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Tuesday, 13 September 2022 15:03

PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CENTAL Welcomes Resignations of Three Sanctioned Public Officials

…Calls for further investigation and speedy prosecution of the accused

Monrovia, Tuesday, September 13, 2022 

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, fellow Liberians:

Yesterday, September 12, 2022, the Executive Mansion (the office of the Liberian Presidency) accepted and announced the respective resignations of the three suspended public officials who were recently designated by the United States Government for their involvement in significant Public Corruption. Among others, they are said to have undermined democracy in Liberia for their personal benefits through corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, and corruption related to the extraction of natural resources. The three officials include Mr. Nathaniel F. McGill, former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs; Mr. Bill Tweahway, former Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA); and Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, former Solicitor General.

The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) welcomes the resignations of the three (3) officials of the Liberian government and calls on them to declare their assets, incomes, and liabilities, as they exit the government. This is in line with part 10 of the Code of Conduct for public officials which requires them to declare their assets, incomes, and liabilities while entering government, upon being promoted, and upon leaving government. The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission must legally ensure that they fully comply with this provision of the Code of Conduct, which is an important anti-corruption and accountability instrument

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, in our reaction to the action of the US Government to sanction the three ranking officials of the CDC-led Government on August 15, 2022, we called on President Weah to dismiss the sanctioned officials who were internationally found wanting in integrity to redeem the image of his government. However, he failed to do so in further demonstration of the lack of political will to adequately tackle corruption, no matter by whom it is practiced. However, we welcome the resignations tendered in by the former officials themselves, possibly after a period of reflection and having realized that their disposition and statuses are incompatible with public office. Notwithstanding, we reiterate the call for the President to immediately commission a full-scale impartial and independent investigation into the alleged ‘public corruption’ practiced by the trio, in their former capacities. Their immediate investigation and prosecution will somehow signal a revival of the President’s weak stance against corruption. Also, it will boost different efforts being exerted by stakeholders and the international community, including the United States Government in the anti-corruption space and give the needed push for full compliance and adherence to the rule of law and the principles of democracy and good governance (integrity, accountability, transparency, justice, etc.).

As you may recall, following the designations by the US Government, on Tuesday, August 16, 2022, the President suspended the concerned officials ‘with immediate effect to enable them to face investigation’. The statement conveying the decision, however, made no mention of the forum to investigate the matter. This is particularly confusing considering that the President had less than a month prior signed into law a bill that dismantled the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), creating a successor commission that may not get afloat anytime soon. Given the prevailing circumstances at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and the grave nature of the offenses these officials are said to have perpetrated, we recommend that President George Weah establishes an independent panel/committee to investigate these troubling allegations. Moreover, the Ministry of Justice must be instructed to work closely with the panel, following its investigations, to have the former officials prosecuted, if probable cause is established.

 Further, CENTAL calls on the US Government and the International Community to mount the needed diplomatic pressure on the Weah-led Government to ensure the immediate prosecution of the sanctioned officials and all those recommended to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) in the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC)’s investigative report. The LACC’s investigative report covered different corruption scandals and incidences, largely involving high-ranking officials of the CDC-led Government. Additionally, we call on the Liberian people to stand up and demand accountability of their leaders, as this will help to give the international community the necessary motivation to continue supporting integrity-building and anti-corruption efforts in the country.  Finally, CENTAL wishes to inform the public about her continued commitment to meaningfully contribute to anti-corruption and integrity-building efforts in Liberia, working collaboratively with other stakeholders and partners.

Thank you.

Signed:

