Who Chopped Gbarpolu Money? – Open Letter to Pres. Weah
Mr. Sam K. Zinnah
Gbarpolu County Project Management Committee (PMC)
Dr. George M. Weah
Republic of Liberia
Dear President Weah:
I present compliments and wish to use this public medium to convey to your offices some burning issues that have to do with my beloved County, Gbarpolu.
President Weah, your administration inherited a huge systematic problem that presidents before you failed to tackle. During the initial meetings that led to the formation of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) in the U.S. I was one of those individuals that played a major role in creating public awareness about the need to support you (George M. Weah) since in fact you were not connected to any of the warring factions that took part in the mass murder of over two hundred fifty thousand innocent Liberians during the senseless civil war in Liberia. My (and many other Liberians both in Liberia and in the Diaspora) hope then was that you would be very objective in the execution of your duties as president. I and others went on and formed “The Liberian Enlightenment Forum, LEF). We then liaise with Star Radio in Monrovia to enable LEF to air the program live on every Saturday. The intent of that program was to enforce our public awareness about our choice in the 2005 elections. All of the above efforts were based on our hope that you (Mr.Weah) would adequately fight corruption since you were not part of the usual Liberian political circle. At the end of the 2005 electoral process the CDC did not win the presidency. Events following the 2005 elections were critically analyzed by some of us which led to our departure from the CDC.
Mr. President, after two unsuccessful attempts by the CDC, you finally took the mantle of the highest office in the Republic of Liberia thus making you the first professional footballer in the world to ascend to the office of presidency of a country. You are now faced with a daunting task to either form part of the usual rhetoric or not trusted political groups or open a new page in the history of Liberia. As you may be aware Mr. President, corruption and impunity have and continue to be the cause of the under development of Liberia. Your predecessor, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf during her 2005 campaign promised to make corruption “public enemy number one” when elected as President of Liberia. In her final annual message to the Liberian people she succumbed to corruption when she described it as “vampire”-a strong indication of a lost fight and struggle. So, it was no surprise when “vampire” was introduced as perhaps the last concept ordered from her vocabulary bank depicting an end to an era in Liberia’s history when first female president’s curtain rolled away to give way to her departure, thus giving way to the first professional footballer in the world to ascend to the Presidency through democratic elections.
Mr. President, Your ascendency to the highest office gave hope to many young people, but your continuous leniency to harshly deal with corruption and impunity is beginning to send the wrong signal to millions of your followers around the world. After a little over 16 months in office, a lot have happened under your watch without any concrete action to deter corrupt officials in your Government. Despite all of the local and international outcry, you still have the opportunity to turn things around and get back on the track that will bring back the admiration many world leaders and ordinary world citizens had for you.
Mr. President, you are fully aware that at least 75% of Liberia’s national budget is used on recurring expenditure while the remaining supposed to be used for development. In a real world, 25% of a national budget of less than six hundred million United States dollars for development means that country may never move forward. The most unbelievable aspect of the whole thing is that even the already unrealistic 25% development portion of the budget is not forthcoming thus making case even worse.
The budget law of the Republic of Liberia requires that County Development Funds be transferred to County Development accounts ninety days after the passage of the budget. I am quite sure that the framers of the budget law wanted to ensure that all Counties get immediate access to their little portions of the Country’s cake to enable them undertake small developmental projects for their various Counties. The failure of previous government and your Government to ensure that County & Social Development funds get transferred to County accounts is hugely contributing to the underdevelopment of communities in Liberia.
As of today’s date, Gbarpolu County has over 1.5 million USD in escrow account at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. That amount accumulated from the past and up to the present Government. From the look of things right now, there seems to be no hope of accessing that amount to carry on development in Gbarpolu County.
Mr. President, I want to take this time and use this public medium to bring to your attention some specific corruption issues in Gbarpolu County that need your Administration’s urgent attention. Over the past years, some official’s hands have been caught in the cookies jar in Gbarpolu County. There is a serious need to bring some of these unpatriotic activities that continue to contribute to the underdevelopment of Liberia to a halt. We have noticed the placement of fake institutions in the national budget. Those institutions are administered by individuals who are not in the Legislature. So, the placement of those institutions in the budget is either engineered by people in the Legislature and placed under non-Legislative members as a means of hiding behind them to loot the budget and exploit the Liberian people. There is a serious need to thoroughly investigate those purported administrators to enable Government identify the actual owners of those institutions. That way, Government will track these institutions and ensure that monies expanded to those institutions were or are used for the intended purpose
to help improve the living conditions of people in Gbarpolu County. If it is proven (which am quite sure it will) that the monies collected for those fake institutions were not used for the purpose of improving the conditions of the suffering masses of Gbarpolu County, I would recommend to your Administration that the Administrators and the actual owners of those institutions be made to restitute the entire amount received from Central Government. The restituted amount should be used to construct a Community College in Gbarpolu County to help give opportunity to the many thousand youths that are alive but searching for life in Gbarpolu County. I have been busy digging behind some of those institutions but findings from my investigations will shock any patriotic Liberian.
