Liberia: Senator Alphonso Gaye Flexes Muscles With Justice Ministry In Audit Reports

Capitol Hill, Monrovia, Liberia – June 20, 2019: A lawmaker from the sub political division of Grand Gedeh County in southeastern Liberia G. Alphonso Gaye is challenging the country’s Ministry of Justice on what he believes is a wrongful procedure being used to indict former and current government officials implicated in prior audit reports.

Senator S. Alphonso Gaye

This week, authorities of the Justice Ministry released past audit reports to the public saying, the Ministry reserved the right to invite anyone of interest that is named in the reports. 

The action by the Liberian Justice Ministry comes barely three weeks after President George Weah declared that his government will audit past government transactions.  

The Weah Administration is facing pressure to address several financial scandals.

But Senator Gaye, in an apparent reaction to the Ministry on Thursday, June 20, 2019 wrote the Senate Pro Tempore, Albert T. Chie informing him of the ‘wrongful’ procedures being applied by the Justice Ministry to indict individuals named in the General Auditing Commission (GAC) audit reports. 

“My attention is drawn to media reports naming former and/or current officials of government that are either indicted or to be indicted by the Ministry of Justice based on GAC reports that they may have in their possession. This is wrong and it should be halted immediately”, Senator Gaye’s letter is quoted as telling the Senate leader.  

Letter From Senator Gaye

According to him, while he applauds the Ministry of Justice for performing its duties and responsibilities in keeping with statute, such action should be done in the framework of the law and established procedures. 

Therefore, he said, “…the Ministry should not be in the business of looking for cases to prosecute, rather it should wait for cases forwarded to it for prosecution.

The Senator, in his letter reminded his colleagues that the General Auditing Commission (GAC) is obligated by law to report to the National Legislature upon the completion of audits. 

After GAC completes an audit, the report is submitted to the National Legislature who in return mandates the Public Accounts, Audit and Expenditure Committee for scrutiny through a public hearing conducted by the Joint Public Account Committee (PAC)”, he further stressed. 

Liberia Minister of Justice Cllr Frank Musa Dean

Senator Gaye said, “it is upon completion of the scrutiny and validation by the Committee that validated repot is submitted to the Plenary of both Houses for endorsement. 

After the endorsement by both Houses of the Plenary, Senator Gaye divulge that the endorsed report is then submitted to the President who now forwards same to the Ministry of Justice for action based on the findings and conclusion contained in the validated report.

Against this backdrop, the Grand Gedeh Senator concluded that GAC report that is not validated by the Legislature and cannot be used as an instrument to indict anyone, be it former or current government officials.  

Former Information Minister Lewis G. Brown

Former Deputy Finance Minister James Kollie Jr.

Meantime, a former Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning James Kollie Jr and a former Minister of Information and UN Ambassador Lewis G. Brown are also challenging the inclusion of their names in the GAC Reports saying they were not contacted during the mentioned audits.

Reporting By Paul Kanneh 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