Liberia & France Collaborate To Investigate Alleged War Criminal, Civitas Maxima Says

Geneva – June 12, 2019: In spring 2019, the French and Liberian authorities collaborated on a fact-finding mission relating to proceedings that were commenced in France following the arrest, in September 2018, of Kunti K. for acts committed during the First Civil War in Liberia between 1989 and 1996. This mission required significant logistical resources and took place in Lofa County in northwestern Liberia.

Ex Liberian Warlord Alhaji Kromah and some fighters of the disbanded ULIMO-K Militia - File Photo
Ex Liberian Warlord Alhaji Kromah and some fighters of the disbanded ULIMO-K Militia – File Photo

Civitas Maxima, in a press statement issued Wednesday in Geneva say, this was the first time since the end of the Second Civil War in 2003 that Liberian authorities have proceeded, along with foreign authorities, to undertake crime scene reconstructions relating to war-time crimes. These reconstructions took place in the presence of the French prosecuting authorities, investigating judge, defense lawyers, and the civil parties. Throughout this one-week mission, the contribution of the Liberian authorities was exemplary.

Civitas Maxima and the Global Justice and Research Project, in its statement said, it  acknowledges the quality of the work undertaken by both French and Liberian authorities and congratulate them for taking this step in fulfilling their international obligations. This, Civitas Maxima and GJRP believe, is an important development in the fight against impunity for crimes that were committed in Liberia during the two Liberian Civil Wars.

Civitas Maxima and Global Justice & Research Project
Civitas Maxima and Global Justice & Research Project

Civitas Maxima and the Global Justice and Research Project have been collaborating since 2012, and together represent hundreds of victims of the two Civil Wars which killed more than 250,000 people between 1989 and 2003.

Civitas Maxima, represented by the lawyer Simon Foreman, stands alongside Liberian victims and takes part as a civil party in the proceedings against Kunti K. in Paris, the statement concluded.

Political Map of Liberia
Political Map of Liberia

No one has faced prosecution in Liberia for human rights and atrocities committed during the country’s devastating civil wars in the 1990s.

International and local rights organizations are coordinating efforts to ensure that recommendations of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which include the establishment of a war crimes court are established.

West African Journal Magazine

Government of Liberia Failing To Support Fight Against Corruption, LACC Says

Monrovia, Liberia – February 18, 2019: The fight against public corruption in the West African country of Liberia appears to be a losing exercise in addition to lackluster support from the George M. Weah Administration. 

Liberian President George M. Weah – File Photo
Since it’s inauguration over a year ago,  no public official has been prosecuted nor convicted of graft by the Administration.  The Liberian Government’s pronouncement of fighting corruption in public service has not been matched with concrete support and funding. 
Embarrassing National financial scandals including the alleged “missing 16 billion dollars” from the Central  Bank of Liberia (CBL) and the bribery and extortion saga at the National Housing Authority (NHA) involving the former head take top manifestations of pervasive graft which are yet to be checkmated by government. 
Transparency International (TI) defines corruption as, “…the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs.”
In spite of his call to his own underlings to comply with law and declare their personal assets, President Weah has yet to hold his officials accountable for their failure to do so.  Citizens of the poor West African country are yet to receive confirmation of public officials complying with the law.

LACC James Verdier

According to the country’s Anti Corruption Agency (LACC), “The government of Liberia printed into handbill on June 20, 2014, “An Act of Legislature Prescribing a National Code of Conduct for All Public Officials and Employees of the Government of The Republic of Liberia” in line with the 1986 constitutional requirement to curb certain vices which are inimical to the economic and social wellbeing of our common patrimony. Specifically, Article 90 a) & b) of the Constitution highlight those vices while article 90 c) quoted below echoes the antidote to eradicating them: Article 90 c) “The Legislature shall, in pursuance of the above provision, prescribe a Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees, stipulating the acts which constitutes conflict of interest or are against public policy, and the penalties for violation thereof.”  The legislation of a national code of conduct after twenty-eight years, since the coming into force of the Liberian constitution, finally created a legal framework through which the conducts of public officials could be monitored, examined and punished in relation to the use and management of public resources. In Part 10, of the Code of Conduct, it is required that every Public Official and Employee of government involved in making decisions affecting contracting, tendering or procurement, and issuance of licenses of various types sign performance or financial bonds and in addition declare his or her income, assets and liabilities prior to taking office and thereafter:

