News

News (59)

CENTAL Trains Over 40 University Students …To Increase Capacity in Anti-Corruption and Awareness-Raising

Young people are the most important agents of change in the Fight against Corruption. Often overlooked, they offer a chance to reshape norms. In Liberia, where over half of the population are youth, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) is creating a substantial opportunity for youth to reshape corrupt culture into a culture of integrity and transparency.

On April 1, 2022, CENTAL, through its youth engagement and Integrity Club (IClub) Program, concluded a one-day intensive training for over forty (40) university students at the Corina conference hall in Sinkor Monrovia. The training aims to facilitate networking, interaction, and engagement amongst IClub members (youths and students) through learning and sharing of relevant information and building relationships that can be leveraged to enhance anti-corruption and integrity-building efforts in  Universities, High Schools, Communities, and the country at large. Every year, since the implementation of the National Integrity Building and Anti-corruption program (NIBA) at CENTAL, the Integrity Club, one of the many activities under the auspice of the program, recruit, train, and empowered students to engage in active activities in universities and high schools. This time, the previously trained integrity members were relinquishing power to the new batch of students from the University of Liberia (UL), United Methodist University (UMU), African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU), and the Stella Maris Polytechnic University (SMPU) to continue the path of conducting outreaches in schools and universities as done previously.  The outreach activities will start at the University level and then to high schools and communities.

Presenting at the training, CENTAL’s Executive Director Mr. Anderson D. Miamen, succinctly explained the mission and vision of CENTAL. He urged students to believe that corruption can be minimized to an appreciable level only and only if the mindset about corruption is changed. In his speech, He called for collective efforts to fight against corruption and exclaimed that the young people are very crucial to this fight; therefore, their contributions matter the most. He urged members to be attentive and take seriously their role in the ICLUB as the CLUB presents an opportunity for young people to get actively involved in the fight against corruption and contribute to positive change. Further, he explained the opportunity to promote a person’s career could be through active engagement in the IClub activities. To support his statement, he pointed out a few IClubbers who are currently contributing to the activities of CENTAL. Since the establishment of the IClub at the University of Liberia in 2017, these students have been committed to the cause and currently, they are serving the institution.

Also serving as a facilitator, Mr. Alex Divine, CEO/ Youth for Change, Inc., admonished students to stand up and face the reality that corruption is an enemy of development. He assured them about the adverse impacts of corruption. He stated, “Corruption is a lifestyle. The menace has taken hold of generations, and the only way we can curb this is by raising the standards high to uphold our integrity.” He added and urged students with disabilities to get involved in the process as well as they are always part of the society. “Corruption does not respect anyone regardless of who you are. It affects everyone irrespective of your condition.” He faintly added.

To conclude, Youth for Change Inc.’s CEO lamented the poor support given to the fight by those in authority. He, however, encouraged the youth not to be deterred but rather stand for the country and not for themselves.  

CENTAL’s ALAC Legal Officer, Atty. Bendu Kpoto reiterated the points made by Mr. Divine on inclusion. She elaborated on the importance of inclusion and uttered that. “Irrespective of a person’s gender, ability, or disability, literate or illiterate, we all have a part to play in strengthening the fight against corruption.”  She encouraged the full participation of women and girls. According to her, women and girls are less in the fight. They feel that men are the most corrupt in society, so the fight is not pressuring them. On the contrary, their refusal to actively join the fight will have a long-term impact on them.  

Atty. Kpoto concluded that Women are mostly victims of corruption. What supports the claim that corruption causes more suffering for women than men, especially at the university level? By distinguishing between indirect victimization and direct victimization, it is reasonable to assume women suffered more, and differently than men. Nevertheless, a general reduction of gender inequalities can address the root causes of the gendered impacts of corruption and call on all the youths especially the women and girls to do better in the fight against corruption. Without partiality and in an overtone, she promised to render support in her capacity to all students, especially to school-going girls and persons with disability at the University levels.

At the heart of the training, students presented on relevant topics –Corruption and Integrity. A team of 10 persons; four (4) groups presented and gave recommendations. Few among those recommendations were the usage of smart technology to reduce corruption; the incorporation of integrity courses in schools; increasing awareness efforts nationwide; and enforcing punitive measures against corrupt individuals.

The training workshop ended with an introduction to the software. The software is a data collection tool that will enable students to collect data while engaging in outreach activities. Students were excited about the introduction of the data collection software and thanked the institution for being actively involved in the fight against corruption.

Held under the auspices of the National Integrity Building and Anti-Corruption (NIBA) program funded by the Government and the People of Sweden through the Embassy of Sweden near Monrovia with support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the training workshop now sets the basis for the students to begin raising awareness about corruption and integrity building at their respective universities, high schools, communities and country at large.

Monday, 07 March 2022 17:10

Joint Press Statement

Written by

By Civil Society Organizations on the ECOWAS Parliament Summit in Liberia 

We, Naymote Partners for Democratic Development, Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia, Integrity Watch Liberia, Institute for Research and Democratic Development, Accountability Lab Liberia and the National Civil Society Council of Liberia welcome the hosting of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Fifth Legislative Parliamentary Seminar and First Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament for the year 2022 in Liberia.

