Ellen Fires 10 Runaway Government Officials, Suspends Several Others

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has fired 10 government officials after they failed to return home from abroad to join their compatriots fight the deadly Ebola virus disease which has claimed at least 1250 lives in the country.

Following the announcement of a state of emergency and the imposition of curfew in August, the Liberian leader ordered all government officials who had travelled outside the country to return within a week to join the government respond to the world’s worst ever Ebola outbreak in the country. About 10 of those officials paid no heed, compelling the President to take the decision, which has been commended in the country by many citizens.

“As a follow-up to her directive regarding restrictions on travel of government officials, including their return within a week for those who were out of the country without an excuse, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has dismissed ten government officials with immediate effect and instituted several measures on those officials of various agencies, commissions, and parastatals not subject to presidential travel approval,” a statement from the Executive mansion over the weekend noted.

According to an Executive Mansion release, those dismissed include:

  1. Othello Gongar, Commissioner, Governance Commission
  2. Kona Beysolow, Commissioner, Public Procurement and Concessions Commission
  3. Wheatonia Dixon-Barnes, Deputy Minister for Administration and Public Safety, Ministry of Justice
  4. Victoria Sherman-Lang, Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs, Ministry of Justice
  5. Hilary Sirleaf-Siakor, Assistant Minister for Prisons, Ministry of Justice
  6. Ardia Kaikai, Assistant Minister for Afro-Asian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  7. Lauretta Reffell, Assistant Minister for Administration, Ministry of Public Works
  8. James H.R. Cooper, Assistant Minister for Administration, Ministry of Post and Telecommunications
  9. Meapeh Gono-Glay, Assistant Minister for Administration, Ministry of Labor; and
  10. Ebenizar Z. Gibson, Assistant Minister for Trade Union, Ministry of Labor

The Liberian leader said these government officials showed insensitivity to our national tragedy and disregard for authority.

For members of various Boards not subjected to direct Presidential travel approval, they are to forfeit salaries, compensation, benefits and Board fees until they return home.

Those who fall in this category include:

  1. Jackie Khoury, Member of the Board of Directors, NOCAL
  2. Massa Roberts, Member, Monrovia City Council
  3. James P. Cooper, Member of the Board, Liberia Telecommunications Corporation
  4. Miata Beysolow, Chairman of the Board, National Social Security and Welfare Corporation; and
  5. James Thompson, Member of the Board, Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation

Moreover, junior officials who are also not subject to Presidential approval will forfeit all compensation and benefits until they return home to join in the fight against the Ebola virus disease.

Those in this category are:

  1. Christine Norman, Mayor, Bensonville City, Montserrado County
  2. Ade Jones Captan, Commissioner, Congo Town, Montserrado County
  3. Alexine Howard, Commissioner, Caldwell, Montserrado County
  4. Annie Dillon, Commissioner Dixville, Montserrado County
  5. Amos Forkay, Commissioner, Bolloh District, Grand Kru County
  6. J. Kaydio Wreh, District Superintendent, Grand Kru County
  7. Moses O. Z. Reeves, District Superintendent, Rivercess County; and
  8. Nathaniel During, District Commissioner, Rivercess County

It is noted that for senior and junior government officials, including those from various agencies, commissions, and parastatals who have claimed serious, sometime, life-threatening medical conditions, they will be examined on a case by case basis.

In another development, in accordance with an updated report received from the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission on September 5, also posted on its website, President Sirleaf has suspended on the job for one month three eligible officials who have not declared or re-declared their income, assets, and liabilities.  They are to forfeit their salaries and have been directed to file their income, assets, and liabilities within one week.

Those affected include:

  1. Antoinette Weeks, Minister of Public Works
  2. Claude Langley, Deputy Minister for Technical Services, Ministry of Public Works; and
  3. Francis Okai, District Commissioner, Margibi County

Part X-10.1 of the National Code of Conduct Act states: “Every Public Official and Employee of Government involved in making decisions affecting contracting, tendering or procurement, and issuance of licenses of various types shall sign performance or financial bonds and shall in addition declare his or her income, assets and liabilities prior to taking office and thereafter at the end of every three years; on promotion or progression from one level to another; upon transfer to another public office; and upon retirement or resignation.”

A total of 321 government officials who are eligible under the Code of Conduct Act have declared or re-declared their income, assets and liabilities.

Additionally, those government officials suspended earlier and have declared or re-declared their assets in categories B and C,  are to provide to the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs evidence of payments into government revenue their fines and penalties as directed by the Liberian President.  Failure to do so, within a week, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning will be authorized to automatically deduct two months’ salary.

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Author: D K Sengbeh

Danicius Kaihenneh Sengbeh (author of Sengbeh's Weblog) is a respected and renowned Liberian journalist, poet and writer with with journalism experience since 2001, of working both as a mainstream journalist and a communication/media consultant in Liberia. He is Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (elected Dec 2013). He was Assistant Secretary General of the Union Dec 2011 to Dec 2013. He is also Editor-In-Chief of The Informer Newspaper—one of Liberia’s credible dailies. Before joining the Informer, Danicius had served as reporter, chief reporter, sub-editor and News Editor at The Independent Newspaper between 2002 and 2006. Before then, he was reporter at the defunct Patriot Newspaper and Kiss FM 2001-2002. Danicius is a UN Media Fellow and Liberia’s first UN Medal Award-winning journalist for his contribution to journalism and for being the second Liberian journalist in 15 years to qualify for and successfully attended the United Nations’ Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalist Fellowship Program in New York and Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Communication and Sociology from the University of Liberia and a Diploma in Journalism from the International School of Journalism. He holds several awards and recognitions both in and outside of journalism, and carries dozens of certificates in journalism and communication from studies in Ghana, China, United States and Switzerland, among others. He volunteers as Chair of the Information and Communication Committee of his local Bardnersville community. He can be quickly reached via (+231) 886586531/777586531/777464018/ dakasen1978@yahoo.com

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