Liberia's Postal Minister Accused Of "Criminal Deeds", But...
By: Charles Crawford
Posted October 7, 2003
Some concerned employees of the Ministry of Postal Affairs have accused their boss, Minister Melvin A. Sogbandi, of engaging in "criminal deeds", but he (minister) has described same as unfounded, baseless and something that lacks any iota of truth.
The employees in their three-count allegation, accused Minister Sogbandi of engaging in continuous mails theft; transforming all of the ministry’s vehicles into commercial use and funds generated are converted into his personal use; and converting into his personal account an amount of US$17,000 and L$2,000,000 from the ministry’s bank account deposited at the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI).
The concerned employees are therefore calling on the National Patriotic Party(NPP) not to forward the name of Mr. Sogbandi as Minister of Posts and Telecommunication in the incoming National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), adding, "we shall vehemently oppose Mr. Sogbandi’s appointment on grounds that his orientation is far from decency".
However, when he was contacted at his office regarding the allegations, Minister Sogbandi said, "Look! gentlemen, I will not sit down here and allow anyone to tarnish my hard-earned reputation".
The Postal Affairs Minister immediately took the press to places where the Ministry’s vehicles and mails had been kept since the inception of the recent hostilities in Monrovia.
At the Paynesville area where he lives and where he took us, the Ministry’s only bus was seen undergoing repairs in a garage, while the mail delivery truck and other vehicles of the ministry were seen parked in the yard of Minister Sogbandi’s residence.
At the Roberts International Airport (RIA), The INQUIRER was shown a stockpile of in-coming mails, all well sealed-up and intact at the Post Office. According to some of the employees who talked with us, the mails have been coming into the country since July of this year.
Responding to the allegations, the Postal Affairs boss termed same as blatant lies and mere fabrications coming from some disgruntled persons who form just a minority of the total workforce, and who once served in the nerve center of corruption at the ministry.
Commenting on the presence of the Ministry’s vehicles parked in his yard, Minister Sogbandi said in a quiet but serious tone, "as minister, it is my responsibility to protect the assets of the ministry, so during the war, I moved the vehicles into my yard and I further protected the remaining assets up to the last three days of the fighting when I was given a presidential assignment. That was when some unscrupulous and unpatriotic individuals entered to loot and vandalize the main premises of the ministry."
He then cautioned that those who have embarked upon the deadly smear campaign to destroy his character are perpetrators of mail-theft, and that their acts were tantamount to dismissal, but being a compassionate person, he decided to transfer them. He named Angeline Mulbah, George R. Brisbane et al as individuals involved in this unethical practice.
Mr. Sogbandi said the mechanism put in place to regain the ministry’s pre-war image has been achieved so far, as there is no room for criminal acts, something which, he said has made some of the employees disgruntled and envious of his administration.
Touching on the financial aspect of the ministry, Minister Sogbandi said, he only met the paltry amount of US$85.00 in the ministry’s coffers when he took over. But the mechanism that he put in place has thrived on to generate thousands of dollars, adding, "I have never tampered with the ministry’s accounts in the bank, and the records are there. We are ready for an audit at any time".
Meanwhile, Mr. Sogbandi said he has ordered the immediate delivery of mails to their rightful owners and the exercise is expected to commence within the next couple of days.