The International Justice Group (IJG), a newly formed global advocacy, research, documentation and accountability organization based in the United States and Europe with operations in Africa, Asia as well as South and Central Americas, is calling on the Liberian administration of current President George M. Weah to ensure an end to several high profile corruption cases in the country, especially the cases involving an Iron Deal carried out at the Port of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, and the Sable Mining bribery saga in Liberia.
IRON ORE SALE CORRUPTION CASE
The Iron Ore sale corruption case which took place under interim president, the late Gyude Bryant (then Chairman of Liberia’s transitional government) involved the following witnesses: Johnathan Mason, formerly of the Lands and Mines Ministry, Mr. Albert Chie (current President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate), Lusine Kamara, former Minister of Finance, Isaac Nyenabo, former Comptroller General of Liberia, Tugbeh Doe, a former Deputy Minister of Finance and now a businessman, Pyne Walo, former Deputy Minister for Expenditure at the Ministry of Finance, Abraham Teplah Doe, a U.S. citizen, Thomas Niminie Yaya, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Richard Devine, current chairman of the National Port Authority’s board of directors among others.
In its blog post, Counselor Jerome J. Verdier, Sr., former chairman of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and founding executive director of the International Justice Group remarked, “Why should anyone or a group of individuals get involved with the selling of iron ore that belongs to an entire country without any proper legal authority?”
At the time when the country’s Iron Ore was sold out of Liberia, the International Justice Group’s director was a part of Liberia’s civil society when they got a tip-off on the illegal sale. Counselor Verdier immediately proceeded to the Supreme Court of Liberia and filed a Petition asking for a stop order for the ship not to leave the Port of Buchanan. According to Counselor Verdier, the then justice minister under Chairman Bryant disobeyed the Court’s order and ran the ship out of Buchanan.
According to Executive Director Verdier, the case is still pending before the Supreme Court and it is a big case but the Court has failed to decide it because of the very important justice and human rights issues raised. For example:
- the court had to determine that natural resources are people property. It belongs to the people and the government cannot dispose of it in any way that doesn’t benefit the people.
- the people have proprietary rights inherent in the natural resources and have a right to sue the government when those rights are violated.
- that apart from the right to sue government citizens have the right to recover damages from the government for the violation of those rights, and
- the petition was elaborate on natural resource exploitation and distribution and use. The court refused to rule twice because of the several unprecedented issues which would have changed how our resources are managed and exploited. Some of those issues are similar objectives as in the TRC Recommendations on Natural Resources.
When the current Executive Director of the International Justice Group went public with the case, the then Chief Justice at the time called him in audience and said in the end, “Look Counselor Verdier, you are young and there are lots of things you don’t understand but one day you will be in my position and you will understand why we cannot decide this case………..”
SABLE MINING’S BRIBERY CASE
In another major alleged corruption case involving Sable Mining and some former and current Liberian officials and others including former House Speaker Alex Tyler, the International Justice Group is calling on the Weah administration to conclude the case to determine the facts.
In a lower court’s ruling, the judge had mysteriously refused to admit the emails from one of the accused persons, Senator Varney Sherman, showing that he had bribed the officials and others. But the Supreme Court, in a ruling, says the lower court’s judge ruling was alien to Liberia’s jurisdiction. In the view of the International Justice Group, this calls into question the judge’s incompetence which could also be a ground for a possible removal from office if the case remains unresolved.
Based on the Supreme Court’s decision, it appears the prosecution in the Sable Mining’s case was in the right on this matter without explicitly giving reasons as to whether the accused persons are guilty. Therefore, the International Justice Group is calling on the Weah’s administration to take the bold step in concluding this landmark corruption case which has claimed the attention of the US and the UK. This is necessary because the ruling of the Supreme Court appears to vindicate the prosecution without affirming charges against those accused, or clearing their names from the charges.
The international Justice Group is also demanding an audit of all government’s agencies in the past administration where alleged corruption cases were rumored to have taken place. These include the ministries of finance, defense, and agriculture as well as the National Port Authority among others.
Source: International Justice Group (IJG)