28 January 2013

Liberia: Police Detained Ellen's Nephew

Police here, accompanied by UNMIL early Sunday, January 27, 2013 arrested Alymer Johnson, a nephew of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for anti-corruption campaign against the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

Alymer was arrested at his house in Brewerville outside Monrovia, charged with "Disorderly conduct" and subsequently detained at the National Police Headquarters on Capitol Hill. Police spokesman Sam Collins, could not confirm nor deny the incident involving Johnson, promising to elaborate later, but did not until press time.

However, after 9 hours detention, Alymer Johnson was released to his defense team headed by Counselor-At-Law Ruth Jappah of the JSGB and Associates Legal Services Incorporated, and Human Rights Activist, Tiawan Gongloe. The two confronted UNMIL's authorities via mobile phone for attempting to trample on free speech and expressions, for which Liberia experienced years of conflict.

Aylmer is the elder son of former Internal Affairs Minister, Ambullai Johnson, and General Manager of UNIVERSAL IMPEX, a scarp dealer company as well as Chairman of the Board of Directors, Daily Talk News Bulletin.

According to documents obtained by the New Dawn, Johnson was given permission by the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC), having paid US$200.00 as requirement fees for eight pieces of banners with the inscriptions: CORRUPTION! UNMIL CRIMINAL EMPIRE EXPOSED!!

The banners carry the photographs of UNMIL's authorities, including Karin Largran, Special Representative of the Secretary General; Hubert Hudsen Priceif, Special Representative of Secretary General for Rule of Law; Aeneas Chapnga, Deputy Special Representative of Secretary General for Recovery and Governance; John Nielsen, Police Commissioner and John Kwasie, Acting Force Commander, all of the United Nations Mission in Liberia.

They were to be erected at several parts of the city, including Broad Street, the Monrovia City Hall, Bong Mines Bridge, Vamoma House and 24th Street, respectively from Saturday, 26 January to 1 February, 2013, but to his utmost surprise, Alymer was prevented by the MCC, which had earlier granted him a permit.

Based on this, he argued that his right to freedom of speech and expression was being trampled upon as a whistle blower against alleged corruption in the Mission.

On October 23, 2012, JSGB and Associates Legal Services, Incorporated, which represents the legal interest of Alymer Johnson, wrote Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan, seeking government's intervention into alleged scandal involving personnel of UNMIL in its Procurement Section.

JSGB and Associates Services, Incorporated's letter signed by Counselor- At-Law, Ruth Jappah said amongst many things, that it want for UNMIL to show cause why their client (Alymer Johnson, General Manager UNIVERSAL IMPEX) should not be compensated for lost of income and incidental expenses, and to grant unto their client all other reliefs deemed proper under the given circumstances.

The two-page communication recounted how UNIVERSAL IMPEX was denied bidding contract by UNMIL despite being qualified by meeting all of the requirements, but was scooped out of the process and the bid was instead awarded to an unqualified company, EDGIL Incorporated.

Earlier this month, an independent audit conducted uncovered numerous malpractices by UNMIL's personnel. The Mission has on numerous occasions dismissed claims of unfair bidding transactions as baseless.

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