Liberia: Health Authorities Return Dillon's Money

Health authorities in Monrovia have returned US$7,500 recently donated to the Montserrado County Health Team by Senator Darius Dillon but rejected by the Minister of Health.

The money is part of an initial US$15,000 dished out to each of the 103 lawmakers on Capitol Hill, totaling US$1,545,000 for so-called 'legislative engagement' amid public criticism.

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning last week disbursed the second batch of US$15,000 each bringing the grand total to nearly US$4million (US$3,090,000).

Returning the US$7,500, Dr. Wapoe delivered a letter from the office of the Minister of Health Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, instructing her to return the amount to the Senator.

The Health Minister explained in her letter that during their Incident Management Team meeting on Sunday, June 19, 2021, she was informed by Dr. Wapoe of the money given to the county health team by Senator Dillon, adding that though they appreciate the gesture from the Montserrado County Senator, they cannot accept donations from him or any other legislator at the time of an ongoing polemic bad public outcry concerning the source and exact purpose of the funds.

"We are aware that members of the Legislature received $15,000 for purposes not clearly defined. We therefore firmly encourage the senator to consider other priorities rather than dragging the IMS into $15,000 controversy." Dr. Jallah noted.

However, critics say under no circumstances should the Minister reject money deemed legitimate in the midst of a deadly pandemic and serious financial constraint, particularly from a sitting senator. Many think Dr. Jallah is politicizing the health sector by returning Senator Dillon's money because he is from the opposition.

Dr. Jallah said the IMS receives donations from private individuals and organizations, noting that in this case, the IMS is cautious about sources of resources and associated challenges.

She added that the IMS looks forward to allocation in the supplementary budget from the legislature to enhance the fight against the deadly virus, saying "We look forward in working with any Liberian interested in the fight against the COVID-19."

The money was received by Abel Plakie, political officer in the office of Montserrado County Senator Dillon. Mr. Plakie said the money was given for the livelihood of citizens dying from the virus.

But, he claimed the Executive Branch through President George M. Weah decided to politicize the gesture from his boss, Senator Dillon.

"This is disgusting, we will not be deterred, we will continue to do what is best for the Liberian people. Other health centers are around here, old folks homes are all available and are in need of help", Plakie noted.

A stern critic of the Weah administration, Senator Dillon is seemingly choked by the controversial money, having described the Liberian Legislature as spineless, while presenting himself as the 'light' and only clean guy in the senate, but receiving US$15,000 which legitimacy has become controversial.

He has reportedly vowed to return the second $15,000 received back into the government account in order to maintain his professed 'clean guy' image.

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