Though yet to be confirmed by the Senate, the acting head of the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) has with immediate effect suspended three officials for “time indefinite.” The LDEA meanwhile has recruited 15 “Action Agents” (AAs), to man the entity’s facilities in Fiama, Sinkor. Those suspended have all been replaced by new employees.
AAs are those referred to as “informers” in the security sector but are not employed by the government.
Those suspended for time indefinite are Officer Francis Gayete, Comptroller Steve Wesseh, and Chief Accountant Malison Souh. They have been replaced by one Kokolo S. Borvor, who has been named as the new Comptroller and Benedictus Weah Kun, Chief Accountant.
Additionally, the LDEA has removed Nora Johnson as Chief of Personnel; Johnette Lolemun and Deputy Chief of Personnel has also been removed and assigned to Careysburg as an officer; Iona Jallah, Chief of Logistics is removed and assigned to Margibi County to beef up the strength of officers there.
On May 7, LDEA’s Deputy Director for Administration Sebastian A. Gibson, through a letter, mandated Madam Nora Johnson, then Chief of Personnel, to suspend the trio indefinitely pending the outcome of an audit to be conducted regarding “financial malpractices” at the Agency’s finance section. The three suspended individuals are all from the agency’s finance section
The suspended personnel have reportedly been replaced with a new batch of employees. However, the LDEA has however not spoken to the press regarding these recent appointments and dismissals.
A letter addressed to each of the suspended personnel on May 7, a copy of which is in the possession of this newspaper, reads: “By the directive of the deputy director-general for Administration of the LDEA, you are hereby “suspended for time-indefinite pending the outcome of an audit conducted regarding financial malpractices at the finance section.”
The letter did not name the individual or institution that conducted the audit but has ordered the affected employees to desist from all activities on behalf of the LDEA. The Agency has also asked the affected employees to turn in all the Agency’s properties in their possession, “while awaiting the audit findings.”
In a related development, LDEA’s Deputy Director-General for Operations Marcus Soko on April 25, directed15 “AAs” with the agency assigned at LDEA’s headquarters, pending their official recruitment, a development which smirks of irregular hiring on the part of the Agency according to a retired security official.
The 15 AAs have been assigned to man government properties, especially during night time. They are Moses K. Bono, Albert S. Gelfey, Eze C. Zean, Robert C. Kulah, C. Robert Walker Sheik Adam, James A. Teah, Jeremiah Johnson and Sam Nah.
Others are Omaru Kamara, Salia Korgulah, Adama Sesay, Julius Saah, Musa Masalay and Victor G. Desheild.
It may be recalled that Sebastian A. Gibson and five others were dismissed from the LDEA on September 1, 2015, for constant bribe-taking, but were reappointed by President George Weah early January this year.
The LDEA had at the time charged that Gibson and others violated part-1, count 20.0 of its Code of Conduct. The affected officers were also charged with extortion from drug suspects, which is also in contravention of chapter 15 of section 15.51 of the Penal Law of Liberia, the Agency said at the time.
Those officers dismissed, along with Gibson, were Prince Harris, Chief of Intelligence; Darius Davies, secretary to the Board of Internal Investigations and Professional Standards; Albert Hare, deputy chief investigator; and Eugene Quiah, chief of operations assigned in Bong County.
Though former Justice Minister Frederick Cherue confirmed to the Daily Observer that he ordered the reinstatement of Gibson, Gibson’s reinstatement has, however, raised serious concerns from the public.
Cherue said his action to reinstate Gibson was based on findings from a Justice Ministry special investigative committee, which recommended that Gibson and four others be reinstated, with their full salaries and benefits as they were “wrongfully dismissed.”