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Friday, June 14, 2024

TRAGIC DEATH OF AFL’S SERGEANT MANNEH HIGHLIGHTS DEEPENING TENSIONS AND ALLEGATIONS OF MISMANAGEMENT

Date:

MONROVIA, LIBERIA – In a tragic and unsettling event, Sergeant Bobby Manneh of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) reportedly died by shooting himself “six times in the head” while on duty at the Edward Beyan Kesselly Barracks (EBK) along the Robertfield highway. The incident occurred on Friday, May 31, and was disclosed to the media by AFL Chief of Public Affairs Captain Steven Tarplah.

The specifics surrounding Sergeant Manneh’s death remain unclear, prompting an ongoing investigation by the AFL Military Police in conjunction with the Homicide Division of the Liberia National Police. Authorities are diligently working to uncover the circumstances leading to this tragic event and have assured the public that a comprehensive statement will be released upon the conclusion of their investigation.

Sergeant Manneh was known within the AFL for his advocacy on behalf of soldiers’ welfare, including organizing the soldiers’ wives and pushing for better living conditions for military personnel. His untimely death has sent ripples of sorrow through the AFL community, emphasizing the need for continued mental health support and resources for military personnel.

Growing Tensions within the AFL

The death of Sergeant Manneh has cast a spotlight on broader issues within the AFL, particularly growing discontent among military personnel over pay and resource allocation. According to sources within the AFL, there is a significant division among military personnel, who accuse the High Command of reluctance to implement pay increases when personnel are promoted to higher positions or ranks. This issue has sparked serious tension, as it is believed that funds allocated for this purpose have not been utilized as intended.

An additional $3 million was reportedly allocated in the national budget to ensure that military personnel receive appropriate pay increases upon promotion. However, the promised increases have yet to materialize, leading to frustration and discontent among the ranks. Accusations are being directed at both former and current senior military personnel, who are alleged to have failed in executing the budgeted funds for their intended purpose.

Allegations of Mismanagement and Corruption

Former Chief of Staff Prince C. Johnson, now with the National Security Agency (NSA), along with the current Chief of Staff, Brig. Gen. Davidson F. Forleh, and Defense Minister Geraldine Janet George, have been specifically named in these allegations. The failure to address the pay increases is reportedly breeding serious tension within the AFL, threatening to undermine morale and cohesion among the troops.

One senior military source, who requested anonymity, expressed frustration over the situation, stating, “It’s disheartening to see our leaders neglecting the welfare of the soldiers. The funds were allocated to reward and motivate those who have earned their promotions, but instead, we are left waiting with no explanation.”

The sources allege that the former Chief of Staff and the current leadership have failed to provide transparency and accountability regarding the allocation and use of the $3 million. This lack of action has led to growing suspicion and mistrust among military personnel.

Implications for Liberia’s Military Stability

The alleged division within the AFL has serious implications for the stability and effectiveness of Liberia’s military. Discontent among the ranks can erode discipline and trust in leadership, which are critical for maintaining a functional and professional armed force. The allocation of the additional $3 million was intended to address these issues, ensuring that personnel are fairly compensated for their service and dedication.

The tension within the AFL is said to be escalating, with some personnel considering protests or other actions to demand the promised pay increases. “We have served our country with dedication and deserve to be compensated accordingly,” said another source within the AFL. “If our leaders cannot fulfill their promises, how can we trust them to lead us?”

Call for Transparency and Accountability

The allegations of misallocation and non-payment of funds are not new in Liberia, but the impact on the military is particularly concerning given the AFL’s role in national security and stability. Ensuring that the military is adequately funded and that personnel are treated fairly is essential for maintaining the integrity and effectiveness of the armed forces.

To address these growing concerns, it is crucial for the government and military leadership to conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations. Transparency and accountability must be prioritized to restore trust and morale within the AFL. Additionally, clear communication regarding the status of the allocated funds and the reasons for any delays or misallocation should be provided to all military personnel.

Furthermore, measures should be put in place to prevent future occurrences of such issues. This could include regular audits of military budgets, stronger oversight mechanisms, and enhanced channels for personnel to report grievances without fear of retribution.

The allegations of division and misallocation of funds within the AFL highlight a critical issue that needs immediate attention. The well-being and morale of military personnel are vital for the security and stability of Liberia. It is incumbent upon the senior military leadership and the government to address these concerns transparently and effectively, ensuring that those who serve the nation are fairly compensated and that trust in military leadership is restored.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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