  1. At the end of every three years;
  2. On promotion or progression from one level to another;
  3. Upon transfer to another public office; and
  4. Upon retirement resignation.”
President Weah’s own asset declaration was held behind closed doors and sealed after; a clear failure to be a transparent example. Public officials have openly ignored the asset declaration law and the President. 
“Corruption corrodes the fabric of society. It undermines people’s trust in political and economic systems, institutions and leaders. It can cost people their freedom, health, money – and sometimes their lives,” TI says of the cost of corruption. 
The LACC’s Investigations of alleged acts of corruption  by public officials or recommendations to the Justice Ministry are oftentimes never started, aborted and abandoned; and where cases are prosecuted, lost in court. 
Recently, the head of Liberia’s anti graft agency James Verdier, in an interview with a Radio France International, and in a rather bold move, accused the Weah Administration of “undermining ” the fight against corruption. 
“ The experience we’ve had in the first half is a bit terrible because we’ve not had funding. We have actually struggled to actually have this Administration put its stamp behind the stamp of corruption and make some bold statements regarding transparency, accountability and ensuring that we can fight corruption.”
In less than a year and while there has been no public disclosure of his assets, President Weah is facing scrutiny and questions over his massive construction of houses in a poor country. 
The country which emerged in 2005 from back-to-back wars in the 1990s is struggling to attract and retain critically needed foreign investors and resources to jumpstart the flailing economy. 
 In 1980, a violent coup d’etat carried out by non-commissioned soldiers was sold as a radical solution to address “rampant” corruption. The civilian President William R. Tolbert was murdered by soldiers led by former junta head and former President Samuel K. Doe.
Flag of Liberia
Nine years later, another charge of runaway “corruption” was laid as the basis for a rebel insurgency against the Doe Government. The war which quickly devolved into an ethnic conflagration was prosecuted by former rebel turned former a President Charles G. Taylor who was eventually forced out of power by rebels opposed to his government and pressure from the international community. 
Taylor is a convicted war criminal serving out his fifty year sentence in prison in the UK.  
An estimated 250,000 people lost their lives and nearly 1 million others were displaced internally and externally. 
The NHA extortion scandal is still pending prosecution after the accused posted bond and were released. Unconfirmed reports, however, say the suspects have jumped bail and have either fled the country or cannot be found. 
During his State of the Nation Address to lawmakers and citizens on January 28, 2019, President Weah disclosed that the Investigation Report on the “missing billions” will be released by USAID by the end of February, 2019.
 “If it is established that there has been any willful act of criminality, negligence, or malfeasance by anyone implicated in the reports, the full weight of the law will be brought to bear”, President Weah warned.  
Transparency International
Just prior to the inauguration of the Weah Administration in January, 2018 Transparency International (TI), the global organization leading the fight against corruption, advanced several recommendations to the Congress For Democratic Change (CDC) led government to tackle endemic corruption and included the following:
1. Ensure the independence of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and give it direct prosecutorial power to quickly investigate and prosecute corruption cases.
2. Establish specialised anti-corruption courts for prosecuting corruption without delays.
3. Enact a Corrupt Offences Act to clearly define and provide sanctions for various forms of corruption.
4. Enact a Whistleblower Protection Law to encourage more Liberians to freely report acts of corruption and other integrity-related issues.
5. Require all public officials, including the president, to declare their assets, irrespective of their positions or connections to superiors in government. The government must independently verify and publish these declarations of assets.
5. Review and impartially implement reports and recommendations by integrity institutions in a timely manner, and establish dedicated committees and bodies for investigating fraud and other forms of corruption.
6. Audit the legislature just like any other branch of government or institution that receives public funds. The 52nd and 53rd legislatures in particular should be audited and any recommendations from the audit report fully implemented and
7. Increase financial support to integrity institutions and enable them to properly function.
A year later, the Weah Administration is still delinquent in the adoption and implementation of TI’s recommendations. 
IJG Principal Deputy Executive Director Luigi Spera
Last September, the International Justice Group (IJG) announced that it was putting in place a mechanism to ensure that all those in Liberia accused of war and economic crimes, money laundering etc. will be exposed to the international justice system for tough punitive actions, including asset tracking and confiscation, international arrests, trial, and imprisonment if prosecuted and found guilty.
By Our Economic Editor With Contribution From Our Justice Correspondent In Monrovia
West African Journal Magazine

