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Tuesday, 21 December 2021 10:06

The Haunted Mansion Gobbling Up Millions

By Gerald D. Yeakula, Esq.

This is no fiction. The reality is an Executive Mansion once magnificent and idyllic, the heartbeat of the Liberian State, has now earned the dubious reputation as an abode where Presidents do not end well. And now, others ostensibly do not want to dare fate.  So great is the infamy that reports of the place being both haunted and jinxed have made it on the pages of The New York Times. Here, however, we will spare ourselves the spooky details of the Executive Mansion to hone in on an equally, or even more, critical piece of the intricate puzzle: how over a period of just under 15 years, this “haunted house” has swallowed up millions in taxpayers money with zilch results. Budgets after budgets with nothing to be seen. If you thought the haunted tale is by itself intriguing, float with us into the ghostly budget ride below.  

For nearly two decades, the Liberian Presidency has been displaced. It began on the Independence Day Celebration of 2006 (July 26) when the fourth floor of the Mansion burst into flames. While many believed that the fire was a result of an arson attack,  Forensic investigators blamed the cause of the fire on electrical fault. The Mansion has remained unoccupied ever since with the Presidency taking refuge at the nearby Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the wake of the incident, extensive renovation works commenced to restore the presidential palace to a status befitting of the Chief Executive.  Fifteen years later, repair works are yet to be completed despite huge financing, and the project is likely to be recorded as the most expensive renovation in all of Liberian history. And West Africa? Who knows? Evidence available to us indicate that a jaw-dropping Forty-Two Million Nine Hundred Ninety-Five Thousand Two Hundred Seventeen United Sates Dollars and Twenty-One Cents (US$42,995,217.21) have been spent on the renovation from 2006 to present. With Four Million Dollars (US$4,000,000) proposed in the 2022 draft budget and Five Million Seven Hundred Sixty-Thousand United States Dollars (US$5,760,000) projected to be spent in 2023 and 2024, the cost of the project can properly be placed at Fifty-Two Million Seven Hundred Fifty-Five Thousand Two-Hundred Seventeen Dollars and Twenty-One Cents (US$52,755,217.21) holding all factors constant. This amount comes very close to what was used to construct the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town.


Comp1 3

The Ministerial Complex constructed by the Chinese is a modern office complex that can accommodate 1,300 people for 6 ministries including the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Civil Service Agency, and the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection. Credit: Xinhua



Inside the building, there is a multi-function hall for 400 people and a large conference hall for 500 people, as well as related sets of facilities. The project commenced on 25 October 2016 and was completed on 24 April 2019.  Credit: Xinhua

US$53 million was used to build the entire Ministerial Complex from ground up. Strangely, similar amount is being spent on renovating the Executive Mansion alone. Something just doesn’t seem right. One quickly finds upon deeper inspection that monies reported to have been spent on the mansion didn’t really end up there. But while we can be certain that the monies did not hit the renovation, concluding on where they landed is not as easy. In early 2016, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf requested the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to conduct an audit into the Executive Mansion renovation project. Several irregularities were discovered. The renovation was supervised by the Ministry of State and not the Ministry of Public Works which is the statutory body responsible for the construction and renovation of public buildings. The Ministry of Public Works initially supervised construction of the Mansion in 1960. It was further observed that the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs did not provide supporting documentation for over 5 Million United States Dollars expended for the fiscal years 2012-2014. Additionally, Payments were made to the contractor, CNQC Qingjian International, without evidence of the reports and certificates of completion. Questionable payments were also made to other contractors associated with the project. Further, the Procurement Committee of the Ministry of State was not involved with the contracting process.


The Executive Mansion has been undergoing renovations for nearly two decades.

On July 1, 2015, after paying over 10 Million United States Dollars to the contractor CNQC, the Government of Liberia and CNQC Qingjian International executed an MOU which terminated   the Executive Mansion Renovation Project contract. Additionally, the Government and Qingjian International waived all claims against each other in the interest of “diplomatic harmony”. Further details of the MOU remain undisclosed. Meanwhile, the waiver meant that the company was absolved of any and all liability or damages arising out of the contract. The Government of Liberia ought to have known, in the first place, that engaging the services of the Chinese state-owned company invariably draws China into the picture and that same would have presented great difficulties for contract management. And yes, it did. Or was hiring the company a deliberate attempt to shield misuse of public funds? In the end, millions of Liberian tax dollars were wasted and remain unaccounted for.

Many have been left staggered over the waste, impunity, and unproductiveness associated with the marathon renovation. As if the GAC audit report on the project was not enough, a committee dubbed Special Presidential Task Force with Cllr. J. Fonati Kofa (then Minister of State without portfolio and now Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives) as Chairman was mandated to investigate. The investigation report was submitted to former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on June 21, 2017. Details have not been made public and, yet, no one held accountable. Another committee was setup in September 2019, this time by the House of Representatives. The Committee disclosed that it was in receipt of the Kofa Report and found it to be “quite revealing and informative”. But the Committee also seems to be headed nowhere. In May this year, the Committee recommended that Samuel D. Tweah, Minister of Finance and Development Planning, be summoned by the Plenary to explain his refusal, for nearly two years, to provide information requested. There is no record that Minister Tweah was either summoned or held in contempt. Indeed, the third investigation in the matter is set to fail. Representative Vincent S.T. Willie of Grand Bassa county had requested the House to setup a Special Committee to probe the project. In his communication to the House, he described the project as a “political dragon that is eating the Liberian people’s money”.  But the Special Committee has made some interesting finds. It says that CNQC lacked the qualification and experience to carryout the renovation, and that when its contract was terminated, CESAF Liberia Ltd was hired at a cost of US$ 50,522,521.61. For the second time, the contract is not managed by the Ministry of Public Works. Rather, the contract is “controlled by the Ministry of Finance”. The Committee also observed that between December 2018 and May 2019, the Weah government paid CESAF Liberia Ltd. the sum of 8.9 million United States Dollars (Eight Million Nine Hundred Thousand United States Dollars), and that there is no evidence that CESAF Liberia Ltd. had done any appreciable work. With all these findings, however, there is no record that the House acted on the recommendation of the Committee to summon the Minister of Finance to answer questions. All signs point glaringly to the failure of yet another investigation into the mystery surrounding funds spent on the project.

