7 March 2014

Liberia's Independence Day Celebration in Doubt Over Missing Funds

FrontPageAfrica has received credible information that the Ministry of Finance is refusing to disburse funds to the leadership of Sinoe County toward preparations for this year's July 26 Independence Day Celebration.

Information gathered by FrontPageAfrica suggests that with barely four months to July, 26 celebrations, projects earmarked for the celebration will not be completed because local authorities of the county have depleted the coffers of the County without no accountability.

A source close to the Ministry of Finance informed this paper that in September of 2013, the Ministry disbursed an amount of US$ 575,000.00 to the county as part of its social development fund quota.

The cheque was also said to have been received by the County Development Superintendent Mr. T. Romeo Quiah and reportedly deposited in a local bank. But only a few months after the receipt of the over half million United States dollars, the money has been spent without completing any project in the county.

This paper also has in its possession confidential information which clearly shows that some of the money was spent on private projects by some officials in the county. The document in the possession of this paper also revealed that over hundred thousand (US$ 100,000.00) of the county money was paid directly to the County PMC chairman.

FrontPageAfrica also learnt that as a result of the Superintendent J. Milton Teahjay's actions, the Ministry of Finance is reneging on providing additional payment to the County until the over half Million United States Dollars disbursed to the County about five months ago (now depleted) is fully accounted for with documentary and Physical evidence, something superintendent Teahjay and Quiah have found difficult to do since the beginning of this year.

To make matters worse, a member of the Sinoe Legislative Caucus Representative, Matthew Zarzar has written the Ministry of Finance to ensure that the local County Administration properly account for the half of million dollars before the disbursement of additional funds for the county. The County lawmaker has also suggested that funding for the July 26 Celebration be given to the General Service Agency (GSA) for projects in the county.

Sources closed to Superintendent Teajay have confirmed to FPA that the Superintendent has been making appeals to the President to instruct the Ministry of Finance to release additional money to Sinoe in spite of the requirements put forth by the Ministry of Finance.

It can be recalled that the Ministry of Internal Affairs by directive of the President instituted an Audit of Development fund of several Counties including Sinoe. While that is going on Teahjay is also undergoing intensive investigation by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) for acts of corruption and misappropriation of County Development Funds as alleged by Sinoe District #3 Representative Matthew Zarzar.

Recently the Supreme Court upheld a ruling of the third Judicial Circuit Court in Sinoe County to evict Mr. Teahjay from his mini-mansion in Greenville which was constructed on a private property belonging to one Ophelia Browne. Teahjay was also fined US$ 25,000.00 by the court to be paid to Ms. Browne for his forceful and illegal occupancy of her land. The house is said, to be value hundred and fifty thousand United States dollars (USD$ 150,000.00).

In response to the Court ruling it was reported that Superintendent Teahjay during his appearance on the Community Radio "the Voice of Sinoe" in Greenville, promised to build a new and better mansion in the county within three months before the July 26 day Independence Day celebration.

Teahjay was last year summoned by the House of Representatives and subsequently imprisoned for gross disrespect he showed against Representative Zarzar at which time he apologized. He was a strong critic of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf prior to his appointment as superintendent of Sinoe County and is on record for saying hair should grow in his palm if Madam Sirleaf is re-elected.

Attempts to contact Superintendent Teahjay via mobile phone did not materialize but, Mr. Romeo Quiah Development Superintendent Sinoe County was contacted but he could not confirm or deny the information, but said the information is news to him. Quiah said; "It is news to me, I don't have any information of such."

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