IJG Says Dispatching Investigators To Liberia To Monitor & Collect Data On Threats To Activists

Washington DC, USA and Monrovia, Liberia- February 11, 2019: The International Justice Group (IJG) says it has dispatched a team of Investigators to Liberia as a result of increased security threats to several civic and human rights organizations and activists.

International Justice Group (IJG)

According to a representative of the IJG, it says it has received credible information through its contacts in the West African country and social media monitor. and is concerned that senior operatives of the ruling party and auxiliaries, some of whom are disguised, are intimidating, issuing threats of death and bodily harm to others who freely express critical views of the Government.

Liberia’s Finance and Planning Minister Samuel Tweah last year lashed out at the media over its reportage against the Government and openly threatened to “weaponize” supporters against the media.

Ruling CDC Party Mulbah Morlu

Two weeks ago, the Chairman of the ruling Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) Mulbah Morlu, at a hastily arranged partisans meeting at his party’s headquarters in Monrovia, accused the opposition bloc and supporters of supporting the assassination of President George M. Weah.

“There are a few supporters of the three political parties, that we’ve documented, that post on social media calling in people to take up arms against the President. And one of them came out to say that the President should be assassinated…” Morlu quoting social media charged.

He, however, presented no evidence to substantiate his accusation that the posters were opposition supporters.

Dolakeh Jonathan Saye Taryor

A member of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) Dolakeh Jonathan Saye Taryor, in a strong reaction to Morlu’s accusations, called them “reckless and irresponsible” and an attempt to instill fear among citizens.

He told the West African Journal Magazine, in a telephone interview on Sunday night, that the ANC and coalition of opposition political parties are committed to maintaining the peace in Liberia.

Mr. Taryor scoffed at Morlu’s “assassination” accusation, adding that, “…the assassination of President Weah, will not, in anyway, install the opposition in power..”, and called Morlu’s Statement simply false.

Coalition of Opposition Political Parties – Liberia

The opposition member challenged the credibility of the current CDC Chairman Morlu and his “ridiculous” claim a couple of years ago that, he, Morlu, met former US President Barack Obama at a summit in Ghana where he claimed, they both held “high level talks”.

There is no proof of this Obama meeting that Morlu claimed.

Taryor said the CDC Chairman was attempting to deflect from the prevailing issues of the missing “16 billion” Liberian dollars scandal, proof of the provision of 78,000 chairs to schools, as claimed by President Weah in his State of The Union Address on January 28, 2019, the deteriorating economy under the CDC-led government and other missteps.

The opposition member called for a state investigation of the CDC Chairman over the “incendiary” accusations, which, he said, have the potential to cause chaos and endanger the lives of opposition leaders and supporters.

“IJG is saying its Investigators will be fully stationed in Liberia indefinitely to monitor Human Rights Violations and has recommended several Liberians to the US and European governments for travel restrictions.”

The global research and rights organization says the IJG is currently lobbying in Washington DC, the United States Senate for full Congressional passage of House of Representatives Resolution (H.Res) 1055 which calls for the full implementation of the Final Report of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the establishment of a Special tribunal for Liberia.

Seal of the US House of Representatives

The Resolution which was introduced September, 2018, and agreed to by the House of Representatives last November, “…Supports efforts by the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development to advance Liberian national reconciliation…”

Map of Liberia

According to the group, it says it is collecting data on alleged crimes being committed under the current Liberian Administration and will advocate for accountability for all economic and rights abuses.