Management

Thursday, 11 August 2022 09:40

Press Statement for Immediate Release

Written by

Press Statement for Immediate Release
Wednesday, August 10, 2022

‘Minister McGill’s Defense of Corruption Is Quite Revealing’, CENTAL Says
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the press, fellow Liberians, and development partners.
The attention of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia has been drawn to a video circulating
on social media, in which the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Nathaniel McGill is seen defending
acts of corruption. While on a political engagement at a well-attended meeting with citizens in Bong County, the
Minister justifies corrupt dealings of officials who steal public resources and invest same in Liberia. For him,
stealing from the people does not matter, once the money is not transferred abroad, but invested in the local
economy. According to him, these projects beautify local communities and are in the interest of the people
since they cannot be taken away, but remain grounded as tangible development.
CENTAL views these utterances of the Minister as being extremely troubling, given his position of influence in
the Liberian Government and that what he says or does could shape the decisions of many persons in society,
especially those he supervises or manages in government. That a person so close to the Office of the Liberian
The presidency will make such comments is extremely worrisome, in the wake of increasing allegations of
corruption against the CDC-led government officials and limited actions from the Presidency (the office Minister
McGill manages) to act against those concerned. Given his proximity to President George Manneh Weah, could
he be giving the official position of the Liberian Presidency on how it views corruption, something that might be
responsible for the very limited actions of the President against his officials accused and investigated for
corruption? Indeed, Minister McGill’s defense of corruption is quite revealing.
We are deeply concerned and disappointed, especially that these statements from the Minister are coming at
a time when the Power of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission to freeze the assets of individuals being
investigated and prosecuted for acts of Corruption has been removed in the amended and restated new LACC
Law, in violation of Article 31 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which requires
States Parties to institute laws to freeze illicitly/illegally obtained assets/wealth. Also, it is coming at a time when
many questions linger about the questionable spending and donation spree of the Minister, which has seen
him making multiple donations in different parts of the country since he was appointed to manage the office
and activities of the Liberian Presidency. Additionally, these comments are coming at a time when it is reported
that majority of public officials are yet re-declare their assets, incomes, and liabilities three years after doing so
in 2018,
in line with the 2014 Code of Conduct for Public Officials.
Such anti-accountability comments have the ability to further undermine citizens' and development partners'
confidence in the Liberian Government, which may have implications for their budgetary and other support to
the country. We like to remind the Minister that there is and should be no place for Corruption in Liberia.
Corruption is forbidden in Liberia and around the world and there is no justification, whatsoever, for
perpetrating it. His comments grossly undermine the government’s stance and fight against corruption and reveal
why President Weah and his government have shown limited willpower to decisively and impartially address it.

Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia National Chapter
Tubman Boulevard, Opposite JFK Memorial Hospital, Monrovia, Liberia – Cell: +231-776391481

www.cental.org.lr

22 nd Street and Tubman Boulevard, Sinkor, Monrovia, Liberia
Cell: +231-886818855 – Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - websites: www.cental.org.lr - www.liberiacorruptionwatch.org
Liberians and development partners whose taxes and financial and non-financial contributions are integral parts
of public resources and assets being referenced by the Minister will be deeply concerned and further
apprehensive about the proper utilization of their resources, which are not meant to be corrupted by public officials
in the name of investing same in the country. Public resources are meant to be used for the intended purposes
and fully audited and accounted for by the requisite state institutions and not otherwise.
In conclusion, we call on well-meaning Liberians, including the President, to join CENTAL in condemning the
statement made by the Minister. Additionally, we encourage all citizens to criticize and reject such
manipulations and mind-corrupting utterances intended to sway public officials and the larger public in a
direction which can only keep Liberia in the throes of poverty, underdevelopment, and injustice.

Signed: ______________________

Monday, 27 June 2022 11:11

CENTAL launches Land Rights and Mining Report.

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CENTAL launches Land Rights and Mining Report.
Monrovia, June 21, 2022.
 
The research was part of key activities under the project titled: “Land Rights and Mining: Towards sustainable and participatory mining for communities”, and it focused on three counties - Nimba, Bong & Gbarpolu. It draws on the passage of the Land Rights Act (LRA) of 2018 and suggests that its full implementation would translate into respect of community rights and thereby significantly improving the mining licensing process, enhance citizens’ participation, and optimize benefits for mining-affected communities.
 
The ceremony held at the Corina Hotel today, June 21, 2022 brought together key stakeholders including the Government, CSOs, representatives of GIZ and the United States Embassy amongst others.
The research report was officially launched by the Chairman of the Board of Director of CENTAL and Dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia (UL), Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner.
The report recommended among other things that: there is a compelling need for coordination between government ministries and agencies involved with the mining sector including, but not limited to - the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Liberia Land Authority, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Forestry Development Authority etc.; any new mining law must draw essentially from the Liberia Revenue Act and other related laws in order to avoid conflict. the law must also provide clear redress mechanisms for communities dissatisfied with actions taken by the Ministry of Mines and Energy; participation of citizens, while guaranteed by law, can only be meaningful if they possess required knowledge around the subject matter among others.
NIF Commences Posting of Fees & Process-maps at NASSCORP
Monrovia, June 22, 2022.
 
