Top Liberian Religious Group Under Public Probe For US$250.000
By: Melissa Chea-Annan & I. Solo Kelgbeh
Religious leaders in Liberia have attributed the country’s prolonged civil conflict to alleged atrocities and transgressions by political leaders and the people. They even said until the leaders of the country repent, God’s wrath will hang over the country.
But the turn, twist and the lack of full accountability on the US$ 250,000.00 check given to the Liberia For Jesus Crusade (LFJ) have raised questions about the alleged visions and aspirations of the religious community, mainly the LFJ.
The check was openly given to Rev. Jimmy Dugbe for the LFJ by Dr. K.A. Paul, Founder/President of the Global Peace Initiative (GPI) based in the United States of America.
The amount, according to the peace ambassador, was to be used for relief assistance to vulnerable children of Liberia and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Evangelist Paul made the presentation at programs marking this year’s Independence Day celebration at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville.
“I brought this check because I do not know the immediate needs of the people. I trust that the religious community will use this money on the IDPs and vulnerable children here in Liberia,” Ambassador K.A. Paul noted.
Dr. Paul was invited to the program by the former Liberian leader, Charles
Contrary to Dr. Paul’s belief, a member of the Liberia for Jesus Crusade, Rev. Josiah Pah at a news conference sought information on the whereabouts of the check (funds).
He accused Rev. Dugbe and other LFJ executives of failing to account for the check. Rev. Dugbe was, however, quoted to have deposited the check into a local bank yet to be named.
Up to present, the question as to which bank was open during the recent Monrovia fighting or when the deposit was made remains unanswered.
By the way, where is the check? What has happened to the check? Would the target group ever benefit?
An investigation conducted by this paper revealed that the check was allegedly taken from Rev. Dugbe by Madam Victoria Refell, also a official of the LFJ. The account said she allegedly requested for the check to be deposited in a bank.
A source close to the LFJ named Rev. Kortu K. Browne as being present when the check was taken from Rev. Dugbe. The investigation disclosed that people close to the power-that-be at the time were one way or the other attached to the LFJ. Rev. Dugbe when contacted on last Tuesday, said he was told by executives of the LFJ not to go the press but an official press release was to be issued.
He said the matter was to be handled maturely because as he put it “this
is a religious thing”.
As for Rev. Browne, the news that he had knowledge of the check given to Madam Refell was a strange thing. “I know nothing about what you are talking”, he said also on Tuesday.
All visits to the headquarters of the NRRRC aimed at finding Madam Victoria Refell to authenticate the story proved futile.
On many occasions, the offices were sealed up.
However, a press release signed by coordinating offices of the LFJ and received by this paper last Thursday failed to name the bank in which the deposit was made. This followed an emergency meeting of the LFJ Advisory Board on September 16, 2003.
The meeting was reportedly prompted by media reports on the whereabouts
of the money.
The release dated September 16, 2003 said as parts of its efforts to brief the public and the church in Liberia on the status and program of the donation, a “Stop Payment” has been placed on the check by the donor due what the LFJ termed as negative reports both locally and in the USA.
The release concluded by saying that the public will be informed as soon as the process is completed.
The continued silence on the name of the bank and subsequent use of such fund is creating serious concern in the city.
Observers argue that most of the displaced persons for whom the money was intended are now leaving the various centers for either home or elsewhere. They also believe that the failure by authorities of LFJ to adequately address the issue may prevent Liberia’s mainly displaced and destitute people from receiving aid in the future.