By Our Justice Reporter In Washington DC, USA and National Politics Correspondent In Monrovia

West African Journal Magazine

Liberia Bars Housing Bribery Scandal Suspects From Leaving Country

In the ongoing alleged bribery scandal involving the head of Liberia’s National Housing Authority (NHA) and his principal deputy, the country’s Ministry of a Justice says,”…the officials of Government mentioning in the recording categorically reject any suggestions that Messers Duanah Siryon, Tugbeh C. Tugbeh and Augustine Weah acted on their behalf or with their consent…”

Duanah Siryon, NHA Managing Director

A Press Statement issued on Sunday afternoon in Monrovia confirmed the existence of a government investigation into the scandal saying,” …based on a petition filed by the Ministry of Justice filed on Friday, November 23, 2018, the Criminal Court “A” at the Temple of Justice has issued the Writ of Nea Exit Republica barring Messers Duanah Siryon, Managing Director of the National Housing Authority, Tugbeh C. Tugbeh, Deputy Managing Director of the National Housing Authority and Augustine Weah from leaving the bailwick of the Republic of Liberia pending conclusion of the investigation.”

Siryon and his Deputy Tugbeh were reportedly arrested by state security on Friday for questioning following disclosure of a tape which implicated top government officials allegedly soliciting bribe for the warding of a housing contract to GELPAZ, a Burkinabe company.

Minister of State in the Liberian Presidency Nathaniel F. McGill

Strangely, the Justice Ministry, in its statement, is already appearing to side with those mentioned on the tape by amplifying their denial, while its investigation is ongoing.

The Justice, Finance and Ministry of State in the Presidency are all entangled in the alleged bribery plan as heard in discussion on tape. Their cut of the money was referred to as the “VIP Package”.

Liberia Minister of Finance and Planning Samuel Tweah

“The Ministry of a Justice (MOJ) wishes to emphasize that the solicitation, offer and acceptance of anything of value as consideration for the rendition of a public service constitutes bribery, a felonious offense punishable under Subchapter D, Subsection 12.50 of the Penal Code of the Republic of Liberia…,”the Press Statement said.

Depiction of Bribery

Liberians in and out of the country are outraged at the plethora of financial scandals plaguing public officials in the Weah Administration.

An ongoing investigation for $16 billion Liberian dollars has yielded no update since the Ministries of Justice, Information and the Central Bank all gave conflicting accounts of the missing money.

Also, the Liberian Government has yet to clearly explain the process of the infusion of $25 million USD in the local economy to stem its rapid decline.

Liberia Justice Ministry Press Statement

Some Liberians say that they less confident of any credible accountability in these scandals.

The Weah Administration is under heavy pressure to provide economic relief to suffering Liberians.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

Liberia: Text Of Statement Delivered By Protesters Delivered To Int’l Community

PETITION STATEMENT

September 24, 2018

The Coalition of Citizens United to Bring Our Money Back (COCUBOMB), a mass-based umbrella pro-democracy and pro-advocacy organization consisting of over 26 civil society organizations, youth/student groups and trade unions, have peacefully rallied and assembled conscious and patriotic Liberians from every sphere of our society to petition you in pursuit of L$16 billion (US$106 million) that mysteriously disappeared under the government of President George M. Weah.

With oneness of purpose and an unhindered allegiance to Liberia and posterity, we have come on this day to send this clarion message to our International Partners through you:

1 We call on you and all international partners of Liberia to launch an immediate independent international forensic investigation into this missing L$16 billion saga which has both economic, social and security implications. The nation remains terrified by this mystery.

1 We call on you to withhold all direct support (in terms of financial and non-financial aid) to our government until it can fully account and restitute this stolen L$16 billion. All those linked in this horrific economic plunder and mass looting against the State and its people must be prosecuted and made to fully restitute such amount.

1 We call on you to prevail upon the Weah-led government to immediately release the internal investigative report of the Central Bank of Liberia that former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf referenced in her latest interview on BCC. This report in our opinion could unravel a lot of hidden secrets and untold realities.

1 We call on you to assist Liberia in auditing all financial transactions done so far under President George M. Weah and former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. We are also concerned about the recent infusion of US$25 million in the Liberian economy by the Weah-led government. We are also interested in knowing the source of this US$ 25 million and how it was infused in the economy. This we believe must be thoroughly investigated as well.

