For dubious acts
Police in Ganta are investigating two men bearing fake Ministry of Health identification cards along with other two accomplices in Ganta for extorting money from drug store owners across Nimba under the pretext of being inspectors from the Public Safety Division of the Ministry of Justice conducting inspections on drug stores.
On the ID card of one of the arrested individuals, it was marked, Chester D. Kollie, Public Safety Central/MOJ with ID # 16-01, but this particular ID card was very old with most of the letters erased, the other man is identified as Col. Edward Massalay, same position and ID # 16 – 01 under the same MOJ, with the ID card expiring in 2023.
The other two accomplices are identified as Joseph Dokie, the driver, and one Solomon whose surname is not identified.
The men were operating in a Pathfinder Jeep marked: DSJ – 1 in a deep grey color. The Pharmaceutical Board of Liberia regional office in Gbarnga, Bong County, explained that they had received several complaints about these men, but they were unable to locate them until this day.
The men were also in possession of several pieces of driver licenses and fake copies of birth certificates, something which makes people suspect that they might have also been duping drivers as inspectors and also taking from those running after their birth certificates.
These men have been on highway packing vehicles for not carrying stickers, and have been presenting themselves as inspectors from the Ministry of Justice operating from the same vehicle,” said a driver identified as David.
One of the complainants, Wilmont of Grace Medicine Store, told this paper that the group of men allegedly entered his drug store in the early hours of Thursday, July 29, 2021pretending that they were working with the presidential task force and charged with the responsibility to counter check sale of all medical drugs, especially those with drug store at the same time treating or injecting people.
He said upon arriving in his drug store, one of them identified himself and following that they started taking his drugs off shelves and putting them in the cartons, asking him to pay the fine of US$ 1200 within 48 hrs.
Ellen Cooper, a proprietor of Abednego Medicine Store on the Bangla Road, commonly LPMC By - Pass, said the fake MOJ officers extorted the sum of L$ 15,000 cash from her and made away with some quantity of drugs they took from the shelves, frightening her that they were going to lack her place and put her behind bar.
“They entered my medicine store and told me that they came from Monrovia with the directive from the Ministry of Justice Safety Department to carry out inspections on those selling pharmaceutical drugs,” she said.
Many other complainants came from Sanniquellie, Karnplay and Gbarnga, Bong County, very angry and wanting to take the law into their own hands.
Joseph Soluteh, a medical drugs dealer from Gbarnga, told this paper that the men first visited his drug store in Gbarnga in May this year and extorted huge sums of money under the same pretext.
However, the Ministry of Justice representative in Nimba, Ms. Jennet Korpor Morlue, described the ID cards of these men as “fake” and prepared at the World Trade Center on Gurley Street.
She said the men are not known in the employ of the ministry, stating that the first company contacted to do the ID card was known as Atlantic and after their contract expired, the copy (the design which those guys had) left with Atlantic, because of that MOJ designed another ID Card, replacing all the employees ID with the newly designed ID Card using her own equipment at the Ministry.
When contacted, the men headed by Col. Edward Massalay, decided to remain silent until they can meet or consult their lawyers, but the volunteer statements from both Massalay and Kollie, they admitted extorting L$ 7000 from Ellen because they saw her injecting people.
However, the Regional Inspector of the Liberia Medicine and Health Product Regulatory Authority, Mr. Francis S. Mulbah, and the team of Inspectors of the Liberia Pharmaceutical Board in Nimba along with the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency were seen at the police station suggesting that these men face the full weight of the law.
The LPB told this paper that they have received numerous complaints from drug store owners across the central region, including Bong, Margibi and Nimba about how these men have been harassing them for being on officers from MOJ.
The Ganta Police Station was crowded when the news of the arrest of those illegal Inspectors flared out in the community and even the county at large.
Some of those who were victimized were seen arriving late at the police station to explain their ordeal to the police about how these men went about extorting money from them.
The men were charged with several counts, including criminal conspiracy and facilitation, and desertion of theft and impersonation.
They were caught with L$9500 and US$ 100 along with several pieces of driver licenses and some copies of fake birth certificates.
Many believed that the money extorted from the people across the region could be in their mobile accounts.
A carton of medical drugs was also in their possession and was confiscated as some of the evidence.