Liberia: Sen. Gaye Warns Solicitor General-Designate of Following Procedure in Prosecuting People in GAC Reports
Monrovia – Senator Alphonso Gaye of Grand Gedeh County has warned the “exuberant” Justice Ministry officials to be patient and follow procedure on how they go about with the prosecution of people allegedly indicted in audit reports from the General Auditing Commission (GAC). The Grand Gedeh Senator warned that if they don’t take time and follow laid-down procedure, they may come into conflict with the law.
Report by Henry Karmo, [email protected]
Senator Gaye, who chairs the Legislative Public Account Committee (PAC), termed as wrong and want a halt to acts of naming former and current officials of government that are either indicted or to be indicted by the Ministry of Justice based on purported GAC reports.
“While I do applaud the Ministry of Justice to carryout it duties and responsibilities in keeping with statute, this should be done in the framework of the law and established procedures. The Ministry of Justice should not be in the business of looking for cases to prosecute rather it should wait for cases forwarded to it for prosecution,” the Senator said in his letter to his colleagues.
By procedure, the GAC reports to the Legislature. After the GAC completes an audit, the report is submitted to the Legislature, which in return mandates the Public Accounts, Audit and Expenditure Committee (PAC) for scrutiny through a public hearing conducted by the PAC. It is upon the completion of scrutiny and validation by the committee, the validated report is submitted to the plenary of both Houses for endorsement.
The endorsed report from the Legislature is then submitted to the President, who has the authority to forward same to the Ministry of Justice for action based on the findings and conclusion contained in the validated report.
Against this background, the Grand Gedeh Senator said, GAC report that is not validated by the Legislature cannot be used as an instrument for the indictment of anybody, be it former or current government officials.
Gaye also said, his communication was prompted by a letter he received from Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, prosecuting attorney/Solicitor General-designate, requesting his office to help him with a list of audit reports acted upon and subsequently submitted to the Executive for action with specific reference to audit reports on the Executive Mansion Renovation, the National Oil Company on the sale of block-13 to Exxon Mobil, report on the collapse of the entity (NOCAL), NASSCORP and the Central Bank renovation.
In Cephus’ communication to the PAC Committee Chair, the Solicitor General-designate said, as part of the mandate given the Ministry of Justice to prosecute cases on behalf of the Government and people of Liberia, his attention was drawn to the wave of “rampant corruption” and misused of public monies and assets by some government officials and private citizens aiding them.
“In an effort to curb the economic epidemic, we have taken into consideration the need to review all audit reports submitted by the GAC to your august body for consideration,” the letter stated.
Upon his nomination by President George Manneh Weah, the Solicitor General-designate pledged to go after corrupt individuals indicted in the GAC report.
Cllr. Cephus said: “There would be no hiding place; no one would be too big to confront. There would be no mountain too high to climb and no valley too low to walk. We are resolved that this fight would even continue if we are confirmed by the Honorable Liberian Senate. But until then, the process of review of all the audit reports has started. So, I want to announce to you that the fight or the war on corruption is not today, it’s not hereafter, and it’s not tomorrow but begins now. And the focus is to recover the resources of the Liberian people and to root out looters and those who believe that they can reduce the national treasury to a sorry state.”
Cephus said he has begun the review process of all audits and investigations by the General Auditing Commission and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, declaring that the goal is to create a conducive atmosphere where those who have been audited and found liable would be invited and given two choices to make – priority choice number one is the recovery process, it’s call restitution and when they are invited after the review process, would be given the two choices – restitution or prosecution.