Drama erupted at the Ganta main border yesterday over workshop sitting fees that the joint security was expected to receive from the training conducted by the Pharmacy Board of Liberia in collaboration with the Liberia Medical and Health Regulatory Authority (LMHRA) on the movement of illicit medicines.
The workshop, which lasted for over four hours, involved members of the joint security, representing the officers at the border. But after a successful end, the joint security demanded that since they were made to write their names and affix their signatures to their names, they should either be given sitting fees as stipulated in the document or the document should be destroyed.
The workshop, held along with LMHRA under the topic “Promoting the Quality of Medicines,” was intended to train security and customs officers at the Guinea border on how to tackle the proliferation of illicit medical drugs in the country.
In a bitter argument, the officers insisted that once they affixed their signatures to the document, there should be an amount allotted for that, which the organizers, they claimed, did not want to pay.
The joint security officers began to make demands for the money or the destruction of the forms right after lunch.
While they argued bitterly, one of the security officers snatched a form bearing the names of the joint security officers and other participants from Theophilus Ndorbor, a consultant at the program.
The situation brought activities at the border to a standstill for at least an hour. However, it was still unclear if an allotment was made for sitting fees to joint security officers.
“In the form, there is a column for name, date, signature and amount,” said a BIN officer. “Even though there is no amount indicated, the form can easily be carried away and any amount placed in the amount column and someone can take it. Therefore, since there is no money, the form should be destroyed.”
Mr. Ndorbor explained that he did not have any cash, but would obtain the funds upon reaching Ganta, but the officers insisted that the document should remain with them to avoid being tampered with.
“We are not stupid,” said Noth Tensonnon, a deputy custom’s collector, adding, “they made us to sign papers so they can eat the money.”
Another officer said, “Nobody will play with our intelligence because we are security personnel and nobody will use us as scapegoats.”
However, after hours of argument, Mr. Thoephilus Ndorbor ended up paying each participant US$15, according to a member of the joint security.
Although he did not comment further on the payment, Ndorbor was later seen with some of the security officers at a business center in Ganta making some of the payments.
“If we had not pressurized him, he would have eaten our money and we would have appeared like fools,” said one of the security officers.