Gov’t, UNECA Sign Cooperative Framework

Hon. Carlos Lopes Executive Secretary for United nation Economic Commission for Africa and Hon. Edward Eesiah Acting Minister of Finance and Development PlanningThe government of Liberia and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish a general framework of cooperation that will see the parties benefit from mutual information sharing, consultation, knowledge exchange and cooperate on projects that focus on six key areas.

The areas include development planning, land policy reform, agricultural productivity, debt cancellation negotiation, capacity development, and the implementation of the economic stabilization and recovery plan (ESRP of Liberia.

The signing ceremony took place at the Ministry of Finance, Development and planning yesterday with some senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) and ECA in attendance.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Executive Secretary of ECA, Dr. Carlos Lopes,, said the signing ceremony marks another milestone in the relationship between the UN and the Government of Liberia.

According to the ECA Executive Secretary, under this MOU ECA through the capacity development division will be responsible for the overall supervision and support of the project including the provision of funds.

Dr. Lopes noted that in the agreement, technical support towards Liberia’s land policy reform; support to improve Liberia’s agricultural productivity; support on preparing Liberia towards the negotiations for debt cancellation are part of the recovery program efforts.

The framework for cooperation which was outlined in the MOU, according to Dr. Lopes, expresses the parties’ intentions subject to each party’s internal regulations which each party will identify and jointly implement specific projects and activities in areas of mutual interest for joint cooperation.

In the MOU the parties will make the resource and expert sharing arrangements, which is subject for internal approvals from each organization.

The MOU also stated that parties will exchange information and documentation necessary for the purpose of implementing activities and program under the provision of the MOU, which subject for confidentiality rules.

The memorandum of understanding will remain in force for the initial two years period unless terminated earlier by either party giving two Months written notice to the other party.

The MOU noted that if a conflict of interest arises or appears likely to arise during the duration of this MOU the parties hereto shall immediately notify each other, make full disclosure of all relevant information relating to the conflict, and take such steps as reasonably required to resolve otherwise deal with the conflict.

Speaking on behalf of the Liberian Government, acting Minister of Finance, Development and Planning, Edward Eesiah, expressed gratitude to Dr. Carlos lopes and his delegation and said the Liberian Government is grateful to receive the ECA delegation in Liberia and wished them a successful stay in the country.

Nat’l Lottery Authority Gets Muscle To Regulate Gaming Sector

NLA regulationThe Liberian Government through the National Lottery Authority (NLA) has announced the approval of gaming regulation 001 following its adoption by the NLA’s Board of Directors.

Gaming Regulation 001 which is due to come into effect soon was approved by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on July 20, 2016. It is the first legal instrument issued since the National Lottery Act was amended by the National Legislature and published into handbills by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to a press release, the regulation which now goes to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for printing into handbills sets the standard for procedure of application and license fees, as well as authorizes the NLA to issue levies and penalties on all gaming activities including casinos, sports betting, slot machines, raffles, table games and scratch & win gambles and all games of chance within the Republic of Liberia.

The approved regulation which was formulated by the management of the National Lottery Authority, gives the NLA the mandate to monitor and regulate the gaming sector of the country.

The legal instrument also gives the NLA the power to monitor rules and guidelines to protect the exploitation of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as ensure that gambling is conducted in a fair, transparent, and accountable manner.

At the same time, the new NLA regulation also empowers the entity to, among others, approve locations for casinos, scratch & win games, validate companies’ license period, and regulate gaming (slot) machines, promotional competition, and charitable games throughout the country.

Since the resuscitation of the National Lottery Corporation in 2012 and the amendment of its Act that brought into the existence the current National Lottery Authority in 2014, the entity has been a toothless bulldog with no statutory legislation to evolve standing regulations that empower the entity to enforce its mandate.

The coming into effect of regulation 001 gives the authority complete control over the gaming and betting sector of the country , something that has been absent since its resuscitation as portions of its mandate were being usurped by other public functionaries.

Observers believe that the coming into effect of this regulation opens a new horizon for the NLA’s viability to raise revenue for government and also raise money to cater to the needs of disabled organizations and other less fortunate groups in the country.