On November 30, 2021, an array of Government officials led by President George M. Weah visited the site to inspect on-going works. There was no mention by any of the Senior officials, making remarks, of accountability for funds spent on the project. The Weah administration looks set to claim credit for renovation of the Mansion. But will it muster the courage to go after the wasted millions? Does it even matter at all? Or does investigation and prosecution of misuse of funds meant for the Mansion attract unfavorable consequences? Or did the funds get taken away by ghosts that reportedly roam the presidential palace? Oops…I forgot. If the Mansion is haunted, as is reported, then we may just need our own Ghostbusters to banish the ghosts and break the curse. But until then, we must make use of what we have by ensuring that investigative reports related to the quagmire are treated with utmost importance and deserved attention. We cannot rejoice in the completion of the mansion with millions of dollars lost. A true celebration can only happen the lost millions are found and those liable are penalized.


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

By: Atty. Bendu Kpoto


Trafficking predates the Liberian state. In fact, Liberia’s history would be incomplete without acknowledging the gory details of trafficking that characterized significant epochs of its existence. From the repatriation of former slaves from the United States in 1821,[i] to the active participation by the indigenous population in the slave trade, and the Fernando Po Labor Crisis of 1929-30, amongst others, the past has transmitted hard facts, which undoubtedly continues to haunt us today.

Until December 2000, the term “trafficking in persons” was not defined in international law, despite its incorporation in several international legal instruments. The long-standing failure to develop an agreed-upon definition of trafficking in persons reflected major differences of opinion concerning the ultimate end result of trafficking, its constitutive acts and their relative significance, as well as similarities and differences between trafficking and related issues such as irregular migration and the facilitated cross-border movement of individuals into prostitution or irregular employment.[ii]

The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, also known as the Palermo Protocol defines “Trafficking In Persons” as: “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a person by means of the threat or use of force or other means of coercion, or by abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability, or by the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”  

There is a dearth of information on trafficking in persons in Liberia regarding the last half of the 20th century. Even today, there exists little data on trafficking in Liberia. Such unavailability of data, however, must not be interpreted as the non-existence of trafficking in present-day Liberia but should rather be viewed in context. It is often a challenge getting reliable data due to the complex nature of trafficking, encompassing un-documentation of workers and immigrants.

Liberia remains a source, transit, and destination for the trafficking of men, women and children. [iii] According to the 2019 US State Department’s Report on TIPS, most victims originate from and are exploited within the country’s borders, where they are subjected to domestic servitude, forced begging, sex trafficking, or forced labor in street vending, gold and alluvial diamond mines, and on small-scale rubber plantations. Women and children from rural areas are among the most vulnerable; lured by the promise of education, better living conditions or a good job in the city. Traffickers are mostly extended family members or trusted persons from the community. Generally, victims end up forcibly employed as beggars or street vendors, in diamond mines, on rubber plantations, as sex workers or in domestic service. They often receive no pay; if they do, their ‘guardian’ confiscates the money.[iv]

Traffickers typically operate independently and are commonly family members who promise poorer relatives a better life for their children or promise young women a better life for themselves, take the children or women to urban areas, and exploit them. The TIP Secretariat reported in 2015 that most victims of human trafficking are from the Southeastern parts of the country, that is Maryland, Grand Kru, River Gee, Grand Gedeh and Sinoe Counties. The Victims are often sent to Monrovia or to large plantations such as Firestone Rubber Plantation Company in Margibi County, the Weala and Salala Rubber Plantation companies etc. (Second NAP 2019). Traffickers are also often well-respected community benefactors who exploit the ‘foster care’ system common across West Africa. Orphaned children are vulnerable to exploitation, including in street vending and child sex trafficking.[v]

As a destination, Liberia has seen an influx of young women from other countries in West Africa trafficked by their parents for forced or arranged marriages. The victims are held captive in their matrimonial homes, without access to the outside world and often without any identification documents.[vi] Also, women from Tunisia and Morocco have been exposed to sex trafficking in Liberia. In 2018, reports emerged about seven women who flew from Morocco, Tunisia and Cote d'Ivoire, with hopes of earning US$1,000 monthly at a supermarket or restaurant, but ended up having their passports seized, and then demanded by their trafficker to engage into sex work. They were threatened and beaten whenever they refused.[vii] There are also documented reports of women in sex trafficking in Chinese-run hotels.[viii] Liberia is also a source. About 60 Liberian young women between the ages of 22 and 34 were allegedly trafficked into Lebanon between 2011 and 2012. The women were reportedly lured to Lebanon, believing they were going to get good-paying jobs, but ended up being housemaids and "slaves" for Lebanese landlords. 14 of the more than 60 Liberian girls were returned to the country in 2015 following protests and public outcry.[ix] Unfortunately, the women’s quest for justice came to an abrupt end when the Court ruled that state lawyers handling the case did not have license to practice as besides the case lacked direct evidence.[x] All these accounts continue to hamper anti-trafficking efforts.

Corruption plays a major role in trafficking. According to Transparency International, trafficking affects an estimated 12 million victims around the world and more than half of the victims are women and girls. Women have become victims due to their quest for better living, better incentive due to the high inequality on the job market, their limited education level, and lack of opportunities. Corruption is increasingly cited as a key reason for why trafficking continues and traffickers remain free. Corruption both facilitates trafficking and feeds the flow of people by destabilizing democracies, weakening a country’s rule of law and stalling a nation’s development. At the same time, trafficking, which can involve global or regional networks, contributes to a country’s corruption.[xi] The trade undermines development and put cash in the hands of criminals to build a bigger network.[xii] To function, trafficking relies on pay-offs to police, judges and ministers at all levels. Broader attention needs to be paid to this nexus between corruption and human trafficking. Despite advances, both issues tend to be tackled independently without recognizing their inter-linkages. Only by addressing them together will related efforts to stop trafficking be more successful. More must be done to ensure that more people, especially women and children, are not victims of trafficking.



[ii] Issue Paper on the International Legal Definition of Trafficking in Persons

[iii] U.S. State Department Report 2017


[v] 2019 US State Department Report



[viii] 2019 US State Department Report



[xi] Microsoft Word - TI-Working_Paper_Human_Trafficking_28_Jun_2011_CM.doc (


Tuesday, 07 December 2021 10:09

End Gender-based Violence Now!