As leaders of civil society organizations in Liberia, we are deeply concerned that 22 years since the inauguration of the First Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament, the parliament has made little impact in the lives of ECOWAS citizens due to its failure to hold member states accountable for corrupt and anti-democratic practices. While it was meant to be a platform for dialogue for ECOWAS citizens and foster integration, it has been hijacked by politicians who have neglected the core challenges facing the people of the ECOWAS region.

In Liberia, little is known about the work of the Liberian delegation to the Parliament, and Liberians have no means of holding their delegates accountable for what they do at the regional body. The delegation makes no efforts at engaging with the public on their work at the Parliament — laws and policies adopted and their ramifications for member states and if these laws are domesticated in-country. To date the Liberian delegation over the years have failed to 'inform and sensitize the population on issues of integration'. This is counterproductive to the common interest of the ECOWAS citizens, whose taxes are used to finance and sustain the Parliament through the financial contributions made by the member states.

The increasing wave of political instability and coup d'état in the sub-region, especially in Guinea, Mali and declining trust in democracy due to the failure of governments across the ECOWAS region to meet up to the challenges of unemployment, rising cost of living, insecurity, human rights violations, widespread corruption and poor governance bring into question the role, relevance and impact of the ECOWAS Parliament in advancing democracy and social prosperity in the region.

We believe it is high time the ECOWAS Parliament became proactive and robust in engaging with the economic and political challenges of the region and delivering the much-needed inclusive and sustainable reforms needed to advance democracy, regional integration, and prosperity in the region. This includes, but not limited to genuinely taking practical actions against corruption, rape and other sexual and gender-based offences, supporting member states in eliminating trade barriers, reducing and ending unemployment, human trafficking, insecurity, drugs abuse, money laundering and illicit financial flows, and imposing sanctions against leaders who undermine constitutional democracy and abuse human rights in their countries.   

We demand that the ECOWAS Parliament lays out clear mechanisms that make its processes accessible, responsive, and accountable to the citizens of the 15 member states and ensures that proposed laws and policies benefit from broader consultations with the people of the region, before being adopted and domesticated. Finally, we strongly encourage the body to engage more with civil society and create greater visibility for its work, at regional and national levels.

Citizens Demand Openness in CSDF Expenditures

Monrovia, Tuesday, 22 February 2022 - Openness and accountability in budget and expenditure processes foster trust in government as it ensures citizens’ views and interests are respected and public resources are used for the public good.

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 conduct of the custodians of these resources continue to fall short of meeting minimum benchmarks of transparency, accountability and anti-corruption. Citizens continue to decry lack of participation, transparency, and accountability. Even worse is the fact that many are convinced that corruption is the ultimate rationale for their exclusion. Participants of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL)’s Open Expenditure Forums (OEFs) held recently in Bong, Nimba, Rivercess, and Grand Bassa counties have re-echoed this point. However, there are other shining examples of participation worth noting.

                                                                                   

“Construction works for persons with disabilities (PWDs) require lots of technical things to allow easy access for all persons with disabilities. So, it cannot be done by just anybody (engineer), the person must either be guided or knowledgeable of PWDs,” said Arthur Bondo, representative of the National Union of Organizations with Disabilities (NUOD) and Chairman of the Bong County Disable Community.

Bondo said members of the disable community in Bong County were never part of any discussion leading to, or involved with any process that led to the renovation of their headquarters in the county. According to him, the US$10,000.00 spent by the county to renovate the structure cannot accommodate the current one hundred and thirty-nine (139) persons with disabilities in Gbarnga City alone, but they are disappointingly managing it.

Like in Bong County, the Nimba County disable community was never involved with process leading to the construction of their headquarters in Sanniquellie City. Abestine Tozay, President of the group said they were excluded from the decision-making and the contractor who was hired to do the construction said he wasn’t answerable to them.   Meanwhile, in Rivercess County, people with disabilities equally feel marginalized and excluded from all decision-making and developmental initiatives of the county.

Mr. Samuel Outland, head of the Organization of Persons with Disabilities in the county said people with special needs are surviving under extreme conditions and the county leadership care less about their wellbeing. The situation of persons with disabilities seem dreadfully similar across the counties. Peter Jimmy of the Group of 77 in Grand Bassa County also shared the same story. Mr. Jimmy frowned on the local authorities, especially members of the Project Management Committee (PMC) for the lack of inclusion of persons with disabilities in activities in the County.  

But unlike the Disable Community in Bong, the Bong County Women Organization was involved throughout the implementation of their project. They were constructively engaged with most of the processes leading to the construction of the Bong Women Center. She stated that as a result of their robust monitoring of the construction process, they were able to identify and demand the change of a design that was not submitted by the women.  

