19 October 2017

Liberia: AFL Rejects IREDD's Report

The Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) has rejected claims by the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) that Defense Minister Brownie Samukai assigned some AFL personnel on 13 September to provide security for contractors hired to construct a podium in Barnesville for Unity Party (UP) presidential candidate Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai's visit and campaign launch.

In an investigative report dated 18 October, the AFL says private security firm EXSECON was hired by DJX Production located in Telecom Community of Redlight in Paynesville to provide security for the construction of podium during the political activities in Barnesville.

"Madam Sackey, Project Manager IREDD is the brain behind the falsehood. She alleged that Min. Brownie J. Samukai Jr assigned some

AFL personnel to provide security for the contractors hired to construct platform in Barnesville for UP's representative candidate's

launch and Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai's visit," the AFL says.

According to the AFL, the EXSECON security personnel who provided security were recruits on training and were dressed in blue jeans, white T-shirts, black boots and jackets with EXSECON inscription at the back. Following IREDD's claim of the alleged use of AFL officers for campaign activities in Barnesville, the army says it set up a team of AFL investigators on the directive of Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Ziankahn.

The AFL says when its team of investigators visited IREDD's head office in Sinkor on 9 October to establish the authenticity of the allegation, IREDD's director Mr. Harold M. Aidoo told the investigators that his organization failed to confirm the matter with the AFL before publishing it in a press release. Beyond speaking with the IREDD official, the AFL notes that IREDD gave names and numbers of witnesses to the team of AFL investigators to buttress claims made against the army.

During its interview with IREDD's witnesses, the AFL says Kennedy Kolubah initially informed the team that he saw 25 AFL personnel armed

with weapons on the field, but he said he was busy and he could not discuss the matter when contacted on several occasions by the investigators.

As for witness Alex Slomo, the AFL team of investigators says he informed them that he was aware of a rift between UP candidate Richard

Koon and incumbent Rep. Gabriel Yekan over the use of the field.

According to the AFL's investigative report, witness Slomo testified that Defense Minister Samukai allegedly threatened to use his influence to make sure the UP candidate made use of the field, though he said he did not see any person in AFL uniform on the field.

The army says the 13 EXSECON security personnel provided security for DJX production on 11, 12 and 13 September. "IREDD leadership also failed to verify the allegation with the Ministry of National Defense and AFL before publication. And New Dawn newspaper did not make any effort to confirm the authenticity of the allegation made by IREDD before publishing it," the report says. The AFL concludes that witnesses provided by IREDD were also not consistent in their testimonies.


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