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14.10.2004 Crime & Punishment

Liberian Benefactor Absconds

By Graphic
Liberian Benefactor Absconds

....Leaving A Debt Burden In Billions Of Cedis On Schools The police in Accra are looking for Jakuta Liberty, a Liberian,who lured some Ghanaian educational institutions to train thousands of Liberian students on contract but absconded when the cheques he issued for payment were dishonoured.

Liberty's activities have plunged the participating institutions into billion of cedis in debt, as a result of which some are threatened with closure.This was because they were unable to recoup several billions of cedis they spent to take care of more than 2,000 needy refugees aged between two and 30 years after their benefactor,Mr Liberty, owner of a non-governmental organisation, Veteran International Capacity Building Reformers Association (VICBRA), who had promised to take up the bill, failed to do so.

The institutions, numbering more than 15, offered primary and junior secondary education, computer lessons, and driving, hair dressing and carpentry training to people presented by Mr Liberty.Some of the institutions are Datus Complex School Limited, Zenith International School, West End International School, Hall Mark Professional Institute, Web Computer School and Cylinkom Professional Driving and Computer School.

Mr Liberty who was said to have filmed and also taken snap shots of the various schools to ostensibly convince his donors, also entered into a contractual agreement with the heads of the various institutions to provide some training for the numerous Liberian refugees in the country, on credit.He was said to have told the heads that,since he had contacts with both local and international companies including banks, the payment of whatever bill that came out would not be a problem.

Mr Liberty reportedly asked the schools to provide boarding facilities where necessary for the refugees, provide uniform, feed them and provide textbooks and other educational materials as well as transportaton to and from the camp every day.After three months,after cheques issued to the institutions all dated April 21, 2004, to be cashed at the Barclays Bank, High Street branch, had been dishonoured.

Preliminary investigations conducted by Graphic as to how the heads were convinced to consider liberty's deal, revealed that a formal letter of support the heads received from the Ministry of the Interior, bearing the signature of the Deputy Minister, Mr Thomas Broni, which sought to authenticate the legality of the NGO, was a major factor that convinced the proprietors to fall for the deal.

Mr Prince Amoakohene, proprietor of the Zenith International School, said “I took 250 pupils for kindergarten to class five and provided them with transport and uniform and other learning materials to the tune of ¢235 million for the first term.”

Almost in tears, he said “I accepted to offer the assistance because I also considered the fact that President J.A. Kufuor was the ECOWAS Chairman, who was championing the cause of the suffering Liberians, who had been left in such a state because of the war in that country.

Mr Amoakohene, therefore, appealed to the government and the United nations (UN) to assist the affected to schools to trace Mr Liberty to settle the indebtedness. On his part, Mr Joe Mensah, headmaster of Datus, Kasoa, said when Mr Liberty approach him on the contract, he informed his superiors who agreed to it because of the rationale behind it.

“We clothed and provided textbooks and learning materials as well as transport for 372 pupils from nursery to JSS 2 to the tune of more than ¢400 million.”Ms Gloria Haywood-Dadzie, headmistress of West End International School, also confirmed the deal and said they had incurred a debt of more than ¢600 million after they catered for almost 400 pupils from nursery to JSS 1.

“In our school, we fed them twice a day just as we do for all the other pupils. Because they had came a month after school had started, we gave them a special block with teachers to take care of them,” she added.

She said on some occassions the board demanded to see the documents of the association and where the sponsors were coming from, but Mr Liberty refused to make them available. When contacted, the Chief Director of the Ministry of the Interior, Mr Edwin Barns explained that when Mr Liberty contacted the ministry for its support, it went behind him (Mr Liberty) to ask the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service to conduct an investigation into the activities of the association.

He said it was based on the report that was presented to the ministry by the CID that the letter was written and signed by the Deputy Minister.“If the schools have not been paid what they have spent on the children the CID would have to be informed to look for him,” he said.

Several attempts to get the District Director for Winneba to comment on the story proved futile as he was said to be attending a conference at Bolga as of press time.

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