Liberia: Families of Deceased LRA Auditor, Researcher Slam Investigation, Say Government More Focus on Discrediting Fallen Relatives
MONROVIA – FrontPage Africa has gathered from sources privy to a meeting between government and the families of the deceased auditors that, the families’ trust in the investigation of the deaths is eroding as they now believe that the government may be putting up a showrell of an investigation.
The meeting was held last Friday at the Ministry of Justice.
Where Trust Eroded
Sources familiar with the discussions said the government’s recent statement on the BBC through the new Information Minister, Mr. Ledgerhood Rennie, left the families in total shock and raised their concerns over the government’s sincerity when it comes to a fair investigation.
Mr. Rennie told the BBC that while government regrets the mysterious deaths of four of its employees, there is no truth that the deceased were auditors.
“Whenever one of our citizens fall in such a calamitous way, we are saddened and worried by that, but it is good to clarify that the people who are being referred to as auditors were actually not auditors,” he said.
He added, “They were professional Liberians working within the government at various agencies. But because of the level of their work, there has been speculation in the media about them being auditors. But actually, their remits were very different.”
The bereaved families, especially, their spouses, expressed dismay and demanded an explanation behind the government’s chief spokesman twisting the facts surrounding relatives’ deaths on the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Who the Deceased Were
Mr. Albert Peters who was discovered along with Mrs. Gifty Asmah Lama in the backseat of his car without his trouser early this month, had been an internal auditor for all of his 23 years of work. He was Deputy Head of Internal Audit the Liberia Bank for Development and Iinvestment; Head of Internal Audit at the defunct First Iinternational Bank; Head of Internal Audit UBA, Chief Internal Auditor Ministry of Finance, UNDP second head of Internal Audit at Finance and later at Public Works and Health Ministries under the the Internal Audit Agency Formulation.
Mrs. Gifty Lama, prior to her demise, was transferred as Manager for Taxpayers Services after serving as a Research Analyst for years.
The LRA’s Taxpayers Services generates the bill in all LRA systems for the payer to take to the bank for Deposit. They input all manual receipts from all LRA collectors in the various counties.
Prior to moving to that department, Lamah worked in the office of the LRA Commissioner-General, in the policy division. She was involved with the compilation of all the revenue figures from all across the country, which would then be analyzed and published on the LRA’s website.
Mrs. Lama graduated from the Stella Maris Polytechnic in the top 5% of her class. She was known to be very sharp, hardworking and brilliant.
Even more critically, she had very few friends and was viewed by church members as having very strong principles and core values.
Gifty was a 2019 Mandela Washington for Young African Leaders fellow.
When the US Embassy in Monrovia announced her selection as a Mandela Fellow, it posted a comment from Gifty in which she expressed pride that she and her team were able to use a data mining process to unearth businesses that under-declared their respective gross sales – their work to fight fraud recovered over a million dollars for the people of Liberia following a prompt audit. “Gifty serves as a mentor to youth within her community and has helped some of them pursue undergraduate degrees at various universities within Liberia,” the Embassy posted.
George F. Fahnboto was a professional auditor, who previously worked in this capacity at the General Auditing Commission and at the Ministry of Finance before joining the LRA in the large tax division. He died in a car crash two days after the Mrs. Lama and Mr. Peters bodies were discovered.
Emmanuel Barten Nyeswa, who died last Saturday, was a certified fraud examiner. He added the Internal Audit Agency (IAA). He also worked at various financial institutions before heading the IAA.
Family Members Baffled
FrontPageAfrica gathered that the deceased families expressed their discontent over the manner in which investigation to establish how their relatives died is going.
“The both families had a meeting at the Ministry of Justice Friday with each family represented at the highest level (The spouses). The families had been very alarmed by recent developments which have undermined their trust in the investigation,” the source said.
The families expressed concern that the government seems to be searching for an opportunity to discredit the deceased as evident by the recent blatant misinformation given on BBC by the new information Minister on the profession of the deceased.
It can be recalled that President George Weah, speaking on who spoke the discovery of Gifty and Albert’s bodies in the car the Sunday following the incident said, “It is sad to know that our country, a religious country like Liberia you wake up and you see they killed people in car. What is that? We need to stop. No matter what happened, we cannot take a life. The greatest thing is life and the only one who supposed to take that is God. You know how I felt to wake up in the morning after my birthday and two people in the car to Cathedral Church died? Why-we don’t know; if that was a boyfriend or girlfriend issue, that doesn’t allow you to kill somebody because you don’t know where you will end up”.
Govt Conducts Autopsy Today
Meanwhile, autopsy on the remains of the four auditors would be conducted on Monday at 10am at the St. Moses Funeral Parlor in Gardnersville where their remains were deposited.
The autopsy, FrontPageAfrica gathered, would be conducted in the presence of representatives of the bereaved families, the Press Union of Liberia, the Inter-Religious Council and Civil Society Organizations.
The autopsies would be performed by Dr. Benedict B. Kolee and Dr. Zoebon B. Kpadeh.
The four auditors died in the space of eight days raising suspicions and public outcry and demand for speedy investigation.