Meanwhile, the NLA is encouraging all operators of games-of-chance and interested individuals and business entities to immediately proceed at the temporary headquarters of the Authority located in Zubah Town, Duport Road Paynesville to pick up a copy of the approved regulation for perusal and action, the release concluded.

Media Group Appreciates Checago Bright-Sawo

BrightfoundationSince 2010, Checago Bright Foundation has been navigating the odds under daring circumstances taking life –water to people in places that no one would imagine.

To date, the Foundation has implemented a host of water, sanitation, hygiene, and education projects in urban and rural Liberia that have transformed the lives of over 25,000 people. This service to humanity has not gone unnoticed as a media group “The Alternative Media Forum” has presented a certificate of honor to the Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation, Mr. Checago Bright-Sawo, for the numerous community based initiatives being taken by his institution.

The group which comprises journalists and civil society activists said the honor was bestowed on Mr. Bright-Sawo for making strides to provide safe drinking water and sanitation to an important portion of Liberia’s population that lacks access to basic social services.

 

Presenting the certificate on behalf of the group, the Secretary General of (AMF), Martin Blayon said the group saw the need to recognize not just the Bright Foundation but all those working to ensure that Liberia becomes a better place and people are made to have access to those basic necessities such as water and sanitation.

 

“Right now, everyone in Liberia is used to criticizing everything even if it is good. We are resolved to ignite a paradigm shift by recognizing those who deserve recognition such as Mr. Checago Bright-Sawo. It is a tradition that people who are helping to improve the country’s image are hardly appreciated. We want to change that,” Blayon added.

He named the modern hand pump in Wein Town, lower Margibi County and several others as major projects that have made marks on the lives of the people in those areas.

For these people in Wein Town, it was their first time in twenty years to begin drinking clean and safe water.

 

Receiving the award, Mr. Checago Bright-Sawo said he was glad that the efforts being made by the foundation to reach out to the needy in the remotest villages across Liberia would be appreciated in such a manner. He added that the recognition is not just for him as a person but also for the volunteers who are making the dream of the foundation becomes a reality.

 

Meanwhile, the Liberia Telecommunication Corporation (LIBTELCO) is expected to open two ICT centers at Tubman High School and African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) today. Vice President Joseph N. Boakai will cut the ribbon to the modern IT facility.

Improving Education With Partnership Schools Featured

Despite criticisms from certain quarters regarding government’s current effort to upgrade the education sector through the outsourcing of primary education to the private sector, investigations conducted by this paper show that private public partnerships actually benefit the poor or low income families who don’t have the money to send their kids to private schools but want quality education for their kids at the same time.

According to recent World Bank studies on the necessity of contracting public schools to private institutions, “private organizations can advise public schools in pedagogical and management issues for a specific period of time, under contract stipulations and with the possibility of transferring the school back into public management. When a private contractor provides schools with technical assistance and has the ability to influence school decision-making, this can help reduce inefficiencies and thus improve the management of the school.”Vol 1 No 59 front cover

Under the PPP arrangement, governments can hire private organizations to provide a range of support services to public and private schools that cater to low-income students. In many countries, the capacity of the public sector to deliver high-quality education is compromised by a lack of knowledge of effective pedagogical (teaching) practices. To mitigate this, governments can contract with private organizations that have had proven successes with their education methods to provide certain key services such as teacher training, curriculum design, textbook provision, and supplemental services for public or private schools educating poor students.

This is just what Education Minister George says he’s fighting for through the innovative “Partnership Schools for Liberia” program.

“Every child deserves a great education – one that allows her to follow her dreams and achieve her potential. And yet in Liberia we are failing too many of our children. Our teachers, our schools and our system all face deep and embedded challenges. Unfortunately, it is in the poorest communities where those challenges are greatest,” says Werner.

The new project to be launched in September 2016, aims to bring lessons from elsewhere in the world, including South Africa, Kenya, the US and UK, to Liberia.

“We have learned from these models and are adapting them to our own unique context. The project is called Partnership Schools for Liberia. The Ministry of Education will contract operators from within and outside of Liberia to run public primary schools. The schools will remain within the public sector, owned, financed, regulated and quality assured by government, with support from external donors. Together, we will bring new ideas, new capacity, new systems and new expertise to a system that is struggling to deliver,” Werner says.

