30 May 2014

Liberia: Widows Deny Receiving Money

Widows of soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) who displayed their nude bodies at the Capitol Building Tuesday in protest against the nonpayment of their dead husbands' benefits say they have not received a cent from the government despite persistent protests.

"No body has given us a cent. Yes, we have not received a cent from the government. We have not received any benefit from the government on behalf of our late husbands," Esther Myers, Chairlady of the Widows, told this paper in a telephone conversation yesterday.There have been reports that the womenwho recently went nude at the legislature in demands for their benefits received some huge amounts of money from the government as a part payment of their husbands' benefits.

But Madam Myers clarified to this paper yesterday that no body has ever given them any money in that regard. "Which money? They have not given us any money. So they would give us money and our people would be on the streets demonstrating?" she asked our reporter.

She disclosed that US$100,000 that was disbursed by the government to build their capacity was allegedly withdrawn by the Defense Minister Brownie Samukai for the sole purpose of purchasing dump trucks for them.

She however emphasized that they never saw the trucks or the money withdrawn from the bank. But the Minister has since denied the allegation as untrue. He insisted that the women were fully aware of the transaction that transpired between them. He said he would make a full disclosure of the transaction in due course. In a related development, a meeting between the Speaker of the House Representatives and the widows at the legislature was yesterday adjourned to next Friday.

Speaking minutes after the closed door meeting, Madam Myers noted that they were informed by the speaker to submit all documents containing names of the widows to them.

"They asked us to bring some documents about the vetting process that we went through," she said.

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