The Liberia Marketing Association’s (LMA) accounts with several commercial banks remain frozen by the Criminal Court ‘C’ in Monrovia, a development which suggests that the power struggle between Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor and the President of the LMA, Madam Alice Yeebahn is deepening.
Judge Nancy Sammy placed the freeze on the LMA’s accounts shortly after the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), based on a complaint by VP Taylor that the Yeebahn’s leadership is involved with financial impropriety.
Judge Sammy also mandated the LMA’s leadership not to interfere with the entity’s account pending the outcome of the matter, an order that remains in effect up to present.
Initially, Associate Justice Yussif Kaba had warned VP Taylor of breaching the 2010 Act of the LMA by unilaterally interfering with the affairs of the entity. The Vice President immediately challenged the ruling of the Civil Law Court against her.
VP Taylor had refused to accept working with Yeebahn’s leadership on ground that the process leading to her election was marred by fraud; something the VP claimed does not legitimize Yeebahn as president of the LMA.
Despite Taylor’s argument of supervisory role of her office as indicated in the budget law, Justice Kaba had repeatedly said appropriation of subsidy for the LMA under the office of VP Taylor in no way confers authority on her to impose sanctions and take judicial decisions as she did with the unilateral action to suspend the elected officers.
Since its inception as a public entity in 2010 by an Act of the Legislature, the LMA has operated under the supervision of the Executive Branch, with budgetary appropriations placed under the office of the Vice President.
With Justice Kaba’s interpretation of the 2010 Act, VP Taylor had also accused the leadership of financial mismanagement and administrative malpractices, arguing that she was within the confines of the law to order the suspension of the elected officers pending the outcome of the audit by the General Auditing Commission (GAC).
VP Taylor had said that she wants to ensure peace, transparency, and accountability within the LMA, and also to prevent events inimical to national peace and security. However, Justice Kaba warned her of interfering with the LMA.
It can be recalled that VP Taylor, through the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) indicted officers including LMA’s embattled president, Alice Yeebahn, claiming that her leadership defrauded the government of US$89,938.27 and L$98,392,742.37, ranging from 2016 up to 2018.
Others implicated are Faustina Ricks, general manager; Lusu Sloan, former president and chair of the entity’s election commission; Jones P. Gibson, general manager; James K. Gbelee, deputy manager for administration; Foday Kamara, comptroller; Socrate Jlah, comptroller; and Jerry V. Geeded, interim chairman.
The accused are charged with multiple crimes that include economic sabotage, theft of property and criminal conspiracy. Those charges, according to the government, resulted from an audit conducted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC).
The GAC’s audit claims that the defendants made payment for various transactions without documentation, such as payment vouchers, cash invoices and other financial records to substantiate the validity of these transactions.