 

Partnership Schools, Werner maintains, have one overriding mission: to provide every child, regardless of family background or income, access to high-quality education. “All Partnership Schools will be free and non-selective. No tuition fees will be charged. Instead non-government operators will be funded by government and donors, and they will be accountable to government for the results they deliver,” the education czar told Capitol Times.

With 1-5 million of Liberian children enrolled in primary schools, most of which lack basic facilities such as latrine, safe drinking water and recreational facilities, it is increasing dawning on more Liberians the need to rethink the educational sector through outsourcing of primary education .

“I believe the main issue has been the lack of enough public awareness about this so-called PPP program. Honestly, we all want quality education for our children. If it can be done through partnership schools we are willing to test the system,” says James Kiadii, a resident of Brewerville City and a graduate of the William V.S. Tubman High School in Sinkor during the early 1980s.

The Faith Kinder Care School is the leading private primary education school in Lower Virginia, where most low income families are sending their kids. The school’s teaching style is completely different from any public school in the community, parents admit.

“Of course we welcome this step being undertaken by the Ministry of Education to upgrade our primary education system. We hope they will come to us at the right time to tap into our knowledge base,” says Vero Togar, principal of the Faith Kinder Care School.

Criticisms aside, with the countless best practices outlined in favor of partnership schools, Liberia might – just might benefit from an “experiment” that could turn things 360 degrees in favor of education.

AFL Soldier Faces Drugs Trail

 

MoD SamukaiA member of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) has been arraigned before the Magisterial Court in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County to answer to an alleged possession of marijuana on Wednesday.

According to local journalist Mark Rogers who phoned on the ELBC Super Morning Show on Thursday morning from the county, Private Jenkins Toe of the Engineering Department of the AFL was arrested by officers of the Drugs Enforcement Agency for allegedly travelling with 4 kgs of marijuana.

It was revealed that Toe who is assigned in Gbarnga, Bong County passed through Bo Waterside with the alleged substance in a black bag.

The journalist disclosed that the entire episode started June 8, 2017 which baffled residents as how a Bong County assigned army personnel surfaced in Cape Mount County.

The report had it that the soldier in question was handed over to authorities of the AFL in Monrovia and was later requested for by the Magisterial Court in the County to face the law, but he was not tried on his first date of appearance.

Meanwhile, Private Toe was escorted in the court by some AFL soldiers who then took him again to the Robertsports Prison Center where he is currently detained. The preliminary investigation began since Wednesday of this week.

It is speculated that if Private Toe is found guilty of the offense, he will likely be disciplined by the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL)

‘Sable Mining Case To Be Retried’Cllr. Koffa

 

FonatiThe

Chairperson of the special presidential Taskforce Committee in the Sable Mining bribery investigation, Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Koffa, says the change of judge means the entire case has to start all over.

 

“If what I heard is true, that the Judge in the ongoing case has been changed, it means the entire case has to be retried. That is the law,” he said.

 

Cllr. Koffa made the statement on Wednesday May 3, 2017 at the Center for the Exchange of Intellectual Opinions (CEIO) on Carey Street when he served as guest speaker.

 

He further revealed that with the absence of Cllr. Theophilus C. Gould has left a huge void in the case; stating that the late lawyer was a knowledgeable person and the special taskforce may find it difficult in prosecuting the case.

 

“We are saddened over the sudden death of Cllr. T.C. Gould, a prosecution lawyer in the ongoing case, which left a huge void in the case. He was very knowledgeable about the law; as such we may find it difficult in his absence,” the special presidential taskforce noted.

 

According to him, the taskforce took an appeal to the Supreme Court based on error from the judge.

 

He urged all Liberians to stand in the fight against corruption so as to give a better future to everyone.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has assigned Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay to the 13th Judicial Circuit Court in Kakata, Margibi County.

 

Judge Gbeisay has been re-assigned to Margibi County and subsequently replaced with Judge Yussif Kaba, currently manning the Civil Law Court in Monrovia.

 

Gbeisay had been presiding over Criminal Court ‘C’ for the last two terms of court, a total of 104 days, before his transfer to Margibi County.

 

Before his transfer, prosecutors in the Global Witness case complained to Justice in Chamber, Associate Justice Philip A.Z. Banks, just a day before Gbeisay was expected to send some of them to prison if Heine Van Niekerk (an executive of Sable Mining), their key witness from South Africa, failed to appear before the court to testify.