2 COCUBOMB craves your indulgence most respectfully to launch an investigation into the giant-sized private properties being constructed and/or purchased by President George M. Weah and some high-profile members of his government in just six (6) months of his tenure. We are confident that such investigation could also dig out some hard truths about this missing L$16 billion.

3 We call on you to prevail upon the Weah-led government to ensure full asset declaration by all public officials especially the President either before or during the course of the Independent International Forensic Investigation.

1 We call on you to expedite the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia. This we believe would end the longstanding culture of impunity and guarantee justice for Liberia and Liberians especially war victims. This approach would certainly serve as a deterrence for would be war and economic criminals.

1 We submit to you the urgency to fully overhaul/upgrade Liberia’s financial management system in order to maintain fiscal discipline, accountability, transparency and public integrity at all levels. The need to reinforce and rebrand anti-graft institutions such as LACC, GAC, FIU, PPCC, LEITI and IAA cannot be overemphasized. Corruption especially in the judiciary must also be dealt with.

1 We demand that all former and present heads of these institutions (NPA, MoFDP, CBL, MICAT and RIA) that had/have direct link to this missing container immediately recuse themselves and be brought in for investigation by an independent international forensic investigative panel.

The people of Liberia through COCUBOMB remain very concerned and disturbed about those missing billion (US$106 million) that vanished without any trace up to now. It is sad that the government has been dishonest and inconsistent in releasing the facts. Accounts surrounding this missing L$16 billion from the MoJ, MoFDP, MICAT and even the Office of the President remain contradictory and are compounded with fundamental flaws.

The government cannot be the accused, the defendant, and at the same time the jurist. The Liberian people need their money back. Those who viciously siphoned our resources MUST account and account now! THE PEOPLE are resolved about this and we will not rest until this L$16 billion is fully accounted for by those we describe as ‘vicious economic scavengers and plunderers of our State’.

In all of these, we assure the Liberian people and the International Community that we shall remain peaceful, civil and matured as we pursue this irreversible and patriotic path of bringing an end to systemic corruption in Liberia.

The people deserve better – they deserve to rise above poverty, misery and inequality. It cannot be business as usual. The International Community must ACT to help rescue Liberia from perishing. The popular call of our PEOPLE is “BRING BACK OUR MONEY”.

COCUBOMB calls for the full protection of Journalists Philibert Brown of Hot Pepper Newspaper and Rodney Sieh of FrontPage Africa. We also call on you to protect the rights of campaigners who are demanding the full restitution of this L$16 billion. As we jealously protect the sovereignty and heritage of our State by standing up to those barriers (corruption, nepotism, tribalism, cronyism and religious intolerance) that kept us down as a people, we call you to join us in this pursuit to ensure that President Weah and his government account for L$16 billion that disappeared in thin air.

Done and sealed on this 24th Day of September A.D. 2018 in the City of Monrovia by through COCUBOMB, a representation of the Liberian people.

Signed: ______________________________________

                                 Jeremiah S. Swen

                     Secretary General, COCUBOMB

 

Approved: ____________________________________

                                   Martin K. N. Kollie

                               Chairman, COCUBOMB

To: US Embassy, United Nations, European Union, African Union, ECOWAS, French Embassy

Reputable Organizations that have endorsed this statement:

1 Student Unification Party (SUP)

2 People Action Network (PAN-Liberia)

3 Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL)

4 Movement of Justice in Africa (MOJA)

5 Liberia Labor Congress (LLC)

6 Workers’ Union of Liberia (WUL)

7 Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy (FOHRD)

8 Alliance for Transitional Justice in Liberia (ATJL)

9 Teachers in Action for Concerns (TAC-Liberia)

10 Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY)

11 Patriotic Consciousness Association of Liberia (PACAL)

12 Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL)