Sadly, this is not the case in Nimba.  Women complain they are yet to be included on the County Council Sitting Resolution despite all efforts exerted so far. “County Sittings have been held in Nimba, but we (women of Nimba) have not even served as observers, except on one occasion,” said Madam Yah Belleh Suah, County Coordinator, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. 

She stated that until that lone occasion where she was reluctantly considered to serve as observer at the County Sittings, the Ministry nor the women of the County were never part of the process; but, Nimba County Assistant Superintendent for Development said the selection of delegates to the County Sitting is beyond the scope of the County leadership. 

The Project Management Committees (PMCs) are charged with the responsibility of implementing projects.

In Bong County, the PMC received US$1.7 million out of the budgeted US$2.9 million in the 2018/2019 County Council Sitting to implement 30 projects, out of which 12 have so far been completed and dedicated, while in Nimba, of the US$2.8 million budgeted in the 2021 County Council Sitting, US$2.7 million was received to implement forty-six (46) projects in the county out of which twenty (20) have been completed so far.

The essence of the 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.

The Open Expenditure Forum also sought to provide stakeholders with information on broad and specific national efforts in fighting against Corruption and efforts to promote the culture of accountability and transparency in Liberia.

It’s part of activities under CENTAL’s National Integrity Building and Anti-Corruption (NIBA) Program targeting seven counties – Montserrado, Bong, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Rivercess, Bomi and Gbarpolu. It’s funded by the Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). 

Monrovia, Tuesday, 25 January 2022

As the national chapter of Transparency International in Liberia, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) is pleased to release findings of Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2021. Since 1995, the Corruption Perception Index has been scoring and ranking countries based on how corrupt their public sectors are perceived, according to experts and business executives. The score ranges from 0 to 100, where 0 equals the highest level of perceived public sector corruption and 100 equals lowest level of perceived public sector corruption. 180 Countries were targeted in 2021 as in 2020 and 2019.

The CPI draws upon 13 data sources, which captured the assessment of experts and business executives on a number of corrupt behaviors in the public sector, including bribery, diversion of public funds and supplies, use of public office for private gain, procurement irregularities, and nepotism in the civil service. Some of the sources also looked at frameworks/mechanisms available to prevent and address corruption in a country, such as: the government’s ability to enforce integrity mechanisms; independence of anti-graft institutions; the effective prosecution of corrupt officials; conflict of interest prevention; access to information; freedom of speech and the media, and legal protection for whistleblowers, witnesses, journalists, and investigators.

Global Highlights:

CPI 2021 reveals that the fight against corruption has stagnated worldwide at a time when human rights and democracy are also under attack. This is no coincidence. Corruption enables human rights abuses. Conversely, ensuring basic rights and freedoms means there is less space for corruption to go unchallenged. The global average remains unchanged at a score of 43 out of 100 for the tenth year running. The top countries are Denmark (88), Finland (88) and New Zealand (88), Norway (85), and Sweden (85). The bottom countries are Somalia (13), Syria (13) and South Sudan (11).

The highest scoring region is Western Europe with an average score of 66. The lowest scoring regions are Sub-Saharan Africa (33), and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (36). The 33 average score of Sub-Saharan Africa shows a bleak picture of inaction against corruption in the region, as governments are doing very little to convincingly deal with the culture of impunity.

Regional Highlights and Trends:

In 2021, the Corruption Perception Index shows a decade of stagnating Corruption levels amid human rights abuses and democratic decline in Sub-Saharan Africa. Progress is stalled, while over 90 per cent of countries score below 50. The Sub-Saharan Africa average is 33, the lowest in the world. In the last decade, 43 countries in the region have either declined or made no significant progress.  Since 2012, Botswana (55), Liberia (29), Mali (29) and South Sudan (11) have significantly declined on the CPI.

 

With a score of 70, the Seychelles earns the highest mark in the region, followed by Botswana (55) and Cape Verde (58) as distant runners-up. Only six countries in the region have significantly improved their scores over that period: Seychelles (70), Senegal (43), Ethiopia (39), Tanzania (39), Côte d'Ivoire (36) and Angola (29).

Although no country is free of corruption, countries topping the CPI share characteristics of open government, press freedom, strong parliament/legislature, civil liberties, and independent judiciary. Meanwhile, countries at the bottom are characterized by widespread impunity for corruption; poor governance; and weak institutions, including but not limited to parliament/legislature and anti-corruption and integrity institutions.

Liberia’s Score and Performance:

Although Liberia’s score is 29, compared to 28 in 2019 and 2020 respectively, it remains an under performer and one of the biggest decliners worldwide, since 2012. The country now ranks 136/180 and remains further down the table, joining the list of countries significantly declining on the CPI. With the exception of Saint Lucia that has dropped fifteen (15) points and Syria (13) points, globally, only Liberia has fallen thirteen (12) points since 2012. Since the country attained her highest score of 41 in 2012, it has failed to perform any better. It must be indicated that Liberia’s improved performance then was largely due to passage of key laws and establishment of public integrity institutions. Unfortunately, the Country has since failed to make these institutions and laws work, as the laws are not enforced/respected and public integrity institutions are not fully supported (morally, financially, and otherwise) to satisfactorily deliver.  

