Daily News Summary-03-20-2014

President Johnson Sirleaf’s condolence message to the Government and people of Sierra Leone following the death of that country’s former President, Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, LACC boss, Cllr. James N. Verdier’s call for collective effort in the fight against crime, Defense Minister, Brownie Samukai’s plead to armed border security, the pronouncement by Sinoe citizens to work with Golden Veroleum Liberia are among stories highlighted in our Thursday, March 20, 2014 selected dailies. Dominant stories Pres. Sirleaf Consoles Sierra Leone On Ex-Pres. Death The New Dawn newspaper says President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has extended her deepest condolences to the Government and People of the Sisterly Republic of Sierra Leone on the death of that country’s former President, Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabbah. Dr. Kabbah died on March 13, 2014 at the age of 82. In her message to the Sierra Leonean President, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President Sirleaf expressed profound shock and deep sadness over the former Sierra Leonean Leader’s death. “Notwithstanding, the recent period of political turbulence and violence in which his country has embroiled, former President Kabbah demonstrated a commitment to the democratic process and supported free and fair elections in Sierra Leone’s recent history”, the Liberian Leader stated. President Sirleaf also noted that the late President will be credited with laying the foundation for Sierra Leone’s current thriving democratic culture and for helping to create a peaceful and stable socio-economic and political climate in that neighboring State. “On behalf of the Government and People of Liberia, and in my own name, I extend to you, and through your Excellency, the Government and People of the Republic of Sierra Leone, especially the bereaved family, our heartfelt condolences for the irreparable loss sustained. We pray that the Almighty God will grant Your Excellency and the loving People of Sierra Leone, strength, courage and fortitude as you endure this period of national mourning”, President Sirleaf concluded in her condolence message to her Sierra Leonean counterpart. Related Caption: Consoling The Sisterly Republic Of Sierra Leone – From Madam President’s Position (Heritage) LACC Boss Calls For Collective Efforts To Fight Crime The Executive Chairperson of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Cllr. James N. Verdier, Jr., says it is the shared and equal responsibilities of all citizens and residents of Liberia to ensure the protection of the nation’s stability and integrity by supporting and assisting in the crackdown on criminal behaviors in various forms. Cllr. Verdier said such share equal responsibilities are essential to the fight against crime in society, which includes reporting to security authorities, strange movements of strange goods and cargoes, suspicious financial transactions and cooperating with security and other regulatory authorities about the commission of these crimes. The LACC boss was speaking on Monday (March 18, 2014) when he served as Keynote Speaker at the official launching of the project “Capacity Building and Sensitization Campaign against Money Laundering, Illicit Drugs and Terrorist Financing in Liberia” at the St. Theresa Convent Pastoral Retreat. The project is being implemented by the Center Against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in Liberia (CAMTEFIL) with funding from OSIWA. The LACC Executive Chairperson also welcomed the existence of CAMTEFIL as a necessary and unavoidable partner in the drive to minimize the occurrence of corruption in public and private institutions by insisting on transparency, accountability and integrity in the administration and operation of entrusted public duties and responsibilities, FrontPageAfrica reports. Related Caption: LACC Boss calls for collective efforts to fight crime (Heritage), LACC Boss calls for collective efforts to fight crime (The Analyst), LACC Boss calls for collective efforts to fight crime (IN PROFILE DAILY) Security ‘Ill-Equipped’ To Protect Borders- Defense Min. Expresses Fear, Wants Border Officers Armed According to the Daily Observer, Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai has stressed that the security apparatus of Liberia is not prepared to take charge of protecting the nation’s territorial integrity and people as the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) gradually takes its exit from the country. Minister Samukai said his concern stemmed from the porous state of the Liberian borders being manned by ill-equipped immigration and police officers who he said could not defend themselves in case of any eventuality. The Defense Minister spoke at the turning over ceremony of two small arms and light weapons marking machines donated by the European Commission (EC) and other partners to the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiCSA) at the Police Training Academy in Paynesville. The day also marked the opening of a two-day in-country training workshop on small arms and light weapons marking organized by LiCSA with support from