Pay Our US$50m Plus Arrear -Fmr. AFL Soldiers Petitioned Legislature

Some 9,000 former Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) soldiers, who claimed to have been illegally disbanded, have petitioned the Legislature for the payment of over US$50 million in arrear owed them.

Speaking on behalf of the affected AFL soldiers recently, Captain Jerry Kollie noted that the manner and form in which they were purged from the army was not in line with the law governing such process.

Capt. Kollie said the arrear is based the accumulation of their respective unpaid salaries which now net over US$50m since they were disbanded in violation of the law and the government must pay their entitlement.

According to him, thereafter, they must be properly pensioned in keeping with the law.

It can be recalled that the National Bureau for Veteran Affairs (NBVA) strongly warned retired and demobilized soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia against acts aimed at obstructing their enrollment for biometric identification cards.

Addressing a news conference some time ago, the bureau’s Director General, Colonel Edwin Goodgridge, said the enrollment of retired and demobilized soldiers will begin at the Barclay Training Center in Monrovia on Tuesday, July 7, 2020.

Col. Goodridge calls on retired or demobilized soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia that have problem with the enrollment for biometric identification cards to channel their grievances through the bureau in a peaceable manner.

Colonel Goodridge called comes in the wake of a planned abandonment by some members believed to be a part of the defunct AFL headed by Captain Jerry Kollie.

He further stated that the enrollment of retired soldiers was not conducted by the new leadership at the bureau. The NBVA boss pointed out that the enrollment is a policy framework designed by the Government of Liberia to enable easy payments of each retired soldier in his or her personal account.

He further disclosed that the process was designed by the government of Liberia and not the newly appointed leadership of the bureau and as a government’s institution; they are in full compliance with the mandate of national government.

Speaking to scores of media practitioners that converged at the National Bureau for Veteran Affairs head office in Sinkor, the director general warned all those that are concerned about the transparency of the process to immediately desist from obstructing the enforcement of government’s directive or risk facing the consequences.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 a joint-team from three institutions of government commenced the biometric registration of AFL pensioners at the Slip way community center in keeping with the mandate of the government of Liberia, but folks believed to be members of the defunct Arm Forces of Liberia predominantly of those that were demobilized but who were not part of the AFL pensioners entered the registration center and embarked on actions that disrupted the process and brought it to an abrupt suspension.

Col. Goodridge further disclosed that the following day the group’s purported leadership held a press conference and took responsibility for the disruption and indicated that they are opposed to the entire process. He averred that the bureau will not accept any disruption of the process that is expected to kick start on Tuesday, July 7, 2020.

Meanwhile, when contacted by this paper, the new leadership of the disbanded soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia headed by, Captain Jerry Kollie, threatened to mobilize 15,000 retired and demobilized soldiers to report to Monrovia in demand of their benefits from the Liberian Government void of following the biometric process already underway.

Captain Kollie also called on all retired and demobilized soldiers of the AFL not to turn out for any enrollment for the biometric identification cards anywhere destined for said exercise in the country.

He called for the immediate intervention of the Liberia Council of Churches and the National Muslim Council of Liberia, citing that the move by the bureau has the propensity to create chaos and disrupt the entire peace process in the country.

According to him, the retired and demobilized soldiers will never submit to a ploy aimed at denying the retired soldiers of their just benefits and preventing the placement of demobilized soldiers on pension in the name of biometric identification cards.

The disbanded AFL leadership has also sought the intervention of the legislature as soldiers are already angry due to the failure of the government to pay their benefits.

Following the 2003 Accra Peace Accord (APA) in Accra, Ghana the first postwar democratically elected government of Liberia had a mandate to restructure the Armed Forces of Liberia.

Upon the ascendency of Liberia’s and Africa’s first elected female president, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the entire Armed Forces of Liberia was dissolved. During the tenure of madam Sirleaf, several protest actions were witnessed as a result of disenchantment from soldiers of the defunct military in the country.

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