CENTAL is deeply worried over Liberia’s continuous poor performance, especially her place among the Worst Decliners worldwide. In part, this speaks to the Liberian Government’s inability to address entrenched culture of impunity and fully enforce existing anti-corruption laws and policies. Liberians have heard more words and promises from the President and other public officials than concerted genuine efforts/actions in the fight against Corruption in the country.

There can be no successful fight against Corruption if the Rule of Law is not upheld; if the Legislature and the Judiciary are weak; if infrastructure projects are prioritized over governance and anti-corruption issues; if the President remains silent on numerous allegations of corruption against his officials; if the laws are meant for others and not senior government officials and their friends and relatives; and if, among other things, the national budget is used as a tool for political corruption and investigations into major scandals and allegations of corruption are stalled or seemingly endless.

Recommendations:

To help improve Liberia’s rating and performance on the CPI, regionally and globally, and reverse the growing negative trend and public perception about Government’s fight against corruption in the country, CENTAL recommends the below:

  1. That President George Weah leads by example and pursue a sincere and holistic fight against Corruption that does not protect certain individuals and groups accused of corruption, especially those who appear to be very close to the Presidency;
  2. That President Weah gives equal and even greater attention to anti-corruption and governance issues, just as he is keen about roads, market buildings, and other infrastructure projects;
  3. That President makes timely and appropriate appointments to fill existing multiple leadership gaps at public integrity institutions;
  4. That Government provides adequate funding and space for anti-corruption institutions to effectively perform. Continuous limited funding to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, General Auditing Commission, Public Procurement and Concession Commission, and other public integrity institutions do not show true political will and commitment to national efforts against Corruption;
  5. That the Legislature be robust and independent in playing its role, ensuring that priority is given to anti-corruption and governance issues. Anti-corruption bills currently before the Legislature should be timely passed to somehow strengthen the fight against corruption in the country; and
  6. That civil society, media, ordinary citizens, and other actors remain constructively engaged with national efforts against corruption.

Signed:

Anderson Miamen,

0886818855/0776391481

PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monrovia, Thursday, January 13, 2022,

CENTAL Calls on President Weah to Prioritize Governance and Anti-Corruption Issues, if his Quest for Infrastructure Development Must Be Achieved

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the Press, fellow Liberians. CENTAL is glad to be partnering with the public integrity institutions, citizens, and other players to sustain the fight against Corruption in Liberia. Particularly, we are also glad that the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission appears to be on the right trajectory in playing her role as the lead anti-corruption institution in the country, despite facing major challenges. Lately, the Commission has been in the media for the right reasons, with the only major exception being the conflict of interest saga involving its Vice-Chairperson, Cllr. Kanio Gbala, which is being investigated, but has lasted longer than expected.

Our media partners, we wish to thank President George Manneh Weah for his incessant quest to construct and rehabilitate roads, build housing units, construct markets, and address other infrastructure deficits of the Country. These and many more projects are needed to address the transportation, housing, and other immediate needs of citizens.

However, CENTAL is deeply concerned about the President’s limited commitment and attention to the fight against Corruption, which is an even bigger and greater issue that has implications for achieving success at all levels and in all sectors and institutions in Liberia. So far, commitment to the fight against corruption by the President has been/is limited, thus leading to the Country’s poor performance on key governance indicators, especially the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International. CPI rates Countries according to how Clean or Corrupt their public sectors are. Since 2018, Liberia has declined by four (4) points from a score of 32 to 28, an indication of less attention to anti-corruption and integrity-building efforts by the Government. This is corroborated by CENTAL’s State of Corruption Report published recently, in which 9 out of every 10 Liberians surveyed said Corruption is a major issue in Liberia.

While integrity institutions have been maintained, they have not been given the required attention and support to satisfactorily deliver on their mandates and functions. There are many indications. Nearly all public integrity institutions are without fully constituted leaderships at the moment. The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, Internal Audit Agency, Financial Intelligence Unit, Governance Commission and other critical governance and anti-corruption bodies do not have the required number of appointed, confirmed, and tenured officials. This has been lingering for two years and even more for some institutions, especially the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission that leads the Country and Government’s fight against Corruption. This undermines their mandates, job security, and motivation, thus affecting their productivity levels and performance. Also, public integrity institutions are grossly underfunded, despite playing key roles in giving the Government and Country the required reputation, credibility and systems and controls needed to safeguard public resources and assets as well as mobilize the required domestic and external resources to fund key activities and processes. For over four years, the Office of the Ombudsman has not been established to oversee the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Public Officials, as provided for in the 2014 Code of Conduct for Public Officials. Additionally, allegations of corruption involving top officials of government have not been given the required attention, one being the head of special projects in the office of the President who was accused of soliciting bribe from an investor. Since an internal investigation was launched, for nearly half-year, there has been no update to the public about the status of such grave matter bordering on the credibility of the President’s office.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the Press, while the President’s quest for infrastructure development is welcoming, equal and perhaps greater attention should be given to the fight against Corruption and efforts to entrench integrity values at all levels of society. In fact, it is the sincerity, robustness, and impartialness of the fight against Corruption that gives a country the standing, reputation, and credibility needed to win stakeholders’ trust and confidence as well as raise much-needed domestic and external resources to fund infrastructure and other projects critical to meeting the needs of the people.  It is a strong focus on the fight against Corruption and building of a strong deterrent regime that helps government to prevent corruption in procurement (contract award) and implementation processes, thereby ensuring that roads, markets, and other projects executed are of the required quality.

