Monrovia – The premises of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) was a scene of unprecedented drama on Monday, March 12, when the newly appointed LEITI Head of Secretariat Gabriel Nyenkan, along with group of his supporters and armed police officers marched on the compound to effect his takeover of the entity.
Mr. Nyenkan’s appointment as head of LEITI has been marred by staunch criticism from the civil society bloc on grounds that it violates the law that established the anti-graft institution in 2009.
Speaking to the press moments after the incident, the Communications Director of LEITI, Cedrick Kpadeh, explained that the drama began on Monday morning when the outgoing head of LEITI, Konah D. Karmo was meeting with several government officials including the Executive Director of the Liberia Institute for Public Administration (LIPA), Bill Twehway, and Nyenkan arrived with the armed police officers demanding Karmo to exit the office for him to take over.
He averred that his former boss refused at first, but later gave in following increased pressure from the police officers.
“When they went to the office, the current Head of Secretariat, A.D. Konah Karmore, was briefed by the Police bearing Nyenkan’s appointment letter and he (Karmo) told the police that he will not leave.
"He told the officers that if Nyenkan wants to take over because he has an appointment letter from the President, he doesn’t have to use force."
"After that the officer made some calls and came back and told Mr. Karmo that he has been ordered to leave. Mr. Karmo later gave in, turned everything over including his car and was driven away in a private car owned by one of the staff.”
However, Mr. Nyenkan, speaking to a local radio station, OK FM, defended his actions and claimed that he has held several consultative meetings with major stakeholders including Mr. Karmo for a formal turnover ceremony, but Karmo refused on grounds that Nyenkan’s appointment was illegal.
Karmo was appointed by the Multi-Stakeholders Steering Group (MSG) of LEITI in 2014 following a competitive recruitment process in which several other Liberians participated.
Meanwhile, the LEITI Communication Director disclosed that the situation in Liberia has claimed the attention of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the global standard for the good governance of oil, gas and mineral resources and is sending the head of its Global Secretariat to meet with President George Weah to resolve the stalemate.
It can be recalled that following the announcement of Nyenkan’s appointment by President Weah, the civil society bloc of the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Group (MSG) of LEITI called on him to reconsider his decision to “enable the entity fully focus on the crucial task at hand before the next validation of the country in the coming months.
The MSG has the statutory mandate to oversee LEITI and is a tripartite conglomeration of the civil society, private sector/companies and the government in accordance with Section 2.2 of the Act that established it.
The LEITI Act of 2009 requires the President to appoint members of the MSG, and “shall designate one of them as the Chairperson and another as the Co-Chairperson”.
“The power to recruit the Head of Secretariat, Deputy and other staff members of the LEITI Secretariat therefore lies with the MSG, according to Section 6.3d of the LEITI Act.”