Liberia: NBC Director-General Usurps Pres. Weah’s Function – Dismisses His Deputy


MONROVIA – What can be described as a drama erupted at the National Bureau of Concessions (NBC) during the early morning hours of Monday, April 18, 2022, when the entity’s Deputy Director-General for Concessions and Principal Deputy were prevented by security guards from entering the premises on grounds that he has been with immediate effect dismissed by the Director-General Edwin Dennis.

The NBC is the agency of the Liberian government responsible for monitoring and evaluating compliance with concession agreements in collaboration with concession entities. It serves as a source of technical expertise to support all aspects of concession processes.

Dressed in a white gown, with black trousers and a pair of shoes for work, Mr. Bracewell was denied entry into the premises of the entity after disembarking from his gold-colored pathfinder jeep by the Director of Security Mr. Aaron Gayflor and other guards assigned at the main entrance.

He was handed a letter and informed that DG Dennis has mandated them to prevent him from entering the NBC’s compound.

In the communication signed under the signature of the NBC Director-General, a copy which is in the possession of FrontPageAfrica, Mr. Bracewell was informed that he has been dismissed from the entity.

The communication pointed out that the decision taken to terminate the service of Mr. Bracewell was due to his alleged “continuous failure to produce Monitoring and Evaluation reports for four monitoring and evaluation exercises conducted since May of 2021”.

It added that Mr. Bracewell was also dismissed for his alleged failure to “restitute undeserved salaries for a four-month period of unexcused absence (October 2021 to January 2022), and his continued acts of unwarranted verbal aggression to members of the senior staff”.

Director Dennis also pointed out Sections 10. 1 and 11. 1 of the Act that created the NBC as his reliance for Bracewell’s dismissal.

Under Responsibilities of the Director-General, Section 10. 1 of the Act states that: “The Director-General shall be the chief executive officer of the National Bureau of Concessions responsible for the administration, organization, operations and management of the entity”.

Under Staffing and Staff Qualifications, Section 11. 1 of the Act states that: “subject to budgetary limitations and to subsection (3) of this Section 11, the Director-General shall engage such staff and consultants and advisers as he/she may determine to be necessary for the National Bureau of Concessions to discharge its functions properly and efficiently. The Director-General may establish such departments or divisions within the National Bureau of Concessions as may be determined necessary for the effective discharge of its responsibilities”.

It remains unclear why these provisions within the Act were proffered by Director Dennis for reasons to dismiss Bracewell since, in fact, no portion of the document clearly cloth the DG with the authority to dismiss a senior staff, who is also a presidential appointee.

Bracewell’s response

Mr. Bracewell appeared to be psychologically tortured when he was prevented from entering the NBC premises. He reluctantly signed his dismissal letter after being requested by the security guards to do so many times.

Speaking in an interview with reporters shortly after the scene, Mr. Bracewell claimed that he has been consistently subjected to multiple humiliations over the last 18 months, including subjecting him to three internal investigations of trumped-up allegations of insults on some females of the entity.

He further claimed that those allegations were orchestrated by Director General Dennis and his likes to get him out of the entity.

He pointed out that since the conduct of the investigations several months ago, Director Dennis has allegedly failed to release the final reports.

Bracewell added that though he has been consistently engaging the Director to do so, all of his efforts have yielded no results, but only a reconciliatory meeting was called by the Director during a senior staff meeting.

He stated that none of his personal staff was given the dismissal letter to hand delivery to him because it was a calculated ploy allegedly orchestrated by Director Dennis to humiliate and further disgrace him in the public.

“The securities told me to only sign a letter and I should not take an inch into the compound. I asked them why? And they told me that that is something you need to take up with the DG because we are just executing our duties. I am the principal deputy to this institution and a presidential appointee like Mr. Dennis. I don’t under where the DG has taken such an authority to dismiss a presidential appointee”.

Bracewell pointed out that he has been frequently reporting to Mr. Dennis, with his latest report submitted in February 2022 on the Bea Mountain current ongoing concession review and re-negotiation.

“For the last 18 months, I have been tortured mentally, physically by Edwin Dennis because some people in this institution have been feeding him with misinformation. He’s afraid of my competence even though I have been very kind to him and I have treated him very fine as a big brother”.

Stripped off functions

He further alleged that he was stripped of all of his functions and responsibilities as Deputy Director-General by his immediate boss Dennis.

According to him, his tasks and responsibilities were allegedly being designated to other junior staff by Mr. Dennis in a bid to strangulate and make him appear jobless at the entity.

He added that junior staff was consistently designated by Director Dennis to attend meetings and seminars with stakeholders even if he has already acknowledged emails to be in attendance.

“He (Dennis) took and designated all of my functions from me and they have been making mockery at me at the institution. He has been using the females to lie on me that I am insulting them so that he will subject a presidential appointee like me to the investigation”.

Bracewell denied the allegation that he has not been coming to work for a prolonged period of time.

