“In the case of Moses Wogbeh he did not exercise prudent in the discharge of his duties, conspired and colluded with other parties to award fraudulent PUP contracts in violation of the Community Rights Law (2009)”, State witness James Dorbor Jallah
Monrovia - The trial of the former Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Moses Wogbeh is witnessing more testimonies that might led the indicted man in more trouble as two major state witnesses testified Monday.
The current Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Harrison S. Karnwea and James Dorbor Jallah took the witness stand at separate times Monday to testify as the state’s first and second witnesses respectively at the ongoing trial of Wogbeh and four others who are facing multiple charges including economic sabotage at Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice.
Defendant Wogbeh and the rest of the defendants are on trial for allegedly issuing fraudulent Private Use Permits (PUP) to several logging companies between April 2010 to December 2011 that caused the government to lost US$6m in revenues, the court indictment alleges.
State witness Karnwea who was the first to provide testimonies had gone to the court to testify on the internal working and legal framework of the Forestry Development (FDA), a state lawyer Abraham Sillah indicated Monday. Karnwea who said he been serving, the FDA in the last two years and seven months stated that as managing director his job is to provide leadership for the management team and that he knew some of the defendants.
“I met some of the defendants at FDA and they served under me as managers, Jangar Kamara, John Kantor and my own brother Moses Wogbeh who I have known for the last 20 years”, said Karnwea. He stated that the FDA was established by the Government of Liberia through an act of the National Legislature to manage the forestry sector of the country to benefit Liberians now and in the generations to come. He stated that the National Forestry Reform Law (2006) and the Community Rights Law (2009) were the various regulators and the instruments that authorized the FDA to issue the five different licenses.
Karnwea named the five licenses as the Forest Management Contract FMC) which license is issued through the Public Procurement Concession (PPCC) processes before it is awarded and the other as the Timber Sale Contract (TSC) issue to land of 5,000 hectares. The third license as the Public Use Permit which is used in small scale activities such as the ecosystem and the collection of firewood.
Karnwea also named the fourth license as the Private Use Permit (PUP), which he said is given to private individuals and further explained that before awarding the contract to them, they have to present a business plan that shows that they have the financial capacity to adequately manage the PUP license and meet all requirements to include the social environmental impact report from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
According to the FDA boss the fifth license is the Community Forest Management Agreement (CFMA) intended for the community when it is awarded by the FDA there should a non-refundable fee of US$250 and that notice is placed in the community for a one-month to show there is no protest action from the community.
In the Community Forest Management Agreement (CFMA) a rental fee of 65% is paid to the community while the rest of 45% is paid to the Government of Liberia. The second witness James Dorbor Jallah who took the witness stand in the trial stated that he the chairman of the Special Independent Investigation Body (SIIB) set up by the president and mandated to review the issuance of the Private Use Permits.
According to the SIIB chairman the body used five methods to derive as its finding which was the preparation, planning where experts were called to give the context of the PUP, review the actual PUP contracts, conduct an interview with key stakeholders including the defendants, visited some of the PUP sites and the evaluation and preparation of the report.
“Interview was conducted in person and recording was done to detail each of the interviewee was duly informed that the interview was recorded for report and could be used in further investigation” said witness Jallah. Jallah indicated that from the findings of the body, it was discovered that the Management of the Forestry Development (FDA) colluded with some officials of the Ministry of Lands & Mines and logging companies to violate the Forestry Law.
He continued that for defendant Maxwell Gwee investigation uncovered verification letters under his signatures which were forged. For defendant Jangar Kamara, Witness Jallah stated that investigation uncovered that at the time of the importation of the moratorium by the president without authority, he wrote a communication to the FDA authorizing the violation of the moratorium.
Again, witness Jallah told the court that defendant John Kantor the investigation uncovered that he personally received money from some logging companies. Also, Witness Jallah stated that the David Blayee former Surveyor of Grand Bassa County, investigation uncovered arbitrarily issued certificate of correction without regards to the forestry law.
The case continues today where witness Jallah is expected to be cross-examined by the defense counsel while state lawyers have asked the court that it will provide its species of evidence to the defense counsels upon request of the court at the end of Monday.