Today, the National Integrity Forum (NIF) started the posting of fees and process-maps at the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP).
The banners contain information regarding cost of services and procedures in accessing those services at NASCORP. Openly displayed to help tackle corruption resulting from lack of information, the initiative will increase access to relevant information and promote transparency and accountability in the provision of basic services.
Other public facilities targeted by the NIF for the fees and process-maps posting including: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Passport Division, Ministry of Health/Bureau of Vital Statistics, Ministry of Transport/ Department of Land Transport Regulatory Services, Liberia Business registry (LBR) and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital.
When successfully completed, the activity will also help to reduce corruption and eliminate bureaucracies often created by unscrupulous individuals or group at the detriment of the people due to lack of public information on laydown procedures and processes in accessing services at these and other key public facilities.
Established in 2010, the National Integrity Forum is a multi-stakeholder group that seeks more collaborative effort of integrity institutions in government, civil society and business. It seeks to assist in the fight against corruption through capacity building, sensitization, dialogue and other well-meaning efforts to rectify the unbearable effects of corruption and promote a culture of integrity in Liberia.
Members of the NIF include: The Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC), the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Governance Commission (GC), Liberia Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI), General Auditing Commission (GAC), National Elections Commission (NEC), Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Law Reform Commission (LRC), Accountability Lab Liberia and the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL).
With funding from the Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the NIF is being supported by CENTAL under its National Integrity Building and Anti-Corruption (NIBA) Program. NIBA seeks to, among other things, empower citizens with relevant pieces of information to demand for and take actions against corruption in Liberia.
Monday, 27 June 2022 11:01

NIF Dialogues with Liberian Business Community

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NIF Dialogues with Liberian Business Community
June 23, 2022, Monrovia.
 
In continuation of efforts aimed at fostering stronger partnership against corruption and increasing awareness amongst the people about the menace, the National Integrity Forum (NIF) today held a one-day dialogue with officials and members of the Liberian business community.
Held at the Royal Grand Hotel in Sinkor today, June 23, 2022, the forum brought together officials and members of the Chamber of Commerce, Liberia Business Association, Liberia Marketing Association, Petty Traders, government, international partners and donor among others.
Two panel discussions were held under the topics: “Rebranding the Liberian Business Climate for Economic Growth and Development,” and “Formalization of Informal Markets: Opportunities and Challenges”.
Participants frankly outlined hindrances confronting the business community, especially local businesses. They were also afforded the opportunity to proffer recommendations and a roadmap was developed for improvement.
Established in 2010, the National Integrity Forum is a multi-stakeholder group that seeks more collaborative effort of integrity institutions in government, civil society and business. It seeks to assist in the fight against corruption through capacity building, sensitization, dialogue and other well-meaning efforts to rectify the unbearable effects of corruption and promote a culture of integrity in Liberia.
Members of the NIF include: The Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC), the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Governance Commission (GC), Liberia Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI), General Auditing Commission (GAC), National Elections Commission (NEC), Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Law Reform Commission (LRC), Accountability Lab Liberia and the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL).
With funding from the Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the NIF is being supported by CENTAL under its National Integrity Building and Anti-Corruption (NIBA) Program. NIBA seeks to, among other things, empower citizens with relevant pieces of information to demand for and take actions against corruption in Liberia.
Friday, 24 June 2022 22:44

Press Statement for Immediate Release

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Press Statement for Immediate Release

Friday, June 24, 2022

CENTAL Wants Timely and Concrete Actions Taken Against Those Investigated for Corruption

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the Press, fellow Liberians.

We like to thank the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Liberia Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) and other public integrity institutions that are working under difficult conditions, including but not limited extremely limited budget and logistics from national government. Also, CENTAL welcomes LACC’s latest investigative reports covering different corruption scandals and incidences, largely involving high-ranking officials of the Weah-led Government. We are equally grateful to development partners who continue to stand by Liberia and Liberians by providing financial and nonfinancial resources to support key programs and interventions, generally geared at improving the quality of lives of the people.

Fellow Liberians, the state and quality of governance in Liberia continues to decline due to the failure of the most critical players to engender necessary reforms that will make Liberia a transformed, developed, more livable, and prosperous society for all. The Liberian Presidency appears indifferent, from all indications, to foster a genuine and committed fight against corruption—one that gives public integrity institutions the required leverage and push to operate at full capacity, decisively identify and deal with corruption and other related cases, help the President and the government of Liberia and Liberians to succeed at winning the war against corruption, as well as engendering a culture of integrity and zero tolerance for corruption. 

Fellow Liberians, the media, and development partners, scandals continue to be reported in government involving key and strategically placed public officials. Sadly, the actions needed to prevent and arrest the situation and bring the perpetrators to book have not been full and complete, especially from the end of the Presidency. On 22 June 2022, President Weah appeared on a local radio station and intimated to the Liberian public that adhering to the democratic process and human rights norms means that provisional administrative sanctions cannot be taken against officials investigated by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and forwarded to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution. The investigations involved corruption scandals at the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services, Ministry of Agriculture, Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation, among others. 