 

It was van Niekerk, who Global Witness claimed, presented the spreadsheet and emails to the court.

 

The emails and spreadsheet outlined Sable Mining’s alleged payment of over US$950,000 as bribes to Liberian officials with the intention of changing the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) Act and award the Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County to Sable.

 

Gbeisay also refused to legitimize the evidence by placing a permanent mark on prosecution’s ‘vital emails and spreadsheet evidences’ that the state lawyers claimed were obtained from Global Witness.

 

The decision caused prosecution to ask for a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to be filed against Judge Gbeisay.

Nagbe Under Fire;FeJAL Demands Apology Featured

For days now, Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe has become the subject of criticism from members of his media fraternity following an alleged rowdy response to journalists (Power TV’s Estelle Liberty Kemoh and ELBC Emmanuel Capehart) covering the President’s State of the Nation address for which the Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL) has called for public reproof.

Nagbe was said to have acted unruly and temperamental at the close of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s final annual address, when he allegedly rained insults at journalists who confronted him.Vol 2 No 155 Front

It was said that the angry Minister Nagbe threatened to dismiss a reporter of the Liberia Broadcasting System after the journalist granted an interview to Representative Moses Kollie of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change. It is alleged that Minister Nagbe also accused Power Tv’s Estelle Liberty Kemoh of having a romantic affair with a lawmaker.

A statement from the Female Journalist Association of Liberia (FeJAL) through its Secretary General, Antoinette Y. Sendolo, described the action against the female reporter by the minister as “childish and irresponsible”, demanding a public apology from the minister.

Sendolo said the Executive Director of the Infinity Corporation, Aaron Kollie, had already filed an official complaint to the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) on Tuesday, January 24, 2017, backed by a video recording in which the Minister was seen raining insults on Mrs. Kemoh in the rotunda of the Capitol Building following President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Annual address on Monday January 23, 2017.

“We outrightly denounce the irresponsible and unruly attitude of Mr. Nagbe and demand a prompt public apology to Madam Kemoh and the Female Journalists Association of Liberia because his comments have caused Madam Kemoh marital and professional embarrassment and have brought her to public ridicule,” Sendolo said.

“When a senior party and government official reduces a serious female reporter to a ‘’girlfriend’ of a lawmaker, it is intimidating and speaks to the disregard they have for women and point at the methods and strategies used to harass and divert their attention from covering the process,” she said.

She mentioned that female Journalists must be treated as professionals and should not be subjected to assaults, insults or any form of intimidations while on their reportorial duties, and any action of such will be condemned and handled through due process.

“FeJAL argues that by her assignment at the National Legislature, and having served as President of the Legislative Reporters Association of Liberia (LEGISPOOL), Mrs. Kemoh has professional engagements with almost all legislators, and such allegations against her are rather childish, irresponsible and grossly unacceptable,” she stated.

She added: “FeJAL believes Minister Nagbe’s public attack and wild allegation against Mrs. Kemoh in front of other guests and journalists is an affront to not only her and her family, but all female journalists in the country, and deserves a public reprimand”.

Several journalists took to the social media condemning the minister’s alleged action and demanded an apology from the Minister.

In a Facebook post journalist Musa M. B Kenneh intimated: “insults against professional Journalists and your threat to dismiss a journalist for interviewing an opposition politician is unacceptable and undemocratic. I strongly condemned your actions yesterday and will resist your undemocratic act to the end Mr. Information Minister and Secretary General of the governing Unity Party”.

But up to press time, Information minister Nagbe could not be reached to comment on the matter as his LoneStar cell mobile number was perpetually switched off.

Meanwhile, an official of the Unity Party, Mo Ali, called on the Capitol Breakfast show Wednesday when the issue was being discussed, that he had spoken with Minister Nagbe about the incident.

Ali believes, contrary to public opinion indicating that Minister Nagbe erred in berating the LBS reporter for covering Representative Kollie, the Minister said MICAT had contracted LBS to provide live coverage of the President’s State of the Nation address. As such, Ali said the LBS reporter was under obligation to abide by the terms of the contract by catering to MICAT’s itinerary.