Regional Center for Small Arms (RECSA). The two Couth 2000 arms marking machines, estimated to be worth roughly US$28,000, have been provided to the government through LiCSA for every arm in the country to be properly marked and monitored. Serving as the Keynote Speaker at the ceremony, Minister Samukai said that, “As UNMIL continues its drawdown exercise, it is extremely important for us to note that certain capacities are needed; and those capacities are required as a last resort or a means of protection. According to the Minister, “If we do not provide those capacities to the security agencies, it would limit our ability to carry on the kind of confident actions that one would expect from law enforcement agencies.” He explained that there were unarmed security officers currently assigned at very porous borders in areas prone to conflict. “We have police officers from the PSU ---and in some cases the ERU--- who are responding to security situations at those borders without weapons; it is not advisable for this situation to continue.” Minister Samukai noted that as Liberians consider the development of their country, they need to consider the fact that, “Security officers that we all rely on for protection cannot protect themselves when they are challenged.” He said: “We now have that capacity and have the means for those weapons to be marked. These marking machines will make it easier for us in terms of illegal movement of arms. It will be easier for us to detect and pinpoint the exact source of these weapons and the institutions these weapons are coming from. I think we will have a special identification model when the process kicks off.” The Defense boss said there is a need for the government and its partners to continue to invest in law enforcement agencies that have to take on the responsibility of protecting and policing the country as UNMIL draws down. Minister Samukai has stated that the arms marking exercise will provide an opportunity for the government to account for all of its arms and ammunition. “It also provides the public and international partners with a way to keep track of the stock and ammunition that we have. It makes it possible for everyone to cross check any weapon that has found its way into the country through our borders. “My Ministry stands ready to support this initiative, we have nothing to hide, and we will make all of our weapons available to be marked. We would like to encourage all agencies, all ministries and others that have weapons to cooperate with the commission to ensure that their weapons are marked for our own security purposes.” The Chairman of LiCSA, James Fromoyan, urged all relevant security institutions to work along with this institution to ensure that that the equipment is fully utilized. He lauded the African Union (AU), EU, ECOWAS and other partners, who are working tirelessly to prevent the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, especially at the most volatile borders. Related Captions: Liberia Gets Arms Marking Machine (The Inquirer), Brownie Samukai Wants Weapons-For BIN Officers (The News). In a related development under the caption UNMIL Turns Over Facilities To GoL In Gbarpolu, the Heritage reports that the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) has officially turned over all facilities previously used by its troops in Gbarpolu, to the Government of Liberia (GoL). Facilities turned over include eight container offices, air conditioners and a communication tower. Speaking during the turning over and signing ceremony on Tuesday, UNMIL Head of Field Support Team, Muchiri Murenga, said UNMIL was gratified to turn the facilities over to the county administration, and hoped they would be properly used and maintained. He also expressed gratitude to the chiefs, elders and other officials of the county for their unflinching support and cooperation with UNMIL, in the sustenance of peace in Liberia. In remarks, Gbarpolu County Assistant Superintendent for Development, Yassah Fallah, thanked UNMIL for the facilities and appealed to the UN to continue assisting the county with quick impact projects, including the construction of police stations in other parts of the county, to enhance national security. The turning over of the facilities marks the end of the UNMIL military drawdown in Gbarpolu County. However, the UNMIL Civil Affairs Section has been left in charge of security in the county. Sinoe Citizens Pledge to Work With GVL-Pres. Sirleaf Orders Immediate Closure of Chinese Mining Company The Analyst newspaper reports that the people of Sinoe County say they are now convinced that the Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) investment in the country is beneficial and have therefore pledged to work with the company’s oil palm development. According to an Executive Mansion release, the assertion was contained in a statement read on their behalf by Rev, D. Lasanna Seqeh to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf during a visit to the GVL oil palm plantation in the county on Monday, March 17. In their statement, the citizens said the realization of the true intent of the investment comes in the wake of an initiative by President Johnson Sirleaf to