until Koikoi rub his hand on Bobo`s chin and then wanted to run away then Bobo grabbed his hand but Koikoi fought and escape leaving behind his suit.Koikoi went ‘butt naked’ until he reached the village in between the two towns (Their village and the place of the feast). There, he went and knocked the window, awaken one of his friends and when he entered butt naked, his friend became afraid and confused as to what was going on.Koikoi begged his friend to let him a suit of any kind and to keep it as a top secret for life but refused to explain what had happened. His friend lent him the cloths (a trouser and a shirt) which enable Koikoi to go back.The next morning as Bobo got out of bed, he saw the short trousers` suit and right away he knew the owner. So he remains silent but took the suit and placed it in his bag and took it along. When Bobo got back, he never said anything to Koikoi or anyone else.After two weeks, the Poro feast was over. Quietly and friendly Bobo and Koikoi went home.The following morning Bobo took out Koikoi`s suit from his bag and started walking around the village like a town crier. He was yelling out by saying ‘whose suit is this; whose suit is this?’ If I don`t find the person, I will throw medicine on him and the person will die.” Bobo went around the village till he faced Koikoi`s house. When Koikoi saw Bobo, he ran from the piazza and ran in his room.Bobo walked straight to Koikoi`s house with the same announcement. Koikoi`s wife looked keenly at the suit then when inside the room and called her husband to come and see the suit.Koikoi hesitated but went out sheepishly and greeted his friend. His wife asked of the suit, Koikoi denied that the suit was not his. The lady said to him that the suit was for him. He was so angry that he slaps her and says that she was a lair. My suit got missing since, koikoi said. The woman yell, you lie, I washed this suit just before you people went for your man society feast.Bobo said, no palaver. I am going to throw medicine and the owner of this suit will die. Then Koikoi yelled: ‘noooo! You can do that! Please don`t kill that person.’ The village chief arrived and asked Koikoi is the suit yours? No,Koikoi answered, but we cannot stay here for this man to kill someone. We all know how powerful this great healer is. The chief quiet the conflict at that moment.Two hour later, behind close door, the true story of the suit was discussed. Koikoi and his wife went to the chief with three senior elders demanding that they beg Bobo not to kill him because the suit is legal chatter. Koikoi`s tears ran down……… I must admit that I was caught wrestling naked in bed with Borbor`s wife, and I escaped but I left my suit behind. Chief Massaquoi, I am guilty.Chief Massaquoi, sent for Bobo and his second wife to come at his court. Bobo and his wife hurry to the chief call as the message landed in their ears. Later on, behind close door, the true story of the suit was discussed among the elders including Bobo and Koikoi. The elders including KoiKoi asked for forgiveness from Bobo. Question: If you were in the position of Bobo, will you accept Koikoi`s forgivingness or not?You can kindly email your response to ballahsiafa@gmail.com or text to +231886101019/0775101019.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img

Speaker Pressed to Recuse Himself from Presiding over Budget

first_imgSpeaker Nuquay (right) by law, presides of ver the national budget processA recusal or removal struggle over House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay has emerged among members of the House of Representatives for the first time this year, and the fourth time since 2006.Opposition members in the House of Representatives are compelling Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay to recuse himself or be moved or removed from presiding over the 2017/2018 National Budget in order not to use his double positions – Speaker and vice standard bearer of the ruling Unity Party – to manipulate or infuse the budget with unnecessary cash to support the party’s campaigns.The 2017/2018 Draft Budget is in the estimated value of US$526 million and has been under scrutiny of the Joint Committee on Ways, Means, Finance & Budget, and Public Accounts of the Liberian Legislature as of Monday, June 5.Besides the opposition members, other members who are pushing for the Speaker to be recused, moved or removed are the representatives from the three counties who believe they (Nimba, Bong, and Grand Bassa) were ostracized during Nuquay’s selection as the vice standard bearer of the ruling Unity Party.Nimba County District # 6 Rep. Atty. Ricks Y. Toweh and Montserrado County District # 8 Rep. Acarous M. Gray are leading the campaign for the Speaker to recuse himself.The chairman of the Majority Bloc of the