Without a robust and impartial fight against Corruption, the Government won’t succeed in delivering on its promises, especially deliverables and targets contained in the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development. While bills submitted to the Legislature to improve the legal framework for dealing with corruption are welcoming, entities that will preside over enforcement of these laws must be adequately funded, their leaderships fully constituted, and other well-meaning actions are taken if Government’s fight against Corruption must be taken seriously by citizens and development partners.

CENTAL strongly believes that the President and his government will only manifest the professed commitment and will to the fight against corruption by ensuring the following:

  1. Maintaining a conducive environment for anti-corruption and integrity building efforts by government, civil society, media and other players;
  2. Impartially and timely investigating and prosecuting those accused of corruption and leaving out no untouchables;
  3. Taking of administrative actions against those accused of corruption, including but not limited to indefinite suspension and dismissal;
  4. Fully implementing recommendations of audits and other investigative reports;
  5. Timely filling long-standing vacancies at public integrity institutions with individuals with the required credibility and track records of accountability and transparency in their dealings and actions; and
  6. Providing adequate and timely funding to public integrity institutions to deliver on their mandates.

Thank you.

Signed:

Management

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

In continuation of activities aimed at empowering citizens with relevant pieces of information to demand for and take actions against corruption in Liberia, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), under its National Building and Anti-Corruption (NIBA) Program is determined to leave nowhere (community/sector) untouched.

CENTAL has placed engagements with ordinary citizens, including women, youths, students, community leaders, marketers at the core of its Programmes. The engagement exercises are held in the seven project-targeted Counties: Bong, Nimba, Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Bomi, Gbarpolu, and Rivercess in different selected communities, schools, intellectual centers, marketplaces, etc. It allows citizens to freely discuss issues about corruption and suggest mitigation measures.

Earlier today, November 22, 2021, one of such meetings was called by CENTAL’s County Field Officer (CFO), Matus Davis under a tree at the Cepres International University in the Chief Compound Community in Gbarnga, Bong County. A cross-section of citizens, including students, youths, women, markers, community leaders, and elderly people were in attendance.  

During the engagement, CENTAL’s Program Manager, Atty. Gerald D. Yeakula presented and opened for discussion, findings of CENTAL’s recently released State of Corruption Report (SCORE) 2021. The people were very enthusiastic about the SCORE findings and made salient inputs as well as advanced different suggestions to help curb corruption and promote the culture of integrity, accountability, and transparency in the country.

The citizens described the SCORE 2021 as a ‘true picture of the high level of corruption occurring across all sectors and services in Liberia, especially the health, education, judiciary, security, etc. The people shared practical experiences of how corruption in different sectors has affected them and their loved ones.

For Ma-Nyamah Molubah, she lost her grandchild as a result of corruption in medical service delivery at the C.B. Dumber Hospital in Gbarnga, Bong County. The C.B. Dumber is one of several Government-funded hospitals that should provide free services to the public, especially the underserved population. 

“My daughter was in labor pain and was taken to the CB Dumber Hospital for treatment. Because I never had money, my daughter left crying for help from the nurses and doctors on duty from the evening to the next morning requesting me to pay money before service. We left seeking attention and looking for money until the baby died in the girl’s stomach; and it at this point that they operated on her to get the dead baby out of her,” Ma-Nyamah explained.

Like Ma-Nyamah, Josephine Jackson said the act of corruption is habitually rotating in a cycle of what she called, “you do me, I do you, syndrome.” Josephine, a teacher, said if a teacher in any school solicits bribes from her kids, she will oblige and equally repeat the same against students under her jurisdiction as a payback.  

“The entire corruption business is about - you do me, I do you. If you sell pamphlets or ask my children to pay for assignments, I’ll pay but, I will also do the same to other students for me to get my money back. I’ll say, corruption is 100% high in the school/education sector,” Josephine said.           

The NIBA Program seeks to, among other things, empower citizens with relevant pieces of information to demand for and take actions against corruption in Liberia.

David Kerkulah, a student of the Cepres International University blamed desperation and poverty for the rampant corruption.

“Desperate people do desperate things. People engage in corruption and stealing because they are desperate for any opportunity that they can take advantage of to either out food on their tables; even if it means selling their voters’ cards for little or nothing,” Kerkulah said.

“How do you expect a person who depends on daily sales from potatoes green to feed their family find and return any amount of money? Or how do you tell this kind of person about integrity?” he asked. 