PCC Hosts Science Fair Competition;SDA High School Wins

PC SciencefairThe Paynesville City Corporation (PCC) has hosted its 2016 Science Fair competition with eight schools participating in the event held yesterday at the Paynesville City Hall.

According to the organizer of the academic event, the science fair was inspired by Goddy Padmore, a Liberian boy who used wasted materials from dumpsites to construct model houses in different designs to sell and take care of his impoverished family.

The City Mayor of Paynesville City, C. Cyvette Gibson, said she was amazed to know that Liberian children are naturally smart to the extent that they can invent things from scratch.

As a result of Padmore’s brilliance, Mayor Gibson is taking full responsibility for his education until he completes high school.

The participating schools presented on various scientific hypotheses before a panel of judges with high professional standing in the sciences.

At the end of the various presentations, the Paynesville Seventh Day Adventist High School won, with Isaac A. David High School and Prime School System wining second and third places respectively.

Speaking at the program, the Director General of the General Services Agency, Mary T. Broh, motivated the students to take their learning seriously because the skills they exhibited are what investors will need as the country advances.

Every member of the winning school was awarded full tuition payment for a year through the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sororit

PUL Shocked Over Brown Detention

 

AKAKPUL The Press Union of Liberia says it is concerned about the arrest and detention of News Paper Publisher Phillibert Brown through a law suit filed against him by a Liberian lawmaker.

Mr. Brown was arrested on Friday and detained at the Monrovia Central Prison after attempt by his legal defense team to file a valid bond failed.

In a Press statement released in Monrovia, acting Press Union of Liberia President Jallah E. Grayfield, III, said the Union is closely following the development over the arrest of Mr. Brown and challenged the court to respect his civil liberties and his presumption of innocence before the law.

The Union says in a civilized democracy where the media is striving to de-criminalize harmful media laws and speech offenses, it is shocked that the court would still be treating civil cases as criminal.

“In as much we believe that people who feel injured in whatever means must test the law through the court, we don’t equally want the law to be used in an unconventional way to punish people,” Grayfield said.

A Liberian lawmaker, Prince Moye of Bong County, recently filed a law suit against the Publisher of the Hot Pepper Newspaper for defamation of character.

The Press Union of Liberia says it is concerned about the arrest and detention of News Paper Publisher Phillibert Brown through a law suit filed against him by a Liberian law maker.

Mr. Brown was arrested on Friday and detained at the Monrovia Central Prison after attempt by his legal defense team to file a valid bond failed.

Two Publishers Dragged to Court

 

PhiliBertBrownOver the weekend two newspaper publishers, Philibert Brown of the Hot Pepper Newspaper, and Alfred Togba of the People Newspaper were sued for US$1.5 million by Bong County Representative Prince Moye at the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.

 

Before leaving his office on Coleman Hill Mr. Brown told reporters that he received a writ from the Civil law court indicating that his paper has been sued by Bong County District Two Representative Prince Moye over a story in his paper, carried in its Thursday October 6th edition captioned ‘During Ebola Time: “I Lost My Virginity” with sub lead ..Rape victim tells Hot Pepper about Representative Moye’s act.

 

Mr. Brown said his paper did not accuse Representative Moye of rape, rather quoted a rape victim indicating that in late 2013 the honorable man used one of his boys in his yard to befriend the victim, and later showered her with gifts during the Christmas season, and encouraged her to be around him all of the time during his leisure time.

 

He said it was the victim who accused him during investigation and it was not the paper, but they remain firm in their investigation.

 

Mr. Brown said his paper contacted Representative Moye on the allegation but the Honorable told his paper that “he does not know anybody, adding people are trying to blackmail him” but the paper carried the side of his allegation, including communication between him and his lawyer.

 

The People newspaper also carried similar story on the Bong County Representative about his alleged involvement in a rape case. Subsequently, Representative Prince Moye filed US$1.5 million law suit against the two journalists. Two other journalists implicated in the same suit are allegedly on the run.

 

Judge Yusuf Kabbah ordered the arrest of journalist Brown and two other journalists to appear before his court to answer to defamation of character of Representative

Moye for linking him to the crime of rape.

 

According to court officers the two journalists, Alfred Togba of the People Newspaper and Charles Johnson of the Hot Pepper Newspaper, are reportedly on the run, while the publisher of the Hot Pepper was sent to jail for his failure to file a criminal bond.