By Alva M. Wolokolie
Commissioners at the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC) have frowned on the Liberian Senate rejecting a bill seeking to grant the LACC direct prosecutorial powers.
It may be recalled that on May 22, 2013, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf submitted for the second time for passage to the Senate a Bill seeking to empower the LACC an authority to prosecute public officers who may be caught stealing cookies from the national jar. This is the second time that this bill has suffered a major blow. Already, the House of Representatives has passed on it and just needed a concurrence from the Liberian Senate.
The Senate rejected the bill in a closed door session last month, but the revelation was made by Senate Pro-Tempore Gbehzohngar Findley on June 25, 2013 in an open session but said a conference committee was to be reconstituted to discuss the rejected LACC bill. Such bill at the Senate is usually voted for in an open session but strangely to legislative reporters assigned at the Capitol Building, the decision on the bill was held in camera.
At the quarterly chat with the media during the weekend at a local hotel in Monrovia, LACC boss Cllr. Frances Johnson Allison described the action of the Senate as a bad news because the rejection amounts to a lost opportunity for the lawmakers to have demonstrated their political commitment to fight against corruption.
Cllr. Johnson Allison said even though the news was bad, but the Commission will resubmit the bill to ensure that this time around it would be passed into law.
In an open discussion with editors and news editors representing various electronic and print media, Cllr. Johnson Allison lauded the 53rd House of Representatives for considering the passage of the bill and questioned the wisdom of the Senate for rejecting such an important instrument that would strengthen the survival of the country.
She said the decision to quash the President’s bill by the Senate suggests that the there is no political will by those she considers to have “wisdom” to assist fight this battle. “It is a bad news for us but we are not deterred; the LACC will resubmit this bill to get those prosecutorial powers,” Cllr. Allison Stated.
The LACC boss indicated that another emerging challenge is that the fight against corruption is increasingly becoming an option for some unemployed to make money at the expense of the crusade. She added that if the war on corruption is to be won, then poverty and unemployment must be addressed.