Ladies and gentlemen of the Press, we remind the President of actions taken to suspend Ma-Tenneh L. Keita, Coordinator of Presidential Special Projects at the Ministry of States for Presidential Affairs, and Duannah Siryon, Tugbe C. Tugbe, and Isaac Roberts of the National Housing Authority (NHA), while they were undergoing investigation respectively. These were not a violation of their rights, but a demonstration of will in ensuring that corruption-related investigations and prosecutions receive the attention they deserve. Rather than having public officials facing such processes and at the same time be required to perform their official duties, allowing them their ‘day in court’ is important if the ends of justice must be met. Thus, were the President to insist on taking no actions on those investigated until the outcome of a court trial, such would be a huge blow to anti-corruption efforts. 

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the Press, inaction by the President makes us wonder as to which side he really stands: whether with the majority of the Liberian People and ordinary citizens or some of his officials who have proven to be embarrassment to the country, his government, and the overall growth and development of the country? Where does the President truly stand on corruption, after much talks and rhetoric about being committed to the fight? CENTAL is deeply disappointed in the Presidency’s attitude towards the fight against corruption in Liberia as his inaction is inconsistent with continuous verbal commitment to deal with the vice in the country. It has been more words from the President than concrete actions to support public integrity institutions morally, financially, and logistically to play their respective roles. Also, it has been words in terms of the presidency having concrete and genuine discussions with integrity institutions to identify and make genuine attempts at addressing their logistical, staffing, and other needs to give his government the necessary reputation to engage with partners and mobilize resources from traditional and non-traditional   sources to fund key interventions in the country.   

In conclusion, we call on the President Weah to suspend all officials implicated in recent investigative reports released by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission. He cannot continue to love his officials more than vast majority of the Liberian People, as his stance against corruption has been extremely weak and disappointing. Also, we call on the President to provide the necessary moral, financial, and logistical support to public integrity institutions to enable them operate at full capacity, as they have critical roles in giving his government and Liberia the necessary reputation and standing to, among other things mobilize resources from traditional and non-traditional partners to address critical development needs of the country. Finally, we call on the media, civil society, and ordinary citizens to remain vocal and unrelenting in highlighting societal ills and demanding accountability of their leaders, while also denouncing corruption themselves.  The new Liberia we collectively seek will not arrive in the midst of rampant corruption and other forms of bad governance.

Thank you.

Signed:

Management

Petition Statement to Members of the 54th National Legislature

Presented by the Joint Civil Society Anti-Corruption Initiative (JOCSAI), in collaboration with the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL)

Monrovia, Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Whereas Corruption, defined by Transparency International as the abuse of entrusted power and authority for private gain, is pervasive in Liberia and believed to be one of the major causes of the Country’s gross underdevelopment and poverty-stricken conditions of its citizens, despite being naturally endowed;

Whereas, the Government of Liberia, supported by  international partners, citizens, and other stakeholders has established key anti-graft institutions and passed Code of Conduct for Public Officials, Freedom of Information, and other laws; signed up to key international anti-corruption frameworks such as United Nations Convention Against Corruption and African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption as well as developed the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), particularly Pillar 4 on Governance and Transparency to fight against Corruption in Liberia;

Whereas, the fight against corruption in Liberia is challenged and undermined by several factors, including but not limited to low budgetary and logistical support to public integrity institutions, weak enforcement of anti-corruption laws and policies, the absence and limitation of key laws and institutions for dealing with corruption in Liberia, and limited political will to decisively act against public officials and other individuals at the center of grave incidences/allegations of corruption;

Whereas, fighting against Corruption requires a multi-dimensional approach encompassing prevention, prosecution, and partnership that combine different elements to curb the menace of corruption that has plagued the country for so long;

Whereas, the year 2021 saw robust anti-corruption initiatives aimed at increasing meaningful public participation in the fight against corruption through efforts focused on educating and creating awareness amongst the public about corruption, including the values reflected in desisting from it, and the importance of reporting it and living with integrity;

Whereas, it is generally recognized that the full disclosure of corruption and other criminal conduct is essential for the comprehensive investigation and prosecution of corruption and other criminal conducts in public institutions private organizations, and other spheres of society;

Whereas, the existence of strong laws that protect both persons who have the courage to become whistleblowers and witnesses in fully disclosing to investigators and prosecutors the perpetration and criminal conduct is the most appropriate and effective way to combat corruption and other criminal conduct and unethical practices in public institutions, private organizations, within communities and the larger society;

