-Calls for speedy determination
The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) has welcomed the recent ruling from the Supreme Court of Liberia in a corruption case involving former Defense Minister Mr. J. Brownie Samukai and his two deputies.
“We at CENTAL want to express delight over recent Supreme Court ruling affirming the judgment of the first judicial circuit court Criminal Assizes “C in the case involving the former Defense Minister, holding the defendants guilty of the crime of theft of property, criminal conspiracy, and misuse of public money,” CENTAL said Wednesday, 10 February.
The case relates to funds contributed by men and women of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) towards their pension, but were used without their approval by the former Defense Minister and his two deputies.
Addressing a major news conference at CENTAL office in Monrovia, Mr. Anderson Miamen, Executive Director of CENTAL said though they believe that the court missed an opportunity to call corruption by its name, CENTAL however remains optimistic about the decision of the court.
According to Miamen, the court admonished public officials to have legal reliance and a legal basis for the fulfillment of their statutory responsibilities as laid down by statue, and their special duties as commanded by the head of state.
“We are of the opinion that this position by the court presents a teaching moment to public officials who go to any length to endear themselves to the presidency or any authorized individuals at the expense of our laws and public interest,” he adds.
Miamen further says CENTAL agrees with the court that a minister or public official receiving presidential orders, whose obedience requires violation of an existing policy or law has a duty to advise the president or cause the Minister of Justice to advise the president.
Referencing the court’s decision further, he says if the president insists on the implementation of the illegal order, the minister has the option to disobey the president and resign honorably with integrity.
CENTAL says while the ruling of the court references the presidency due to the facts presented by the case under review, it strongly believes that it applies to other public officials and individuals taking instruction from their superiors.
Meanwhile CENTAL has called on President George M. Weah to timely appoint a new Chairperson at the Liberia Anti- Corruption Commission (LACC), the government’s leading entity in the fight against corruption in the country.
“We call for a broad base consultation with civil society organizations, development partners, and other critical stakeholders in processes leading to the recruitment of the next LACC Chairperson, and officials of public integrity institutions across the country,” CENTAL continues.
By Lewis S. Teh–Edited by Winston W. Parley