Liberia: “Sen. Milton Teahjay Must Be Penalized” – Central for Transparency and Accountability

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The CENTAL Executive Director, Anderson Miamen said the public perceives the Legislature as the “weakest link” in Liberia’s governance process – a view Senator Teahjay’s actions tend to validate

Monrovia – The Center for Transparency and Accountability (CENTAL) has called on the Liberian Senate to launch an investigation into allegation linking Sinoe County Senator Milton Teahjay to collecting US$20,000 from Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike to be confirmed as Chairman of the National Elections Commission by the Liberian Senate.

Speaking at a news conference in Monrovia, the Executive Director of CENTAL, Anderson Miamen said the Senate must investigate one of its own for his alleged involvement into corrupt practices.

“We call on the Leadership and members of the Liberian Senate to timely and thoroughly investigate the reported payment of US$$20,000 by Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike, current head of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Corruption, to be confirmed as Chairperson of the National Elections Commission,” Miamen said.

“We call for appropriate punitive action against the Senator by his colleagues for practicing interest peddling and bribery by soliciting jobs for his family members, friends, and confidantes as basis for confirming nominees, a clear violation of relevant Liberian Laws, including the Code of Conduct of 2014 and the 1986 Liberian Constitution.”

He furthered noted that, “More broadly, the Legislature must do more to enhance public confidence in its work and activities,”.

The CENTAL boss said the public perceives the Legislature as the “weakest link” in Liberia’s governance process – a view Senator Teahjay’s actions tend to validate.

“As Liberia strives to regain its position among the comity of nations, it is incumbent upon those serving in positions of public trust to exert every degree of particularity and nationalism in ensuring the system works better for all, and the Legislature, as the first branch of government and direct representation of the people, must lead by example on this,” he said.

CENTAL strongly detests recent statements attributed to the Sinoe County Senator in an audio released by FrontPageAfrica on Friday, July 10, 2020.

In that recording, the Senator alluded to what he coined as “his traditional form of corruption” before and after the confirmation process of nominees for positions, especially the Standing Committee on Autonomous Agencies. He has since been removed from the position by Pro Temp.

“We call for appropriate punitive action against the Senator by his colleagues for practicing interest peddling and bribery by soliciting jobs for his family members, friends, and confidantes as basis for confirming nominees, a clear violation of relevant Liberian Laws, including the Code of Conduct of 2014 and the 1986 Liberian Constitution.”

– CENTAL

“This is extremely sad and unfortunate, as it undermines his due diligence and oversight role as a Lawmaker,” Miamen said, adding that it was disappointing that the lawmaker is not showing any remorse.

He noted that Senator Teahjay’s conduct appears to be a common practice at the Legislature, which he termed as gross disregard for Section 9.6 of the Code of Conduct for public officials.

Section 9.6 of the Code of Conduct for public officials’ states: “No public official shall use an official position to pursue private interest that may result in conflict of interest”.

Maimen also said the Senator’s action undermines the spirit and intent of the Code of Conduct, which preamble provides for impartiality, objectivity, transparency, integrity, efficiency and effectiveness in the performance of the duties and responsibilities of public officials and employees, including Senator Teahjay and other members of the Legislature.

He said the act of political and official corruption has led to recruitment of incompetent individuals in strategic positions in government is one of key contributors to the increasing level of poor performance at many government ministries and agencies in Liberia.

“If the Senator can unduly solicit jobs for family members, supporters, and cronies, it is equally possible that he requests for monetary rewards in the performance of his duties,” he said.

Miamen recalled: “It must be noted that this is the same Senator who, in the Case R/L Vs. J. Milton Teahjay, at the 14th Judicial Circuit of Rivercess County in 2018, was found guilty of violating the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) guidelines and procedures in the awarding of contracts for the implementation of county development projects, while serving as Superintendent of Sinoe County. Accordingly, he was fined US$50,000.00 to be paid within the period of nine months in government’s revenue.”

He said such continuous misrepresentation and abuse of public trust and confidence by the Senator is totally unacceptable and should have no place in the Liberian Society, especially public service.

Meanwhile, CENTAL boss spoken about media reports about alleged fraudulent situation at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning involving some unscrupulous individuals.

“It can be recalled that on Monday, July 13, 2020, the FrontPageAfrica Newspaper reported that six employees at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) were arrested for an alleged criminal cartel,” he said.

The scandal, which was unearthed by the Comptroller and Accountant General of the Republic of Liberia, Mr. Janga Kowo pertaining to illegal withdrawal of L$6M from an account owned by the MFDP.

He said the incident further exposed the loopholes within the financial management system, which need to be identified and addressed to prevent abuse of public resources by unscrupulous individuals in an already impoverished country like Liberia.

“We like to appreciate the Ministry of Finance Development and Planning for its initial stance in uncovering the said plot, and also informing the public about the situation,” he said.

He urged the Government of Liberia to be more decisive and pragmatic in dealing with corruption in the country, including timely investigation and prosecution of all reported corruption scandals/cases.

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