Liberia: Former Health Ministry Officials React to Ministry of Justice’s Audit List

L – R: Former Health Minister Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, former Health Minister Dr. Bernice T. Dahn and former Deputy Health Minister Edward B. Tolbert

Monrovia – Some past officials of the Ministry of Health have strongly reacted to the Ministry of Justice’s list of former present government officials who are alleged to have misapplied public funds under their control at some point in time when they worked in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led administration. 

Former Health Minister Dr. Bernice T. Dahn and the former Deputy Health Minister for Administration Edward B. Tolbert, CPA, who was also former Auditor Director of the GAC, want an immediate retraction of their names from the listing of former officials named for corruption as released by the Ministry of Justice.

A communication from their lawyer, Cllr. Joyce Reeves-Woods, to Solicitor General, Cllr. Cyrenus Cephas, Cllr. Reeves-Woods said Cllr. Cephas made public statements as Acting Solicitor General, without any investigation whatsoever, condemning her clients and infringing on their fundamental rights by declaring them as being “CORRUPT GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS.”

In addition to the two health ministry’s officials, Cllr. Reeves-Woods, who is from the GBARBEA, REEVES AND ASSOCIATES, INC., also represents the legal interests of former Health and Social Welfare Minister Dr. Walter Traub Gwenigale, Matthew T. K. Flomo, John M. Linga and Toagoe T. Karzon. All of them are former employees of the Ministry of Health.

“In your public condemnation of my clients, you made yourself Judge and Jury without giving them the right to be heard and defend themselves as there is nowhere in the GAC Audit Reports where my clients were individually held liable for theft. This they stand ready to prove. In the conduct of the GAC audit, it is revealed they did not receive certain documents in support of the financial statement presented by the Ministry. The GAC Report also stated the constraints they had in getting information from other Partners and other Health authorities in the various Counties, to have made their Reports inclusive. Yet you chose to refer to them as corrupt Government officials,” the defense counsel stated.

“Cllr. Cephas, as the Chief Prosecutor of the Republic, being consistent with the laws of the Republic knowing that one is innocent until proven guilty, you made it your duty to publicly indict and convict my clients as being criminally liable with you serving as both Judge and Jury where you, publicly, in the various newspapers and social media named them as being ‘Corrupt Government Officials.’ Moreover, Rule 20 of our Code of Moral and Professional Ethics under the caption LAWYER AND PUBLICATION states: The Lawyer should avoid publication of anything pertaining to, pending or anticipation litigation, as such publication might interfere with fair trial of the matter, and/or prejudice the due administration of justice.”

She told Cllr. Cephas what harm his publication did to her clients. “Hence your actions by the publication have informed the world that my clients are criminals, although no investigation has been done and they have not been charged as having committed any crime for which they are being held liable. Your action has defamed their good names, integrity and reduced their moral characters which are being questioned bringing them to public ridicule. “In view of the above circumstances, we demand an immediate retraction of those publications in the various newspapers as was done with prejudice against our clients. Failure on your to do same will give us the impression that you prefer the legal recourse which our clients have already instructed us to pursue.”