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‘Paying it Forward’: Cuttington University Alumni in US Raise US$60K for Key Projects

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Monrovia – The Cuttington University Alumni Association in the America’s held its annual reunion at the weekend in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis, Minnesota, raising approximately US$60,000 for the University to whom, many in attendance at the St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church, many owe their higher learning.

This year’s fundraiser surpassed the organization’s target of raising US$15,000 for key projects being undertaken in Liberia.
Mrs. Glendy Junius Reeves, CUAAA’s Prexy says a number of major challenges in the past year posed setbacks on three key projects undertaken in the past year, including a facelift to renovate the Health clinic on the campus in Suakoko, Bong County, the computerization of registration process  and the establishment of the CUC Endowment Fund with both the Alumni Association in Liberia and the Alumni Association in the U.S.

“We have been unable to complete many of the listed recommendations because 2018 was plagued with some challenges, which included a riot on the campus by students, and fire engulfing a part of the Freshman Female Dormitory, Rally Hall.”

Despite those challenges, Reeves says CUAA has continued to forge ahead in its fundraising efforts for the university. 

In April 2019, the organization hosted an annual JCS Academic Awards Achievement Dinner raising approximately US$20,000 with proceeds going toward the renovation of Rally Hall. In addition, CUAAA executives approved US$2,500 to the university to renovate a portion of the dormitory and is currently working on plans to assist with the renovation of the entire dormitory.

Mr. Binyah Kesselly, this year’s keynote speaker stressed the importance of giving back and paying it forward. “Giving back, when done selflessly, is a force multiplier for good, that has an infectious impact on all those involved; whether on the fringes or in the trenches…it matters not. You give because it’s the right thing to do, and because you expect nothing personal in return. No benefits that accrue, no recognition, no tangible rewards that are sent your way. Sometimes, not even a thank you. Satisfaction comes from knowing that you’ve fundamentally changed someone’s life for the better.”

During the business session Saturday, the organization resolved to establish a $US1M Endowment, to ensure future solvency and sustainability; contribute to the development of a long-term strategic plan to ensure appropriate growth and development of Cuttington; and establish an operating model to ensure a voice in the future of our alma mater. 

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Mr. Kesselly said the task was simple. Fund-raise to build the new Agape Clinic. Thus, all proceeds from tonight‘s vigorous campaign (other external fund-raising exercises) will go to the construction of a brand-new, state of the art facility.  “The intent though is that this new clinic, in addition to providing care to our students, faculty and staff, will also provide primary care to the surrounding communities (on a yet to be determined schedule), thus doing our part to ensure the implementation of SDG #3 – Good Health and Well-being.”

Mr. Kesselly said road ahead will no doubt be difficult, but it is important to stay the course. “The frustrations will be real, but we must stay the course; the arguments will persist, but we must stay the course; mini-failures shall occur, but we must stay the course;  disappointments, setbacks, disenchantments, second-guessing, will be the mainstay, but we must stay the course.  WE must take charge; WE must change the paradigm; WE must shift our thinking; WE must get involved; WE must give back. For in the end, when we collectively do these things, we intentionally perpetuate the circle of life, paying it forward, thus ensuring that we all win.”

The weekend’s highlight was the annual Queen contest feature queens from the three social clubs at the university – Mason, Nader and Freeman.

Mason, represented by Ms. Bridgette Nah-Padmore, raked in the highest total of US$21,800.80; Nader, represented by Ernestine Sienneh Jones, raised $19,261.00 while Freeman Social Club represented by Ms. Princess Miller raised US$4,557.000, capping the weekend total raised for the university at US$46, 123.00.

“The frustrations will be real, but we must stay the course; the arguments will persist, but we must stay the course; mini-failures shall occur, but we must stay the course;  disappointments, setbacks, disenchantments, second-guessing, will be the mainstay, but we must stay the course.  WE must take charge; WE must change the paradigm; WE must shift our thinking; WE must get involved; WE must give back. For in the end, when we collectively do these things, we intentionally perpetuate the circle of life, paying it forward, thus ensuring that we all win.”

– Mr. Binyah Kesselly, Guest Speaker

Dr. Herman Browne, University President, in a message to the Alumni says the institution remains grateful to the organization for always being there. “As far back as the last week in July you shared with me your rough plans to assist CU with its clinic, computerization of the registration process, sporting facilities, and an endowment. We remain most pleased that CUAAA continues to hold out your hands of encouragement and support for our administration, and our noble alma mater. From our end, we are conscious of the limit on your resources, and the need to prioritize carefully for maximum effect in the shortest possible time. We would appreciate your assistance with the following – Rally Hall renovation, the Agape Clinic facelift, Sporting facility renovation and the establishing an endowment.

Cuttington University is the oldest private, coeducational, four-year, degree-granting institution in sub-Saharan Africa, has educated generations of leaders for the nation of Liberia and West Africa. Its roots lie deep within the history of the nation, the relationship between Liberia and the United States, and the Episcopal Church.

