By Morrison O.G. Sayon
As part of this year’s festivities, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has granted presidential clemency to some 32 inmates at the Monrovia Central Prison among which is an 80-year old man.
The presidential clemency to the 32 inmates according to the Liberian leader, is to enable them celebrate the Christmas season with their families, love ones and friends. Some of those pardoned by President Sirleaf have stayed at the prison for five to 10 years, according to Justice Minister-designate Benedict Sarnor.
Their crimes range from rape, manslaughter, statutory rape incest, murder, burglary, arm robbery, criminal facilitation, among others. Some of the inmates released yesterday have spent over eight to 10 years at the prison.
President Sirleaf also provided some Christmas gifts to the inmates and prison authorities and also presented an amount of US$15, 000 to Correction Officers assigned at the MONROVIA Central Prison, US$1,000 to the kitchen staff and US$500 to police officers at the prison center.
At the same time, Correction Officers at the Monrovia prison Center have raised several concerns through their spokesman, J.K Kolako who complained that they have not benefited from the Ebola fund though they usually interact with several inmates from diverse background.
He said there are 69 Correction Officers who completed their training and are presently assigned at the Monrovia Prison Center but have not been included on the payroll having worked for 90 days but Justice Minister-designate Sarnor promised to use his office to work with the prison Superintendent in addressing their plights.
President Sirleaf also assured them that the government will work on ensuring that those who have not benefited will receive their just benefits and salaries.
In another development, President Sirleaf made a tour to the facility of the new Ebola cemetery in Giah Town, Disco Hill, Margibi County where the Government of Liberia purchased a 50-acre of land from some traditional people in Giah Town; Chief Zayzay Karwor disclosed.
He said the site will stop the cremation of Ebola bodies; something he considered a breach of the African tradition. Chief Karwor said the site has also been designed so that people would reside on it so as to avoid any illegal burial.
For his part, Mr. Tolbert Nyeswah, Assistant Minister for Preventive Services at the Ministry of Health, disclosed that the acquisition of the 50-acre of land was negotiated by the Government of Liberia and an international organization, the Global Community for the safe burial of those dying from the deadly Ebola epidemic.
He said the site is a national cemetery that will be used for the burial of the dead even after the Ebola menace and that those preventive measures will be followed to the letter at the burial site thereby warning that no one is allowed to touch bodies.
The site has been divided for the burial of both dead Christians and Muslims and is expected that religious doctrines will be followed according to their traditional and religious rituals.
During the tour, it was at that time the Government of Liberia through President Ellen Johnson-sirleaf presented a check of US$25,000 to the land owners as part payment for the 50-acre of land. Madam Sirleaf lauded the community dwellers for their cooperation and for allowing government to acquire the parcel of land for safe burial purposes.