However, the citizens feel that despite their awful experiences in accessing different services (public and private), all is not lost. They equally proffered insightful recommendations to help curb the menace of corruption in the country.

High on the numeral recommendations proffered the people were: an end to impunity; prosecution of accused persons; regular supply, provision of needed logistics and robust supervision as well as monitoring; rotation of staff; timely payment of employees; motivation and support for employees serving outside Monrovia and in remote areas; increased awareness about corruption; collaboration, engagements, and empowerment of community-based organizations to join the fight, etc.  

According to the State of Corruption Report (SCORE) 2021, nine out of ten Liberians (90%) think that corruption is high and only two percent think that corruption is low, while eight percent believe that corruption is moderate.

In Grand Bassa, Gbarpolu, Nimba and Bong, 90% or more of the respondents think that corruption is high. Forty-two (42%) percent of the people cited rampant corruption allegations, while forty-one (41%) percent of the people decried lack of transparency and accountability in Government for increased corruption in the Country.

The SCORE stated that thirty (30%) percent of the people also cited lack of prosecution, while twenty-nine (29%) percent indicated that corruption is a custom in the country.

At the Bong Athletic and Social Intellectual Center, all of the attendees who participated in a discussion surrounding the SCORE said the Report is a true reflection of the actual awful state the menace of corruption in Liberia. The engagement exercises are held in the seven projects targeted Counties: Bong, Nimba, Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Bomi, Gbarpolu, and Rivercess in different selected communities, schools, intellectual centers, market places, etc. as part of activities under CENTAL’s NIBA Program, funded by the Embassy of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). It allows citizens to freely discuss issues of corruption and suggest mitigation measures.

The meeting was witnessed by Johan Romare, Head of Development Cooperation at the Swedish Embassy in Liberia. He said the meeting afforded him the opportunity to learn and further understand how to fight corruption in Liberia. “The only way to change a country is when its people are changed,” Mr. Romare said.

In remarks, CENTAL’s Executive Director, Anderson Miamen thanked the people for the level of support to the fight against corruption in Liberia.

Mr. Miamen said although not strange, he was impressed by the level of support received and salient inputs and contributions made by the citizens during the engagement.

Earlier, the Community Chairman, James Y. Ricks welcomed the team. 

The Embassy of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) funds the National Integrity Building and Anti-corruption {NIBA) Program under which the engagements are being held in seven of Liberia’s fifteen (15) Counties.

-30-

“You’re empowered to join and meaningfully contribute to fighting against corruption”
... CENTAL Boss Admonishes ACATP Graduates
 
Graduates of Cohort II of the Anti-Corruption Ambassadors Training Program (ACATP) have been admonished about their critical roles in helping Liberia to address corruption and reverse the negative trend and public perception about the fight against corruption in the country.
 
The Executive Director of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), Anderson Miamen said impunity for corruption and other financial crimes do not augur well for citizens and partners’ confidence in the governance process, which is a key requirement for forging and sustaining mutually-benefiting partnerships for the government and the country at large.
Delivering the keynote address at the graduation exercise of Cohort II of the Liberia Civil Society Organization Anti-Corruption Coalition’s Anti-Corruption Ambassador Training Program held at the Tubman High School campus on Friday, November 12, 2021, Mr. Miamen stated that the ACATP is a worthy undertaking that is poised to greatly help in breading a generation of young men, young women and others who are not only trained to anti-corruption and integrity-related values and principles but are empowered to join and meaningfully contribute to the fight against corruption in Liberia.
He said the graduates have also been authorized by virtue of their certification, to contribute to efforts aimed at promoting and entrenching integrity values at all levels of the Liberian Society.
“The task is a tough one, but worthy of every ounce of energy and attention of yours and the Liberian populace at large. We need to consolidate efforts to promote and entrench anti-corruption values at all levels and in all places,” Director Miamen stated.
 
The ACATP is a flagship program of the Liberia Civil Society Organization Anti-Corruption Coalition.
Speaking earlier, the Executive Director of Integrity Watch Liberia, Herald Aiddoo told the graduates that they are poised to undertake a monumental task as Anti-Corruption Ambassadors to join the fight against the number enemy of Liberia, corruption.
 
Mr. Aidoo stated that the Anti-Corruption Ambassadors are joining the fight at a time the country is battling an epidemic of a strong desire for material wealth among young people, which is often satisfied through Corrupt and unorthodox means, at the expense of public interest. Furthermore, he said the desired change to making Liberia a better place rests with every Liberian citizen, including the Anti-Corruption Ambassadors.
In a brief remark, the Vice-Chairperson of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Cllr. Kanio Bai Gbala told the graduates to be aware that everyone who stands accused is presumed innocent until proven otherwise in a court of competent jurisdiction.
 