House of Representatives, Rep. Numene T.H. Bartekwa of Grand Kru County District # 2 has rebuffed the threat and boasted of having about 52 Representatives that are part of the Majority Bloc supporting the Speaker.Rep. Numene T. H. Bartekwa of Grand Kru County District # 2The Grand Kru lawmaker, who is also chairman of the Committee’s Post and Telecommunications, told the Daily Observer yesterday in his Capitol Building office that the Speaker’s recusal is neither in the House’s Rules and Regulations, nor is it a precedent.The Majority Bloc leader said the Speaker will end his tenure as speaker on January 16, 2018.He said any lawmaker who will use the media to misconstrue the rules to denigrate the Lower House to incite the public “will be dealt with.”“The Speaker isn’t in any violation, he is not in any corruption web. So he can’t recuse himself,” he said.Recusal and Removal StruggleSince President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took state power in 2006, there have been four (4) recusal and removal struggles, which started with the then House Speaker Edwin M. Snowe.An unconfirmed report said the Montserrado County District # 6 Representative was removed in 2007 due to a “Power struggle” with the president.Bomi County District # 1 Representative Alex J. Tyler was elected Speaker, but his re-election as speaker was resisted in 2012.The second recusal and removal struggle erupted in 2015 when the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) investigated then Speaker Tyler and Montserrado County District #15 Adolph Lawrence about a US$25,000 consultancy fee to Bobby Addison. The coup was unsuccessful, and Speaker Tyler survived.In 2016, the third recusal and removal struggle surfaced when the Global Witness released a damning report in the Sable Mining deal accusing Speaker Tyler of taking a US$75,000 bribe.Speaker Tyler was removed, making way for the emergence of Margibi County District # 5 Representative Emmanuel Nuquay, who was elected on white ballot in October 2016.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Chief Barlon Wants Reintroduction of Sassywood

first_imgChief Peter Barlon (R) with Chief Robert Sehnean at the occasion.Says statutory laws not adequate to prosecute cases of alleged witchcraft.The head of the traditional council of chiefs in Nimba County, Paramount Chief Peter Barlon, has described witchcraft activities in the county as “alarming” and getting out of hand. He said it deserves the intervention of the Legislature to enact a law that can prosecute perpetrators and ensure justice for the victims.Speaking to reporters in Nimba on Saturday, October 6, Chief Barlon said there “are several witchcraft cases that have resulted in the deaths of many people in the county and for which the alleged perpetrators go free, because there is no law in the constitution to prosecute.”He said chiefs are not authorized to administer “sassywood,” a trial by ordeal process that was used to administer “traditional laws” in the past. He said magistrates who are using “statutory laws” are not willing to prosecute such cases, because of the difficulty of securing evidence against those accused.“There is a law to prosecute those found to be involved in witchcraft activities, but the magistrate and police are not willing to consider cases of witchcraft whenever a case is taken to them,” he said.He added that presently in Nimba County, there is a group of men said to be involved in “medicine” (witchcraft activities). According to him, they wear amulets said to possess mystical powers and anyone who dares risk having illicit relations with their women could invite a death spell cast by mystical chants.“This new witchcraft activity is alarming. There are two witchcraft activities known as ‘Kparsia and Zoebayoo,’ which are also deadly,” he said. Kparsia and Zoebayoo, according to information, are invoked whenever those who possesses the mystical chanting powers touches a subject’s shoulder with their left hand, the subject immediately falls sick and die within two to three days.Chief Barlon said the people who are involved in the practice otherwise referred to as “medicine” for the wrist, have confessed openly to killing people with such powers, which also includes chanting. “The government continues to say witchcraft activity is not scientific and, therefore, perpetrators cannot undergo punishment as compared to those who kill physically,” he said.“We are calling on the government or our lawmakers to pass a law that deals with cases emanating from witchcraft,” he said.Individuals who confess that they are involved in witchcraft have usually done so openly. Early this year, local authorities in the Zoe Geh Statutory District, arrested several men who were allegedly involved in witchcraft that led to the death of two persons. “Children of young ages have been confessing, pointing to the elderly for initiating them,” the chief said.