Rev. David Kiamu
The opposition All Liberian Party or ALP of businessman Benoni Urey says the taskforce appointed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to probe the latest Global Witness Report on Liberia, linking several past and current officials, including House Speaker Alex Tyler and the chairman of the governing Unity Party Senator Varney G. Sherman to a bribery scandal lacks credibility.
The ALP says the taskforce headed by the Minister of State Without Portfolio Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Kofa could be easily influenced by the President herself. According to the party, if President Sirleaf is very much concerned about the bribery scandal involving some of her top officials both in the Executive and the Legislature,, and truly wants to know that facts as she claims, she should have done something different then instructing people that she has direct influence over.
“We think by instituting committees that she has direct influence over is not going to change anything from this investigation, because these are people that work at her will, and pleasure. Let’s look at the composition of the team; these are all people that can say yes sir, so when I look at the team, I wonder if the team is going to have the teeth that is needed. We at the ALP are very much disappointed in the President”, said the party’s secretary general Rev. David Kiamu.
Addressing reporters Tuesday, May 17, at the party headquarters in Old Road community, Rev. Kiamu said ALP appreciates the President for the decision to appoint a taskforce to probe the bribery saga, team should constitute people detached from government or private individuals with independent minds who would not be influenced.
The party noted that those government officials named in the report should relinquish their offices and face the investigation to exonerate themselves. Rev. Kiamu stressed that transparency is at stake in Liberia, adding “If I were the President, to prove to people that I am transparent, rather than asking people who say yes to me, I would have moved out of the circle of people that I influence, and ask people that are very much independent, people who don’t need me, people who don’t have to say yes sir to me; this is what we call transparency.”
Global Witness’ exposé released recently in Monrovia uncovered over US$950,000 in bribes, involving top officials of government and other suspicious payments by UK mining firm Sable Mining and its Liberian lawyer, Cllr Varney Sherman. Responding to Global Witness’ findings, the government pledged to investigate and hold those culpable to account.
Among others, the report shows how in 2010 Sable hired Cllr. Varney Sherman, Liberia’s best-connected corporate lawyer and current Chairman of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party, in an effort to secure one of Liberia’s last mining assets, the Wologizi iron ore concession in northern Liberia.
By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne