The Nimba Detachment of the Liberia National Police has charged County Health Workers for theft and criminal conspiracy in connection to the theft of about 200 bags of 25kg rice, 10 bags of beans and 15 containers of vegetable oil, intended for Ebola victims.On late Wednesday October 1, the LNP Ganta Detail arrested a truck marked TP-766 with about 200 bags of 25kg rice, 15 five-gallon containers of vegetable and 10 bags of beans, bound for Saclepea from Sanniquellie.According to the police the items in question were donated to Nimba by the World Food Programme to cater to those quarantined in the county.The rice along with other ingredients was stored in two separate store houses, the G. W. Harlay Hospital Warehouse and the Sanniquellie Administrative Hall, under supervision of Nimba County Inspector Reginald Mehn.But the portion of the rice stored at the G. W. Harlay Ware House was unlawfully loaded on board a mini truck bound for Saclepea for sale.While the rice was enroute to Saclepea, Police intercepted the car in Ganta upon a tip-off.From the onset of the investigation, police arrested the Kou Yelegbor, the County’s mental health officer, who is also in charge of ware house and distribution.Upon investigation, police arrested three other members of the County Health Team, including C. Paul Nyanzee, Community Health Supervisor; Var Bleh, warehouse security; and Sarah Lawehyee, as well as Kou Kouh, a business woman who was alleged to be the one to purchase the items.The five persons were charged on three counts including criminal conspiracy, criminal facilitation and theft of property, by the Liberia National Police and sent to the court.A lawyer appealed for change of venue, from Saniquellie Magisterial Court to Ganta Magisterial CourtThey are expected to appear at the Ganta Magisterial Court this week to defend themselves.Since the rice was donated to Nimba, those under quarantine have regularly complained of not having received the rations that should carry them for the 21-day quarantine period.The arrest of the rice sparked tension in Nimba, with many condemning the county administration for not caring for those dying of Ebola.When the rice was donated, many thought that it was going to be stored in Ganta which is epicenter of Ebola in Nimba, but instead, it was transported to Sanniquellie.Initially, the items were being distributed by the County Superintendent, but it was later put under the supervision of County Inspector with health personnel assigned with County Health Team responsible for distribution.However, Supt. Fong Zuagele, in a press conference held in Sanniquellie early Thursday October 2, condemned the acts and called on the LNP to thoroughly investigate the act and bring those involved to justice.The County Inspector Reginald Mehn had yet to respond regarding the theft incident. Up to press time, his phone rang endlessly without any response. However, there is speculation that he is a key signatory to the release of any of the food items from warehouse.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Missing US$5M– as NICIL denies collecting outstanding moniesBy Jarryl BryanAfter years of back-and-forth, negotiations for the US$5 million owed by a Hong Kong company for the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) Company shares it bought are expected to be completed by March of this year.In an interview with this publication, National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited’s (NICIL’s) CEO, Horace James, confirmed that talks are wrapping up. Optimistic of a March deadline for the negotiations to end, James strongly denied that NICIL had collected any of the outstanding money from Hong Kong Golden Telecom Company (HKGTC).NICIL CEO Horace James“Both parties set ourselves by the 15th March for everything to conclude. (So) we’re still in negotiations,” James related. “We await some recommendations, and we have to get approvals; but nothing has been signed between the two parties as yet. Only when everything is fully finalised and agreed… but nothing has been signed,” he explained.“Both parties have made recommendations how we ought to settle the matter. We’re reviewing, and the final decision will have to be made on that. We haven’t received anything. At least they say they will pay something, but we haven’t finalised anything. We’re hoping to get that signed off soon,” James told this publication.Last month, NICIL Chairman Dr Maurice Odle had informed this publication that an interim agreement between the state and HKGTC was in force. He had explained that the state entity was considering collecting the US$5 million in parts — US$3 million first, and negotiations would have continued for the remaining sum.The saleIn 2012, NICIL had disposed of its 20 per cent shares in the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph company in a sale to Hong Kong-based HKGTC to the tune of US$30 million. That company made a downpayment of US$25 million and the outstanding US$5 million was to be paid by October 22, 2014, but this was never done despite written requests from NICIL.Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, and NICIL Legal Counsel Natalia Seepersaud had subsequently travelled to China with the intention of collecting the money, but were informed that the money was already paid.Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman had later announced that Harmon was able to retrieve some documents which showed that the money was paid. But following the controversy this revelation sparked, NICIL later refuted that the money was ever paid.In the confusion that shrouded the transaction, it was even reported that a waiver of the payment was arranged with the Chinese company. This claim was promptly denied by former President Donald Ramotar.Initially, the Government had insinuated that the money was paid to someone else or some other entity other than NICIL prior to the May 2015 elections. But the former President Ramotar had such that such an insinuation is a distraction from “the real issues”, adding that the cantankerous claims of massive corruption under the PPP/C administration have yet to be proven.Meanwhile, former Executive Director of NICIL Winston Brassington in an invited comment on the matter had told Guyana Times he was unaware the outstanding monies were paid to NICIL up until December 31, 2015.“If it was paid, then the seller can easily produce evidence showing this. Payments of this nature are transferred via the banking system (wire transfer) from one bank to another and easy to check and validate. Given that the first payment was wired directly to NICIL’s US dollar bank account in Guyana, I would expect the remaining US$5M to have followed the same course,” Brassington said.