“Our lives are in danger from these people,” said Clan Chief Patrick Baryou of Fro Clan.“A fellow was arrested with a cow tail, and said that anyone to who he shows the tail will immediately ‘get dry’ (shrink in size) and die,” he said. “They sometimes put something on a chair for their victim to sit on and which can lead to the person’s death.”However, contrary to Chief Barlon’s claim that there is a law that empowers local communities to deal with “sassywood,” or trial by ordeal (TBO), the Daily Observer notes that the administration of “sassywood” was banned in Liberia more than a century ago.The Supreme Court of Liberia first outlawed the practice in 1916 in a case in which a number of individuals, accused of being witches, refused to submit to sassywood (a form of TBO that involves drinking a poisonous brew that often results in death) and the matter was brought before the Supreme Court on appeal. The Court ruled against TBO on the basis that it violated a suspect’s right against self-incrimination (a right protected under the Liberian 1847 Constitution).In an opinion delivered by the Supreme Court in 1916, it said, “While it is provided that the native and district courts shall administer the native customary law, we cannot admit the legality of a proceeding which is evidently intended to extort a confession from the accused, and which is in conflict with the organic law of the state, which declares that ‘no person shall be compelled to give evidence against himself.’ … Any custom, which panders to the superstition of the natives of the country is, in our opinion, contrary to the genius of our institutions and should, therefore, be discouraged.” (Jedah v Horace (1916) 2 LLR 63)In 1940, in an appeal by five individuals convicted by a circuit court of murdering a person suspected of stealing a goat, the Court again upheld the ban; it held that TBO was “unconstitutional and illegal.” (Tenteah v Republic of Liberia (1940) 7 LLR 63).The Court noted: “It would appear that the defendant died as a result of the doing of the appellants of an illegal act; for, defendant having been accused of stealing a goat, no effort was made to ascertain the truthfulness or falsity of the action by any legal evidence, but rather resorted to the illegal and abominable method of trial by ordeal, which this court has repeatedly held to be unconstitutional and therefore illegal.”For clarity, trial by ordeal (sassywood) takes different forms, depending on the circumstances. It may be used on a person suspected of a crime to induce confession; on a suspect or witness to make sure that the person tells the truth (much like testifying under oath); or on a person suspected of being a witch as an interrogation technique or as a cure if he/she has already admitted to being one.The types of TBO carried out in Liberia span a range of acts (including drinking regular water or performing a simple task); painful exercises (for instance, dipping a hand in boiling oil or putting a hot metal object against the skin); and deadly acts (such as consuming dangerous poison).The prevalence of TBO has been attributed to the unwillingness of the executive body to enforce the ban and its active participation in its routine violation. The typical example cited to support this indictment is the fact that the Hinterland Regulations, which permit some forms of TBO to be sanctioned, remain in force in violation of the ban on TBO.Under these Regulations, the Ministry of Internal Affairs routinely licenses “Ordeal Doctors” to carry out TBO. Although forms of TBO that pose danger to life are said to have been banned by the executive body (in other words, the executive body decided to start enforcing an already existing ban partially), a recent United Nations (UN) report showed that Liberian authorities have continued to encourage their use.For example, former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf granted presidential clemency to 14 individuals convicted of murder for a death they caused in the course of a TBO. Its prevalence is also undoubtedly attributed to other factors.One such factor is cultural: it is widely believed that TBO is a fair and quick method for dispensing justice in which both the administrators of the trial and the tools used are deemed to possess divine powers for which there is no substitute.This is particularly true in cases of witchcraft. Another reason why the practice endures despite a long-standing ban is a practical one. Formal institutions of justice are inaccessible in most parts of the country and for most people, TBO is the only available means of resolving a conflict.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more