Featured Image: CENTAL in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden conducts awareness against Gender-Based Violence in Cotton Tree Community, Gbarnga.

By: Atty. Isaac F. Nyantte, Jr.


CENTAL has an Advocacy and Legal Advice Center (ALAC), where cases bordering on corruption and other unwholesome practices are reported. One of such cases involved an instructor at a school in Monrovia, who attempted to have an affair with a female student as a pre-condition for returning her telephone that was seized by him. He had asked the student to retrieve the phone from his house. But the student did not go alone. She was accompanied by a friend. This had the teacher upset as the presence of the friend worked to abort plans of the affair. He did not give the phone to the student as promised. The student’s mother, being upset by the instructor’s action, proceeded to the campus and forcibly retrieved the phone from the school.  Sadly, the student was expelled by the School on the basis of her mother’s conduct.

This matter was brought to CENTAL’s ALAC, which then intervened to ensure that the girl returns to school. Yet, the school remain adamant. It would not even give the girl her documents to enable her enroll in another school. ALAC referred the matter to the Ministry of Education (MoE) and remained engaged with the investigation. The MoE established that the school’s action was arbitrary and not in conformity with law, instructed the school to re-instate the girl. Nonetheless, because of the toxicity associated with the school, the girl opted to enroll in another school. All necessary documents were then given to her. The school is yet to take action against the teacher. This is yet another classic example of how women are subjected to different forms of violence every day.

Gender-based violence is not only an issue widely seen in Liberia, it is common in many societies due to societal structures, crisis, or breakdown of law and order. This was widely seen during the heat of the Liberian crisis, when violence was used as a weapon of war to enslave women.

For many young girls and women, this situation which occurred during the war days, still continues today, with families concealing the information for fear that their girl child would become stigmatized by society. The UNHCR Liberia Factsheet January – December 2019, reported that Rape remains the most reported form of gender-based violence reported in Liberia.  According to the report, 46% of cases under investigation by the Liberia National Police during the period concerned children under the age of 18years. Another form of violence, sexual extortion or sextortion, which is a form of corruption, is also occurring in the Liberian society. According to CENTAL’s State of Corruption Report (SCORE) 2021, 12% of Liberians witnessed sextortion during the year preceding the survey. This is a significant number especially considering the veil of secrecy, culture of silence, and backlash of stigma that tend to be associated sextortion. In other words, the extent to which the menace is occurring is possibly greater though it might not be public for many to see.  

During the civil war, the perpetrators were mainly rebel forces.  However, after the conflict the perpetrators include not just ex-combatants, but community or family members, teachers, husbands or partners. GBV does not only lead to physical and mental trauma for the victim. It often carries longer-term social consequences for the victims themselves, such as stigmatization by their families and the community. Around 15 percent of those who were raped ended up getting pregnant. A high rate of divorce and wife abandonment often follow.

Reports from the Ministry of Gender and Development in 2008 show a similar trend: 34 percent out of over 10,000 reported protection incidents are GBV related. Domestic violence is the most prevalent of all protection incidents (26 percent out of all reported cases).

Taking a cursory look at the relationship between gender and corruption, studies show the relationship between the women in positions of power in countries around the globe, with emphasis on anti- corruption measures in place, to that of the opposite gender. Findings show that with more women in power, there were less forms of corruption. Gender as viewed from different cultures, influence the lives of men and women in different ways.

In many typical African societies, women are limited to domestic work and are regularly confronted with corruption when dealing with education, health and other public services. According to a  UNODC Report titled” The time is now” Addressing the gender dimensions of Corruption, and published in 2020,   In the health care sector, women are particularly vulnerable as they have reproductive health needs that may require regular attention. They can face corruption for things as simple as getting appointments to having to pay for treatment that they should have received for free. On a daily basis in Liberia, at different   health facilities , women have to pay unjustified fees after having to go through so much procedure, only to get medical treatment. A network dominated by men, whether in the public or private sectors, works at the exclusion of women, so that they don’t have access to some cardinal information, or political space.

On the other hand, women in leadership roles have been shown to be more motivated and invested in addressing aspects of corruption that are closer to their own reality, i.e. in areas such as public service delivery of health care and education. They may also be more interested in addressing the gendered currency of corruption, namely where women are asked for sexual favours to access services that are, in fact, sometimes even free.

In conclusion, a preventive strategy targeting men and women that strives for knowledge, attitudinal and behavioral change, by raising awareness of SGBV across all these pillars remains cardinal, especially as we commemorate 16 days of activism. This must involve a mix of advocacy and public awareness campaigns using various media at the community, county and national level.




Friday, 03 December 2021 15:42

Liberia: Gender and Corruption

By: Sam Z. Zota, Jr.

Corruption is defined as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It erodes trust, and exacerbates inequality, poverty, social division and the environmental crisis.[i] It also affects different genders, leaving marginalized groups mostly impacted. Women, youths, and the poor are often victims. 

International organizations have identified four (4) intertwined areas in which women are subjected to corruption: (i) when accessing basic services, markets, and credit; (ii) while engaging in politics; (iii) in situations where women’s rights are violated (e.g., trafficking and sexual extortion); and (iv) negligence and/or mismanagement – where women report poor service delivery   due to failure of leaders to hold accountable subordinates engaging in corruption.[ii]

According to the SIDA Gender Tool Box 2015, corruption in public service delivery affects women disproportionately more than men due to the higher vulnerability of women living in poverty and being responsible for the care of children and elderly. Women in some phases of life also have greater needs for health services, especially in their reproductive years. They require access to health care before and during pregnancy and after delivery. In these situations, women may be subjected to corruption, for example in the form of bribery, by health service providers at different stages of their health care needs. The State of Corruption Report (SCORE) 2021 released by the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) indicates that Sixty-five (65%) of females rated medical services as the service most prone to corruption. According to the report, Corruption in the health sector intensifies inequality, with poor people and other marginalized groups being hit the hardest. The SCORE further indicated that there remains a proliferation of fake and expired drugs on the market (Liberia Revenue Authority, 2020), with long queues at hospitals, inadequacy of hospital beds, shortage of medical supplies, and below par attention from caregivers affect bribe payments as patients seek medical care. At some public facilities, in addition to the cost of services, patients shoulder operational expenses such as electricity costs (CENTAL, 2021). And in the midst of these lapses, those in charge of regulating the sector have been implicated in corruption and self-dealing.

