President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has pardoned 33 pre-trial detainees held at the Monrovia Central Prison as part of her Christmas gesture of sharing with the Liberian people. Under the Constitution, the President of Liberia has the power to pardon a convicted or pre-trial detainee.
According to an Executive Mansion release, those pardoned by President Sirleaf, during her visit to the Central Prison on Friday, December 21, included 8 females and 25 males who had been detained for various offenses ranging from theft of property, misapplication of entrusted property to disorderly conduct.
Accompanied by the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Christiana Tah, the Liberian leader ordered her to make sure that those pardoned carry out community service as a way of paying back for their wrongdoing against community dwellers.
Those being pardoned chanted the praises of President Sirleaf, and assured her that her pardon would not be in vain as they will be “peace ambassadors” in their respective communities while they carry out their service. Some among them had been in detention from one to three years. The
President requested that some of those pardoned be turned over to the Acting Monrovia City Mayor, Mary Broh, for their service.
Visit to Best Brains Academy
Beginning her day, President Sirleaf visited the Best Brains Academy Elementary and Junior High School, where she was Guest of Honor at its Christmas year-end program.
Following performances by the students, President Sirleaf praised the talent, the commitment of the teachers, and those supporting the school. “I just feel so proud and so good to see what is happening at this school,” she told the audience.
She thanked the proprietor and the teaching staff for all they’re doing to mold the minds of young children. It’s not often, the President observed, that Liberians who have been successful and blessed to move ahead come back and give something to their country. “When we find one of our citizens of this character, we must just say to him how much we appreciate him, thank him,” she said adding that the Rev. J. Luther Tarpeh, Proprietor and Executive Director of Transformation International, could have used his education and resources for something different but had chosen to come back and give to society.
President Sirleaf emphasized that government is striving to ensure that all Liberian children go to school; and that education is the best thing that any parent can give to a child because that will not leave them. “They can take away the goods, but what’s in their brain is something that will never leave them,” she emphasized.
Speaking earlier, the school’s Proprietor, Rev. Tarpeh, said he counted the President’s visit as an honor. “Madam President, your visit here today will leave an indelible mark on the hearts of these kids. The memory of your visit will linger with them forever,” he said, adding that for many of them it is a dream to sit under the same roof with their President.
Rev. Tarpeh said that over the past seven years of President Sirleaf’s leadership, he had witnessed her quest for quality education in Liberia. Her efforts to build schools in remote regions of the country and to spearhead girls’ education in Liberia, was a demonstration of her dream for post-war Liberian children. “Education is a right of all Liberian children, irrespective of the socio-economic background of their parents,” he declared.
Speaking of his school, Rev. Tarpeh said that Best Brains Academy Elementary and Junior High School had been his dream, as he recounted his days of struggling for an education in River Cess County. “I’m glad that even though my mother, who supported me single-handedly, died during the war, I’m glad that her encouragement to my life has given birth to this school to impart these Liberian children,” he said. He honored his late mother and all Liberian mothers who are struggling alone to support their children.
Rev. Tarpeh introduced a 12th grade student from St. Pius Catholic School in Harbel, Margibi County, Kwenu K. Whenwhen, whose ambition is to become a writer and activist. The young woman had participated in an essay competition, along with other African students. She had emerged as the second winner. She had traveled to Kigali, Rwanda, to receive the award, and she now carries the title of “Youth Ambassador for Anti-Corruption.”
President Sirleaf presented Miss Whenwhen a special gift; likewise two students that were exceptional during the program.
Gift-Sharing and Lighting of Margibi Christmas Tree
The President continued her Christmas gift sharing at the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town, where she donated cash and food items to the staff.
The Friday gift sharing was in continuation of Thursday’s activities, which saw the President visit with the Monrovia Consolidated School System Teachers’ Association at Tubman High School. There, the President donated a check of US$10,000 as a Christmas gift.
During President Sirleaf’s visit to the National Fire Service, Director Wasuard Barvoul commissioned her as Liberia’s Chief Fire Marshall, for being the first Liberian President to visit those offices. The President used the opportunity to inspect one of the many fire trucks in the bureau’s fleet, considered as one of the latest models.
On Thursday evening, the President traveled to Harbel, Firestone, where she lit the Margibi County Christmas Tree under the auspices of its Senior Senator, Clarice A. Jah.
It may be recalled that when President Sirleaf lit the National Christmas Tree, on the Executive Mansion Grounds, on Monday, December 17, she called on Liberians to see the holiday season as a season of sharing – reminding them to reach out to the less fortunate in their communities, and for the culture of giving to characterize this festive season.