Whereas, measures taken for the protection of whistleblowers and witnesses of corruption and other related complaints and cases should be sufficient to create an atmosphere free of intimidation and any fear of physical injury or any other fear of harm;

Whereas, the need for the establishment of a Witness Protection Unit (WPU) as an autonomous agency in the Executive branch of Government to administer witness protection programs in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), and other related institutions cannot be overly emphasized;

Whereas, the need for the removal of the statute of limitation on corruption and financial crimes related offenses, and to amend and revise section 4.3 of the Criminal Procedure Law of Liberia remains very vital to the fight against corruption in Liberia;

Whereas, the need to amend certain provisions of part X, Section 10.1 of the Code of Conduct of 2014, also known as the Code of Conduct, to grant full authority to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to compile, verify, maintain and update a comprehensive Asset Declaration Register for all Government employees is equally vital;

Whereas, amending title 17 of the Revised Code of Law of Liberia, also known as the Judicial Law of 1972, by adding Chapter 26 establishing Criminal Court ‘F’ of the First Judicial Circuit, Montserrado County, and Special Divisions of the Circuit Courts of the other Counties of the Republic to have exclusive original jurisdiction over the crime of Corruption, including but not limited to, bribery, embezzlement, extortion, fraud, influence peddling, insider trading, misuse of entrusted public property and vested authority, money laundering, unjust enrichment, and any economic and financial crimes, is of key importance;

Now, therefore, in view of the above concerns, observations and efforts relative to the fight against corruption and to  ensure that the necessary and proper mechanisms are in place to successfully tackle this callous vice in corruption, we the undersigned Civil Society and Community Based Organizations under banner, the Joint Civil Society Anti-Corruption Initiative (JOCSAI), a conglomerate of more than eight different CSOs and CBOs, having come together to facilitate and accelerate anti-corruption initiatives under the auspices of the National Integrity Building Anti-corruption (NIBA) Program with sponsorship from the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA) through the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), petition you, the 54th National Legislature to increase budgetary support/allocation to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), General Auditing Commission (GAC), Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC), Liberia Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) and other public integrity institutions to enable them to function properly and at full capacity; timely act on audit reports submitted by the General Auditing Commission; and lead by example by welcoming and facilitating a financial audit of the Legislature covering the last unaudited years. Most importantly also, we Petition you for the unequivocal and speedy passage into law of the following Anti-corruption Instruments before you:

a. Bill to establish a special court to try all corruption-related cases;

b. Bill to revise the criminal procedure law thereby removing the statute of limitations from cases related to corruption;

c. Bill to amend section 10.1 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officials;

d. The draft revised act of 2008-Bill to give LACC the power to directly prosecute;

e. The Whistleblower Act- Disclosure and Protection; and

f. Bill to establish a Witness Protection Agency (WPA).

We respectfully submit and look forward to your fullest cooperation as a matter of urgency as the bills, which passage we seek are crucial to the effectiveness of the fight against corruption and bad governance in Liberia. We also urge you to ensure that the bills are not watered down in any form and manner, thereby losing their essence. Rather, any contemplated change (s) should be made by and through meaningful consultation with relevant civil society organizations and other stakeholders and must serve to strengthen the bills instead of detracting from them. JOCSAI holds the belief and takes resolve from the fact that when the fight against corruption is buttressed by the effectiveness in the application of the laws that are appropriately applied, victory in this struggle is certain, and the welfare of the governed is prioritized while public resources previously susceptible to fraud, waste and abuse are managed in accordance with appropriate legislations.

Done under our signature this 31st day of May, A.D. 2022.

Monday, 30 May 2022 09:07

CENTAL Ends Stakeholders’ Dialogue on CSDF

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CENTAL Ends Stakeholders’ Dialogue on CSDF
 
The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) Tuesday, May 24, 2022, held a one-day stakeholders’ dialogue on accountability and impact of the County Social Development Fund (CSDF) in Liberia.
Held under the theme: ‘Strengthening stakeholders’ collaboration and partnership around the CSDF for greater impact,’ panelists and participants said, for the CSDFs to make the desired and intended impacts, leaders must ensure that decision-making at County Sittings is transparent, inclusive, evidence-based, and in the best interest of citizens.
The one-day stakeholders’ dialogue engagement was held under CENTAL’s Open Expenditure Initiative, a core activity of its ongoing National Integrity Building and Anti-Corruption (NIBA) Program funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
It brought together diverse people, including ordinary citizens, development partners, policymakers, public integrity institutions, youth and women, the media, civil society, and community-based organizations (CSOs/CBOs).
 
