By Lewis S. Teh
Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia or CENTAL, says the decision of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission vice-chair Cllr. Kanio Bai Gbala to recuse himself from an ongoing corruption investigation that he is linked to is belated and inconsistent with law.
“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 raises more questions than answers”, says CENTAL executive director Anderson Maimen said during a news conference in Monrovia on Tuesday, August 31, 2021.
He asks whether Cllr. Gbala’s leave of absence indicates an acknowledgment of conflict, and if so, why now or if not, then the anti-graft commission deputy should not be granted leave of absence since he is not conflicted.
He says CENTAL sees Cllr. Gbala’s decision to excuse himself at a time when the alleged conflict is reported as belated.
Miamen quotes media reports as saying 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.”
He further argues that Cllr. Gbala’s leave points to a potential conflict, adding that Section 9.11 of the Code of Conduct for public officials requires that where public officials and employees of government have direct or indirect personal interests in a matter being examined, they should make those interests known and excuse themselves before deliberations are held and a decision is taken.
The CENTAL boss says the concern borders on beneficial ownership, particularly who ultimately owns or controls the 10 percent share Cllr. Gbala reportedly indicated buying for his sister and encourages the LACC to consider this point in its ongoing investigation.
“If reports that the National Port Authority (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”, CENTAL maintains.
On Monday, August 30, 2021, Liberians woke up to a news report labeling the Vice-Chair of the LACC, Cllr. Gbala as “conflicted” regarding a corruption scandal at the National Port Authority (NPA), and therefore CENTAL sees the initial action by the LACC to investigate Gbala’s alleged Conflict as welcoming and a step in the right direction.
Miamen also quotes Section 9.6 of the Code of Conduct which he says provides that “no public official or employee of Government should use an official position to pursue private interests that may result in a 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”, argues.
At the same time the Center calls on the government through the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, and its new Executive Chairperson, Cllr. Edwin Kla-Martin, to thoroughly and swiftly investigate the matter in order to retain public trust not only in the Commission 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.”
CENTAL also wants President George Weah to show more political will and commitment in the corruption fight in Liberia, noting that this entails the provision of adequate financial and moral support to public institutions to perform their respective functions.
He notes that widespread allegations of public sector corruption do very little to increase public and stakeholders’ confidence in the governance process.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/cental-calls-for-swift-at-lacc/