Liberia: Grand Kru’s Presidential Appointee Laments on “Journalistic Attacks”, Connects it to elections-related “Political Attacks”

Pres. Weah & Grand Kru County’s Superintendent Hon. Doris Nyanplane Ylatun

MONROVIA – The Superintendent of Grand Kru County, Madam Doris Nyplane Ylatun, is lamenting on what she describes as “Political and Journalistic attacks” during interview with Montserrado County-based Journalists who had engaged her on issues in the County surrounding President George Manneh Weah’s 2022’s Christmas Party gifts for children in the County. The Head of State did similar thing for children of the other 14 Counties of Liberia.

By Samuel G. Dweh, Development Journalist (freelance)

+231886618906/776583266/[email protected], [email protected]

She told the interviewing Journalists that she didn’t want to comment on the “political attacks” on her feeling that recounting the actions would cause political friction between her and a current Senator of the County, who is emotionally closer to two of the main ringleaders of the attacks.

But, this journalists had received information from Grand Kru County about names of the persons  Superintendent Ylatun had preferred not to identify—only for peace to continuously prevail between her and the Senator she also preferred not to reveal.

“During the Senatorial By-Elections in  2020, Superintendent Doris Ylatun’s house was attacked with stones and other objects thrown at the house and the house’s roof by a group of persons who claimed she had said negative things against aspirant Numene Bartekwa, who was in the race against aspirant Peter Coleman, the Superintendent’s favorite candidate during the election. The attacks were orchestrated by Nelson Torbor and Elijah Wreh. Nelson is now a Research Officer in the Legislative Office of the new Senator, Mr. Numene Bartekwa. Elijah Wreh is now a student of the  AME University, in Monrovia, on sponsorship from Senator Numene Bartekwa,” this writer’s source, living in Grand Kru County, disclosed on January 11, 2023, on condition of anonymity. “Please don’t publish my name with your story, so that I won’t be harmed by Nelson Torbor’s loyalists or Elijah Wreh’s loyalists living in the County.”

The same person said Nelson Torbor had called Superintendent Ylatun “idiot” during one of his visits in the County.

This writer couldn’t personally reach two of the accused persons for comments, but Senator Bartekwa was reached 9pm of Wednesday, January 11, 2023, through his Orange phone number to speak on his reported relationship with Nelson Torbor and Elijah. I had introduced myself as a Monrovia-based Journalist of Grand Kru County, and disclosed my purpose of connecting to him: To get information about his knowledge of the two accused for my story for the news media.

“I am now in the bathroom, taking bath, so call me back later,” Senator Bartekwa responded to this writer’s call.

About twenty minutes later, I called the phone number of the Senator to remind him about the subject I engaged him on when he was in the bathroom.

The Senator opened the phone, only said “hello”, and I reintroduced myself, but he switched off his phone while I was speaking.

After three futile attempts to reach the Senator, I sent message to him through his phone number and appealed to him to respond before 4pm on the day we spoke to each other.

But the Senator didn’t reconnect to me, and didn’t pick any of my reminder calls.

The Presidential appointee (Suoerintendent Ylatun) spoke on “journalistic attacks” when being interviewed by Monrovia-based Journalists who had engaged her to respond to a story about her in the Monrovia-based Independent Probe Newspaper (Monday, January 9, 2023 edition; page 2) with a headline “Grand Kru Superintendent Disobeys President Weah’s Mandate”, with a subtitle “Fails to Conduct Christmas Party for County Children”

Few days to the global celebration of Jesus Christ’s birthday (25th of December) in 2022, Liberia’s Head of State, George Manneh Weah, shared three hundred thousand Liberian dollars (L$300,000) and 100 bags of 25kgs bags of rice to the Local Authorities of Liberia’s 15 Counties, for each Local Government to organize Christmas party for the children in the County.

However, the Local Authority of Grand Kru County directed some of the money and food members of the County who were not “children”, the writer of the story, who didn’t reveal his/her identity (name) claimed.

The Independent Probe Newspaper’s journalist also alleged that the Superintendent dishonored invitation extended to her from Ahteenah Radio Station (owned by current Grand Kru’s District #2 Legislative Representative and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives—Hon. Jonathan Fonati Koffa) to explain to the County on how her leadership used the money and food.

