Sixty nine Corrections Officers, who were recruited, trained and subsequently assigned to various prison facilities throughout the country, are seeking intervention to have their names placed on the government’s payroll.
The group claims that since their deployment in October 2014 to man prison facilities in the country, they are yet to receive a dime from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).
The aggrieved officers, who last week walked into the McDonald Street office of the Daily Observer, said they would not get themselves involved into any violent activities, instead they would continue to seek dialogue with relevant government agencies, including the Ministries of Justice and Finance to address their situation.
Their spokesman, Jackson K. Kolako, appealed to the Liberian government to place their names on the payroll in keeping with government’s policy.
Kolako told this newspaper that “despite the economic hardship imposed on Liberians as a result of the Ebola outbreak, we remained at our respective assigned posts around the country.”
According to him, since they were assigned effective October 5, 2014 to present, they have not been paid.
“They have not compensated us. We don’t even have proper identification cards (ID cards) neither have we been certificated to confirm that we actually completed our training,” he contended.
“Since December,” Mr. Kolako claimed, “the names of 69 of us have not been placed on payroll and we are working without any benefit. Our children are also unable to attend school. This is why we are appealing for our names to be placed on government’s pay system.”
According to him, since June last year, they have not be able to meet their domestic responsibilities including making sure that their families are properly fed and sheltered and receive medical attention.
Though authorities at the MOJ are yet to make an official statement in response to the officers’ appeal, Kolako claimed that they have already reduced their appeal into several written communications submitted to the MOJ as well as to members of the National Legislature with reference to the office of the Senate Committee on Defense and Intelligence.
It may be recalled that during President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s visit on December 23, 2014, to the Monrovia Central Prison, representatives of the concerned 69 corrections officers brought their plight to her attention.
The President immediately instructed the Minister of Justice to handle the matter with urgency.
A source close to the Minister said the case of the 69 officers is being looked into and that an appropriate action was pending. A highly placed source in the office of the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, has assured the aggrieved officers that their issue will be attended to with the utmost urgency.