Furthermore, corruption shrinks public revenue, often cutting spending on education, healthcare, family benefits and other social services. This seriously undermines the welfare of women and children who rely mostly on such services provided by the state (SIDA Gender Tool Box, 2015). Recently, Foreign Minister Maxwell Kemayah admitted that a “black market” at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been responsible for hike in fees for services and failing to have collections reported to government revenue (The New Dawn, 2021). Not only is such dubious activity shrinking revenue, it is also hindering access to passport services.

The SCORE 2021 also found that Liberia’s national budget has been used as a tool to promote corruption. “State resources are being dispensed through the budget as a reward for political support. The national budget is also being used as a tool to foster what can only be called, however oxymoronically, legalized corruption”, the report stated.

Studies show that there is a broad consensus that corruption hits the poor and vulnerable groups the hardest, especially women, who represent a higher share of the world’s poor. Corruption also hinders progress towards gender equality and presents a barrier for women to gain full access to their civic, social and economic rights. In societies, like Liberia where women are traditionally the primary caretakers for their families, they are often dependent on public services like health or education. This makes them more vulnerable to certain types of bribery at the point of service delivery.[iii]

For women and girls to get access to basic services (education, health, water, sanitation, and electricity), documentation (licenses, residence and identity cards), and law enforcement, they may not only be forced to pay bribe, but are also exposed to sexual extortion. These acts often go unreported due to the stigma and shame associated with sexual crimes. This makes it difficult to monitor the nature and frequency of such corrupt practices. According to the SCORE 2021, 12 percent of Liberians indicated that they witnessed sextortion over the last 12 months. In this type of corruption, sex becomes the currency of the bribe and people are coerced into engaging in sexual acts in exchange for essential services, including health care and education.[iv]

Understanding the complex relationship between gender and corruption is therefore an essential step towards furthering women’s rights and eventually levelling the playing field between women and men.

Today, it is recognized that gender aspects influence and shape cultures across the world and feature in diverse areas of lives, ranging from religious teachings to the common bedtime story. Building upon this universality, corruption affects men and women differently across the world. In many societies as Liberia, women remain the primary caretakers of the family and are regularly confronted with corruption when providing these services. The reproductive needs of women make them particularly vulnerable in the health care sector.

But women are not only victims of corruption; they are also part of the solution. While evidence is inconclusive on whether women are less corrupt than men, greater women’s rights and participation in public life are associated with better governance and lower levels of corruption in many countries of the world. Empowering women and promoting their participation in public life is essential to address the gendered impacts of corruption and level gender power imbalances and inequalities. 

Gender inequality interferes with women’s ability to advance at all levels of politics and decision-making, thereby obstructing their access to political participation. Corruption also disrupts efforts to combat different forms of violations against women. Corruption tampers with justice systems and makes it difficult to drastically deal the violence against women. Perpetrators of violence against women continue to walk-away with impunity thereby undermining efforts to stem down on the crime.

Despite all odds, women still remain a part of the solution and have an important role to play in anti-corruption campaigns. They can contribute to improve accountability and integrity systems and build governance frameworks that are more responsive to their needs. Involving women in public life, including but not limited to anti-corruption and the design of gender responsive and gender sensitive anti-corruption policies is an important step in this direction. Indeed, we must all join hands to end all forms of violence against our women and girls now. Yes, we can; working together as ‘One People, One Nation and One Destiny!


[i] What is corruption? -




By: Sampson David


BUCHANAN Grand Bassa – Liberians in three counties – Bong, Margibi, and Grand Bassa – have expressed grave concern over the abandonment of bus terminals by the National Transit Authority.

Citizens have complained that although the NTA terminals in Buchanan, Grand Bassa and Gbarnga, Bong have been completed, they were abandoned by the transit agency. Meanwhile, construction of a terminal in Kakata, Margibi remains stalled, eight years since the project began.

Previously known as the Monrovia Transit Authority, the NTA was transformed into a nationwide transportation system by an act of the legislature in 2009.

In April 2013, the agency began constructing Buchanan’s terminal through a private construction firm, Dougbor Group Incorporated, for US$97,219. The construction was completed and the terminal turned over to the NTA, but it remains unused.

Although NTA buses frequent the Buchanan to Monrovia route, passengers alight and board the buses at different locations along the streets of Buchanan instead of using the terminal. This happens even during heavy rainstorms, from which the terminal was designed to shelter passengers.

One reason the Buchanan terminal has never been used is the lack of proper planning and public consultation in selecting the location. Barley Tokpah, head of the local chapter of the National Civil Society Council of Liberia, said the terminal’s location is unsafe and not easily accessible.

Tokpah elaborated that the terminal’s location within the On Your Own Community, as opposed to a central and well-lit neighborhood, makes it an unsafe destination for passengers wishing to take trips during the early morning and late evening hours. The road to the terminal is far, dark, and isolated – all conditions that encourage criminal activities and attacks on them, Tokpah said.

He added that the decision of the terminal’s location was likely based more on where the government already had available land, instead of where was most suitable for a terminal that connected passengers from across Buchanan.

“From government to government, we’ve lack consultations at the local level,” he said. “Now that the road is not paved, [there’s] no electricity, and the building has been abandoned, I can say that it was not appropriate to build it there, taking into consideration the prevailing circumstances.”

He called on the NTA management to take responsibility of the situation because they did not conduct the required assessments before constructing the terminal.

Emmanuel Wragboe, a Buchanan resident, recommends that the heads of the agency who initiated the terminal project be made to pay for the taxpayer funds they wasted.

“This is [a] waste of taxpayers’ money,” he said. “If you are carrying development somewhere, you need to send your assessment team to do an investigation as to whether the place you want to do the development will be conducive for the people.”

Like the Buchanan terminal, the Gbarnga NTA terminal that was constructed under former managing director Karmo Ville’s administration is not being used. Bong County Youth Coordinator Dakai Mulbah described the abandoned terminal as a waste of public funds and blamed poor planning.

