Monrovia - The Concessions Working Group (CSG) attention has been drawn to the startling and unfortunate allegations of corruption and bribe-taking involving very senior members of the Liberian government as detailed in the Global Witness latest report titled, ‘The Deceivers’.
CWG is a network of local and international non-governmental organizations working on the Liberian extractives sector that seeks to influence pro-poor national policies so that the natural resources is assured for the most vulnerable segments of the population. In a press release issued on May 24, CWG says it is especially concerned not only because corruption is a cancer that is viciously eroding the fabric of Liberia and destroying the moral universe but also because the alleged transactions involve a potential mining concession, which firmly places it within the extractives sector as a key concern for the group. CWG believes natural resources can be a force for inclusive development and progress, but if managed with a lack of accountability as the Global Witness report stringently advances, natural resource exploitation can fuel conflict and public discontent. It also reminds public officials and policymakers that these new allegations suggest a pattern of official negligence and misconduct. It can be recalled a few years ago, the British auditing firm Moore Stephens reported that close to 90% of concessions were non-compliant with Liberian laws. These new allegations seem to be emphatically supporting those conclusions. Because of the gravity of these alleged actions as well as the high levels of government at which those accused are placed, CWG requests that the following actions be taken in a timely manner by various public stakeholders to ensure credible, speedy and fair resolution of this matter in line with law. Dissolution of the Koffa Task Force While CWG recognizes the right of the president to utilize several means to tackle corruption, it is important that any such process is credible and doesn’t inadvertently undermine the fight against corruption. CWG believes that the appointment of Fonati Kofa as head of the taskforce severely undermines the integrity of it and exposes it to public disrespect. CWG, therefore, wants President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to promptly dissolve the taskforce and allow the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to lead the investigation and assume exclusive jurisdiction. Empowerment of the LACC In similar direction, the CWG calls on the LACC to proactively assume its statutory mandate as prescribed by law. While other processes may assist the fight against corruption, CWG believes it is the LACC’s duty as the principle anti-corruption agency to lead any effort to tackle official corruption. The CWG also calls on all the accused to engage the LACC in the thinking that an accusation is not a statement of guilt, which can only be adjudged through a court of competent jurisdiction. In conclusion, the CWG wants international and or bilateral actors to impose serious conditionality for aid support until the current investigation is concluded with proper actions. CWG comprises of Sustainable Development Institute, Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (Cental), Trust Africa, Rights and Rice Foundation, Liberia Media Center, Save My Future Foundation, Actions for Genuine Democratic Alternative (Agenda), Institute of Research and Democratic Development and National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections (Naymote). Others are Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy (FIND), Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), Liberia Extractive Industries and Transparency Initiative (LEITI), National Resource Management Consortium, Publish What You Pay-Liberia, Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP) and Liberia Media for Democratic Initiatives (LMDI).