Thursday, 09 December 2021 12:24

"Be Forceful and Practical in Dealing with Corruption", CENTAL tells Gov't Featured

Photo credit: Freepik Photo credit: Freepik

Press Statement for Immediate Release

(Monrovia, Thursday, December 9, 2021)

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the Press, Fellow Liberians, and Development Partners

As you may be aware, the 9th of December of every year is celebrated as International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD). The day is set aside in recognition of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNODC), which was signed in Mexico in 2003. On this day, different sectors of the society join forces and renew their commitments to strengthen the fight against corruption. This year’s celebration is being held under the theme: Your Right, Your Role: Say no to Corruption.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, Liberia has since September 2005 been a State party to the Convention. As such, the Country has always joined other Countries to celebrate the day by organizing activities such as street parade, formal indoor program, policy dialogues, community forums, amongst others. As the principal anti-graft institution in Liberia, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) often undertakes befitting activities in commemoration of the day, in close collaboration with other public integrity institutions, CSOs, Media, Private Actors, and other partners.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the fourth estate, corruption has significantly contributed to the current poor state of the Liberian society; it has deprived the ordinary citizens of a better living standard, while the few privileged, who sit at the echelon of power abuse public trust and resources at the expense of the vast majority of the population.  Sadly, it is a glaring reality that the fight against the disease is far less supported by the state, especially those who have the power to strengthen to do.

Therefore, as Liberia joins other Countries to celebrate the 18th anniversary of the International Anti-Corruption Day, as the national chapter of Transparency International (TI), the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) would like to call on the national government to be sincerer, robust and non-selective in the fight against corruption. It is about time that the government moves away from theoretically tackling the vice and starts to do so holistically and practically. The need to bring to an end the culture of impunity that is regarded as one of the main enablers of Corruption in Liberia cannot be overemphasized. It is high time that those who are in positions of trust act with integrity and transparency in their dealings, especially so when citizens are reneging in trusting their leaders. In CENTAL’s recent State of Corruption Report, released August 2021, more citizens said they trust the Media, Religious Institutions, and Civil Society to do a good job at fighting against Corruption than the Executive, Legislature, and even public integrity instructions. This calls for concern, as these are the institutions and bodies statutorily mandated to lead the charge against Corruption in the Country. Besides, over 90% of citizens surveyed said Corruption is a major problem in the Country, a similarly worrying trend that calls for sober reflection on existing efforts and plans to tackle the menace in the Country.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the press, fellow Liberians, lately, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission has been making efforts to rebuild public confidence in the Commission and Government’s Anti-Corruption efforts. CENTAL highly welcomes this development, given that LACC has been in the media for all the wrong reasons before now, including but not limited to allegations of Corruption and misdealing involving some top officials of the institution. As LACC implements her mandate and makes marginal progress, it is important to do so with outmost robustness and impartiality—giving equal attention to all cases and allegations of corruption as they come in. This brings us to the point about investigating one of its own: the vice chairperson, Cllr. Kanio B. Gbala who was recently accused of conflict of interest regarding his involvement with a potential conflict of interest saga at the National Port Authority of Liberia. As the Commission appears to be on the right trajectory at the moment, we urge that it gives the case involving its own the fullest attention, as the public awaits logical conclusion of the matter, just as all other corruption cases before the body. How the Commission treats the case involving one of its own will send a very strong message about its preparedness, robustness, and impartiality in dealing with all cases and issues of Corruption in the Country. This is necessary to clear any dark cloud that may exist over the Commission, which has the proclivity to affect the effectiveness of the Vice Chairman the Commission at large. Additionally, we call for speedy investigation and prosecution of other cases before the Commission, including but not limited to the one involving officials of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation and the recent saga involving the National Elections Commission’s alleged overpricing of thermometers used in the immediate past bi-elections.

In conclusion, we urge the Government of Liberia to be forceful and practical in dealing with corruption in the country, including timely investigation and prosecution of all corruption cases and allegations. Also, we will like to caution against selective fight against corruption that mainly aims at low-level individuals and those apparently disconnected from higher-ups in and out of government. We maintain that the fight against corruption can only become a success when everyone, especially the power-that-be, impartially tackles it. Importantly, we call on the President to fill vacancies at public integrity institutions, including long-existing leadership gaps at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, Internal Audit Agency, Financial Intelligence Unit, and other related institutions. Finally, we urge government to adequately fund the LACC, General Auditing Commission and other integrity institutions to satisfactorily deliver on their mandates.

CENTAL renews its commitment to the fight against corruption in Liberia. We recommit to forging mutually-benefiting partnership with state and non-state actors to pursing a robust, impartial, citizens-driven and inclusive fight against Corruption in the Country. 

Signed: ­­­­­­Management

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