20 February 2013

Liberia: Uproar & Anger Over Supt. Grace Kpan

There was an apparent uproar and anger at the chambers of the House of Representatives yesterday when lawmakers vehemently protested against the "continuous disrespect" allegedly shown them by Montserrado County Superintendent Grace T. Kpan.

She is expected to appear before the lawmakers tomorrow or face their "full weight."

"This House would not be disrespected. And anybody who decides or attempts to disrespect this House would meet the full weight of this body," vowed Rep. Hans Barchue, Deputy Speaker.

Supt. Kpan recently appeared before them to defend herself against similar allegations. She was however told to reappear and provide proof or evidence of disbursing money on behalf of the county. The Superintendent was also mandated by the House to refund the US$50,000 that she allegedly used without their consent.

There is however no proof that she has fulfilled any of these mandates, according to some lawmakers.

There has been bickering between members of the Montserrado Legislative Caucus and Supt. Kpan over the use of the development funds allocated for the county with lawmakers accusing her of sabotage by refusing to disburse scholarship funds to their constituents, amongst others.

Supt. Kpan has also furiously rebutted the lawmakers' claims, alleging that some of the names they submitted to her office were faulty and that Rep. Edward Forh, Chairman of the Caucus is on tape allegedly begging her to share the money with them.

During the debate yesterday, Reps Thomas P. Fallah, H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Saah Joseph, Julius Berrian, Richard. M. Tingba and others were seen in an angry mood denouncing the Superintendent for what they called her "blatant" disrespect for them, declaring "enough is enough."

Rep. H. Boima Fahnbulleh II, (Unity Party), acting Chair of the caucus, lamented that in spite of a warning by President Sirleaf during a meeting between them and the Superintendent at the President's office to keep away from the press and respect the lawmakers, the Superintendent has not budged. He said she was still bent on raining insults at them in the media.

"I am deeply disappointed over the attitude of the Montserrado Superintendent. She has continued to disrespect us. And I am saying to you that this matter is beyond party affiliation. It borders around the integrity of our colleagues.

"This kind of thing never happened to Richard Henry (former Speaker) because we are country children. We have resolved as members of the caucus that Montserrado County would not address any legislation from the executive if this issue is not addressed," he said.

He disclosed that the Superintendent has disregarded the President's mandate for her to apologize to them. He cautioned that the stalemate would further derail the cordial relationship between the legislature and the executive if it was not addressed.

"This matter has reached to a point where the Montserrado County Legislative Caucus would be very reluctant to support her (President's) legislative agenda if this issue is not resolved," he said.

For Rep. Julius Berrian (CDC-Montserrado County District #10), he said the Superintendent's continuous refusal to appear before them for clarifications on some issues constitutes a "gross disrespect" that should not go with impunity.

"Regrettably, I do see this as a gross disrespect to us. And if nothing is done to address this, others in other government positions would follow her bad example," he said.

Also Rep Richard M. Tingbah (NUDP-Nimba County) said President Sirleaf's continuous "silence on the issue is intentional."

"I have listened to some of my colleagues saying that the President has failed to handle this matter. To me, I say it is no, her silence is intentional. There is no way that I employ you and you continue to disrespect me.

"The President told her to leave the air wave, but she continued to do that; they told her to apologize to us, but she has refused and the President is not taking any action. For me, it is intentional," Rep. Tingba pointed out.

Other lawmakers raised similar qualms while Rep. Barron Brown (Liberty Party-Grand Bassa County) moved a motion to summon the Superintendent before them Thursday for questioning. The motion was endorsed by the plenary.

With the decision, it remains unclear whether the Montserrado Superintendent will actually appear before the lawmakers as a previous summon by them was apparently ignored.

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