It is commonplace that international organizations would uphold best practices in every aspect of their operations particularly the treatment of employees in accordance with law. At Conservation International Liberia office, the reverse of that reality is being witnessed with the appointment of Mr. Peter Mulbah as Acting Country Director. Mr. Mulbah, on August 3, 2020 dismissed four (4) employees from the Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) project jointly implemented with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In addition to the abrupt dismissal of the staff, on August 10, 2020, CI Technical Director, George Ilebo, acting on the instructions of the Acting Country Director Mulbah sent out an email circular to over 50 employees informing them that Mr. Yekeh Johnson, Mark Tamba and others were dismissed from the CBIT project “following a two month investigation into acts of theft, embezzlement, diversion of funds, bribery and fraud” at the project office. Conservation International also advertised the positions in the local dailies to replace the affected staff of the CBIT project.
For this, the dismissed employees have taken the matter to Civil Law Court for “Damages for Wrong-Libel” for damages done to their characters, person and professional career.
“The said email with ill-intent, indeed, recklessly and maliciously maligned, defamed and exposed the plaintiffs to potential injury to their persons and even death as well as to their professional life.”
The complaints are praying the court to hold Conservation International liable for damages in the amount of Two Million United States Dollars (US$2M)
An investigation conducted by this paper found that four staff of the Conservation International (CI) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jointly implemented Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) project were on August 3, 2020, issued an abrupt “termination of contract” letters under the sole signature of Mr. Mulbah, the Acting Country Director of CI without any reference to the organization’s implementing partner, the EPA.
When contacted via email regarding what our investigation had found, Mr. Mulbah said “Dear Editor: I can confirm that the four staff members are no longer employed by Conservation International-Liberia. Beyond that, Conservation International-Liberia does not comment on personnel matters. With thanks.”
He said Conservation International does not comment on personnel matters although it has criminal implications and he claimed to have conducted an investigation which found the affected staff guilty. The EPA, which is the prime representative of the Government of Liberia on the project was not copied in any of the letters.
This paper found out that there was no investigation conducted by the Acting Country Director of CI but he spoke three staff whose employment he personally influenced to say that whenever they sign for scratch cards and gas from the project heads, they [dismissed staff] would ask them for kickbacks although the dismissed staff are not directly connected to the disbursements.
To corroborate our findings, Mr. Mulbah has refused to make available copies of the investigation report he claimed to have conducted for which the four staff were dismissed.
The GEF CBIT project is a two-year initiative that cost more than US$2.8million.
During our investigation, it was established that Mr. Mulbah, with the consent of the former Country Director of Conservation International, Mrs. Jessica Donovan-Allen have been hiring his personal organization, the Skills and Agricultural Development Services (SADS) to implement projects for CI with disregard for conflict of interest which is a crime under the laws of Liberia as well as at Conservation International.
It is in this basis, that, according to our investigation, Mrs. Jessica Donovan-Allen pushed for Mr. Mulbah to act in her stead in order to avoid being caught red-handed in the event someone outside their circle gets the CI top position and institute an audit.
To strengthen their control of the GEF CBIT project, plans have started to be implemented to get rid of anyone who would stand in their way of their sinister desire to remotely control everything including funds.
Efforts go get words from Mr. Steven Acire, Director of Operations fell on deaf ears as his phone rang endlessly without response.
The Consortium of Legal Practitioners, Inc is representing the legal interest of the dismissed employees. The legal team of Conservation International has not responded to the suit up to the time of this publication.