New Democrat (Monrovia)

Liberia: Lawmakers Claimed Deserted

A lawmaker complained yesterday that some constituencies in Montserrado County have become no-go areas for him and his colleagues, saying voters have deserted them for their apparent failure to meet their development needs.

As a result of the situation, Rep Henry Boima Fahnbulleh of District #4 said they have suffered heaps of insults that have caused them "mental anguish."

He made the remarks in regular session yesterday when officials of Montserrado County and the Minister of Internal Affairs, Blamo Nelson, appeared before the plenary of the House to answer inquiries about the use of the development funds for Montserrado County.

The other officials were Grace T. Kpan, Superintendent of Montserrado County and Sylvester Larma, her Assistance Development Superintendent.

Their appearance which was prompted by a complaint from Rep. Thomas P. Fallah, created concerns from members of the Montserrado County Legislative Caucus who claimed that Superintendent Kpan was in the habit of bringing them to public ridicule, an allegation she furiously denied.

At the public scrutiny in the chambers of the House, both Rep. Boima Fahnbulleh and Rep. Edwin Melvin Snowe, Jr. expressed their disappointment and frustration over the "unusual behaviour of the Superintendent and the Internal Affairs Minister."

"I am disappointed in this minister. It is a shame that this Minister (Blamo Nelson) who was just a Senator would seat and allow the Superintendent to disrespect us.

"Why has this minister changed so soon?" he asked.

Rep. Snowe also alleged that the Superintendent has also "embarrassed" them to their constituents by refusing to sign vouchers and cheques for the payment of tuition for scholarship students in their districts.

"Only the Superintendent's school has been paid for. Whatever action we intend to take against the superintendent, the same thing must be extended to the Internal Affairs Minister too," he said.

Rep. Fahnbulleh revealed that as a result of the Superintendent's refusal to allow the payment of tuition for scholarship students in their districts, their constituents no longer listen to them.

He admitted that some of them have even deserted some parts of their districts as a result of the situation which according to him has placed them in a "mental anguish."

"We have been placed in a mental anguish. We have been insulted in our districts. There are some areas that we don't even go. The superintendent has impaired our functions something which is contemptuous," he said.

Another Montserrado County Rep. Thomas Fallah whose letter prompted the House's decision to call for her appearance told the plenary that the Superintendent's action continued to delay the implementation of projects in their districts by refusing to adhere to resolutions taken by the caucus.

"Since 2010 to present, we have not been able to implement projects in our districts. We have been accused by our constituents of eating the county development fund.

"We are now in January, this is my fear. We have lot of projects but cannot implement them as a result of the superintendent's action," he said.

Also, Rep. Edward Fohr accused the Superintendent of being in a "constant violation of the budget law" emphasizing that she has "expressed a flagrant disrespect to us" accusing them of being corrupt.

"She said 'she serves at the will and pleasure of the president," he said.

They also accused her of unlawfully opening accounts on behalf of the county without the consent with Rep. Josephine Francis pleading with her colleagues to let her refund the money taken from the county within 48 hours.

Other legislators raised similar concerns and called on the Superintendent to justify her alleged actions which they insisted has brought them at "odds" with their constituents.

But Superintendent Kpan who took the stage with dossiers of files under her arms, said that since her appointment and confirmation as the Superintendent in the county, she has been "cooperatively" working with the lawmakers.

"I worked endlessly and cooperatively with the lawmakers to ensure that everything is fine in our county. I think we should have sat and talked instead of going this far," she said.

She admitted opening an account without the consent of the lawmakers using the County Development Fund (CDC's) guidelines as reliance, something that created uproar in the plenary.

"I don't really know that I shouldn't have done that (Open and account).

"We take the blame but with a clear mind that we have not embezzled anything," she said.

With regards to the scholarship, she claimed that some of the names appearing on the list sent to her by the lawmakers were fraudulent.

Following some further scrutiny by members of the House, both Minister Nelson and Superintendent Kpan were ordered to refund US$50,000 that was taken from the county development for "operations."

Superintendent Kpan was also mandated to sign all of the vouchers to allow the payment of scholarship in all the 17 Districts of the county and ensure the implementation of all the resolutions signed for development projects within the county and submit the document to plenary by next Tuesday.

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