By Grace Q. Bryant
The Government’s first subpoenaed witness, Brig/Gen. Geraldine Janet George, says the army’s retirement fund is to be refunded by the Government of Liberia and not by an individual.
Testifying at the Criminal Court ‘C’ yesterday at the Temple of Justice as a subpoenaed witness while on the cross, the Deputy Chief of Staff, B/Gen. George said there has been no policy concerning said pension fund.
“The purpose of the account was after the personnel from the AFL have retired, that will be the first amount that will be given to them based on what they have saved while the Government of Liberia is putting his/her retirement package together,” she explained to the court.
The AFL’s Deputy CoS explained that during a meeting with President George Weah regarding reimbursement of the said funds though used during the regime of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, he (Weah) questioned why said amount as used was not reported to the then government for refund?
“The Commander-In-Chief said, however, he was going to pay the money back to the army through budgetary allotment,” B/Gen George who served as witness for the State told the court.
B\Gen George clarified that the circumstances that led to the AFL’s report was that after the presidential election of which Weah became President, dependents of AFL personnel wanted to know what have become of funds that were deducted from the husbands’ or Families’ salaries and therefore set up roadblock.
The prosecution subpoenaed witness revealed that it was based on that action the pension account which was managed by the Ministry of National Defense was turned over to the AFL who did its own background check and found out that about US$700,000 was in the account.
The witness told the court that based on that said report, the former Chief of Staff now Minister of National Defense setup a board of inquiry to establish what happened to the funds and within the time that the personnel dependents setup the roadblock.
When asked that her investigation established that the name of the account was changed from AFL Pension or Retirement Fund to AFL Morale and Welfare Funds, and that she tells the court who changed the name and for what purpose, the Deputy CoS said that the name was changed by the Minister of National Defense.
Also, when questioned again that since the money was deducted from the AFL personnel, if there any reason why the AFL high command or its personnel did not serve as signatory to the said account instead it was the Minister, his deputy and comptroller who were not members of the AFL; the subpoenaed witness answered, “I do not know.”
Meanwhile, the court has subpoenaed the Minister of National Defense, Rtd. General Daniel Ziankahn along with the Chief of Staff of the AFL, Prince C. Johnson II to testify on the authorization of the name as signatory to the AFL’s Pension Account, Welfare and Morale Account.
“The both generals are to be served with subpoena to appear on tomorrow same being the February 25, failure of which this court shall ensure that they are in court,” the judge concluded the hearing when he discharged the witness.
It can be recalled that between January 14-17, 2018 series of meetings were held between the former President Sirleaf and President Weah along with the then AFL Chief of Staff, Gen. Ziankhan and B/Gen. George at the time regarding expenditures made on the AFL from the AFL Welfare and Pension Account.
Pres. Weah Promised To Pay The Army Money …Dep. CoS Tells Court In Samukai, Others Case
By Grace Q. Bryant