Mr. Hermann Blumenthal, Chairman of Region 4, host of this year’s events in the Twin cities said this weekend was all about raising funds for Cuttington. “We started planning 19 months ago. The funds for this year’s reunion will be used to build the Agape Clinic.”


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Liberia

Weeks, Others Spend Second Night

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…At Central Prison

Former and current Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) officials who were re-arrested Tuesday, August 20, 2019 and jailed have spent their second night at the Monrovia Central Prison.

Defendants Charles E. Sirleaf, Milton A. Weeks, Dorbor Hagba, Richard H. Walker and Joseph G. Dennis were re-arrested Tuesday, after prosecution changed their earlier charges to Money Laundering.

The defendants were immediately taken to the Monrovia Central Prison and jailed.

But defendant Sirleaf was released late Tuesday evening on medical ground while the others spent the night there.

Montserrado County Attorney Cllr. Edwin K. Martin told The NEWS Tuesday evening via mobile phone that defendant Sirleaf’s medical bill has since been before the court which indicates that he’s not well.

However, his colleagues remained behind bars, apparently they have not filed valid bond to be released.

On Tuesday, Judge Blamo Dixon of Criminal Court “C” ordered the defendants re-arrested and imprisoned until the right bond is proffered if possible.

The Judge in his ruling on Tuesday, August 20, 2019, said government lawyers should turnover every documentary evidence to the defendants through their lawyers in 72 hours to give the defendants sufficient notice and enable defense team to provide adequate representations.

He also commanded the sheriffs of the court to serve the defendants with the Writ of Arrest along with the indictment so they can be aware of the new crime charged by prosecution.

The defendants were first charged with Economic Sabotage, Criminal Conspiracy, Criminal Facilitation, Criminal Solicitation and Bribery.

The five former and current CBL officials who were re-arrested Tuesday, same being August 20, 2019, were immediately taken to the Monrovia Central Prison for the amended crime of Money Laundering that was imposed on them.

The defendants were re-arrested based upon the indictment prepared against them by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County.

The indictment said the Grand Jurors have taken an oath to find probable cause that the defendants at CBL at the time committed the crime of Money Laundering, a first degree felony in violation of chapter 15, sub-chapter “D”, section 15.2 (a) (b) (c) (d) (f) of the penal law of Liberia.

The crime, money laundering states that, “a person or body corporate or other legal entity commits the offense of money laundering if that person knowingly or having reason to believe that is the proceeds of crime: engages directly or indirectly in any transaction which involves the property; receives, possesses, conceals, disguises, transfers, converts, disposes of removes from or bring the property into Liberia; or participates in, associates with or conspires to commit, attempt to commit, or aids or facilitate the commission of any of the above acts.”

According to the indictment, on April of 2016 up to August of 2018, at their CBL offices, the defendants by virtue of their employments within the CBL deliberately, knowingly and intentionally colluded and conspired with the wicked intent to launder money and sabotage the Liberian economy.

It also revealed that the defendants defrauded the CBL and the government when they unauthorizingly printed excess Liberian dollar banknotes amounting to 2,645,000,000 (Two billion six hundred forty-five million Liberian dollars) to infuse into the Liberian market.


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Liberia

Weah Reiterates Commitment

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… To Protect Women

President Dr. George Manneh Weah has again reiterated his commitment to the promotion and protection of women and girls against sexual gender-based violence and gender inequality, an Executive Mansion release discloses.

The release said President Weah made the pledge Wednesday, August 21, 2019, at his Foreign Affairs Office when he received a petition from women who reportedly represented ten civil society organizations.

The women through their designated speaker, Mmenbeydo Joah-Harell petitioned the President to protect the rights of women, increase the number of women in government and provide security in District 15, Logan Town.

The Liberian leader told the petitioners that his commitment to gender equality and protection of the rights of women, girls and children would not diminish for any reason or by another force.

“I want to assure residents of Montserrado County, particularly voters and candidates of District 15, as well as all Liberians and the world that there would be a free, fair and transparent elections anytime under my administration,” the Liberian Chief Executive averred, adding that he would increase security presence in District #15 if there would be a rerun.

President Weah also reminded the women to take responsibility to preach peace. He urged the women to also prevail on their relatives, mainly youth, to at all times be peaceful and refrain from violence.

He used the occasion to once more call on leaders of political parties to encourage their supporters to be civil and peaceful during election times.

The Liberian Leader also promised a timely and prompt investigation into last Saturday’s violence in District 15.


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Liberia

Culture Of Impunity Must End

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…RWHR Wants War Crimes Court Established

The Regional Watch for Human Rights, Inc. (RWHR) has stressed the need for the Liberian Government to end the culture of impunity that it said has engulfed the Liberian society by the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court.

Addressing a news conference Wednesday, August 21, 2019, in observance of International Justice Day Worldwide which was celebrated on July 17, 2019, Cllr. Thompson Adebayor, Regional Director of RWHR said Liberia failure to establish war crimes court for people to account for their actions is responsible for the recent wave of violence in the country.