In remarks, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of CENTAL and Dean at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia (UL), Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner reiterated that the fight against corruption in Liberia requires a broad stakeholders’ engagement.
“Our focus at CENTAL is to see a corruption-free society, but we alone can’t do it by ourselves because the fight against corruption requires a broad stakeholders’ engagement for the good of the society,” Cllr. Warner said. He stated that corruption undermines the growth and development of any country and the decision by CENTAL to have brought various stakeholders together was to allow them to share their opinions on how the CSDF can impact the lives of the people.
The CENTAL Board Chair extended gratitude on behalf of the Organization to all civil society organizations, community-based organizations (CSOs/CBOs) and government institutions that were represented at the event, particularly public integrity institutions and members of the National Integrity Forum (NIF) – the General Auditing Commission (GAC), Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC), Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Swedish Government, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) for the support to CENTAL.
 
For her part, Nikolina Stålhand, Second Secretary/Program Officer, Democracy and Human Rights at the Swedish in Liberia said transparency and accountability are important preconditions for inclusive development in Liberia. “The Embassy of Sweden and SIDA are very much committed to the fight against corruption and to promote good governance,” she assured.
Here in Liberia, she said CENTAL plays a key role in holding government accountable, thereby encouraging citizens to demand what is right and take action against corruption.
She said why it’s true that CENTAL is playing a pivotal role in the fight against corruption, there was a need for citizens to take concrete actions by actively participating into public debates, demand and hold their leaders accountable for the development of their communities.
 
There were five (5) strategically selected panelists, including the Auditor General of the General Auditing Commission (GAC), P. Garswa Jackson, Sr.; the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC), and the Chairperson of the National Integrity Forum (NIF), Atty. J. Roseline Nagbe Kowo; the Executive Director of the Naymote Partners for Development, Eddie Jarwolo, and the Program Manager for Education and Prevention at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), James K. Kingsley.
The panelists presented on the topic: “MAKING THE CSDF WORK MORE FOR CITIZENS: Transparency & Accountability Challenges, Prospects, and Recommendations for the Future.”
CENTAL’s Gender Officer and Coordinator of the OEI, Dr. Akiah Precious Glay presented on, ‘CENTAL in Perspective and provided an overview of the dialogue.
For his part, the Executive Director of CENTAL, Anderson D. Miamen thanked the panelists for providing interesting perspectives on key issues relating to the CSDF and how to make it more impactful and citizens-driven.
 
Miamen also appreciated diverse stakeholders and partners who participated in the event and made salient contributions to the deliberations.
“We are grateful to Sida for the immense financial support that is making all of these activities and engagements possible. Thanks also to our many partners and stakeholders, especially ordinary citizens and communities that continue to appreciate and support our work. Together and with time, we will the war against Corruption in Liberia,” the CENTAL boss said.
The essence of the Open Expenditure Forum is to promote openness and accountability in the public space through access to information that is very critical to the consolidation of the Country’s democracy. It provides the space for citizens to interact with government officials and voice concerns about the effectiveness and efficiency of resources expended and or projects and activities undertaken by public officials by and through their resources, especially the County Social Development Funds.
 
Even though laws exist to promote transparency and accountability, as well as to prevent corruption in the expenditure of public resources including the County Social Development Fund (CSDF), the conducts of the custodians of those resources continue to fall short of meeting the benchmarks of transparency, accountability and anti-corruption.
The CSDF was established as part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the following objectives are achieved: ensure that funds allocated to counties are properly managed, accounted for, and applied in accordance with the County Development Plan; full participation of local inhabitants in the planning, development, and implementation of the CSDF; minimize the direct political influence in the management and implementation of the CSDF; ensure value for public funds allotted to the counties as CSDF.
Despite the law, the issues of transparency, inclusion/participation, and accountability still remain a daunting challenge in the utilization of CSDFs in the Country.
Friday, 27 May 2022 10:58

