Employees and casual laborers at the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) in Suakoko District, Bong County, on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 instituted a strike action, which paralyzed normal working activities. The protesters were demanding the re-in-statement of one of their colleagues, who they claimed was dismissed by the CARI Management without any “justifiable cause.”
CARI Research Assistant, Arthur Wennah, was reportedly dismissed from work by the Caretaker Director, Madam Paulette Findley, for reason this newspaper has not established up to press time last night.
Wennah, on Thursday December 5, 2019, told Radio Gbarnga that several assets belonging to CARI were reportedly taken away by one David Tokpah, head of the Natural Resource Department, who acted at that time as acting director in the absence of Madam Paulette Findley, CARI’s Acting Director General.
Wennah told the station that at the time the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was here, some of the soldiers used the CARI’s facilities, but when UNMIL departed in 2018, the mission presented several items, ranging from generators, air conditioners, fencing wires, and chairs to the management of CARI for use.
When Wennah disclosed that several missing items, including a 50kva generator, fencing wires and an air conditioner were all discovered by police being packed in the ‘Millionaire Quarter Community’ in Gbarnga over the weekend.
But Police have not established whether these materials are part of the items that the peacekeepers donated to CARI
David Tokpah, the head of the Natural Resource Department, who is at the center of the allegation for reportedly removing those assets from the CARI premises, has denied having any idea about how the materials left CARI and got in the compound in Gbarnga.
Tokpah also told Radio Gbarnga recently that while acting as Director General for CARI, the security guards assigned there advised him to remove those materials from the CARI’s premises to different location for fear of being gutted by fire since the dry season is already here.
“We don’t want those materials to be taken away by criminals…, this is the reason why we took them to a safer location,” David Tokpah told the local radio station.
CARI’s Acting Director General has meanwhile ordered the suspension of David Tokpah, who is at the center of controversy pending police investigation.
CARI’s Management letter to police specified that the alleged missing items, include a 50kva generator, two fuel tankers, air conditioners, and some unspecified items, but police have not made any arrest. Howeve, they said they have launched a full scale investigation in the situation.
However, Daily Observer’s investigation established that Arthur Wennah might have been dismissed for leaking information to police that led to the discovery of some assets that may be belonging to CARI that went missing few days ago.
In separate interview on at the CARI compound, some of the workers said they instituted a strike action until the CARI Management re-instates their colleague, Arthur Wennah.
The fuming workers set a road block at the entrance to CARI, preventing other workers from entering the compound.
“We want management to re-instate Arthur Wennah, because we don’t see the reason why Wennah should be dismissed, when the person who allegedly took away the materials has been suspended. We will not stop until the government can hear about us. We want Wennah back to work,” the enraged workers shouted over their shoulders.
At the entrance, they placed placards with the inscriptions: “We want our generator back David P. Tokpah; We are tired, Go Findley!!! Go David!!!, No Arthur!! No Work!! Go David!!.
“CARI has lost its taste to the people of Bong County as a result of political interference in the running of the institution. CARI is a research center, and it should be a research center; not a political research center,” said Augustine Y. Johnson Research Assistant at CARI.
“The Act that established CARI sates that the director general of the institution should hold a doctorate degree in the field of agriculture, but Madam Paulette Findley does not hold doctorate degree in any field of agriculture,” Johnson said.
When contacted, the acting Director General, and an official in the Research Officer for Crops Program, Dr. Quaqua Sumo Mulbah, said: “We are only appealing to the people to go back to work.”