It’s Time Liberian Government Muster the Courage to Initiate Prosecution of Sanctioned Officials
OVER THE YEARS, successive Liberian regimes have made the fight against corruption as the best campaign tool due to the eagerness of the population to see corruption minimized if not totally eradicated from the country.
CORRUPTION is seen as one of the major causes of the backwardness of the country, the suffering of the population, and the breakdown of major infrastructures, and thus everyone wants to see a Liberia where corruption is at the minimum level.
THIS IS WHY former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf while campaigning for the presidency in 2005, declared corruption as public enemy number one if elected president.
DURING THAT CAMPAIGN, every time Madam Sirleaf made the pronouncement about fighting corruption, there was huge public applause for the promise.
IN HER FIRST six-year term, cronyism, kinship, friendship, and other associations prevented Madam Sirleaf from fighting corruption as all those appointed in her government were people who had long years of relationships with her.
NUMEROUS instances of corruption were reported, including audit reports released by the General Auditing Commission of Liberia (GAC), but Madam Sirleaf still did not act accordingly to show Liberians that she stood by her campaign promises declaring corruption public enemy number one.
FRANCIS CARBAH, former head of the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP), Luseni Donzo of the Ministry of Public Works, Albert Bropleh of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) were all known to have engaged in acts of rampant corruption as reported by the GAC, but Madam Sirleaf sat idly and watched the gang of thieves pillage the country limited resources.
AFTER SIX YEARS, all Madam Sirleaf did during her second term was to give corruption a new name, describing it as a “vampire” that is eating up the fabric of the country, while failing to concede that she had failed to fight the menace.
CURRENT PRESIDENT George Weah and his cohorts came to state power on the campaign tool that they would fight corruption and not repeat the mistakes of the Sirleaf-led administration. In fact, Weah and his Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) party came to power on a manifesto promising to take decisions that will improve the well-being of the masses by ensuring that wealth is not focused at the top.
IN THE FIRST five years of the Weah-led regime, the highly heralded masses manifesto has become a big fiasco, with senior officials of his government chasing wealth and engaging in the same acts committed by officials of the Sirleaf- led administration.
WITH NO CONCRETE actions from President Weah, the United States of America State Department dropped a bombshell, imposing Magnitsky sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act on four officials of the Weah-led government – all of whom were very close associates of President Weah.
THE FORMER minister of state, Nathaniel McGill, who was a key decision maker in the government, National Port Authority Managing Director Bill Twehway, who was affectionally called “George Weah Jr. or Gbekugbeh Jr”, Cyrenius Cephas, Solicitor General, were all affected by the sanctions.
SINCE THE SANCTIONS were imposed, the Government of Liberia had sat idly watching these officials parade the country, and making efforts to get elected positions.
MCGILL FIRST started his quest for an elective position in Bong County, where he spread millions of Liberian dollars to convince a poverty-stricken voting population. McGill has now turned his attention to Margibi County, where he is vigorously campaigning to be elected senator.
TWEHWAY, on the other hand, is fighting to get elected as senator of Rivercess County. Cllr. Cephas, a lawyer, is actively practicing law in all the Courts in Liberia.
THE GOVERNMENT has shown no interest in taking some form of legal actions to make these officials sanctioned by the United States of America State Department face the law even though the acts for which these officials were sanctioned took place in Liberia.
APPARENTLY disappointed over unfolding developments regarding those sanctioned by the United States, US Deputy Chief of Mission Hon. Joel Mayburg, said the onus is now on the Liberian Government to prosecute sanctioned and corrupt officials.
SPEAKING AS A guest lecturer at the first public lecture series of the School of Global Affairs and Policy, Cuttington Schools of Graduate and Professional Studies in Congo Town, Mr. Mayburg said America as a fried to Liberia will always be a partner to Liberia in combating corruption and help Liberians realize their dream.
HE EMPHATICALLY challenged Liberia to take lead in tackling corruption. This was a very strong statement from the United States Embassy official as it signifies how the George Weah-led Government has missed the golden opportunity to fight corruption.
LIKE ELLEN, Weah is entangled in a web because he can not take actions against people who struggled with him during the CDC revolution, but equally as a sitting Government actions should be above partisanship, but President Weah has proven how he is unable to fight corruption.
EVEN AFTER the United States Government showed him the way by taking strong actions against some government officials, President Weah has failed to cease the moment by using the United States sanctions as a yardstick to take some firmed actions.
SINCE PRESIDENT Weah Government has shown that it is unable to act on its own, the statement from the United States Embassy official should serve as wakeup call to the president as it is never late to fight corruption.