13 Movement of Social Democratic Alliance (MOSODA)

14 Financial Communication Sector Union (FCSU)

15 National Cosmetology Union of Liberia (NCUL)

16 Association of Opposition Political Parties Youth League in Support of Weah (AOPPYL)

17 Concerned Liberians in the Diaspora (CLD)

18 Citizen Action for the Establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Courts (CAEWECC)

19 Zorzor and Salayea Muslim Development Association (ZSMDA)

20 Forum for Democracy and Civic Education (FODCE)

21 Liberia National Student Union (LINSU)

22 TAG – Liberia

23 Concerned University and College Students (CUCS)

24 Conscious High School Students of Liberia (CHSL)

25 S. K. Doe Community Youth Association (SAKDOCYA)

26 Masses Against Poverty (MAP)

27  Federation of Sinkor Youth Association (FESYA)

28 Liberian Youth for Democracy

29 Agenda for Peace and Democracy

30 National Youth Against Violence (NYAV)

 

Anti-Corruption Agency Blasts Liberian Govt Over It’s Exclusion From Investigation Into Missing Bank Notes

Philadelphia, PA- USA LACC

Liberia’s anti graft agency has criticized the decision of the Government to launch an investigation into allegations of the disappearance of containers and bags of Liberian bank notes without its inclusion.

In a Press Statement issued on Thursday in the capital Monrovia, the country’s Anti- Corruption Commission (LACC), however said, it, “… remains committed to probe the matter in keeping with its mandate under section 5.2a of the an Act establishing the Commission as an independent and autonomous agency of Government clothed with the authority to investigate alleged, perceived, or potential acts of corruption. Section 5.2 b of the LACC Act also gives the Commission the authority to investigate the conduct of ANY person, irrespective of office or status, natural or otherwise, if the conduct of the person(s) constitute corruption, the Press Statement said.

Map of Liberia

On Thursday the Liberian Government announced the setting up of a body which includes local religious, civil and legal society groups to assist with the investigation of the disappearance of containers and bags of Liberian Banknotes of about $16 billon.

IMF

The Government also requested the assistance of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the US Treasury Department and the International Monetary Fund )IMF).

There is no confirmation that the request to the US and the IMF has been accepted for consideration.

The country’s Ministry of Information, in a press statement issued Tuesday afternoon in Monrovia says the Government is taking the ongoing investigation seriously because of what it referred to as “national security implications.”

The LACC’s frustration is evident in its statement, since it was clearly sidelined by the Government that is pursuing the investigation of the matter but at the same time contravening the Act establishing its own anti corruption agency.

“ …In order not to confuse ongoing joint efforts conducted by various agencies of Government, the LACC is looking forward to receiving reports and documentary evidence, if any, from the Government’s Investigation to enhance its mandate,” the anti- graft body said.

In order to ensure a transparent investigation, and accountability, the LACC says it will collaborate with other entities and is in the process of seeking external funding.

In a separate matter, the Speaker of Liberia’s House of Representatives Mr. Bhofal Chambers says the legislative body will convene in a special session in the coming days to act on pertinent national issues which have attracted its attention.

House Speaker Bhofal Chambers

In a Press Statement issued on Thursday, Speaker Chambers said “… Among other issues for reconvening the Special Legislative Session are the legislations for needed pieces of law which are bordered on pressing national challenges.”

The Justice Ministry’s response to the ongoing investigation into the disappearance of the $16 billion Liberian bank notes will also be discussed, the House Speaker said

Liberian lawmakers are on their annual agriculture break but will be returning to the Capitol Building to discuss the issue.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

Liberia: Former Central Bank Governor To Visit With Police To Assist With Investigation Into Missing “Container of Money”

Seal of Liberia

As investigation continues into the disappearance of a huge container and bags of Liberian bank notes, the government of Liberia has issued a National Security Advisory Circular in which is it ‘advising persons of interest who are required to assist with the ongoing investigation into circumstances surrounding the importation of Liberian Dollar bank notes into Liberia between November, 2017 and August, 2018, not to leave the country…”.

The country’s Ministry of Justice on Monday confirmed an on going investigation following media disclosure of the disappearance of nearly $9 billion dollar Liberia bank notes.

The country’s Ministry of Information, in a press statement issued Tuesday afternoon in Monrovia says the Government is taking the ongoing investigation seriously because of what it referred to as “national security implications.”

