Nimba Student Group Take Issues with Lawmakers

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A group of University students under the banner, Progressive Students Association of Nimba (PSAN), has taken issue with the county’s Legislative Caucus by calling on them to desist from pushing for the resignation of Superintendent Fong Zuagele.

 The students, in a statement, expressed concern about their lawmakers’ quest for the resignation of the superintendent in the wake of the violent crisis that occurred at the ArcelorMittal concession area in Nimba two weeks ago. The students stressed that the legislative caucus wants the Supreintendent’s removal only to get them achieve their selfish intentions.

 According to the students, members of the caucus and some “senior” citizens of the county recently held a meeting that ended in deadlock at Senator Thomas Grupee’s residence, where they called  for the dismissal of the Superintendent.

The student group, quoting the lawmakers, said they (lawmakers) had threatened that failure on the part of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to dismiss Superintendent Zuagele would lead to their  noncompliance in supporting  bills submitted by the President, or halt the legislative work by boycotting sessions.

The students alleged that the lawmakers claimed the President failed to consult them before appointing the Superintendent, while the Superintendent himself unilaterally suspended Clinton Laywhee, the county’s Public Management Committee (PMC) chair.

The students also said the lawmakers alleged that the Superintendent had provoked the recent riot in the county, and masterminded the arrests of many citizens during the violence.

Regarding the President’s failure to consult them before appointing the Superintendent, the students said, “We are constrained to ask our lawmakers where had  they have ever read that the President must consult the Legislature before making appointment executive appointments.”

On the issue of Mr. Laywhee’s suspension, the students said, they are beginning to suspect that the lawmakers are connected to the unjustifiable US$300,000 withdrawn from the county’s account in a day’s time as alleged by the Superintendent for which he suspended Mr. Laywhee.

“We are afraid that the lawmakers are using the recent violence as a scape goat to quiet the Superintendent on his investigation,” the students said.

As per Supt Zuagele provoking violence and masterminding the arrests of several other citizens as claimed by the lawmakers, “we want to make it categorically clear that though the Superintendent had some missed steps in the process, equally so, some of the lawmakers played direct and clandestine roles in the arrest, detention and incarceration of some of those arrested.”

The students disclosed in their statement that Superintendent Zuagele had made significant  efforts in ensuring that some of those arrested were released.

 “We urged all parties to proceed to Nimba so that our elders, women, youths and all relevant authorities can intervene and have this problem resolved as it was done in the Teeko VS. Lawmakers’ case,” the students pleaded.

They then called on their lawmakers to immediately disengage as the resignation or dismissal of the Superintendent is not the way forward in resolving the numerous problems in Nimba.

When a member of the Nimba Legislative Caucus was contacted shortly after the students presented the statement, Representative R. Matenokay Tingban, described the student group as “misinformed people,” who have been incited to do things they do not know about.

According to the Nimba District #9 Representative, members of the caucus have resolved not to work with the Superintendent, because he has “grossly disrespected us.”

Representative Tingban alleged that the Superintendent does not communicate with them, because they refused him a loan from the county’s coffer to purchase his vehicle.

On the issue of the suspension of the Project Management Committee head, Clinton Laywehyee, Representative Tingban said the Superintendent, the caucus, and even the President does not have the power to suspend him, but the council that set up the PMC.

At the same time, Superintendent Zuagele has refuted claims by the Legislative caucus that he has grossly disrespected them.

 When he spoke via mobile phone to this newspaper, Mr. Zuagele said, if members of the caucus feel he is part of the recent trouble in the county, they should prove evidence and take him to task, “but not to lie on me.”

He disclosed that they want him to compromise fraud in the county; something he said, he has consistently rejected, and that is why they are seeking his dismissal.

“I suspended the PMC head for fraud, and he should be investigated.  Fraud is a crime that was committed and in such a case the suspected person should undergo investigation,” Mr. Zuagele concluded.

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