“I’m Not A Fugitive from Justice”

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Says Gender Minister Julia Duncan Cassell, admits her ministry owes Smart Tech

Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister Julia Duncan Cassell yesterday said she was prepared to appear before the Commercial Court at any time to answer to contempt charge related to her ministry’s alleged refusal to honor the US$93,805.72 judgment against it.

Early 2017, the court ruled against the ministry and subsequently ordered it to pay the money to Smart Tech Incorporated, based on a contract in which the company provided internet services to the ministry, which work was completed within 60 days as stipulated in 2016; a judgment the minister has not honored.

The minister’s failure was enough for Judge Chan-Chan Paegar, a member of the three-judge panel, to summon Minister Cassell and several other officials to appear before him.

Cassell and her deputies were expected to give a reason, if any, as to why they should not be held in contempt for disobeying the court’s judgment.

However, neither Cassell nor her ministers showed up at the hearing as the court had scheduled.

Consequently that same Thursday, January 4, Judge Paegar issued an arrest warrant for Minister Cassell and her deputies for their failure to appear for the case.

Addressing journalists yesterday, Cassell said she was not afraid to appear before the court, although the minister argued that she has never been cited by Judge Paegar.

“The court document for the minister to appear was dated in July 2017, but at that time, I was no more a minister, because by June, I submitted my letter of resignation to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to allow me to concentrate on the October 10 presidential and legislative elections, of which I contested for the legislative seat in Grand Bassa County,” she noted.

“I am not a fugitive, I will appear at the court at any time they have told me to do so, but I am here serving as minister and waiting for any court order,” Cassell said.

“I believe I have been targeted because I was not serving as a minister when the court served the writ. There were people acting in my absence, so why should the court request for my arrest for not complying with its order,” the minister argued.

As of the newspapers stories, Minister Cassell dispelled he articles, terming them as “erroneous articles suggesting in those newspapers that I had a US$90,000 plus delinquencies with Smart Tech Incorporated, a vendor that was commissioned to provide services to the ministry, which I head.”

Cassell indicated that she received several calls from family, friends, and well-wishers from all over the world when she was recently outside the country, and they “wondered if I was a fugitive. That was the impression given by the media.”

She said the confusion could have been avoided, “if a call had been made to any of my deputies for clarity, while I was away. I do not personally owe the vendor any penny.”

“The ministry owes Smart Tech, because the information technology services that the company provided was for the purpose of upgrading a government infrastructure to enhance the ministry’s efficiency, productivity and responsiveness to meet the growing demand for its services,” Cassell added.

She said the fact of the matter is that the debt owed Smart Tech by the ministry was valid (truth), “and we are pulling all steps to make payment and honor the judgment of the court against us, hopefully, a quick solution can be found and the company will be paid the arrears.”

“I would like to reiterate that the amount owed the technology firm is valid, but it is owned by the ministry and not me, as an individual,” the minister noted.

She said the delay in payment was never intentional neither was it deliberate, “but it was due to circumstances beyond our control,” making specific reference to the passage of the budget.

As the Sirleaf administration, in which Cassell serves, will come to an end within 12 days, the question remains to be answered is whether the amount in question will be paid before the end of the 12 days.

3 COMMENTS

  1. These Ellen people are so corrupt – why not pay the company what is owed them. These people scarified their money in these companies and Ellen and her cohosts are doing everything kill their dreams.
    Mary Broh did the same thing – asking people for 10% before she award contracts from everywhere she worked, including City Hall….
    Sad!
    Can’t wait for Ellen to vacate our country.

  2. John Boone, your comment give me the impression you are one of those Liberians who sits on the edge to seize any opportunity to criticize anything about the out going Govt. Read Ms. Cassell response to the judge’s order. The order was for the Minister to appear before the panel to show cause why the judgement was not ahear to. At the time of the order she was no longer Minister, therefore she can’t be held responsible. This is not a personal matter. Whoever assume the responsibilities of the minister should have acted on the judgement. Failure to do so by the individual in charge, he/she, along with the govt. legal term should be held for contempt. Technically, not being aware of what was taking place at the ministry during the former, now present minister adsent, the govt. legal term should have kept the court inform. Tell me now Mr. Boone, how does some legal mix- ups equate to corruption? Most Liberians will agree our present govt. has had its challenges with corruption and other problems. But, don’t you allow our failures to overshadow the accomplishments. Before the ebola crisis the economy was growing at a rate of 4% annually, the eliminating of Liberia US$4 billion debt, the eradication of ebola, an illness that could wipe out our entire populations, the rebuilding of our electric grit, pipe bound water, rebuilding of our military, a well trained police force, better paved road connection. You have a true symbol of democracy. Within 12 days Liberia will be inaugural a newly elected government, the first in 70 + yrs. Mr. Boone the list goes on. Let’s thank the Almighty for His Blessing and pray for the success of the next administration. For if we continue to build on what has been hand over to us, our Nation should one day soon take its rightful place in the world of nation. And we will not be call “Shithole” countries without any redress from those who eflick harmful thought on us. Lots of us who came to the U S in the 70s have retired or about to retire. We have the means to contribute to the rebuilding of Liberia. We don’t need employment,we only need a safe, law abiding society where we can engage in the economy just like our foriegn counterparts.

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