Cllr. Gbala also informed the gathering that the reportage of the Liberian media is based on sensationalism, and as such, the graduates should guide against the consumption of media products.
The LACC Vice-Chairperson (Cllr. Kanio Gbala) is accused of conflict of interest for his reported involvement in a deal at the National Port Authority of Liberia. After several months, the matter is yet to be fully investigated by the Government of Liberia, especially the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission.

Things Fall Apart

-Mending a community on the brink of collapse

Corruption. The leader had brazenly indulged in it. The townspeople disavowed it. Hopes that it would be addressed fizzled with the passing of time. The local government could not confront it, and even the long-revered tradition wavered in its face. The unthinkable had happened. This time not in government but the community. A venerated community leader had engaged in corruption. The trust was broken and confidence betrayed.  Corruption now stood in the way of societal harmony. Residents no longer trusted town authority. There was minimum adherence to long-held customs. Indeed, things began to fall apart.  

Neegbein is a town located less than 3 kilometers from the commercial city of Ganta in Nimba County. Like other rural Liberian communities, the town has different measures and norms to control and regulate activities of its resident. Fines are imposed on violators and amounts generated from fines go toward community development. The town relied on its traditional method of saving funds with prominent individuals rather than saving with banks in Ganta just next door. Fear of bureaucracy associated with the banking process and the need for emergency interventions with the funds further justified keeping funds with prominent individuals within the community.

Nyan Gonquoi (not his real name) was entrusted with One hundred and Five Thousand Eight Hundred Liberian dollars (L$105,800) for safekeeping when he served as town chief of Neegbein. The said amount was raised through fines paid by violators. Out of the amount received, Sixty-One Thousand Liberian dollars (L$61,000) was withdrawn by the community for agreed expenditures, thereby leaving a balance of Forty-Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty Liberian Dollars (LRD 44,750.00). By June 30, 2020, Nyan had failed to account for the remaining amount. Nyan was soon booted out as town chief. Further efforts to have him restitute the funds yielded no result.  

Due to his refusal to restitute the community money, members of the town became lawless as many could not accept to be held accountable since their former town Chief was not being held similarly. They resisted payments of fines and refused to contribute funds for the Community and other development purposes as a result of the defiant posture of their former Chief. 

Violators of long-established laws now benefited from impunity. Theft, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, etc. became frequent. But community members were still hopeful of finding an amicable solution to the matter. With traditional dispute resolution mechanisms failing, and local government also failing to act on their complaint, they began to look externally for an answer to their accountability nightmare. 

On July 19, 2021, Saye Zarwolo, a member of Neegbein community, tuned to CENTAL’s Integrity Watch Radio Program, via a local radio station in Nimba. Upon hearing of a mechanism to report corruption and integrity-related issues through a toll-free hotline (4432), Saye took immediate advantage of the opportunity and contacted CENTAL’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Center (ALAC). 

The next day, CENTAL-ALAC dispatched a team to the community to better understand the situation. Separate meetings were held with the accused Chief and other stakeholders. There was confusion over the outstanding balance in the possession of Nyan (the former Chief). To resolve this, CENTAL proposed a meeting to ensure that the records are properly reconciled. A week later, the meeting took place and it was confirmed that Forty-Four Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty Liberian Dollars (LRD 44,750.00) was the amount needed to be restituted. But Chief Nyan would not assure the community of the refund.

A meeting was called on August 14, 2021, with the aim of amicably resolving the matter. CENTAL provided technical support to the community to invite the District Commissioner and other key personalities to the meeting. At the meeting, Chief Nyan admitted to his wrongdoing and promised to have the money refunded. 

The townspeople insisted that a reputable person guarantees the repayment. Following consultation, Chief Nyan brought forward a guarantor who promised to repay the amount in the event that the Chief fails to do so. It was then agreed that amount be restituted in six (6) installments, beginning September 15, 2021. True to his commitment, the first payment has been made to the community. Community members have begun to respect town laws including payment of fines. 

“What was going on in this town was causing a lot of problems for us, we thank you people [CENTAL] for bringing us together to look into this money business,” Kou Deninikor, Chairlady of Neegbein Women. 

This is what Shelton Guraseah, Development Chairman of Neegbein had to say: “With the Chief agreeing to his wrongdoing and promising to fully make payment, a great step has been taken. We thank CENTAL for helping us reach this stage.” 

CENTAL is now supporting the community to open an account with a local bank in the County. Harmony has returned, peace reigns and the community is holding together. Thanks to the Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) for the support. 

Wednesday, 29 September 2021 09:41

‘90% of Liberians Think Corruption Is High In Liberia’

Written by

‘90% Liberian Think Corruption Is High In Liberia’

…CENTAL State of Corruption Report Reveals

The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) has launched its State of Corruption (SCORE) Report 2021, with nine of ten Liberians thinking that corruption remains high in Liberia, with lack of confidence in the public sector to address it.

The report stated that corruption level is high with majority of the respondents not having confidence in the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary branches of government to fight the menace.

Presenting the Report Tuesday, September 28, 2021 at the Cape Hotel in Mamba Point, CENTAL’s Program Manager, Attorney Gerald D. Yeakula said nearly eight in ten seventy-six percent of the respondents witnessed corruption either through observation or participation over the last 12 months, with bribery being the most form of corruption witnessed.