CENTAL Empowers Over 135 Students Through IClub

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CENTAL Empowers Over 135 Students Through IClub
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Young people, especially students who are members of CENTAL’s Integrity Clubs (IClub)s at selected universities, including – the University of Liberia, the United Methodist University, African Methodist Episcopal University and the Stella Maris Polytechnic University in Monrovia have no regrets about signing up to this integrity-building and anti-corruption awareness-raising initiative.
The Integrity Club remains a campus-based initiative of CENTAL. A collection of people believing and spreading the ideas and principles of integrity and accountability at their universities/communities to foster integrity building, good citizenry and governance.
Since the inception of its National Integrity Building and Anti-Corruption (NIBA) Program, over one hundred thirty-five (135) students and young people have benefited from different capacity-development pieces of training and empowerment programs at CENTAL. These exercises are part of mentorship activity under the Youth Engagement component of the NIBA Program.
Over the period, eighty (80) young people underwent short-term pieces of training while fifty-five (55) others served as data entry clerks and data collectors in the seven project counties – Montserrado, Bong, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Rivercess, Bomi and Gbarpolu respectively.
On a periodic basis, different refresher pieces of training are conducted for the IClub members to be exposed to short, medium and long-term opportunities, including, but not limited to, data collection and entry, internship and possible recruitment.
This is what one of the enumerators had to say “Over a period of ten years, I have been into research and have worked with many groups and NGOs, including CENTAL. But my experience working with CENTAL has been one of the best experiences so far,” said Joseph N. Mombo, an enumerator and student.
Remunerations received by students at different time intervals have assisted them to settle their schools and other obligations.
Lorentta Freeman, an IClub member of the University of Liberia said the little income she usually gets from CENTAL has served so many purposes, including payment of her rental and children school fees as well as transportation to and from school daily.
Also, Lisa P. Saylee, an IClub member of the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) stated: “The money I got from the survey, I used it to pay my balance school fees and settled other arears.”
The pieces of training have also sharpened the students to become ambassadors of change. They have been creating awareness amongst their peers and high school students in Montserrado, Bomi and Grand Bassa Counties.
For Mercy P. Johnson, an IClub member of the United Methodist University (UMU), being a member of the IClub has enabled her to realize her potential. “From the pieces of training and other opportunities with CENTAL, I’ve now identified the best version of myself. The IClub has also given me the opportunity to work for my own money,” Mercy stated.
Like the adage goes: ‘To whom much is given much is expected.’
After benefitting from the different training opportunities offered by CENTAL, members of the various chapters of the IClub also take the lead in conducting engagements and integrity building and anti-corruption awareness-raising activities amongst their peers at their various universities and selected high schools in the program-reached counties.
For Wayeiyeahn Chanchan, the IClub has not only empowered her financially but has also helped her to identify her self-wealth.
“CENTAL has impacted me in so many ways, to be concise, it has actuated me to be an advocate that works towards change (s) for a better mama Liberia. It has enlightened my mind to becoming a person of moral soundness or uprightness and honesty. I LOVE CENTAL…” Chanchan said.
The youths, as it is often said, are the successors of the current batch of leaders. For this reason, countries and institutions globally are incessant in providing different forms of empowerment opportunities that are aimed at strengthening them for a brighter tomorrow.
Liberia is a resource-endowed country, yet, corrupt to the core as indicated by several international institutions and instruments. The country is not only blessed with natural resources but also its youthful population. Young people account for a significant portion of the country’s population; the United Nations placed the country’s youth population at 65% of its 4.1 million citizens.
However, the culture of corruption, which is so fast cementing its place in society, has to a greater extent adversely affected the future of young people. As a result of this, a few of them have succumbed to defending corrupt officials in the hope of obtaining meager financial aid from them.
Nevertheless, regardless of the many visible challenges that are contributing to the spread of corruption in the country, CENTAL believes that the youths are crucial in tackling the menace, given the energy they have. Therefore, as a way of strengthening their capacity, the institution has established a Youth Engagement Program dubbed as the Integrity Club.
With funding from the Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the I-Club is being supported by CENTAL under its NIBA Program that seeks to, among other things, empower citizens with relevant pieces of information to demand and take actions against corruption in Liberia.
Thursday, 12 May 2022 16:35

Press Statement for Immediate Release

Written by

Press Statement for Immediate Release

Thursday, May 12, 2022 

Maintain the Integrity and Sanctity of the Liberian Passport: CENTAL Cautions the Weah Administration

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the Press, fellow Liberians.

On Monday, May 9, 2022, Liberians awoke to another disturbing news about apparent misdeeds in government, especially at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Like the 2020 Andrew Wonploe passport scandal related to the sale of Liberian Passports to non-Liberians, for which he was designated by the United States Government for undermining the rule of law and compromising the integrity and security of immigration processes, another grave report has emerged about Liberia’s diplomatic passport being in a wrong and undeserving hand. Frontpage Africa reported, quoting American Court sources, that Liberian businessman, Sheik Bassirou Kante, is undergoing trial in the U.S for money laundering conspiracy and was denied bail over several concerns, including possession of a Liberian diplomatic passport and his ‘deep personal relationship’ with the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Madam Jewel Howard Taylor. According to the report, Mr. Kante, alias Royal Gold, who is being tried for wire fraud amounting to US$ 7 Million, admitted to occupying no formal diplomatic position in the Liberian Government. 

