‘Corruption’ Rocks Liberia’s Premium Intellectual Center

The Center for the Exchange of Intellectual Opinions

Monrovia – Officials of the Center for the Exchange of Intellectual Opinions (CEIO) have been asked to temporarily setdown form their position until a full investigation is conducted into an incident involving 28 bags of rice and over US$500 given the organization by Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Tamba Koijee on December 24, 2019. 

The 11 CEIO officials are being investigated by the board of the institution the reported corrupt conduct. CEIO, located on Carey Street downtown Monrovia, is arguably Liberia’s premium intellectual forum. Many prominent individuals in the public and private sectors converged on a daily basis to discuss issues of national concern.  

On December 21, the Monrovia City Mayor was a special guest at the intellectual center. As usual, after Mayor Koijee’s long elaboration, he then promised the leadership a gift of bags of rice and cash.

Later on December 24, the leadership of CEIO headed by its chairman Adolphus N.S. Weah received 28 bags of rice and US$500 from Mayor Koijee as his gifts to the institution for the festive season.

According to information, CEIO chairman divided the rice and money among 10 officials, excluding members in the institution.

Reported dissatisfaction from CEIO’s Secretary General Sylvester Nah sparked tension among officials of the forum. Nah alleged that chairman Weah divided the rice and the money and excluded the membership.

Contentions arose among members and for the past two weeks, agitating members have prevented every individual including Commerce Minister Professor Wilson Tarpeh wanting to serve as a guest to speak at the intellectual center.

CEOI chairman could not be reached when contacted by FrontPageAfrica. According to members of CEIO, chairman Weah told them that the rice and money were given to only the officials of the institution.

“Aldophus (CEOI chairman) says Mayor Koijee gave the 28 bags of rice and US$500 to the officials of CEIO. How can that be? He is the chief lobbyist for the organization, anything that comes to the institution is for every member and not officials only,” said James Harris, a member of CEOI.

Another aggrieved member Leroy Archie Ponpon said the chairman along with other officials of the institution have violated chapter five of the institution’s constitution.

“Chapter five of CEOI’s constitution says that once the platform of the institution is used to lobby and receive grants, donations or whatever asset it should be equitably distributed for the upkeep of the membership as well as the organization,” Ponpon said.

“Mr. Aldophus Weah cannot say what he received from Mayor Koijee was for only him and his leadership.”  

This is not the only time the chairman received such a gift from Mayor Koijee, he alleged, adding that the CEIO chairman received from the Monrovia City Mayor L$100,000.00 and 14 bags of rice (50kg) on July 26, 2019, and only the officials were the beneficiaries.

“The leadership of CEIO is for two years and they are voluntarily serving the organization simply because they have a passion for intellectualism and for the growth of democracy in Liberia,” Ponpon said.

The members do not have the power to suspend the chairman of CEIO but Article 11 of CEIO’s constitution says that if the issue of corruption that is not proven arises an extraordinary body should be set up to investigate the matter.

“We are not looking at rice and money. We are looking at our constitution and the civility that the issue of corruption can be rooted out irrespective of who,” he said.

“Mr. Weah was not sitting at home when he and his officials received rice and money from Mayor Koijee. Mayor Koijee gave it to them because they are serving the institution. And now a code of conduct is about to be drawn because these are guys who are using our platform and want to benefit individually and excluding the majority of the members.

According to Ponpon, the advisory broad of CEOI will stair the affair of the institution until a full investigation is concluded.