22 February 2013

Liberia: Kpaan Evades House's 'Golgotha'

Whether Montserrado County superintendent Grace Kpaan's fate at the mouth of the Monrovia Central Prison yesterday was circumstantial or carefully orchestrated by unknown powerful forces, one thing is the fact: she is briefing fresh air miles away from the dungeon of the country's major convicts-referral facility. She is spared the odd fragrance of grimy inmates and the freeze of liberty which come with prison experience; thanks to the arrogant display of women solidarity that was clearly visible at the doors of the Central Prison as well as what appears to be the invisible hands of powerful elements. Otherwise, Superintendent Kpaan would be in her prison gown, sitting on the bare floor stretching her legs in front and her head buried in her palms.

When Supt Kpaan was "korpukiiyed" or hulled into the compound of the Monrovia Prison by 4:15pm by Major General Martin Johnson on instruction of the Plenary of the House of Representatives, the Prison Commissioner was nowhere to be seen. It was only when it clock had stock 6pm and the scene had attracted a relatively huge crowd amongst whom were throngs of women folks, including lawyers and government officials, that the Commissioner put in an appearance.

Perhaps to the bewilderment of the Sergeant-at-Arms, the prison superintendent would not take over the then would-be prisoner on grounds that at 6pm, it would be wrong to take into custody Superintendent Kpaan who was not a hardcore criminal as the law provides.

When the prison commission came under some pressure, he requested to get back into his office to consult with his bosses, but before he ever came back to relay his bosses opinion, Superintendent Kpaan's lawyer, Pearl Brown Bull, together with other women bigwigs like Monrovia City Mayor Mary Broh arrived to took over the show.

With Kpaan's one hand firmly drawn under the arm of Mayor Broh, Cllr. Pearl Brown Bull unveiled a release order from the Ministry of Justice. Bull, a cantankerous character, firmly engaged the lawmakers' constable and began challenging the House's wisdom in taking Kpaan to prison without giving her an opportunity to be defended by her lawyers.

At the same time a crowd of women were propping up the Bull open air defense discourse with pro-Kpaan slogans and anti-House refrains.

As more and more women congregated at the prison compounded unstopped, their apparently belligerence towards to arresting office increased, the Sergeant-at-Arms lost control of the prisoner, returning to his officer with the prisoner entrusted to him.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives of the 53rd National Legislature is expected to convene a special seating today to discuss the unexpected drama that unfolded at the Monrovia Central Prison yesterday.

The hullabaloo started when Superintendent Kpaan, having evaded invitation of the House, finally turn out and put up a defense against allegation of misapplying Montserrado County Development Fund, including scholarship fund for students of the county.

But appearing before the House Plenary, she said of much-talk-about US$ 50,000.00, the sume of US$35,000.00 was used to purchase a 15 setter Nissan Bus, and the rest was used to acquire several units of brand new air-condition and office furniture, in adherence to a mandate from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA).

When quizzed about the status of a US$400,000.00 withdrawn from the County Development Funds (CDF) Account at Ecobank and placed in a personal account at First International Bank (FIB) account, Superintendent Kpaan denied ever doing anything of such, but soon became speechless following the displayed of documents to this effect.

She later indicated that it was the County's Development Superintendent, Sylvester Lama, who received the cheque from the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and opened an account at the FIBank, thus impeding the workings of the county.

Following a heated debate, coupled with a short executive session and a motion filed by Jeremiah Kuon of Nimba County, House Speaker J. Alex Tyler announced to Kpaan that plenary had resolved to hold her in legislative contempt for three days and she will be remanded at the Monrovia central Prison.

The Montserrado County Superintendent was accompanied by huge supporters including Miatta Fahnbulleh and her legal council, Cllr, Pearl Brown Bull who was earlier denied by the speaker from speaking before the plenary but was given the opportunity to advice Supt. Grace Kpaan.

The plenary on Tuesday voted 37 for, none against and two abstention to have Superintendent Kpaan go jail for three days.

After the plenary decision, Speaker Alex Tyler instructed the Chief Clerk to mandate the Sergeant At Arm to escort Supt. Kpaan at the Monrovia Prison.

After the commitment document were prepared by the Chief Clerk office and given to Gen. Martin Johnson to escort Supt. Kpaan at the Central Prison, a drama occurred as some employees of the Supt. Kpaan attempted smuggling the Montserrado County Superintendent by putting her in her assigned vehicle but the move was thwarted by some angry citizens who had gone to watch the event.

The citizens block the car in which the Superintendent was placed and demanded that she use the Sergeant at Arm car before the car in which she had earlier been placed took her to an unknown destination contrary to the lawmakers plan.

With the resisted attempt to put Kpaan behind bars, the House is reportedly convening an emergency session to reinforce the decision.

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