22 February 2013

Liberia: House Jails Mont. Supt, But...

Montserrado County Superintendent Grace T. Kpaan has finally fallen in the hands of members of the House of Representatives in the 53rd Legislature when they reached a decision of sending her to prison for only 72nd hours. The House's plenary reached the decision yesterday when the Supt. appeared before the plenary and after several hours of debate by lawmakers who expressed mixed resentment over the failure of the Montserrado County Superintendent to adhere to their directive.

Supt. Kpaan was earlier summoned based on a complaint filed against her by District #5 by Montserrado County Representative Thomas Fallah that she had refused to implement resolutions passed by the County Development Council on the expenditure of the development funds from 2009-2011.

During her appearance at the House on January 22, 2013, Supt. Kpaan was mandated by plenary to restitute some US$50, 739, 50 withdrawn from the Forestry Concession Fund of the county and the placement of all funds belonging to the county into a single account as well as ensuring the payment of all scholarship fees within a period of one week.

With the assurance of the superintendent to members of that august body that she would do as they have instructed her, Mrs. Kpaan told the lawmakers one week after that she has already started listing names of scholarship beneficiaries from about 51 schools within the county including universities but said the preparation of vouchers would be raised to pay the tuitions.

She was also instructed to create a single account instead of the previous two accounts that she opened at Ecobank and First International Bank (FIB). Interestingly, Superintendent Kpaan did not implement those mandates given her by the lawmakers. She was summoned again to give reasons why she should not be held in contempt for defiance.

At yesterday's hearing, the majority of the lawmakers voted in favor of a decision to keep Supt. Kpaan behind bar because of her insubordination toward plenary which is the highest decision making body of the Legislature.

After heated arguments in the presence of Supt. Kpaan and her lawyer Cllr. Pearl Brown Bull, Nimba County Representative Jeremiah Koung made a motion that the Superintendent should be kept in detention for about 30-days at the Monrovia Central Prison.

But to reduce her punishment, Montserrado County Representative Munah Pelham made an amendment to the motion that Supt. Kpaan should be held for 72nd hours instead of the 30-days as proposed by Rep. Koung, a decision which was endorsed by the body.

Based on the decision of plenary, the Chief Clerk of the House was mandated to do a communication to the Superintendent of the prison center explaining the contempt charges against Supt. Kpaan and was later escorted to the prison by the Sergeant-At-Arms of the House.

Meanwhile, up to press time our reporter who visited the prison said the lawyer of the Superintendent, Cllr. Bull disclosed to reporters that the Supreme Court of Liberia ordered the release of Supt. Kpaan.

According to Cllr. Bull an order was speedily sent to the Prison officials by the judge in Chambers, Associate Justice Philip A.Z. Banks, to have Supt. Kpaan released and that she had been allegedly taken away by women led by the Monrovia Acting City Mayor, Mary Broh.

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