explain in detail, through the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the benefits to their communities including their rights to their land and the company’s rights to the concession area as contained in the Concession Agreement between the GVL and the Liberian Government. Related Captions: Citizens of Sinoe County Pledge to Work With Golden Veroleum Liberia (Heritage), Sinoeans Pledge to Work With GVL (The New Republic), GVL Gets Support of Sinoe Citizens (FOCUS) GoL Launches National Livestock Policy Hub Liberia, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has joined other countries in the sub-region to launch the National Livestock Policy Hub. The launch was held Wednesday at the Ministry of Agriculture, at the start of a two-day workshop for the Veterinary |governance in Africa Programme and the National Livestock Policy HUB Inauguration and International Meeting on National Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Standard Guidelines. Deputy Agriculture Minister for Technical Services, Dr. Zizi Zubahyea Subah, who served as Chief Launcher, expressed joy for the launch of the hub and stressed the need to fully implement the policy. According to the Liberia News Agency, Minister Subah then pledged the Agriculture Ministry’s preparedness to support the National Livestock Policy Hub, the INSIGHT reports. Related Caption: MOA, ECOWAS Inaugurate Livestock Policy Hub On SPS (The New Republic), MOA Holds Seminar On Livestock Policy (Daily Observer), MOA, ECOWAS Hold SPS Guidelines Meeting (Inquirer) Ugandan Woman Indicted For “Unlawful Possession Of Narcotic Drugs” A Ugandan woman has been indicted by the Government of Liberia (GoL) for “unlawful Possession, Trafficking and Distribution of Narcotic Drugs”. Defendant Shirat Nalwadda is currently standing trial at the Criminal Court “A” at the Temple of Justice following an indictment drawn against her by the Republic of Liberia. Situated on Capitol Hill, Monrovia, the Temple of Justice is the seat of the Liberian Judiciary. The Criminal Court “A” is presided over by Judge Korboi Natu. The indictment, a copy which is in the possession of this paper, stated that: “On the 30th day of November A.D. 2013, at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) in Liberia, defendant Shirat Nalwadda, a Ugandan National, was arrested by state securities with 1.2 Kilograms of Heroin worth Thirty Thousand United States Dollars(US$30,000.00), an equivalent of Two Million Four Hundred Thousand Liberian Dollars (LD$2.400,000.00) concealed In a black suitcase that she was traveling with”. The indictment furthered that defendant Shirat Nalwadda told investigators that she was travelling to Liberia for the first time to meet a boyfriend called Ekina who she does not know, but was told by Nalutarya Laila, her girlfriend in Zama, Kampala, Uganda that Ekina would be at the airport to received her at her arrival. Count 3 of the indictment stated that, upon arrival at the RIA and subsequent arrest with the drugs, the defendant could neither give the contact address nor telephone number of the so-called boyfriend who she claimed was the owner of the drugs she was carrying. Based on this, she was charged with the crime of unlawful possession, trafficking and distribution of Narcotic drugs. Meanwhile, the indicted among other things stated that, the act of the defendant is in contravention to 5LCLR, Title 41, Section 41.1,41.22 (2),41.23; of the statutory laws of the Republic of Liberia, the Heritage reports. Related Caption: Ugandan Woman Denied Bail (Daily Observer), Uganda Woman In Drug Mess (New Democrat) Fire Destroys 200 Hectares At Sime Darby The Daily Observer says a fire has destroyed about 200 hectares of an oil palm plantation owned by Malaysian firm Sime Darby in the northwest of Liberia, Reuters reported, citing company sources on Wednesday, march 19. Sime Darby has one of the largest oil plantations in the country with a planned total investment of over $2 billion. It has signed an agreement with Liberia to develop about 220,000 hectares of land for 63 years. So far, it has planted about 10,000 hectares of palm. But the company has met resistance from some locals who have accused it of not properly informing them of the scale and implications of the project. Workers at the Bomi plantation, who requested anonymity, said the blaze was started by suspected arsonists and had blazed for about two weeks before being brought under control. A senior company executive who asked not to be identified said it was not clear how the fire began. Related Caption: Fire Destroys Sime Darby (New Democrat) Other stories LWSC To Observe World Water Day The Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) says it will this Saturday join the rest of the world to celebrate World Water Day. The Corporation Executive Director said the LWSC will be celebrating this year’s World Water Day with a boat race in Monrovia. Director Charles Allen speaking in Monrovia Wednesday said the regatta or boat race will be among six communities in Montserrado County. Mr. Allen identified the communities as West Point, Slipway, ELWA, King Gray, New Kru Town, and Banjo and said that prices will be awarded to the top three