According to Atty. Yeakula, medical services were ranked in the Report as the most prone to corruption, followed by Police services. Females were amongst the majority of people who identified medical services as the most prone to corruption.

The SCORE Report stated that out of the respondents who witnessed corruption, only twenty-five percent reported it and the rest said they didn’t report due to various reasons, ranging from retaliation, fear of losing jobs, amongst others.

The research work also identified that public resources that are channeled through the national budget end up in the pockets of public officials through direct payments, indirect payments, or backdoor deals with offices of top government officials remain heavily supported whilst institutions at the forefront of the fight against corruption are poorly funded.

In the Judiciary, the State of Corruption Report indicated that bribery and extortion often play a role in obtaining favorable court decisions; stating that judges reportedly extort or receive bribes before releasing criminal defendants without bail.

The SCORE Report recommended, among other things that: The Government of Liberia ensures accountability for abuses of power; build people’s trust and ensure participation; safeguard independence and effectiveness of integrity institutions; prevent favouritism in service delivery and public contracting; protect those reporting corruption; increase transparency around public spending; strengthen the judiciary; improve legislative oversight and accountability; improve participation, inclusion, and coordination.

 

In remarks at the program, Ambassador of Sweden in Liberia, Urban Sjöström commended the Government of Liberia for the political will in establishing integrity institutions and welcomed further investment and support to these independent institutions. Amb. Sjöström lauded CENTAL for the State of Corruption Report and welcomed further dialogue with all stakeholders regarding the findings and recommendations of the Report.

Officially launching the Report, CENTAL’s Board Chair and Dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia, Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner said the Report was done in line with international standards, like the United States Department, Transparency International Corruption Perception Index and other Reports that are usually released by International Organizations and Governments.

Cllr. Warner called for constructive dialogue with key government and other actors on the findings and recommendations of the Report.

He thanked the Ambassadors, public officials, civil society organizations, the media and citizens for gracing the occasion and encourage them to work together in demanding the needed political will to fight corruption in the country.

The report was welcomed by all stakeholders and partners who spoke at the launching ceremony, including panelists who discussed the SCORE Report. They praised CENTAL for such a professional piece of Research work on the state of corruption in Liberia.

Various speakers emphasized the need for the Government of Liberia, civil society and other actors to do more by showing increased political will and commitment to the fight against Corruption in the country. Particularly, the Government of Liberia was admonished to lead by example in the process, in part through increasing budgetary support to public integrity institutions and impartially investigating and prosecuting Corruption cases and complaints.

CENTAL Launches State of Corruption Report 2021...

The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) has launched its State of Corruption Report 2021, with nine of ten Liberians thinking that corruption remains high in Liberia, with lack of confidence in the public sector to address it.

The report stated that corruption level is high with majority of the respondents not having confidence in the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary branches of government to fight the menace.

Presenting the Report Tuesday, September 28, 2021, at the Cape Hotel in Mamba Point, CENTAL’s Program Manager, Attorney Gerald D. Yeakula said nearly eight in ten seventy-six percent of the respondents witnessed corruption either through observation or participation over the last 12 months, with bribery being the most form of corruption witnessed.

According to Atty. Yeakula, medical services were ranked in the Report as the most prone to corruption, followed by Police services. Females were amongst the majority of people who identified medical services as the most prone to corruption.

The report stated that out of the respondents who witnessed corruption, only twenty-five percent reported it and the rest said they didn’t report due to various reasons, ranging from retaliation, fear of losing jobs, amongst others.

The research work also identified that public resources that are channeled through the national budget end up in the pockets of public officials through direct payments, indirect payments, or backdoor deals with offices of top government officials remain heavily supported whilst institutions at the forefront of the fight against corruption are poorly funded.

The report was welcomed by all stakeholders and partners present at the launching ceremony. Various speakers emphasized the need for the Government of Liberia, civil society and other actors to do more by showing increased political will and commitment to the fight against Corruption in the country. Particularly, the Government of Liberia was admonished to lead by example in the process, in part through increasing budgetary support to public integrity institutions and impartially investigating and prosecuting Corruption cases and complaints.

Special thanks to the Amb. Urban Sjostrom, Embassy of Sweden in Monrovia; Amb. Malcolm A. McCarthy, US Embassy near Monrovia, Government Integrity Institutions, Civil Society Actors, The Media, Students' Representation, the Panelists, the Moderator, and CENTAL's Board Chairperson, Cllr. T. Nagbalee Warner, and all those who graced the Report launch.

Page 2 of 5

LOCATION

22nd Street, Sinkor
Tubman Boulevard
Monrovia, Liberia
Phone: +231 88 681 8855
Email: info@cental.org.lr
Website: www.cental.org.lr 

 

SUBSCRIBE

Get updates and important events straight to your inbox. We don't spam

GET IN TOUCH

© 2022 All Rights Reserved. Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL).