MONROVIA – A prominent Liberia citizen, Dr. Clarence Moniba has called for a holistic investigation of officials suspected of corruption in both the current and past administrations.
Dr. Moniba, a son of Liberia’s former Vice President, Dr. Harry F. Moniba, served in several capacities in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf- Government including as Minister of State without Portfolio, Chairman of the Board of the Liberia Electricity Corporation and principal advisor and project manager to the former President.
His call comes after President George Weah suspended three of his top government officials after they were sanctioned by the United States Treasury Department for their alleged involvement in public corruption in Liberia.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the three Liberians officials: Nathaniel McGill, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, Liberia’s Solicitor General, and Bill Twehway, Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA) for their alleged involvement in “ongoing public corruption in Liberia.”
‘Enough Is Enough’
Addressing a press conference at his residence in Paynesville on Thursday, Dr. Moniba welcomed the President’s order for a public investigation into the allegations by the US Government against the Liberian officials and called for the investigation and its findings to be completed urgently.
“Most importantly, we demand from this investigation one of two things-an official statement of their innocence or an indictment, jail term and restitution. This clear outcome is our bare minimum demand because we must begin real process towards our national fight against corruption,” he said.
Speaking further, the young Liberian statesman rallied the Weah-government to widen the investigation to include other suspected corrupt officials of both the current and the erstwhile Sirleaf’s administration.
He said: “Accountability, however, Cannot just be limited to these three government officials or this administration. Having served in the previous administration in various positions such as; Minister of State w/o Portfolio, Head of the President’s Delivery Unit and Chairman of LEC, I must join the millions of Liberians in demanding that President Weah not only open up a public and fair investigation into suspected officials of his current government, but that this scrutiny and prosecution be extended to officials who served during the 12 years of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration.”
“There comes a time in a nation’s history when it reaches a decision point regarding the direction of its country. Fellow Liberians that time is now. Corruption must not be ignored, it must not be encouraged, and it must no longer go unpunished.”Dr. Clarence Moniba
There are unverified reports that prior to his election, President Weah (then a Senator) had an agreement with the then outgoing President Sirleaf to shield her and family from any form of public scrutiny and prosecution. These claims have been rubbished by both parties.
But subjecting himself to an audit as a former government official, Dr. Moniba said ex-president Sirleaf has welcomed any type of scrutiny and investigation of her administration.
“As a young leader in Liberia and a former government official, I accept a full audit of my former offices held during my time in government. I hope that all others, in this administration, and the previous administration, will do the same. Enough is enough-we must fight corruption in order to save our nation.”
Corruption Holding Liberia’s Progress
It has been nearly two decades since the end of Liberia’s deadly 14-year civil war, but the pace of development is slow. More than half of the country’s estimated 4.5 million population live below the poverty line – less than US$2 (L$300), as per the World Bank report.
Many have attributed this slow pace to the entrenched corruption by successive administrations.
Despite former President Sirleaf’s pledge to fight corruption during her administration, she is widely criticized for not doing enough as Liberia’s first and longest post war President to curb the menace. Her successor, President Weah too, is being blamed for failing on his promise. He and his cronies have come under heavy criticisms for amassing questionable wealth in the space of just four years in their administration.
Expressing these sentiments following the imposition of sanctions on the three Liberian Government officials, the U.S. Department of Treasury said“Corruption has long undermined Liberia’s democracy and its economy, robbing the Liberian people of funds for public services, empowering illicit actors, degrading the business environment, and damaging the rule of law and effective governance in the country. Corruption also contributes to diminished confidence in government and public perception of impunity for those with power.”
Dr. Moniba, in his press conference warned “If we want a New Liberia, we must finally start to take the allegations and acts of corruption very seriously. As people of this country, we must realize that the economic and political consequences of corruption affect generations.”
These consequences he noted, result to absolutely no money left over to build schools or modern hospitals, pay teachers, train doctors and nurses, or build roads.
Rallying Liberians to form a united front in the fight against the menace, he said, “There comes a time in a nation’s history when it reaches a decision point regarding the direction of its country. Fellow Liberians that time is now. Corruption must not be ignored, it must not be encouraged, and it must no longer go unpunished.”
Continuing, he stated: “Let us call on the IMF, the World Bank, and other financial institutions, the U.S. Government, the United Kingdom and our other bilateral partners, and more especially our own audit and anti-corruption agencies to do what they are meant to be doing, which is protecting and empowering the lives of Liberians by helping to stop corruption.”