“The government used a lot of public resources to build this terminal, and it has been abandoned by the NTA itself and the citizens – it is a complete waste of public funds,” Mulbah said.

“The government cannot be spending a lot of money on something that is not conducive for the people. Now you see the people sitting under the rain, sun, and on the road awaiting car – it is wrong.”

The Gbarnga terminal is located on the Lofa highway, a significant distance from the center of the Bong capital.

“If the citizens were involved, they couldn’t have allowed the terminal to be built in that area,” Mulbah noted. “If you want to carry out development for a group of people, involve them. Anything that is not done properly is not done at all.”

Mulbah laments that so much government resources were wasted on buildings that would never be used: “That money should have been used on something different that would have improved the lives of the people.”

Meanwhile, in Margibi, residents still wait in the rain and scorching sun to board NTA buses. The construction of an NTA terminal has remained stalled for years.


                                                        Kakata NTA Terminal under construction. Photo by Yawah Jaivey


In 2013, construction of the Kakata terminal began but was interrupted during the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Seven years later, the project has remained on hold even though Ebola was eradicated from Liberia in 2015. The Dougbor Construction Company, which constructed the Buchanan terminal, also won the bid for the terminal in Kakata that was funded by the National Oil Company of Liberia, NOCAL.

In 2017, NTA’s then public affairs officer, Robert Wilson, told The Bush Chicken that the oil company agreed to fund the construction of terminals in Kakata and Bo, Grand Cape Mount.

The head of Margibi’s chapter of the National Civil society Council of Liberia, Friday Cursor, says he is concerned about the unexplained delay in the construction of the terminal.

NTA’s managing director, Herbie Teconbla McCauley, has turned down a request for a face-to-face interview to respond to concerns of abandonment of the terminals in the counties. Via text message, he blamed COVID-19 for the construction delay.

“Due to COVID, our partners that [are] supposed to carry [on] the project [have] been unable to because of the travel restrictions in China. However, as soon as things improve around the world we can assure our customers those projects will be undertaken,” he wrote.

McCauley refused to address the abandonment of already completed terminals. However, in 2018, the agency’s then corporate communications officer, Jimmy Tybalt, who is now operations manager, admitted in an interview that NTA had abandoned the terminal in Buchanan. Still, he blamed Ville, the former managing director, for authorizing the project. He told The Bush Chicken that the current administration would decide on the way forward.

This story was earlier published on the Bush Chicken and is a collaboration with the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) as part of the Ant-Corruption and Investigative Journalism Fellowship with founding from Sweden Sverige. The sponsor has no input in the story and the story does not necessarily reflect her views.

Featured photo by Sampson David

 Press Statement for Immediate Release

Tuesday August 31, 2021


Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, fellow Liberians:

The attention of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) has been drawn to recent developments bordering on the fight against Corruption in Liberia. With dismay, CENTAL has observed that Liberia’s foremost anti-graft institution, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), has again appeared in the media for reasons unbecoming of an institution of such importance in the Liberian society--a body charged with the responsibility of spearheading national efforts against corruption.

Earlier this year (2021), there were accusations and counter accusations of corruption involving the Vice Chairperson of the LACC, Cllr. Kanio B. Gbala and the then Executive Director, Atty. Mohammed Fahnbulleh. LACC’s internal investigation into the matter cited only ‘administrative lapses’ regarding the Vice Chair’s transactions and fell short of concluding that corruption had occurred.   And on Monday, August 31, 2021, Liberians woke up to a Frontpage Africa (FPA) publication, labelling the Vice Chair of the LACC, Cllr. Gbala as “conflicted” regarding a corruption scandal at the National Port Authority (NPA). CENTAL sees the initial action by the LACC to investigate Cllr. Gbala’s alleged Conflict as welcoming and a step in the right direction.

 However, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, Cllr. Gbala’s decision to request a leave of absence for a month in order to allow for investigation of the NPA matter and his responses to the FPA report raise more questions than answers. Is Cllr. Gbala’s leave of absence an acknowledgment of conflict? If so, why now? But if not, then Cllr. Gbala should not be granted leave of absence since he is not conflicted. In our opinion, Cllr. Gbala’s leave points to conflict in the matter. Section 9.11 of the Code of Conduct requires that “where public officials and employees of Government have direct or indirect personal interests in a matter being examined, he or she shall inform the authorities of those interests and shall excuse himself or herself before deliberations are held and a vote or decision is taken.” CENTAL, therefore, sees Cllr. Gbala’s decision to excuse himself at a time when the alleged conflict is reported as belated and inconsistent with law.

Moreover, according to FPA, Cllr. Gbala admitted to buying “shares in Creative Developers (CDI) on behalf of [his] younger sister, Zarylee Gbala upon being invited by his friend, Sidiki Fofana who established the company and is the CEO.” The question which emerges border on beneficial ownership—who ultimately owns or controls the 10% share Cllr. Gbala reportedly indicated buying for his sister? CENTAL encourages the LACC to consider this point in its investigation. Also, if reports that the National Port Authority’s (NPA) Managing Director, Bill Twehway owns majority shares in CDI are anything to go by, then the admission of the LACC Vice Chair does little to exonerate him. Where reports of Twehway’s ownership of shares are true, we are of the position that as a lead figure in the anti-corruption fight, Cllr. Gbala ought to have known that Twehway’s ownership of shares in a company performing services for the National Port of Authority represents a clear conflict of interest, and was therefore under duty to alert the LACC of corruption at the NPA. Section 9.6 of the Code of Conduct provides that no public official or employee of Government should use an official position to pursue private interests that may result in conflict of interest”. By reneging on his duty to blow the whistle, while at the same time buying shares for his sister, the LACC Vice Chair would be an active participant of corruption at the NPA.

Therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, we strongly urge the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, through its new Executive Chairperson, Cllr. Edwin Kla-Martin, to thoroughly and swiftly investigate this matter in order to retain public trust not only in the LACC but in all actors in the anti-corruption environment in Liberia. We urge the LACC to carefully consider points contained in this statement as it carries out its investigation and further call for openness with investigative findings and subsequent actions.