“I am being paid by the government just like Mr. Dennis and how will he claim that I have been taken undeserved salaries? Mr. Dennis is a visitor to Liberia and a resident of America. He stays in Liberia for two months and goes to the United States for four, five months with his family.”

LNP asked to retrieve vehicle

In March 2020, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) donated a white land cruiser vehicle for use by the officer of the entity’s Deputy Director for Concessions following a request made by Bracewell.

In a communication addressed to the Resident Representative of the UNDP and dated March 2, 2020, a copy which is in the possession of FrontPage Africa, Mr. Bracewell requested the group to provide the vehicle for the entity to ensure the smooth implementation of its supported titled: “Sustaining Peace and Reconciliation Through Strengthening Land Governance and Dispute Resolution Mechanisms”.

In response, the UNDP, in a communication issued under the signature of its Resident Representative Violet Korsah Baffour, dated March 17, 2020, and addressed to Mr. Nathaniel Bracewell as Deputy Director General of the NBC, the body formally transferred the land cruiser jeep procured under the Strengthening Conflict Prevention  through Establishment of Multi-Stakeholder Platforms and Improved Alternative Livelihoods Project .

“Please be informed that, in accordance with our procedures, the Government of Liberia, through the National Bureau of Concessions, assumes all responsibility for the maintenance and operations of the vehicle”, the UNDP stated.

The vehicle was given to the entity at the time Director Dennis was not in the employ of the NBC.

But in a communication dated October 15, 2021 and addressed to police Inspector General Patrick Sudue, Director Dennis requested the police to retrieve the “operational vehicle under siege by one of our Deputies”.

“I am kindly requesting that you please effect the impoundment of a white land cruiser jeep with plate #: LB4602. The jeep is currently in the possession of Mr. Nathaniel Bracewell, Deputy Director-General for Concessions (NBC). He has continued to deny the Bureau’s field operations team access to the vehicle despite my specific requests for him to do so”, the communication stated.

It continued: “In view of this continued denial of our field team to use the vehicle, if and when needed, it is my decision to have the vehicle impounded and brought to the Congo Town Office of the National Bureau of Concessions”.

Director Dennis also admitted that the vehicle in question was donated by the UNDP and Peace Building Fund (PBF) for field monitoring services and other project-related activities, multi-stakeholder platforms through its Extractive Industries for Sustainable Development.

FrontPage Africa managed to gather from sources within the LNP that the vehicle was not retrieved from Mr. Bracewell on grounds that he (Bracewell), who was a presidential appointee, voluntarily drove to the headquarters of the LNP when news broke out that his boss had requested the police to impound his assigned vehicle.

Assigned vehicle is taken away

Despite the decision taken by the UNDP to assign the vehicle to the office of Mr. Bracewell, he (Bracewell) did not use the vehicle for the purpose intended as several strategies were implored by Director Dennis to retrieve the vehicle from him.

“Mr. Dennis ordered the securities and they jumped in my office and fought me for car keys- a car that I brought into the institution from the UNDP who gave me the car for concessions compliance and monitoring one year plus before he because Director-General”.

He blamed the decision taken on a long-standing incident that led to the voluntary resignation of the former Director-General of the NBC Mr. Gregory Coleman.

He claimed that some loyalists of Mr. Coleman, who are still at the agency, are engaged into a ploy to get him out due to his uncompromising stance against corruption and other acts intended to rob tax payers.

Did Weah request Bracewell’s dismissal?

Mr. Bracewell claimed that his immediate boss has been bragging that President Weah has instructed him to fire him.

He, however, challenged the alleged claim raised by Director Dennis.

He emphasized that the decision taken by the NBC boss to fire him without the consent or directive of the Liberian leader amounts to the usurpation of the President’s constitutional responsibilities enshrined in Article 56 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution.

Article 56 (a) states that: “All cabinet ministers, deputy and assistant cabinet ministers, ambassadors, ministers and consuls, superintendents of counties and other government officials, both military and civilian, appointed by the President pursuant to this Constitution shall hold their offices at the pleasure of the President”.

“Mr. Dennis is taken unto himself the functions of the President. These are some of the mishaps we have in our governance process and I think the President is someone who has good reasoning and judgment. He needs to take cease of this matter now before it escalates into something else”.

Bracewell noted that he has been mute on the situation for so long in a bid to avoid bringing to the spotlight the CDC led-government, which he canvassed under the rain and sun to bring to power during the 2017 general and presidential elections.

Been Complaining

He disclosed that in an effort to avoid the matter from being calculated in the media, he officially complained to President Weah and other government officials, including the Ministers of State for Presidential Affairs, Finance and Development Planning, Justice, Nathaniel McGill, Samuel Tweah and Cllr. Musa Dean, as well as Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee and Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie.

In separate communications, he called for the President and others to launch an independent probe into the matter. But up to present, nothing has been heard from the President and the others.

Bracewell indicated that despite the prolong delay in receiving acknowledgement of his complaints filed; he remains patient and hopeful that the Liberian leader will intervene in the matter.