Quoting the Mayor of Barclayville, Grand Kru County’s Capital, the Independent Probe’s Reporter stated: “The Superintendent presented only eighty thousand Liberian dollars (L$80,000) to the Mayor.”

Narrating further, the Newspaper’s writer stated: “Meaningful citizens, youths and children of the County…demanding Superintendent Ylatun to with immediate effect refund the 300,000 Liberian dollars and hold party, as was mandated by President George Manneh Weah.”

The Media Institution also quoted the Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Varney Sirleaf, as saying “what Superintendent Ylatun did to divert the money and rice to people and institutions was out of order.”

During interview with the Monrovia-based Journalists on the matter, Superintendent Doris N. Ylatun said President George Manneh Weah’s Christmas gifts to the County’s children were given through the County’s Development Superintendent, Mr. Joe Sekpeh.

She also said, the County’s Coffer for Central Government’s budgetary allotment was completely empty, and the County officials had not received their salaries from the Central Government, so members of the County’s Leadership unanimously agreed to share some of the President’s children-focused Christmas gifts to reduce the financial hardship with officials of the County’s Authority.

Later, during the interview with the Monrovia-based Journalists, she disclosed what the County’s Leadership set aside for the children’s party, and she gave breakdown of part of the Christmas gifts that went to the County’s officials to reduce their economic sufferings.

“Eighty thousand dollars for children’s party. Fifty thousand dollars for fuel and repairs of the vehicles that transported the children’s Christmas food, bags of rice, to the various communities of the County. Sixty thousand dollars for 12 traditional communities, five thousand dollars for each of them. One hundred and ten thousand dollars for feeding of the County’s players that came from Monrovia to play for the County in the National County Sports Meet. The Team came brought no money from Monrovia, so they depended solely on the County’s Authority for feeding throughout the players’ stay in Grand Kru County. One hundred and ten thousand dollars was used as transportation fares for the County’s Monrovia-based players to return to where they had come from—outside of southeastern Liberia. Sum total: Three hundred thousand dollars,” Grand Kru County Superintendent Doris N. Ylatun gave accounts of how the President’s monetary gifts for the children’s Christmas Party was used.

“Here is the breakdown of how we used the hundred bags of rice from the Head of State, Dr. George Manneh Weah,” she began. “Fifteen bags for children’s party. Forty eight bags for 12 traditional communities, four bags for each community. Eight bags to three Line Ministries. Eighteen bags to Ministry of Internal Affairs employees. Three bags to the Media. Three bags to women. Three bags to security. Two bags to youths. Total: one hundred bags,” Superintendent Ylatun clarified.

“On what I will describe as journalistic attack against me, let me tell you Monrovia-based Journalists interviewing on the President’s Christmas gifts,” she came to information about her in a newspaper. “I learned that some persons published my photo with story about the President’s Christmas gifts for children in Grand Kru County in a Monrovia-based newspaper named Independent Probe. The name of the writer is not with the story, but I know the writer. The name is Ben Morris, a Talk Show host at Ahteenah Radio Station in Grand Kru County. He has my telephone contact, but he didn’t call me to get my side of the story about the President’s Christmas gifts for the County’s children. He took the issue to his Talkshow on Ahteenah Radio. I am not a professional Journalist, but I am aware that such media practice is a breach of the Journalistic ethic that mandates any Journalists to get the sides of all parties in a conflict or misunderstanding before publishing the story in a newspaper. Only when he was on Radio, impartially discussing the matter, that he called me. Because of that, I ignored his call. Then, he announced, while on the Radio, ‘I am calling Superintendent Doris Ylatun to get her side of the story, but she’s not picking my call’,” Madam Ylatun told the Monrovia-based Journalists interviewing her.

At the end of the interview, the President George Manneh Weah-appointed Superintendent of Grand Kru County stated: “All these political and journalistic attacks are being orchestrated by some guys from the one of the ethnic groups, named Kpilo, working for some of the Grand Kru County’s Legislative Caucus members who have deep hatred for me, beginning from the House of Representatives election in 2017, which I participated  in, and the Senatorial By-Elections in 2020. However, I won’t return hatred for hatred. My parental upbringing and Christian doctrine forbid such action.”