In conclusion, we call on the Government of Liberia, especially President George Weah to show more Political Will and Commitment in the fight against corruption in Liberia. Among others, this entails provision of adequate financial and moral support to public institutions to perform their respective functions. Widespread allegations of corruption of public sector corruption does very little to increase public and stakeholders’ confidence in the governance process. Additionally, we call on the public, media, and civil society to remain constructively engaged with the fight against corruption by denouncing corruption themselves and consistently demanding accountability and transparency from national leaders.

A better Liberia is only Assured when Corruption is Robustly and Sincerely Fought with the required Resources, Commitment, Political Will, and Citizens’ Participation!

Thank you.


Anderson Miamen

Executive Director


By: Gabriel B. Sawah


                                                                                          Current status of the Draw River Bridge Project in Zahnflahn Administrative District


This is the Draw River. Located near Zorh Town, River Cess, the river is calm and shallow in the dry. But when the rains come, it deepens and overflows. The community has been bedeviled by this seasonal challenge for many years and has intensely hoped for a lasting solution. The community would take a giant step towards the construction of a bridge but once public officials got involved, politics and corruption surfaced. The Bridge is yet to be.   

Meet Comfort Gardehway, a 27-year-old mother of two residing in Wholozohn Clan, Zarflahn Administrative District, River Cess County. Like many of her peers, she worries about her children’s education as the raining season intensifies. According to her, most kids (hers included) are unable to attend school when the Draw River overflows.   

She says that when the river overflows during the rains, women in labor often have to wait for days to make the crossing or, alternatively, are carried in hammocks to nearby health facilities.  “Some even give birth at the riverside and are attended to by traditional midwives”, she added.

Due to these and many other challenges, the community decided to construct a bridge. Thanks to land rental fees paid by the EJ&J Logging Company for carrying out commercial logging operations in the community forest.

In 2019, the community, through its Community Forestry Development Committee (CFDC), entered an agreement with LIDA (Liberia) Limited for the construction of a bridge valued at One hundred and Six Thousand United States Dollars (US$106,000). Of this amount, Thirty-Five Thousand United States Dollars (US$35,000) was to be provided by the CFDC and the remaining amount was to be sourced from the County Social Development Funds (CSDF) through a County Sitting resolution. The agreement was signed by the CFDC Chairperson Mathew Walley, then Legislative Caucus Chairperson Senator Dallas A.V. Gueh, Project Management Committee Chairperson Romeo Alphonso Kebbeh, Fiscal Affairs Superintendent Cyrus Elijah Kaysaynee and the Chief Executive Officer of LIDA (Liberia) Limited Marshall David Yeanue.


                                                                                                                                  View of the construction site

But two years later, the bridge project has barely begun. This has created a Pandora box as many wonder who is really telling the truth. Accusing fingers have been pointed from one end to another. County officials have said that the contractor (LIDA) brought in substandard materials, something which prompted them to issue a stay order on the construction. On the other hand, the head of the CFDC, Mathew Walley, has attributed the stalemate to the fact that county officials received money from the contractor, coupled with officials’ refusal to disburse the CSDF share of the project cost.

 “The Development Superintendent Amos Somah halted the construction work because he said the contractors were using low quality materials, but when we went there for verification, the Development Superintendent only identified the steel rod on grounds that the steel should have been 16mm instead of the 14mm that was used”, Walley of the CDFC said. But Walley himself has been accused of selling materials procured for the project. When confronted, Walley claimed that 100 bags of cement were given out to a business as a safeguard and would be replaced. When quizzed, this is how he responded: “so if we took it out for safety, is that not sufficient? I told you that the business that used it is waiting to replace it. What next will you ask? What I want you to do as an investigative journalist is to find out what is holding the bridge now? Why has the project delayed? What is the responsibility of the parties?”, he responded to our inquiry. 


                                                                                                                             Steel rods brought in by the company lie exposed at the project site

On March 19, 2021 a group under the banner Concerned Citizens Movement of Wholozohn Clan filed a complaint against Mathew Walley, head of the CFDC, to the 14th Judicial Circuit Court for River Cess County demanding answers about why the project has not resumed although materials are available at the project site.

Based on the group’s complaint, the court on April 5, 2021 cited the contractor (LIDA) through its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Marshall David Yeanue, Mathew Walley of the CFDC and Development Superintendent Amos Somah to appear and show cause why construction works have not resumed. At the hearing, the contractor admitted receiving Thirty-Seven Thousand United States Dollars (37,000.00USD) from the CFDC instead of the initially agreed Thirty-five Thousand United States Dollars (35,000.00USD).  The contractor assured the court of resuming work. Strangely, the contractor has recently argued that the contractual agreement placed the project duration at six business months and that since the duration has expired,  work would not resume until County authorities compensate for damages encountered as the result of the stay order, which  it says lacks technical basis.

A highly placed source who spoke to us on condition of anonymity said the stay order issued by Development Superintendent Amos Somah was motivated by personal interests. According to the source, Somah stopped the construction work because the Bid Evaluation Committee denied a construction firm, which he is linked to, the bridge construction contract. According to the source, Somah was also a member of the Bid Evaluation Committee and had attempted to turn the tide in favor of the company. However,  other committee members resisted.

The source also hinted another reason for the inability of County officials to take actions against the seemingly daring contractor. According to the source, the contractor (LIDA) gave Six Thousand United States Dollars (6,000USD) to Development Superintendent Somah and Assistant Fiscal Affairs Superintendent Cyrus Elijah Kaysaynee as “credit” to facilitate holding of the 2019 county sitting. Our investigation also revealed that the money was delivered to the officials by the contractor after the community had made good its share of the cost for the Draw River Bridge Project. The amount was withdrawn from the Forestry Management Committee Area B(FMC-B) account by CFDC Chairperson Matthew Walley and was presented to Fiscal Affairs Superintendent Elijah Kaysaynee and Development Superintendent Amos Somah.  A source closed to the transaction said the contractor had earlier told the County Officials that the money he was crediting the county   was part of the project fund. 


                                                                                                                                   Crushed rocks deposited at the project site

When contacted, Fiscal Affairs Superintendent Elijah Kaysaynee denied receiving any money from the contractor for personal affairs but argued that the county credited money from FMC Area K not Area B.

“We took money from the FMC Area-K; we did not take money directly from Marshall Yeanue, but we took money from the CFDC with an agreement, not with Marshall” he reacted. 

