Liberia Council of Churches Urges General Auditing Commission To Request An Audit Of The National Legislature
MONROVIA – The Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), through its President Bishop Kortu K. Brown, has called for a full comprehensive forensic audit of the National Legislature in a bid to combat against fraud, waste and abuse in the first branch of the Liberian government.
Founded in 1982, the LCC is an ecumenical Christian organization that comprises of churches and other religious groups operating in Liberia.
A statement issued in Monrovia over the week end quotes the group’s President as urging authorities of the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to take the lead and request for an audit of the National Legislature.
Bishop Brown observed that for several years, members of the National Legislature, in keeping with their constitutional mandate of oversight, have been checkmating officials of the Executive branch of government, especially those from anti-graft institutions and as such, it is now time the body submits to an audit.
He emphasized that for legislators to be seen honest and transparent in the exercise of their constitutional tasks and responsibilities, they must be opened to an audit process.
He maintained that the conduct of an audit at the first branch of the Liberian government will build the public and officials’ trust and confidence in the National Legislature.
“Since the return to Constitutional rule in 2006, much emphasis has been placed on ensuring transparency and accountability in the Executive branch of Government. The bulk of the work of the local integrity institutions including the General Auditing Commission, Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, etc. have been partially focused with the Legislature even holding hearings only on reports from the agents of the Executive Branch”.
“When will the Legislature be audited?” For the Legislature to promote transparency and accountability, it also must be seen to be antiseptic. It must be completely free from contamination. It is time for the body to show that it is serious about fighting fraud, waste and abuse by being audited”.
He called on authorities of the GAC not to relent or hesitate to formally request an audit of the Legislature through separate communications to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bhofal Chambers and the President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Albert Chie.
Bishop Brown recalled that the Legislature has not been audited for more than 15 years since the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and as such, steps must be taken to ensure that the body is audited.
At the same time, the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) has called on members of the National Legislature to act now on the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court (WECC) in the country.
“As Liberians debate whether or not a War and Economic Crimes Court (WECC) should be established in Liberia to account for atrocities of the 15-year civil war, the Liberian Legislature needs to act with the speed required to bring the debate to a close”.
In 2019, President George Manneh Weah, in a communication called on members of the National Legislature to advise him on the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations that include the setting up of a war crimes court.
“As President of the Republic of Liberia, I am committed to a holistic implementation of the National Consensus (recommendations of the dialogue) and do hereby call on the National Legislature to advise and provide guidance on all legislative and other necessary measures towards the implementation of the TRC report, including the establishment of war and economic crime courts,” President Weah said in a letter to Speaker Bhofal Chambers.
He added that “accountability of past human rights violations are essential ingredients for sustainable peace and achievement of inclusive development”.
But Bishop Brown observed that since the communication was sent to the National Legislature by the President, members of both the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate continue to exhibit a “lukewarm approach” towards the endorsement of the court establishment in the country.
“The Legislature cannot neglect a cardinal national duty to addressing impunity and bringing closure to the civil war”. It is now time we put the lingering issue of this court behind us. People must account for what they did during the civil war”.
A call for reparation
On the kind of court to be considered, the Liberian Cleric advised that any court for Liberia should not only consider prosecution for human rights abuses and economic crimes, but it should also consider reparations for ordinary Liberians who bore the brunt of the civil war.
“Peoples’ lives need to be rebuilt both economically and psychologically. Private properties and whole communities were destroyed. We must ensure that we don’t come this way again,” he added.
Bishop Brown further reiterated calls for a national Stakeholders’ dialogue on the way forward for the WECC, reconciliation and national cohesion in Liberia.
He underscored the need for Liberians to embrace the quest for justice and reconciliation.
Bishop Brown pointed out that it will be difficult for Liberia to become a stronger society based on the rule of law, accountability, transparency and good governance in the absent of justice and reconciliation.
“All Liberians must see the proposal for a war and economic crimes court in this direction and not as a witch-hunt. We must address impunity and bring closure to the civil war. The body must not continue to give the public the impression that it is lazy and idle”
Bishop Brown, however, condemned the recent violence in Grand Gedeh County.
It can be recalled that a violent clash on May 18 erupted between some members of the Fula and Krahn communities in Zwedru over the death of a resident.
The incident which led to the looting of scores of businesses owned by Fula nationals, and the disruption of check points and setting of road blocks, among others was triggered when the victim reportedly died barely few days after he got in a fistfight with an unidentified Fulani for allegedly refusing to pay the exact amount for a commodity he went to purchase.
But Bishop Brown emphasized that the saga sent a negative signal to the country’s international partners and friends.
“The level of intolerance in the country is unacceptable. It is sending the wrong message to the outside world and making it difficult for our development partners to believe that we are serious about moving our country forward. We must stop the violence. We must have a dialogue. We must promote reconciliation, justice, rule of law and national cohesion if we must advance the small gains we have made since after the civil war”.