boats. He urged Liberians to grace the occasion and experience a time of networking, culture shows, live musical performances, games for kids, sharing and learning as they celebrate this year’s World Water Day. The LWSC’s Managing Director said water is life and is also energy and again urged Liberians, especially those in water connected areas to play a role in the use and management of water. The international theme for this year’s World Water Day is Water& Energy, and the local theme is Water Management and Cooperation. The United Nations' (UN) World Water Day events are organized on or around this day to increase people's awareness of water's importance in environment, agriculture, health and trade. World Water Day offers a global reminder of how critical water is for life, as well as how limited their supplies are. Mr. Allen said other counties’ capitals that are been supplied LWSC water will be given funding to celebrate the World Water Day on Saturday. Meanwhile, Mr. Allen disclosed that the Corporation had written a proposal to the National Oil Company to assist it provide water for the people of Ganta, Nimba County. He said they are receiving some positive response from the oil company to help the huge population of Ganta in Nimba County. Mr. Allen at the same time said they are making every effort to meet the water need of the Liberian People, the INSIGHT reports. MARWOPNET Launches Women’s Guide To Security Reform Today The Manor River Women Peace network (MARWOPNET) in collaboration with its partner, the Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) will today launch a book entitled the ‘Women’s Guide to security Sector Reform. Other partners in this drive are the Liberia National Law Enforcement Association and the Liberia Female Law Enforcement Association. The Women’s Guide was published by DCAF and the Institute for Inclusive Security in the USA in 2013; and is based on the experiences of women in civil society from across the world, the Inquirer reports. Congo Public School Lies In Ruins The Mano River Descendants Association is appealing to the Government of Liberia and the multi-million dollar Western Cluster to help restore the sanity of the Congo Public School in Grand Cape Mount County. The Association’s President Morrison Tamba said their appeal is a result of the deplorable state of the institution, which he said has produced prominent people in the Liberian society. Mr. Tamba said the institution that caters to the educational needs of thousands of students in the area is now lying in ruins and needs serious attention. He said the need for revamping of the school cannot be over emphasized as the achievement of Liberia’s development agenda depends on people with sound and quality education. Launching the appeal recently in Grand Cape Mount County, the organization's President said members of the Mano River Descendants Association cannot sit and see their efforts go down the drain, noting immense contributions of some prominent individuals who attended and graduated from the school in the 1970’s and 80’s are coming forth. Mr. Tamba commended Liberians at home and aboard who have pledged their support to restore the school to its pre-war status. He said members in the United States are rallying support to assist the school with chairs. He put the cost at US$120,000 for the rehabilitation of the Congo Public School but added despite some level of commitment from its members at home and abroad, the Government of Liberia needs to step in to save the school. Mr. Tamba said he wants the government to focus on schools, especially in rural Liberia as the learning condition there is appalling and deplorable. He said the lack of instructional materials, including text books, blackboards, chairs and desks for students and teachers is hampering the smooth operations of the school. The 15-classroom building lacks doors, and needs to change the entire roof which he said poses health hazard mainly cancer. He added that out of six teachers only one teacher is on salary while the others are still volunteering. The Congo Public High School got devastated during the civil conflict at which time it was looted by rebels loyal to the NPFL and ULIMO and lastly Liberians United Reconciliation and Democracy LURD. The School was established in the 1960s by the defunct National Ore Company to carter to the educational needs of children of former workers of the company. It is located in Porkpa District, Grand Cape Mount County. Mr. Tamba appealed to Western Cluster to consider assisting residents of the area with at least safe drinking water, something he said is one of the constraints of the people of Mano River Community in Grand Cape Mount. The Mano River Descendants said safe drinking water remains a serious problem with water pipes, adding they are now corroded and poses health hazard to residents. He called on prominent citizens of Grand cape Mount, especially those having political interest to help the people in that part of the country with some basic social services. The Congo Public School borders neighboring Sierra Leone and used to be the second largest school in the area next to the St. John Episcopal High School, which is close down. Some