Former Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks

Several individuals were named by the Government of Liberia to cooperate with the investigation and include the former Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks, Charles Sirleaf, a Deputy Bank governor and son of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and a prominent Lebanese businessman George Abi Jaoudi.

Deputy Central Bank Governor Charles Sirleaf

Other named are, Richard Walker, Mariea E.G. Toe, Musulyn R. B. Jackson, Ophelia Nyepan and Oldada Deshield

The Government of Liberia which is coming under heavy pressure for immediate answers from Liberians in and out of the country also named the Prince Bull, J. Barquolleh Gabriel, Theodosia Jreh, Zinnah Davison, Solomon Jaykpah, Kollie Ballah and Andrew Pabai as additional persons of interest asked to cooperation with the investigation.

Press Statement of Government of Liberia

Authorities at land and sea border points of entry and exits have been advised to heed the government’s circular in an attempt to ensure that those named do not leave the West African country. Meantime, the Liberian Information Ministry says the former Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks is expected to visit with investigators at the Liberia National Police on Wednesday morning.

None of the individuals named by the Liberian government are charged with any crime.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

Int’l Advocacy Organization Calls On Liberian Govt To Conclude High Profile Corruption Cases

img_1110The 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?”

Iron Ore Mining - Liberia
Iron Ore Mining-Liberia File Photo

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:

  1. 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.
  2. the people have proprietary rights inherent in the natural resources and have a right to sue the government when those rights are violated.
  3. 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
  4. 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.

Sable Mining Case Indictees - Courtesy of Daily Observer Newspaper
Suspects Named By Global Witness in the Sable Mining case (clockwise): Sen. Varney Sherman, J. Alex Tyler, Dr. Eugene Shannon, Former PPCC Chairman Willie Belleh, Sen. Morris Saytumah and Dr. Richard V. Tolbert – Courtesy Daily Observer

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.

Liberia Justice Minister Frank Musa Dea
Liberia Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean

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)

 

US Africom To Investigate Civilian Deaths in Raid In Somalia

The US Africa Command (Africom) is launching a second investigation in a raid in August in Somalia in which it was reported that 10 civilians in the northeast African country were killed.

Lieutenant General Thomas D. Waldhauser
Africom Commander Lieutenant General Thomas D. Waldhauser

The general in charge of U.S. Africa Command (Africom) has requested a second investigation into an August raid in Somalia after reports that U.S. soldiers killed 10 civilians, a spokeswoman confirmed Thursday. Reports say that the about-face comes after U.S.Congressman Ted Lieu pressed a senior Defence Department official to review recent media reports that the US troops had shot dead 10 unarmed Somalis on a farm in the town of Bariire in August.

A spokesperson for the US military outfit Robyn Mack in a statement on Thursday said, “As a result, Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander, U.S. Africa Command, referred the matter to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to ensure a full exploration of the facts given the gravity of the allegations.”

Media reports say that US Special Forces personnel had killed unarmed Somali civilians and a child in an operation on August 25 in Somalia, according to the Daily Beast website quoting survivors in the town of Bariire. Shortly following the news report, Africom released a statement at the time insisting that it had only killed enemy combatants in the operation.

Map - Somalia
Map – Somalia

The account of Africom was duisputed by Somali eyewitnesses who said the US soldiers fired on unarmed civilians in the southern town.

Africom, through its spokesperson now says it will full y investigate the allegations of the killings. According to Ms. Mack, ‘ After a thorough assessment of the Somali National Army-led operation near Bariire, Somalia on August 25, 2017, and the associated allegations of civilian casualties, U.S. Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAF) concluded that the only casualties were those of armed enemy combatants.”

In a separate development, the U.S is suspending food and fuel aid to the Somali military due to concerns over corruption.

Somali Military
Somali Military

According to Reuters, the U.S. suspension of aid came after the Somali military repeatedly failed to account for food and fuel, according to private correspondence between the U.S. and Somali governments.

An official at the U.S. State Department told Reuters last week that, “During recent discussions between the United States and the Federal Government of Somalia, both sides agreed that the Somali National Army had failed to meet the standards for accountability for U.S. assistance.”

West African Journal Magazine