The Center for Transparency and Accountability is deeply concerned about the unceasing trends of these incidents, especially this latest passport scandal, which adds to multiple similar cases reported about the continuous sale of Liberian Passports (ordinary, official, and diplomatic) to undeserving and unscrupulous individuals for probable dubious business dealings and other clandestine purposes, including but not limited to corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking, and human trafficking.  Like the Andrew Wonploe saga of 2020, Danish Journalist saga of 2012, and other scandals previously uncovered, this undermines the rule of law, national security, and the integrity and sanctity of our passport granting process. Additionally, it exposes the vulnerability of our systems and processes and devalues our priceless Liberian identity. It is extremely painful that while ordinary citizens queue during early hours and for several days to get passports, to which they are entitled, others have found it rewarding to deny their own citizens in favor of a passport black market. Such disgraceful acts have the tendency to place Liberia as a pariah in the comity of nations, since they have the propensity to undermine international peace and security.

CENTAL is very disappointed that the unorthodox dealings of public officials and their accomplices have become common place in Liberia, as government officials and their collaborators orchestrate plans to defraud the country and fatten their own pockets, at the expense of ordinary Liberians and voters who continue to be grossly mistreated by their leaders. Liberia is not for sale, and we caution the Weah administration to desist from despicable acts that rob Liberians of their heritage because of a few pieces of silver. The latest passport scandal speaks to many things. Among others, it shows:

  1. Gross vulnerability of the system and process for awarding passports (ordinary, official, and diplomatic);
  2. Limited political will and the culture of impunity for corruption and other related offenses, especially those perpetrated by high-ranking public officials;
  3. That often sugar-coated and cosmetic reaction from the national government, whenever major scandals are reported, has done very little to deter those involved and others harboring/having similar ambitions;
  4. The level of commitment required from the Presidency and Legislature to thoroughly and independently investigate these matters as well as fully support institutions statutorily mandated to do are very limited. 
  5. Weak leadership and oversight of the Legislature, as it fails to effectively and independently oversee the work of the executive, the ministry of foreign affairs, and the passport granting process in this instant case;
  6. Undue influence and involvement of the politically connected in the passport granting process, especially higher-ups in government and their cronies and confidantes; and
  7. Weak internal oversight and scrutiny mechanisms and processes leave many things unchecked and vulnerable to manipulation and abuse by people lacking the integrity to serve in public service.

We wish to thank the President of the Republic of Liberia, His Excellency George Manneh Weah for launching an investigation into the matter. While the move by the President to instantly probe into the matter is welcoming, we strongly believe that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is conflicted and cannot be trusted to independently and robustly interrogate said scandal. As the granting of passports to undeserving individuals has been lingering for many years, an investigation that will lead to concrete and lasting solution (s) cannot be left to the very entity and officials presiding over the process. From all indications, the latest development is a symptom of a long-standing problem, which could be traced to the very officials requested by the President to probe into the matter.  For a credible process that ensures the confidence of the public and development partners, the President of Liberia should constitute an independent committee comprising of credible and reputable individuals from the religious community, civil society, the Press as well as the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission to thoroughly oversee the matter.

As this matter is tied to the integrity and sanctity of the country, it cannot and should be treated lightly and subjected to the same “business as usual” approach to dealing with delicate matters in the country. 

CENTAL wish to remind President Weah and his Government about earlier and repeated commitments made to fight against Corruption and promote good governance, as emphasized in the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development. Such commitment cannot and should not be a matter of lip-service and the usual rhetoric that have characterized successive governments in Liberia. Rather, it should be about genuine and demonstrated desire and commitment to pursue a sincere and an impartial fight against corruption. This is the surest way Liberia can be prosperous, economically viable, and strategically positioned to lift its citizens out of poverty and provide basic social services that are decentralized, inclusive, adequate, gender sensitive, and of the required quality. 

In conclusion, we call on our development partners to be more vigilant and unwavering in standing by the Liberian People by exposing individuals who continue to collude to defraud the Country and keep ordinary Liberians trapped in poverty-stricken conditions. More and more sanctions for corrupt and unscrupulous individuals and officials of government are what we need as a strong deterrent tool for the increasing level of corruption and bad governance in the country. Also, we call on the media, civil society, and ordinary citizens to remain vocal and unrelenting in highlighting societal ills and demanding accountability of their leaders, while also denouncing corruption themselves.  The new Liberia we collectively seek will not arrive in the midst of rampant corruption and other forms of bad governance.

Thank you.

Signed:

Management

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Website: www.cental.org.lr 

 

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