prominent people who attended the school include: Representatives Edwin Snowe, Emerson Kamara, Edward Forh, Dusty Wolokollie, Matthew Darblo, Oblian Nyemah, former PUL President Abraham Massalley among others, the INSIGHT says. Gender Gap Holds Back Africa's Women Farmers Tackling the pervasive inequality faced by women farmers across Africa is critical if the continent is to reduce poverty, boost economic growth and feed its growing population, says a new report published today by the World Bank Group and The ONE Campaign. “Levelling the Field: Improving Opportunities for Women Farmers in Africa” examines the scale and causes of the dramatic differences between how much men and women farmers produce in six African countries-- Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda-- which together make up more than 40 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population. This first of its type report reveals deep rooted gender gaps in African agriculture, identifies factors holding back women farmers, and sets out concrete actions that policy makers can take to reduce inequality. Closing this gap can help boost household incomes and livelihoods, as well as provide cheap and nutritious food to Africa’s growing population. “This report presents the clearest evidence to date about the breadth and depth of the gender gap in African agriculture. It argues that by spear-heading proven, effective policies that target the needs of female farmers, such as strengthening land rights, governments can help farming families tackle the low-productivity traps that entrench poverty and prevent millions of farmers from leading decent lives,” said Makhtar Diop, Vice President for the World Bank’s Africa Region. The report found that although almost half the agricultural workers across the continent are women, productivity on their farms is significantly lower per hectare compared to men. In the six countries profiled, women produce less than men, ranging from 13 percent in Uganda to 25 percent in Malawi. Other key findings include: Equal access to resources such as fertilizer, farm labour and training does not always translate into equal returns for women farmers. Policy interventions like securing women’s land rights and improving their access to hired labour are critical for reducing the gender gap and expanding economic growth which is needed to end poverty. Dr. Sipho Moyo said it is a real injustice to Africa’s women farmers and their families that women make up nearly half of the labour force in agriculture but, on average, produce less per hectare than men. This absurd gender gap further undermines the sector’s potential to drive inclusive economic growth, improve food security and create employment and business opportunities for millions of young Africans entering the job market every year. “If governments and partners invest in agriculture and, in particular, its women farmers today, they can be assured of a legacy of greater equality and boundless opportunity that will benefit Africans for generations to come and may usher the beginning of the end of aid dependence for our people,” the INSIGHT writes. Charles A. Johnson Foundation, 8-Year-Old Partner Donate Schlarships The National Chronicle reports that the Charles A. Johnson Foundation, a non-for-profit organization, which has taken keen interest in helping needy students, has donated numerous scholarships and school materials to students of the E. Jonathan Goodridge Memorial High School, Bardnersville, and the J.J. Cheeseman Public School, Edina, Grand Bassa County. The donation was made in collaboration with the organization’s 8-year-old partner, Kathlyn Saunders, of the United States of America. Speaking at the occasion, the founder of the Charles A. Johnson Foundation, Charles A. Johnson, Jr. said his organization aims at helping students whose parents cannot afford to pay their school fee or other related tuitions, especially at the J.J. Cheeseman Public School, because Edina was where his father originated from. Land Rights Forum In Kakata A one-day forum on land rights in Liberia was held Friday, March 14 at the Kakata City Hall in Margibi County. During the forum, a documentary film was shown to participants by the Land Commission Coordination Center (LCCC) in Kakata, in partnership with the Land Conflict Resolution Project (LCRP). The program was intended to educate the public about the functions of the LCCC in Kakata, and the importance of the land rights policy document that has been introduced to the National Legislature for enactment into law. The Communication Outreach Officer at the center, Roy Brown, called on the public to take advantage of the Land Coordination Center in Kakata in helping to resolve land conflicts. Mr. Brown said Margibi County is one of five counties that is land conflict prone and that this was the reason for opening the LCCC office in Kakata, Margibi County. Making remarks at the program, Mr. Clarence Woodson, Administrative Assistant to the Margibi County Superintendent, said the one-day forum was “very timely” in that the county was burdened by many land disputes. Mr. Woodson said there were so many land cases on the docket of the 13th Judicial Circuit Court.