By Reuben Sei Waylaun
MONROVIA-The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) wants prompt investigation at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) over allegations involving the Vice Chairperson Cllr. Kanio Bai Gbala and Executive Director, Mohammed E. Fahnbulleh.
Addressing a news conference Thursday March 4, 2021, CENTAL through its Executive Director, Anderson Miamen lamented that such allegations are extremely troubling and damaging to the image of an institution of Government leading the fight against the cancer of corruption in Liberia.
The integrity organization boss said “If the LACC must maintain its credibility as an entity of Government mandated to investigate and prosecute acts of corruption, as well as educate the public about the ills of corruption and the benefits of its eradication, the Commission and the Government of Liberia must do everything to ensure that the allegations are timely investigated to establish the truthfulness or falsity of the matter.”
According to him, upon learning of the LACC corruption saga, CENTAL reached out to the Commission to inquire about claims and counter-claims raised by the parties including, but not limited to, unlawful salary payments, unaccountability of cash advances received, purchase of Government property, amongst others.
Mr. Miamen added “We reached out to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to get clarity on the date and other facts regarding the resignation of Cllr. Kanio Bai Gbala, who is alleged to have been within their employ while simultaneously being paid by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Corruption, during the latter part of 2019. We wish to inform the public that we have received positive feedbacks from these institutions. Both the LACC and UNDP have launched separate investigations to establish the facts, which we hope will be timely communicated to the public.”
“We welcome the LACC’s internal investigation; we strongly believe that such grave allegations involving senior officials of the Commission cannot be left to the institution alone to investigate. Therefore, we call on President George Manneh Weah to constitute an independent committee to timely investigate the matter and inform the public about its outcomes. If not timely and properly investigated and the recommendations fully implemented, these allegations may detract from the goodwill anti-corruption institutions have received from the public over the years, including dampening public confidence in the country’s leading anti-corruption institution,” Mr. Miamen said in a statement.
At the same time, CENTAL has reminded President George Weah that the Board of Commissioners of the LACC is currently incorrect which is in blatant violation of the Act creating the commission.
“In the wake of the resignation of its former chairperson, Cllr. Ndubuisi Nwabudike, currently, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission has an all-male Board of Commissioners, thus falling short of the gender sensitivity provided for in section six (6) of the LACC Act. With all three (3) Commissioners being males, the need for ensuring gender mainstreaming at the highest level of the Commission cannot be overly emphasized,” CENTAL said in a statement.
The organization through its Executive Director said “Also, given that the LACC has been in the media for all the wrong reasons lately, especially claims and counter claims about the citizenship and credibility of the immediate past chairperson and allegations of corruption involving its vice chairperson, in the spirit of collaboration and partnership, as provided for in section 6.2 of the LACC Act.”
CENTAL has meanwhile urged President George Manneh Weah to widely consult with critical stakeholders (civil society and development partners) in making new nominations at the LACC. And that qualified females should be strongly considered in such appointments to avoid an all-male and gender-biased Board of Commissioners, in violation of section 6.3 of the 2008 LACC Act.
“In part, the above will help to increase public confidence in and support for the leadership and work of the Commission. Also, they will somehow satisfy minimum requirements for making key appointments at anti-corruption and integrity institutions whose leaderships and key staff must be independent as well as enjoy the full confidence and support of the public. To conclude, CENTAL reassures the public of her commitment to the fight against corruption and call on citizens to remain constructively engaged in demanding for and taking actions against corruption in Liberia. Also, we reiterate call for a sincere, genuine, and an impartial fight against corruption in the country,” the organization added.