Meanwhile, River Cess Project Management Committee (PMC) Chairperson Remeo Alphonso Kebbeh has said that the disbursement of the Thirty-Five Thousand United States Dollars (USD$35,000) was done by the Fiscal Affairs Superintendent Elijah Kaysaynee and the CFDC chairman Mathew Walley without the PMC involvement.  

“The Fiscal Affairs [Superintendent] called me before they give the money to the contractor and he came back to River Cess and told me they had the entire transaction document” he explained.

Development Superintendent Amos Somah says  the county will not give LIDA  a dime to continue the project; adding that neither the county nor the  community is obligated to LIDA (Liberia) Limited.   He said he halted the project because of the substandard materials and that Mathew Walley and Marshall Yeanue must be held accountable for the failure of the project. Sadly, these materials remain exposed at the project site and stand the risk of theft.

There are many questions that remain unanswered as the Draw River remains a nagging concern for locals. Patriotic sons and daughters of the county are wondering why the contractor (LIDA) alone will challenge the entire county and the leadership remains mute and inert. Aren’t county officials complicit and compromised  by their “credit” of funds intended for the project? Is it not the responsibility of government to fund county sittings? Why is the CFDC which manages community forest revenues not taking any action? And why did the CFDC sell over 100 bags of cement intended for the project without the citizens concern? Plus where are the funds from the sale?  Are communities being robbed by county officials of the little they have to benefit from extraction of their forest resources? These questions may remain unanswered now but, with growing citizens’ demand for accountability, the answers might just come sooner than expected. Meanwhile, we continue to hope that the Draw River Bridge project delivers an actual bridge rather than a bridge only on paper. 


About the Author

Gabriel B. Sawah is a CENTAL Investigative Journalism Fellow and Manager at the Development Communication Network (DCN) Radio in Cestos, River Cess.

Editor: This article was edited by Gerald D. Yeakula, Esq., Program Manager at the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL).

Editor’s Note: This article is made possible through the National Integrity Building and Anti-Corruption (NIBA) program implemented by CENTAL with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the Embassy of Sweden. The donor has no input in the story and it does not necessarily reflect her views.    



By: Gloria Wleh


The James N. Davis Jr. Memorial Hospital (JDJ) was once operated by a medical humanitarian organization, Medicine Sans Frontieres (MSF), catering to the medical emergency needs of women and children. Their intervention helped improve access to healthcare for many Liberians.  But like all good stories, the MSF-JDJ story came to an end on April 2, 2010 with the turning over of the facility to the Government of Liberia. The hospital has been run by Government ever since but things have not remained the same. In fact, they have gotten worse.



                                                                                       The James N. Davis, Jr. Memorial Hospital in Neezoe. PhotoCredit: GNN Liberia


Ma Korpo Lake is elderly and lives in Totota, Bong County. She sells in the market to get her daily bread. In July, she made a trip to Monrovia to cater to Sonnie Morris—her 25-year old daughter on the verge of bringing forth a child.   When Sonnie was grabbed by the pangs of labor, Ma Korpo took her to the St. Benedict Mini Health Center in the Pipeline community, Paynesville. But after three days in labor, the facility referred her to the James N. Davis Jr., Memorial Hospital (JDJ) in Neezoe Community, for surgical operation. She was informed that her daughter was unable to bring forth the baby because the baby was breech.

 An anxious Ma Korpo departed for the JDJ in anticipation of a miracle that would save the lives of her daughter and the unborn child. But once at JDJ, things became gloomier.  In addition to the cost of the surgery, the public hospital requested Ma Korpo to purchase fuel for the running of the generator before her daughter is extended medical care. “Because they [St. Benedict Mini] were unable to do the work on my daughter, she was transferred to this hospital (JDJ). But as we arrived with her here, they [JDJ] told us to pay three thousand two hundred and forty Liberian dollars for six gallons of fuel, along with ten thousand and eighty-five Liberian dollars for the operation set, before they (JDJ) could touch my daughter." “And I am a market woman from Totota, Bong county; my daughter’s fiancé is a security man who is not employed but serves as a contract-security-guard for stores in Monrovia here; we don’t have the money to pay for all of the medical bill, but they (JDJ) told us that if we cannot buy the items they want, they were not going to cater to my daughter who needed urgent medical attention,” the down-hearted Ma Korpo lamented.

 Ma Korpo, who looked scared and worried, furthered that while she was terrified  and perplexed about her daughter’s life and that of the unborn hanging in the balance, the hospital kept demanding them to pay for those items before her daughter could be treated.

 “We later bought the fuel, but because we didn’t have enough money, we begged the hospital and paid LD$4,700 of the operation set payment, before they attended to my daughter,” she furthered.

“Sonnie’s wound has to be dressed two times daily. We need to buy drugs that cost LD$4,840; including the needles and gloves that are to be used to dress her wound for the next days she is to be receiving treatments; we have gone dry of money to even buy her the first cup of tea that she is supposed to drink every morning and evening; I don’t have anywhere to turn to for help right now”, Ma Korpoe said in a sad tone.

 But Ma Korpo is not alone. Like her, Joseph Doe (not his real name) took his pregnant wife to the JDJ for surgical operation, and was also told by the hospital to buy fuel for the hospital’s generator before she could receive any medical attention.

Joseph, who preferred being anonymous, said he had earlier on taken his wife to the Benson Hospital in Paynesville, but was later told by the hospital (Benson ) that his wife needed operation in order to bring forth their child, and that they (Benson Hospital) were unable to carry on such an operation.

“My wife couldn’t give birth all by herself that night, and so she was transferred from Benson Hospital to James N Davis Jr. Hospital for surgical operation, but upon reaching at the hospital, I was firstly told by the hospital to buy six gallons of fuel for their generator, before my wife’s emergency condition could be catered to.”

“I was shocked but with the great fear that was in me of not wanting to lose my wife, I hurriedly paid for the fuel and additional ten thousand plus Liberian dollars  for the surgical materials set, which were also required to be paid for in order for her to be treated.”

“I am till this date confused as to whether James Davis Hospital is a government owned facility, or a private institution. Because even at the private facility where my wife was, there were some services and medical material that were freely given to her,” he added.

“I paid for every single thing at that hospital, including the needle and gloves that were used on my wife. That place being an emergency treatment center for women and children seems to be a death trap for low income earners who might go there with the thought of it being a government facility that should have affordable services,” he stressed.

