May 21, 2024

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Liberia: Bomi College Former President Goes Missing Following Appointment of His Successor

6 min read

Monrovia — Authorities of the Bomi Community College (BCC) have successfully retrieved a 2023 model Totoya Prado vehicle that was assigned to the college immediate former President Abimelech Paye Gbatu, who is reported missing after failing to attend series of transitional meetings and a turnover ceremony respectively.

Dr. Gbatu, who was appointed to the position by former President George Manneh Weah, was replaced by Dr. Zobong Norman.

Dr. Norman previously served in similar position during the administration of ex-Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. He also contested the just ended 2023 senatorial elections unsuccessfully.

FrontPage Africa gathered that the retrieved vehicle was purchased from the US$1M allocated to the college from the Social Development Fund (SDF) of Bomi County. It was purchased from the United Motors Corporation (UMC) for the amount of US$56,000 following a competitive bidding process in mid-2023.

Speaking in an interview with FrontPage Africa via telephone on Monday, April 29, the Director of Procurement at the college Daniel Gayflor disclosed that he informed Dr. Gbatu about the appointment of his successor Dr. Norman by President Joseph Nyuma Boakai via telephone.

Gayflor pointed out that Dr. Gbatu acknowledged the information, but pointed out that he was still using his assigned vehicle because he does not have one personally.

According to him, Dr. Gbatu also promised to return the assigned vehicle during the turning over ceremony at the college, at the time he was in Nimba to participate in the just ended by-election held in the county last week.

“Dr. Gbatu was still heading the college before the appointment of Dr. Norman. Maybe he thought he was still the head of the entity; he was still using the vehicle. I informed him about the new appointment, but he said yes he was aware but he will not turn over the vehicle until he can hear from Dr. Norman to acquaint himself with him that he has been appointed.”

He disclosed that despite his promise, Dr. Gbatu did not show up for any of the transitional meetings or the turnover ceremony that was held last Friday.

He added that the failure of Dr. Gbatu to attend the meetings and turning over ceremony raises concerns among authorities of the college.

“The former Board Chair was in the meeting with us. He (Gbatu) promised to be a part of the meeting, but he didn’t attend. And so, we were concerned even before the turnover. We tried calling but we couldn’t get him. But in the evening time, he called and said he learnt that we had a meeting and I told him yes, but he didn’t attend.”

Gayflor disclosed that the former president of the BCC attributed his absence to his trip to Nimba to participate in the by-election but pointed out that he (Gbatu) has already spoken with Dr. Norman about the return of the vehicle that was assigned to him.

“We planned that Dr. Gbatu and the current President were going to match from this point before coming to the college and there was going to be a beautiful ceremony. But all that planning we were doing; he was still unavailable. Up to now, we have not heard or seen him.”

How the vehicle was retrieved

Gayflor pointed out after his ex-boss could not be located following the turnover ceremony, authorities at the college used another strategy to reach out to him and to retrieve the vehicle.

“We search and search, calling his phones and we couldn’t get him. The former Board Chair recommended to the Human Resource that ‘look this is alarming. The outgoing President is nowhere to be found. What can we do?”‘

He said the Human Resources Director of the college later searched the file of Dr. Gbatu and managed to get the phone number of his wife.

According to him, Mrs. Gbatu was communicated to by the college, but she declined to know the whereabouts of her husband at the time.

“She told us that she tried to reach her husband but she’s not getting her husband for some days. But she’s been also told that the official vehicle for the college that he was using has been abandoned and parked in Ganta because, she resides in Gbarnga City.”

Gayflor noted that following the narrative from Dr. Gbatu’s wife, one Augustine (who normally runs errands) for the former President was immediately contacted.

Gone missing?

He emphasized that though Augustine reported that Dr. Gbatu was planning to travel to Bomi for the turnover ceremony, he couldn’t trace the whereabouts of the former college President, but only provided the phone number of Mrs. Cecelia Gbatu.

He added that Mrs. Gbatu later informed him that the vehicle was parked at the Bounty Pharmacy in Ganta City.

Gayflor maintained that immediately after the turnover ceremony, he was tasked with the responsibility to retrieve the vehicle from Dr. Gbatu.

While en route to Ganta, he recalled that, the retrieval team was in constant communication with Mrs. Gbatu.

“The President recommended that we move in quickly and inform the police in Bomi so they can contact their colleagues in Ganta, Nimba that a team from the college was leaving to come and retrieve that vehicle. The Chief Driver and the Administrative Assistant to the President moved in early Saturday morning on a commercial car and we were able to move to Ganta.”

According to him, Mrs. Gbatu again provided conflicting accounts about where the vehicle assigned to her husband was parked.

Gayflor said Mrs. Gbatu later requested them to pick up the vehicle around the Gbarnga parking in the county, instead of the Bounty Pharmacy.

He noted that the vehicle was seen unlocked with three unknown individuals who were video-recording. The men claimed to be from Dr. Gbatu’s farm.

“Before we could even go to Ganta, Mrs. Gbatu told me that the vehicle has been parked for days over there and she normally sends her brothers there every night to man the vehicle because it was unlocked and she doesn’t want it to get missing. When we got there, the vehicle was all opened.”

No key

Gayflor maintained that the police were later invited to assess the vehicle.

Following the assessment, the vehicle was turned over to the team from the college.

“There was no key for the vehicle when we went to retrieve it. But the vehicle had two spare keys. All our vehicles, we have the spare keys in our save. We went with our Chief Driver and drove from Ganta to Bomi; we didn’t experience any malfunctioning. Currently, we don’t know where our former President is. We reported that also to the police.”

When contacted via telephone, Mrs. Gbartu disclosed that since last Tuesday, she has not heard from her husband, who informed her that he was going to cast his vote in the just ended by-election in Nimba.

According to her, the matter has already been reported by her brother-in-law to the police.

She disclosed that she received a call from her husband’s driver that he (driver) was asked by Dr. Gbatu to stay in his assigned vehicle along the road in Nimba as he was no longer interested in using it to go and cast his vote at the polling center.

According to her, the driver later informed her that her husband went towards the Guinea border along with the car key and did not return, thereby leaving the vehicle unlocked.

“I told the driver to find tarpaulin to cover the car and sleep in it since my husband couldn’t come back with the key. We been searching all over for my husband, but we can’t find him.”

When quizzed whether she and her husband has been in confusion in recent times, Mrs. Gbatu said “not really.”

Both the orange and lone star telephone numbers assigned to Dr. Gbatu remain off perpetually.

Meanwhile, police have launched a manhunt search for the former President of the Bomi Community College who has been reported missing.

By FrontPageAfrica.

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