He said had people who committed heinous crimes during the country’s civil unrest been prosecuted for their action, it would have served as deterrence for others.

Adebayor told journalists that the establishment of war crimes court would demonstrate the government commitment to fight impunity which he claimed appears to be taking over the country.

He said the establishment of war crimes court is in the best interest of the government and its people.

At the same time, Cllr. Adebayor said his group is troubled and concerned about the wave of violence and insecurity in the country.

He called on the government to probe the recent electoral violence in District#15, Montserrado County to ensure perpetrators are brought to book.

The RWHR boss said Liberia has come a long way relative to the maintenance of peace and stability, something it cannot afford to jeopardize.

He called on every political party to jealously guide the peace that the country currently enjoys.


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Liberia

“False Assets Declaration”

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…Rep. Gray Descends On Dillon

By A. Omaska Jallah

Montserrado County District #8 Representative Acarous Gray has described as ‘false asset declaration’ the recent declaration of assets by Senator Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado County, terming it as a violation to Section 10.3 of the Code of Conduct.

He said Senator Dillon declared his assets at the Liberian Senate without knowing and indicating his net salary on the assets declaration form provided to him by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).

While taking over at the Liberian Senate, Senator Dillon presented all documents regarding his assets, but his gross and net salary as senator was not indicated, something he told journalists in a recent press conference that he has not being informed about his salary by the Senate; as such, he could not indicate it,

But Rep. Gray said this contradicts his understanding of assets declaration.

According to Section 10.3 of the Code of Conduct under sub topic ‘Sanctions for False Declaration’ “every Public Official and Employee of Government shall declare and affirm that his or her declaration is accurate to the best of his or her knowledge. Any statement in such declaration found to be false upon verification shall lead to summary dismissal and other measures provided by law.”

But speaking to Legislative reporters on Tuesday, August 20, 2019, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Montserrado County District #8 lawmaker said Senator Dillon lied under oath, according to the mentioned section of the Code of Conduct; and as such, it is punishable under the same law.

He claimed that Senator Dillon violated the Code of Conduct relative to asset declaration; as such, he should be punished for misleading the public, noting that the senator undeclared his assets.

Rep. Gray maintained that Senator Dillon has betrayed historical comments made by him several months ago before coming to the senate.

Before his election, the Montserrado County Senator, in several public forums, stated that he will declare his assets if elected as senator and front for the reduction of salaries by senators at the Liberian Senate, something Gray described as political rhetoric that is yet to come to reality.

At the same time, Rep. Gray has disclosed that the CDC has filed a bill of exception to the National Elections Commission (NEC) which, according to him, is expected to be heard today.

According to him, the NEC haring officer that heard the complaints filed by the candidate of the collaborating party in the just ended Montserrado County District #15 by-election, Telia Urey, was in a contradiction.

The NEC hearing officer called for a rerun in the six quarantined precincts within the district, specifically Logan Town.

Rep. Gray said the hearing officer told the hearing that there was no fraud, yet he called for rerun.

This, the Montserrado County lawmaker said, is a complete contradiction by Hearing Officer.

Meanwhile, Rep. Gray has condemned the serious wave of violent perpetrated by both supporters of Telia Urey and Abu Kamara.

He called on supporters of candidates Urey and Kamara to remain calm.


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Liberia

Abu Kamara Reveals ‘Untold Story’

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…In Latest Electoral Violence

LINA

“It was the first time ever I saw my family shivering from fear and trauma caused by the sounds and cracks from stones thrown at our house. Cars parked in and around my compound owned by family and friends were also vandalized,” Abu Kamara, candidate of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) in District #15, Montserrado County, narrates his ordeal.

The statement on his social media platform followed the counter-throwing of projectiles by his supporters spurred by initial attacks by those loyal to his key opponent, Telia Urey of the All Liberian Party.

Supporters on both sides were injured in the process which happened in the lead-up to a re-run at six precincts in the district under the county’s combined Senatorial and Representative By-elections.

The car belonging to candidate Urey was also attacked, one account stated.

In his statement, though, Kamara said: “We witnessed another episode of an act of electoral violence within our District. I am ultimately concerned about the escalating tension and violence erupting fears into residents of our district and contaminating the peace we enjoy.”

“We must stop the fears and electoral violence by all means possible and free our people from this political servitude,” he added.

Furthermore, Kamara urged his partisans, supporters to detach and avoid any act of violence and remain calm as they progress to the re-run poll, adding that episodes of violence are fast approaching a point where they can cause division amongst the people and land their fate into a doom of anarchy. “Liberia stands beyond us.”

Meanwhile, Kamara says he stretches hand to meet rival Urey and her team of managers, the district governing council, religious leaders, and all stakeholders in the by-election of the district for a reconciliation meeting in a secluded environment to mend relation, mitigate future violence and put the interest of the people above their political egos.

“I caution all involved, especially my supporters, to remain steadfast to peace and remain calm by avoiding all forms of violence to enjoy our fragile peace,” said Kamara.


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