 The current situation at the James N. Davis Jr., Memorial Hospital in Neezoe, doesn’t seem to be a new issue there, as a Liberian journalist also explained his scenario when his wife was taken there, four years back. 

According to Necus Andrews who reports for The News Newspaper, his wife was taken to the JDJ Hospital  for Caesarean section (C-section), and he was told by the hospital, to buy six gallons of fuel for the hospital’s generator, before she could be attended to.

“When my wife was taken to the James N. Davis hospital in Neezoe, they told me to buy six gallons of fuel for the hospital’s generator before my wife could be catered to. Adding that the hospital was financially challenged, and that it was a tradition for patients who go there to be treated,” Journalist Andrews said.

 “I was scared of losing my wife, my child, or both of them; so as confused as any other person could be during such a time, I paid for the fuel and other items as asked for, but for someone who might not have to pay, it might turn out to be a death trap for them,” he noted.

“The purchasing of fuel before treatment at that hospital is a serious trauma-game that is played out on patients who go there for emergency treatments, and it poses a very serious psychological threat to a patient’s life. And even though that place claims to provide  a health service, I can safely say that that place is a death trap,” he maintained.

”National government needs to pay a very serious attention to the James N. Davis Hospital, by providing the basic materials for the smooth operations of the hospital. Their failure to do so would cause people who do not have the finances to go to this emergency facility for instant service, to lose their lives, or stop them from going there for treatment,” journalist Andrews stated.       

  When contacted, the head of the James N. Davis Jr., Memorial Hospital in Neezoe, said, “his institution is receiving funding from the government of Liberia, but it is not enough to cover all of the medical needs of the health center which caters to over fifty patients daily."

According to Director General Anthony Quayee, “requesting each patient who goes to the hospital for surgical treatment to buy fuel for the hospital’s generator is the only means by which the hospital is able to cater to the needs of its patients, without its generator having breakdown."

 The JDJ boss who also refused to be recorded added that the government has been unable to make available funding to the hospital in full and on time for its operations. Though the JDJ boss was tightlipped on funding received, and when it began receiving funding from the government of Liberia, our investigation shows that the JDJ and the Bensonville Hospital jointly received US$55,457.00 in fiscal year 2019/20. The funds received by these two hospitals amounts to only 55% of funding government provided to Senator Jeremiah Koung’s private hospital (the Esther & Jereline Medical Center in Ganta, Nimba) that year. Meanwhile, the Government has budgeted a meager US$100,000.00 for the two hospitals in the 2020/21 budget year.

When contacted on Thursday, July 22, 2021, the Minister of Health promised to do some assessments at the James N. Davis Hospital before speaking to the situation. But upon being called back on the 27th of July 2021, as requested, there was no feedback provided by her , as she was yet to carry out the assessment as promised. Other efforts to get the Minister’s comment proved futile.

 While we await words from the Minister of Health, we can only say that the nightmarish experiences of Ma Korpo and the likes are only a gist of what thousands, if not millions, of Liberians go through while seeking medical care. As many citizens visiting public health facilities complain of squeezing water out of rocks to shoulder said costs, we cannot stop but wonder how the nation treats its own. And for those who unfortunately do not meet up with said expenses, we only grind our teeth hoping that not so many have lost their lives in such situations. Until the Health Minister gets back, we continue to ask: Are public hospitals really death traps?

About the Author

Gloria Wleh is a CENTAL Investigative Journalism Fellow and reporter for The Stage Media (TSM). 

Editor: This article was edited by Gerald D. Yeakula, Esq., Program Manager at the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL).

Editor’s Note: This article is made possible through the National Integrity Building and Anti-Corruption  (NIBA) program implemented by CENTAL with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through the Embassy of Sweden.

Press Statement for Immediate Release

The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) is gladdened over the submission of anti-graft bills by His Excellency President George M. Weah to the Legislature. This is a step in the right direction. CENTAL believes that, when passed into Law, the Bills would further strengthen Liberia’s legal framework regarding anti-corruption by expanding powers of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and ensuring the protection of whistleblowers and witnesses. The bills are key to strengthening the independence of the LACC through granting it direct prosecutorial power and providing protection for would-be reporters/whistleblowers (victims and witnesses) of corruption.

It can be recalled that President Weah recently submitted a number of Bills including: the “proposed Act Restating An Act to Establish the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission,” “the proposed Whistle Blower Act of 2021,” and the “proposed Act amending of Part X, Section 10 of the Code of Conduct of 2014, to grant full authority to the LACC to compile, verify, maintain, and update a comprehensive asset declaration registry for all Government employees with specific sanctions for non-compliance. CENTAL notes that the efforts of the President are a fulfilment of his 2021 State of the Nation Address in which he informed the Honorable National Legislature that the said legislations would be presented to them for action.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Fourth Estate, while CENTAL applauds the great step taken by the President, we are concerned that no bill was submitted by the President for the creation of a dedicated Corruption and Related Financial Offences Court, or CRIMINAL COURT “F” even though its importance was recently highlighted in the President’s Annual Address. We believe that the judiciary has an important role to play in the fight against corruption and as such the need for the creation of a dedicated and specialized/fast-track court for corruption cases must be addressed. This Court is also very critical considering the backlog of cases on the dockets of existing courts. Therefore, CENTAL urges the President to similarly push for establishment of the Corruption and Related Financial Crimes/Offences Court.

We also call on the Legislature to ensure that these proposed anti-corruption instruments are speedily given due consideration. We note that the Whistle-Blower Bill has been lingering in the Legislature for over four (4) years without any action. Legislations critical to curbing the menace of corruption must be given adequate preference and scrutiny if we must succeed as a country. Thus, we call on the Senate and House of Representatives to prioritize these bills and as well involve all stakeholders including, civil society in processes leading to their passage. It is through stakeholders’ engagement through public hearings and other open and participatory processes that good and citizen-centered laws and policies are made.

Finally, we call on media, civil society, ordinary citizens, and development partners to closely follow and constructively engage with the Legislature for timely passage of these Bills and other instruments critical to strengthening the legal framework for promoting and entrenching the culture of accountability, transparency, and integrity in Liberia.

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