When investigators become targets of paranoia over leaks; and nothing seems to be working, the head must roll
CLLR. FRANCES JOHNSON-ALLISON, a previous head of the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission at least had the gravitas in 2013 to speak a bit of truth to power when she declared that the awarding of contracts to bogus companies in the public sector weakens the fight against corruption.
UNLIKE HER SUCCESSOR, Cllr. James Verdier, Cllr. Allison was a strong advocate of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Law of Liberia, once declaring that the current FOI law “prevents people from having access to certain information.”
FOR CLLR. ALLISON, the FOI Law promotes transparency and accountability in the public sector. “We need to have transparency in the implementation of our budget. People are spending government money in a way that is not pleasing to people at the grass root level.”
IN FACT, CLLR. ALLISON’S successor has ignored several requests to fulfill the obligations of the law which was signed by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in 2010 that made Liberia the first West African country with a freedom of information law.
FRONTPAGEAFRICA and other news entities have unsuccessfully sought to have the LACC provide information and they all have been denied by the LACC headed by Cllr. Verdier, who brands himself as a human rights activist and lawyer.
IT IS SAD THAT THE LACC is headed by a professed human rights activist and lawyer, who for reasons known to himself, repeatedly chooses to ignore and dismiss requests aiming to get to the bottom of issues affecting the disadvantaged, poor and many languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder.
CORRUPTION BREEDS suffering and is in itself an abuse of human rights. The LACC which is supposed to be a key instrument in the fight against graft appears to be struggling to remain relevant and establish itself as one of the leading anti-graft bodies in post-war Liberia.
INSTEAD, AN ATMOSPHERE of paranoia, distrust and panic is said to be the order of the day at the LACC.
CLLR. VERDIER HAS pathetically brought shame, disgrace and disdain to the LACC by his lack of judgment and leadership.
THE LACC BOSS has not only failed to offer a strong support to the government’s fight against graft but continues to contribute to everything that is wrong with Liberia’s lost fight against corruption.
QUITE RECENTLY, Cllr. Verdier who has headed an entity that has lost several corruption cases had the audacity to accuse Liberians of celebrating corrupt officials of government.
THE LACC BOSS told the Truth FM breakfast show in March that Liberians are beneficiaries of corrupt officials while public officials themselves were benefactors of the corruption virus. “Even Liberians themselves celebrate public officials who are engaged in corruption. They celebrate them because they are beneficiaries and these public officials serve as benefactors of corruption."
THE TRUTH IS, Cllr. Verdier’s rantings was a clear case of the pot calling the kettle black – in the norm of the old Liberian saying.
A MAN WHO REFUSES to release information on accused corrupt officials is making claims against the very people he should be working along with to beat graft.
CLLR. VERDIER has become fond of occasionally revisiting the old refrain that: “The institution(LACC) has been around just since 2008. I think it’s going to grow stronger and better in terms of investigation and prosecution but again people say you put your mouth where your money is."
AT OTHER TIMES HE WOULD SAY: "For an institution that is so underfunded, I think the LACC has done whole lot of good things that people are missing, maybe we are not putting all of them out there but I think our team is getting better, we need more funding that we can build far more better legal team that will be able to win cases.”
YET, CLLR. VERDIER who is fond of accusing his staffers of leaking information to the press, this week claimed that a fallen, wrongfully dismissed former investigator, who died as a result of a broken heart over his dismissal, was found to be unproductive and ineffective, thus, terminating the employment of Mr. Morris Ware. Mr. Ware leaves behind a wife of one year, and five beautiful children.
WHO WILL FEND for them now that their bread basket has been snatched away?
WE HOPE AND PRAY THAT Cllr. Verdier never get his way and not a penny more should be thrown his way. Simply put, the LACC under Verdier has not shown that it has the gravitas to fight graft and deserves not a penny more than what it is receiving in its current budget allocation.
FOR THIS, we feel strongly that we must all call a spade a spade and urge President Sirleaf and the national legislature to do what’s best for Liberia and stop wasting money on a body that is doing nothing and making very little impact in the fight against graft.