LIBERIA: Crooked Perceptions – President Weah Must Stop Recycling Corrupt Figures

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THE COALITION FOR DEMOCRATIC Change-led government must be mindful about the promises made not just in the days leading to last year’s presidential and legislative elections but also those made when President George Manneh Weah was inaugurated in January.

PRESIDENT WEAH was clear during his inaugural address that the overwhelming mandate he received from the Liberian people is a mandate to end corruption in public service. “I promise to deliver on this mandate. As officials of Government, it is time to put the interest of our people above our own selfish interests. It is time to be honest with our people. Though corruption is a habit amongst our people, we must end it. We must pay civil servants a living wage, so that corruption is not an excuse for taking what is not theirs. Those who do not refrain from enriching themselves at the expense of the people – the law will take its course. I say today that you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

SINCE TAKING OFFICE, the ruling party has repeatedly run afoul of the laws of Liberia with multiple breaches of the constitution and the code of conduct.

IT IS SAD that in six months, President Weah has done the direct opposite of what he promised. The most obvious is the recent awarding of a road contract to Mr. Mahamadou Bonkoungou, Managing Director, EBOMAF Group after publicly acknowledging that it was Mr. Bonkoungou’s plane that has been jetting the president around since his inauguration.

Section 9.1 of the Code of Conduct is clear: “Public Officials and Employees of Government shall not receive nor encourage the giving of any form of bribe or casual gift in connection with the performance of his or her official duties, whether for himself or herself or members of his or her family or any other benefits that could have any influence on his or her professional approach to issues and the discharge of his or her official duties. This shall not include gifts given during traditional ceremonies and celebrations, and fees paid for Lobbying. The Legislature shall enact laws for the regulation of lobbying activities.”

MOST RECENTLY it seems, the administration has gone to the extreme in allowing accused former officials to serve in lucrative positions without going through the rigors of prosecution to address the charges they were accused of.

A CASE IN POINT, is the saga of Mr. Moseray Momoh, the disgraced head of the Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation (LWSC) who was found guilty last week by the Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice and subsequently ordered him to make restitution of US$48,000 to the Judicial Branch of Government.

MR. MOMOH, along with his accomplice, Mr. James P. Martor, were each demanded to deposit the money into government revenue immediately. Both men are chief executive officer and site manager respectively of the Semoh Group of Companies.

THE PAIR HAVE BEEN MANDATED by the court to pay US$48,000 out of the US$138,269.96 given to the company by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to construct the Botota Magisterial Court in Bong County.

FRONTPAGEAFRICA AND other media entities did multiple stories regarding Mr. Momoh when President Weah appointed him as head of the LWSC.

MOMOH PREVIOUSLY served as procurement officer at the LWSC from 2014-2015 for the African Development Bank sponsored rehabilitation of the White Plains Water Treatment Plant and was forced to step down after he had been hinted of his dismissal which followed an investigation into his involvement with tampering with the bidding process for the contract.

AN INVESTIGATION found him liable of the tampering with the bid process and failing to disclose his relation with one of the companies/individuals participating in the bid.

LAST WEEK, the President appointed Cllr. Charles Gibson as chairman of the board of the National Oil Company of Liberia, just months after withdrawing Gibson’s nomination as Minister of Justice/Attorney General following multiple staining media reports on his integrity.

GIBSON’S TROUBLES started when it was established by the Grievance and Ethics Committee that he misappropriated US$25,322.00 from a client. He was also accused by a lady identified as Freda Mensah, believed to be in her late 60s of attempting to shortchange her on a 75-acre farmland he was selling on her behalf. According to her, Cllr. Gibson received an initial payment of US$22,000 but reported only US$2,000.

QUITE RECENTLY, Mr. Jefferson Chesson, an assistant minister at the Ministry of Public Works, was at the center of an ongoing investigation of a criminal scheme to defraud the government of revenue through doctoring of documents to grant duty-free privileges to undeserving companies while pocketing very huge sums of money.

THE LIBERIA REVENUE AUTHORITY (LRA) recently intercepted two containers destined for the Ministry of Pubic Works intended for use at the Ministerial Complex site but was diverted to the West Africa Telecommunications compound which is now being used by Orange Liberia.

BEING SUSPICIOUS OF THE CONTAINERS, the LRA Security Consultant, Abraham Sinayoko, followed the container to its diverted destination, West African Telecommunications, where he was informed that the container belonged to CAMUSAT (a company contracted by Orange Liberia).

INVESTIGATORS later gathered that Mr. Chesson was at the center of the scheme but no efforts have so far been made by President Weah to take action against the official in his administration.

THESE RAPIDLY growing list of discrepancies on the part of the administration does not bode well for the government’s image.

LIBERIA’S HISTORY IS ripe with numerous stages of leaderships where previous administrations flaunted the laws but failed miserably to implement when it mattered the most.

PRESIDENT WEAH himself should not allow the ills of the past and spoils of yesterday define his reign as president. Recycling corrupt officials into positions of trust when there are fresh cases of corruption hanging over their heads is bad.

THE ADMINISTRATION must ensure that those being asked by the courts to return stolen or misused monies do so without delays and be removed from positions of trust.

PRESIDENT WEAH owes it to himself to ensure that the recommendations of the committee he set up to probe to saga at the National Oil Company of Liberia is implemented to the core and appointing new individuals in the absence of an audit as recommended by the committee is a slap in the face of its members and the a slap in the face of all Liberians.

LIBERIA CANNOT progress when we continue to do those things that were considered bad yesterday to the detriment of today.

TOO MANY lapses are recurring and too many dangerous trends are resurrecting. It is high time that this government and this president understands what’s at stake and start putting words into action.

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