One dismissed, Two suspended at FDA -Management begins robust clampdown on illegal practices

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The Government of Liberia(GoL), through the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), has instituted legal actions against several individuals discovered to be engaged in illegal logging activities.

 

 

It can be recalled that in August of 2022, the FDA officers intercepted four containers being conveyed to the Freeport of Monrovia and reported the incident to the Liberian National Police for investigation.  The Liberian National Police(LNP) investigation led to criminal charges against nine (9) individuals, including three (3) FDA employees. The FDA sees this latest action as welcoming progress in its fight against illegal logging activities and has suspended two of its staff and dismissed one. Those affected by its administrative action include Mr. Varney Marshall (dismissed), Mr. Edward Jallah (suspended), and Mr. Isaac Railey(suspended).

 

The Managing Director of the FDA, Hon. C Mike Doryen has strongly warned any FDA staff against engaging in illegal logging as it is counterproductive to the growth and development of the forest sector. According to Mr. Doryen, “As caretakers of the Forest Heritage of Liberia, there is no room for violators within the employ of the Forestry Development Authority.” He emphasized the need for stronger collaboration with other actors to ensure that the export chain of these illegal logs is aborted. The Managing Director has set up an intersectoral task force to monitor and arrest all those involved in illegal logging while praising the level of cooperation from the Liberia National Police.

 

Mr. Varney Marshall, who has been dismissed, was engaged in illegal logging, which the FDA says is detrimental or counterproductive to its norms. Last year, Mr. Marshall was the subject of an FDA investigation into allegations of his involvement in illegal logging in Grand Cape Mount County. A video circulated on social media and reported by the DayLight online media captured Mr. Marshal’s open engagement in illegal logging activities, a vice he was hired to prevent and combat. Additionally, Mr. Marshal is one of the subjects of criminal charges brought against nine (9) individuals based on a complaint from the Forestry Development Authority. A letter from the Human Resource Division of the FDA late states, “Our investigation established that you were engaged in illegally harvesting timber in Grand Cape Mount County. You confirmed this during the FDA’s investigation. Additionally, you confirmed being captured in a video and pictures widely circulated via social media showing evidence of your involvement in illegal logging activities. Given the aforementioned, your actions constitute conduct detrimental to the FDA and are therefore grounds for your dismissal consistent with Policy 14.06.02 of the Personnel Policy of the FDA and Section 14.4(a) of the Decent Work Act of 2015. Therefore, Management has decided that the FDA will no longer require your service.”

Also, Mr. Edward Jallah and Isaac Railey have been suspended from their job without pay pending the completion of their criminal trial. The suspended individuals were subjects of police investigation of allegations of economic sabotage involving the illegal harvesting and exportation of logs outside of the processes established by the FDA. As indicated above, the FDA intercepted four container trucks transporting illegally harvested round logs to the Freeport of Monrovia in last August. Initial investigation by the FDA established that a fifth container entered the Freeport and was bound for export. The matter was referred to the Liberia National Police by the FDA. The Police investigation resulted in criminal charges against nine (9) individuals, including Isaac Richmond Anderson, Beonjim Lee, Jun Jeon Sik, Dauoda Sesay, Isaac Railey, Peter Kpadeh, David Taweh, Prince Kwesi Wallace, Varney Marshall, and Edward Jallah.

A letter from the Human Resource Division to Mr. Jallah states, “The purpose of this letter is to inform you of your suspension without pay from your position of Checkpoint Supervisor at the Forestry Development Authority, pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings initiated against you by the Government of Liberia. Recently you were arrested and charged with the commission of the crimes of Theft of Property, Forgery, Economic Sabotage, Criminal Conspiracy, Criminal facilitation, and Bribery, which contravene Chapter 15, Subchapter “D,” Section 15.51; Chapter 15, Subchapter “E,” Section 15.70; Chapter 10, Sections 10.4, 10.2; Chapter 12, Subchapter “D,” Section 12.50 by the Liberia National Police. Upon reviewing the criminal charge, especially in light of the charges growing out of your conduct as an FDA employee, it is our decision that you should be suspended from employment until such time as this criminal charge is resolved. If the allegations contained within this letter are determined to be unfounded, you will be compensated for the period of suspension and the record purged of any documentation thereof; however, if it is determined that the allegations are true, then disciplinary action up to and including dismissal may be taken. During the period of suspension, you are restricted from all premises of the Forestry Development Authority, and you are required to immediately return all properties of the FDA within your possession to the Human Resource Division.”

 

Similarly, Mr. Isaac Railey is suspended without pay, pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings initiated against him by the Government of Liberia.

According to the letter from the Human Resource Division, “Recently, you were arrested and charged with the commission of the crimes of Theft of Property, Forgery, Economic Sabotage, Criminal Conspiracy, Criminal facilitation, and Bribery, which contravene Chapter 15, Subchapter D, Section 15.51; Chapter 15, Subchapter E, Section 15.70; Chapter 10, Sections 10.4, 10.2; Chapter 12, Subchapter “D,” Section 12.50 by the Liberia National Police. Upon reviewing the criminal charge, especially in light of the charges growing out of your conduct as an FDA employee, it is our decision that you should be suspended from employment until such time as this criminal charge is resolved. If the allegations contained within this letter are determined to be unfounded, you will be compensated for the period of suspension and the record purged of any documentation thereof; however, if it is determined that the allegations are true, then disciplinary action up to and including dismissal may be taken.”  The letter further states, “During the period of suspension, you are restricted from all premises of the Forestry Development Authority and are required to immediately return all properties of the FDA within your possession to the Human Resource Division.”

 

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