22 February 2013

Liberia: Report - Supt. Kpan's Imprisonment Forcibly Prevented

Several plain clothes security officers, including the personal security to Monrovia acting City Mayor , Mary T. Broh and some women on Thursday evening reportedly prevented the imprisonment of Montserrado County Superintendent, Madam Grace T. Kpan at the Monrovia Central Prison.

The plenary of the House of Representatives had earlier yesterday ordered the imprisonment of Supt. Kpan at the Monrovia Central Prison for 72 hours. The plenary is the highest decision making body of the House of Representatives. The Plenary said its action against the Montserrado Superintendent was due to her alleged failure to implement its mandate after she earlier appeared before it.

According to report, the plain clothes security officers and women forcefully pulled away Supt. Kpan from the hands of the Sergeant-At-Arm Brigadier-General Martin Johnson in the prison compound. The report divulged that they took away the superintendent in a vehicle belonging to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) to an unknown destination.

The report asserted that Supt. Kpan was being taken to the Monrovia Central Prison by the Sergeant-At-Arm and some officers of the Liberia National Police(LNP) when the incident occurred.

Meanwhile, Sergeant-At-Arm Johnson has vowed to ensure the arrest and subsequent imprisonment of the Montserrado County Superintendent. He claimed that he was physically assaulted by the protesters under the command of Madam Broh, who is generally referred to as the "General" .

He termed the act as" unconstitutional, unfortunate and a complete insult to the constitution and the House of Representatives."

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives will today, February 22, 2013 hold an emergency session to look into the matter. It can be recalled that on January 17, 2013 Supt. Kpan was summoned by the House of Representatives following a communication forwarded to that august body by Montserrado County District 5 Representative Thomas P. Fallah over what he called the slow pace of development projects in the county.

Following her appearance at that time, Supt. Kpan was mandated by the plenary to pay the scholarship fees for students of the county, re-transfer over US$400,000 that was deposited in a separate account, reinstate the Project Management Committee Chairman Mr. Patrick Moore and restitute the amount of over US$50,000 that was "expended" without the consent of the County's Council.

For several months now, the office of Supt. Kpan and the Montserrado County legislative caucus have been at loggerheads over the implementation of projects in the seventeen (17) districts of the county. The hullabaloo has been characterized by claims and counter claims of corruption, with Supt. Kpan on one hand, and the Montserrado County Legislative Caucus on the other hand.

Speaking in an exclusive interview shortly after the verdict of the Plenary, the acting Chairman of the Montserrado County Legislative Caucus, Representative Henry Fahnbulleh, said the plenary's decision was appropriate because Madam Kpan had on numerous occasions "disrespected" the plenary and members of the caucus.

He said Madam Kpan was given "sufficient time " to implement the mandate of the plenary, but according to him, "she consistently ignored it." The Montserrado County District # 4 lawmaker pointed out that the continuous refusal of Madam Kpan to meet with members of the House of Representatives also prompted the decision of the plenary.

Rep. Fahnbulleh averred that the office of Supt. Kpan expended over US$50,000 without the consent of the County's Council, saying this is in total violation of Section 8 of the budget law. He asserted that the amount of US493, 000 intended for development projects in the county was transferred from the county's account from ECOBANK into a separate account to FIBANK based upon the alleged order of Madam Kpan.

"Our county superintendent was mandated by the plenary to carry on number of actions which she failed to do so. We have given her sufficient time to implement the mandate, but she decided to ignore them. She was in serious breach of the plenary decision and she was also in error for trying to misinform the public that a number of schools have been paid and to the effect, many students have been put out of class. Today, plenary was very decisive in taking this kind of action in line with our constitutional prerogative. We decided to hold her in contempt and Article 44 calls for that," he stated.

The acting Chairman of the Montserrado County legislative caucus added: "The executive had all of the opportunities to have appealed for the superintendent to live up to the mandate of the plenary, but nothing has been done and this is a very serious matter. The money in question (US$493,000) is not the superintendent personal money; it is intended for the county. We did not recognize the suspension of the Project Management chairman because the Superintendent does not have the power to do so. For each time we invite the Supt. Kpan, she will give us excuse that the High Level Panel Meeting was taking place in the county and she was very busy and so, we gave her more time to encourage her to live up to the mandate of the plenary; but she failed."

Supt. Kpan is yet to comment on these assertions by the acting Chairman of the Montserrado County Legislative Caucus.

Accordingly, our reporter, who covered the happenings, stated that the appearance of Madam Kpan attracted a huge crowd, including students. Prior to the plenary ruling, our reporter said there were two pro and anti-Kpan groups before the premises of the Capitol Building. The Capitol Building is the seat of the Liberian Legislature.

Several minutes after plenary took the decision, Supt. Kpan, who was escorted by the Sergeant-At-Arm and other LNP officers, he said, hurriedly rushed into her assigned government vehicle. He said she refused to ride the vehicle of the Sergeant -At-Arm to go to the Monrovia Central Prison.

Our reporter said , Madam Kpan's decision sparked up an uproar from the crowd, something that prompted the intervention of Montserrado County lawmaker Edwin M. Snowe. Rep. Snowne, he added, prevailed on Madam Kpan to ride the vehicle of the Sergeant-At-Arm, at which time she accepted and was speedily taken to the Monrovia Central Prison.

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