- 1. On March 29, 2017, GAC (General Auditing Commission) wrote the Administrator of the Jallah Lone Memorial High School (GAC/ODAGA/108/WSN/DAG/administrator/jlmhs/2017) confirming funds transferred to that institution. According to that letter, US$349,997.02 has been transferred to the Jallah Lone Memorial High Schhol in Gbarpolu County to account numbers: USD 02-2030-035927-01 and LRD 01-2020035927-02 at IB Bank. My investigation shows that Mr. Isaac Varmah and Fr Gabriel Sawyer signed for and received the amount on behalf of the Jallah Lone Memorial High School and Jallah Lone Vocational Training Institute. It will interest you Mr. President to know that the two institutions do not exist in Gbarpolu County but have received nearly $350,000.00.
- 2. Gbarpolu Computer and Driving School is another institution in the national budget. That institution receives US$40,000.00 every fiscal year as a support from Central Government to the institution. Mr. Samson O. Cisco serves as expediter for the Gbarpolu Driving and Computer School. Interestingly, Mr. Cisco is also the Chief of Office Staff in the Office of Gbarpolu County District #1 Representative, Hon. Alfred G. Koiwood. My investigation shows that the institution does not have spending plan nor expenditure report for all funds received for the institution. On 21/02/2017, LD2,460,000.00 (two million four hundred sixty thousand dollars) was deposited into account number 00040025711 at the AfriLand Bank MC2 in Bopolu City, Gbarpolu County. During the 2017 campaign, that money was covertly withdrawn from the account without the signatures of the three signatories to the account thus raising more questions than answers.
3. Fred Davis Clinic is another institution that was discovered under Gbarpolu County in the national budget by my investigation. Mr. Urias Logan is the administrator of the Fred Davis Clinic. On April 25, 2014, he received $50,000.00 (fifty thousand US Dollars) from the FY 2013/2014 Budget. Another $50,000.00 (fifty thousand US Dollars) was received from the FY 2016/2017 budget by Mr. Logan. There is no spending plan or expenditure report on the funding expanded to the Fred Davis Clinic.
4. The Jallah Lone Foundation is another institution that is under question. It is believed that this institution was secretly placed in the National budget with no clear definition of it intended benefit to the people of Gbarpolu County.
Mr. President, it is now appearing as if the National Legislature is a conduit through which funding for these fake institutions are transitioning to the Bank accounts of the real owners for final eating or sharing. Confronted with such complex task of processing mine and all other corruption related complaints and knowing that the Legislature will not shoot itself in the legs by questioning any of its members through the Public Account Committee (PAC), for the PAC, it is first fair enough that time, and sufficient time, will be wasted at the PAC and at the expense of the intended beneficiaries of the funds that were corrupted. In fact as the PAC discovers plenty of Law Makers hands in the reports before it, there will be back and forth movements from the Justice Ministry and back to the PAC, vice versa, as has always been the case in past Governments. My hope is that your administration will end this culture of impunity by ensuring that these cases are properly looked into. When your administration take this approach and erect the necessary check points, historians will look at this era, under your administration, as a moment of renaissance or revival of the true meaning and essence of patriotism and the rule of law in enhancing and entrenching democracy in Liberia.
Although in Liberia the judicial system works at its own pace on the basis of proceedings before it, this (the intentional slow pace) is also another means of inducing plaintiffs and defendants to come with small thing in the chamber. The system may not be inclined to yield to political process to short circuit cases before it. When these cases will be disposed of might not be easily predictable thus creating more doubts in our judicial system.
Your Excellency, because of our desire for the success of your administration and for the betterment of our country, it is my hope that this communication will claim your immediate attention. I am available at your convenience for further details of the undermining of your administration’s developmental drive thru the corruption syndicate I am uncovering.
Thank you and hope your office will attach urgent attention to these issues.
Sam K. Zinnah
Gbarpolu County Project Management Committee (PMC)