He challenged his dismissal on grounds that Mr. Dennis does not have the authority to do so because, he’s was appointed and is working at the will and pleasure of the Liberian Chief Executive. Mr. Bracewell was appointed by the President on March 7, 2019.

Wilmot Smith again?

He, however, blamed the entire happening on his alleged refusal to signature a communication requesting for the payment of US$400,000 to the former Assistant Director for Administration of the NBC Mr. Wilmot Smith as salaries for his alleged wrongful dismissal from the entity.

It can be recalled that under the Andrew Payegar Flangiah acting leadership at the NBC in 2013, an investigation was launched into alleged financial improprieties involving Mr. Smith, amounting to over US$200,000.

Mr. Smith did not subject himself to the three-man investigation team headed by the former Human Resource Director of the NBC Varney Okai for unknown reasons.

The move prompted former President Sirleaf to request the National Security Agency (NSA) headed by Fomba Sirleaf (former Director) to probe the matter.

In its recommendations, the NSA called for administrative decision or action be taken against Mr. Smith and an in-depth forensic audit be conducted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) as their investigation conducted only focused on sampling verification of checks and receipts obtained from the GT Bank and Mr. Smith respectively.

The NSA investigation also called for administrative action to be taken against Mr. Wesley Gbelley, former Production Manager (now deceased) for submitting false receipt of US$585 to the investigation. It further called for the lifting of the suspension on Mr. Varney Okai and Patrick Nagbe, former Clerk of the entity.

Henrique Pearson issued clearance

But in a clearance dated June 26, 2018 and addressed to Mr. Smith under the signature of current NSA Director Henrique Pearson, the NSA recommended the lifting of the suspension which was imposed on Mr. Smith due to the lack of evidence.

“Please be advised that after a thorough review of all the evidence and facts presented, the NSA did not find any evidence against you at the time. This investigation, only conducted sampling verifications of checks and receipts obtained from the GT Bank and Mr. Smith respectively. In view of the foregoing, this agency recommends the lifting of the suspension imposed on you because of the lack of evidence”.

The NSA clearance did not clearly spell out whether or not Mr. Smith should be paid for the months which he was suspended from the entity, but the clearance was received at the time Mr. Smith  was already in the employ of LISGIS as Deputy Director General for Information Dissemination.

As a result of this, Mr. Bracewell has been strongly opposing the crafting of a communication to ensure the payment of the money to Mr. Smith by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, through the NBC, as instructed by Director Dennis.

Dennis speaks

For his part, Director Dennis stated that the accusations levied against him by Bracewell are false and misleading.

According to him, the dismissed NBC Deputy Director has vehemently refused to submit monitoring and evaluation report of four logging companies since May 2022.

He added that though he has managed to engage Bracewell on numerous occasions, he has failed to act in accordance.

He denied that he has planted females against Mr. Bracewell, noting that, when the complaint was filed against the Deputy Director, he was in the United States at the time.

Director Dennis admitted that the final report of the investigation was not presented to Mr. Bracewell because; it was “inconclusive” due to the testimonies provided by the witnesses.

According to him, Mr. Bracewell has been in the constant habit of allegedly raining insults at female subordinates at the entity and he has formally informed the President and the Minister of States for Presidential Affairs of his attitude.

He stated that his decision taken to request Finance to pay the salaries of Mr. Smith was in consonance with an earlier request made by his predecessor Mr. Gregory Coleman following the issuance of a clearance from the NSA.

Director Dennis wondered why Mr. Bracewell, who has also allegedly forwarded the name of one Francis Zayzay to his office for the payment of his salaries owed, would accuse him of engaging into clandestine acts to ensure that the money is paid to Mr. Smith.

He justified that though his action to dismiss his principal deputy was in keeping with his functions as head of the institution.

“Bracewell was not coming to work and he has been given excuses that there is no current in the building. He has not submitted a single report since May of last year. He verbally insulted one female from the Human Resource and the matter was reported to the Gender Unit. The incident even went on the prophet key show. I was not even in the country when the allegation was made against him”.

“I took him and the complainant in my office and I told him to apologize and he refused to do so and the girl cried in his presence”.

He alleged that on October 8, 2021, Bracewell denied him the usage of the vehicle which was assigned to him for a project, something which prompted him to report the matter to senior staffs during a meeting.

He said Bracewell was not going to work with the car, a move which also prompted him to report the matter to Minister McGill and the LNP.

According to him, Minister McGill requested Bracewell to turn over the vehicle, a request he yielded to.

“Bracewell lied. Nobody forced the key from his hands. He handed over the key and used vulgar expression. The car is right here in the yard; I don’t use it. The other car he brought has problem and nobody uses it. I am responsible for the management of all staffs including Bracewell himself. Tarnue Marwolo dismissed Andrew Flahngiah during Madam Sirleaf regime and I acted in keeping with my responsibilities. If people do not come to work, they should not be paid”.

When quizzed whether he received the blessings of President Weah to dismiss Mr. Bracewell, Director Dennis stated: “The President is aware of Mr. Bracewell’s actions and there is nothing to dialogue about because Mr. Bracewell was dismissed since April 14”.