By Hassan Fadiga
Is Johnson-Sirleaf’s presidential task-force a dishonest scheme? A critical look at the Liberian leader’s stance on official corruption.
The presidential task-force set up by President Sirleaf to investigate an allegation of bribery in the Sable Mining case may be a diversionary tactic and a public relation stunt. Madam Sirleaf has a cunning way of deceiving international donors, whenever there is a scandalous report of corruption in her government. When one closely follows the manner in which President Sirleaf had dealt with prior corruption cases, one would realize that this president is lackadaisical in dealing with corrupt cronies. It is inconceivable for one to think that President Sirleaf is sincere about fighting corruption at the end of her presidency.
We (The Liberian people) seek the investigation and subsequent prosecution of ALL officials of the government accused of corruption. Notwithstanding, it is imperative that the process is impartial and free of prejudice. Why is the Sirleaf led government more focus on prosecuting officials linked to the Sable Mining bribery case, while deliberately ignoring previous cases of official corruption? If President Sirleaf is honest about fighting official corruption, she must immediately forward the names of close associates indicted by the General Auditing Commission of corruption. Additionally, Madam Sirleaf must also investigate other officials in her inner-circle accused of corrupt practices.
To ensure her sincerity in fighting rampant corruption, we call on the Liberian leader to terminate all the officials indicted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) and forward their names for prosecution. Some of the names that were mentioned in various GAC audit reports include, Brownie Samukai, Liberia Defense Minister, Director General of the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA), Richelieu A. Williams, Dr. Edward McClain, Police Director Chris Massaquoi, NSA Director, Fumba Sirleaf, Dr. J Chris Toe, former GSA Director, Pearline Davis-Parkinson, Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, and LFA chairman, Musa Bility.
Meanwhile, we call on Madam Sirleaf to speedily investigate what lead to the collapse of NOCAL, and the mismanagement of funds intended to combat EBOLA. We advise President Sirleaf to initiate a forensic audit of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Defense, Gender Ministry, the Liberia National Police, and other governmental agencies. Additionally, the following senior officials of government Amara Konneh, Dr. John Kollie, Robert Sirleaf, Duncan Cassell, and among others must be investigated for corruption.
In 2011, the General Auditing Commission (GAC) audit report indicated that the current Defense Minister, Brownie Samukai, was involved in a fraudulent rice transaction with the Supplying West Africa Traders (SWAT). The defense ministry signed a $282,000.00 disbursement voucher for The Supplying West Africa Traders (SWAT) for the purchase of 9,400 bags of rice for soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL). Interestingly, according to the GAC audit report, only 800 bags of rice was delivered.
The stepson of President Sirleaf, who is currently the National Security Agency (NSA) boss has been implicated in numerous corruption cases. In 2014, Mr. Sirleaf and a Lebanese man named Nasser Aly was accused of robbing $284,300.00 from some Korean businessmen. 2011 audit report noted that the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA) made bogus payment under “donation” to Mr. Fumba Sirleaf. The NSA boss name was also mentioned in the Sable Mining bribing case.
The General Audit Commission (GAC) audit report further noted that the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA) paid Dr. Edward McClain, former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, US $2000.00 for what it termed as “professional service.” Article 90: (b) of the Constitution of Liberia states that “No person holding office shall demand and receive any other perquisites, payments or benefits, directly or indirectly, on the amount of any duty required by Government.” It is clear that some members of President Sirleaf’s inner-circle blatantly violate the law with impunity.
The audit of the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA) also revealed numerous patterns of corruption. In one of the audit findings, it was noted that the Director-General of LCAA, Richelieu A. Williams, paid himself $64,833.00 for the purchase of a vehicle and a generator. The General Audit Commission also accused Director-General of running what they term as a “Susu Club”. According to the GAC audit report, Mr. Williams loaned $ 80,000.00 to Mr. Nyanquoi T. Johnson and $5652.00 to himself for the purchase of a plane ticket.
Interestingly, Director General of the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA), Mr. Richelieu A. Williams still maintains his position despite the fact that the GAC audit report faulted him of corruption. In fact, President Sirleaf recently dedicated the modern Civil Aviation office complex in honor of Mr. Richelieu A. Williams. There are other corruption cases that were not mentioned in this article. However, we affirm that it is unacceptable for Madam Sirleaf to continue to shield close associates from prosecution. We will maintain pressure on the Unity-Party led administration to act accordingly in the fight against rampant corruption in Liberia.