Lesson 101 for corrupt officials in Liberia: It’s not business as usual
In Transparency International’s 2015 corruption index list, Liberia was ranked 83 out of 168 countries, making it one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Although, the country could be considered least corrupt when placed in comparison with other African countries like Nigeria, Chad, Burundi or Somalia, lack of accountability and corruption is causing decay in the Liberian economy.
Since Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the president, she has made the fight against corruption one of her top priorities and has implemented some strategies for reform. In 2010, Liberia became the first West African country to pass the Freedom of Information Act, which gives members of the press and the general public unrestrained access to public records. Also the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) was set up in order to expose and combat official corruption. All of this was done in an attempt to ensure accountability in public offices.
However, fighting corruption has not been an easy task for the first female president in Africa, she came under a lot of criticism when the Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report in 2011 where they implied that the government did not thoroughly follow through with their arrests. It was noted that, of numerous arrests that year, there were only a few investigations and two convictions.
They also reported that the LACC, which is supposed to prosecute crimes, “hampered by insufficient funds [and] personnel” and does not have the “authority to independently prosecute cases.” HRW implied that the inability of Sirleaf to deal with this issue has led to “the perception that the president lacks the will to address the problem.”
The Liberian President seems to have moved past criticism and is now cracking down on corrupt officials. With the help of LACC she is determined to rid the nation of corruption and impunity, starting with government officials.
Some of the officials who may eventually be prosecuted include:
Nelson Williams, the former Managing Director, Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC).
Aaron Wheagar, the former Deputy Managing Director for Operations at the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC).
Miatta Beyslow, former Minister for Commerce.
The above mentioned officials are expected to appear before the court on charges of economic sabotage, misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy, criminal facilitation and violation of the required PPCC procedures and processes. They allegedly awarded a contract of over US$1million to several petroleum companies, without going through the necessary Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) procedures.
Robert Saygbe, Secretary of the Liberian Senate.
Saygbe reportedly received a bribe of US$2,000.00
Sekou Kanneh, Montserrado County District #2 Representative
Kanneh is being accused of fraud over a deal with the Donkan Gas Station and the Commission on Higher Education at the Ministry of Education.
Dr. Michael Slawion
Slawion was indicted for receiving government money for a plane ticket and perdiem for a trip abroad which was never executed.
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