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PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Featured

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Anderson Anderson Mr. Sam Zota

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

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