President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has reportedly forwarded a bill to the National Legislature, seeking an amendment in the Act, creating the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission or LACC, to enable that institution to directly prosecute corruption cases. The move by the President followed repeated frustrations expressed by the Chairperson of the LACC Cllr. Frances Johnson-Alison (formerly Frances Johnson Morris) over delays by the Justice Ministry in prosecuting individuals forwarded by the commission.
The apparent bottleneck or what appears to be a lack of political will on the part of the Justice Ministry to prosecute suspected corrupt officials has made the LACC a toothless bulldog in the corruption war declared by President Johnson Sirleaf in her inaugural speech. The President has been quoted as stressing that the intent of the bill forwarded to the Legislature is to enhance the “vigorous fight against corruption and further strengthen the Commission by direct, but non-exclusive power, to prosecute cases involving corruption and other related offense.”
We welcome wholeheartedly, the move by the Executive to practicalize the corruption fight which is very crucial in demonstrating the government’s professed commitment to eradicating dishonesty, graft and broad day theft in public offices. Corruption is one of the key ingredients for bad governance hence; every honest step should be taken to tackle this menace, which continues to erode the very fabric of our nation.
The Liberia Anti Corruption Commission, under the chairmanship of Cllr. Johnson-Alison, has made few notable strives in bringing to book individuals, who take delight in siphoning public funds at the detriment of the vast majority of the citizenry. We are fully aware of the ongoing trial of former Liberia Telecommunication Authority boss Albert Bropleh for misapplying thousands of dollars, while serving that entity.
The LACC Chair has also remained unbending in making sure that former Police Director Munah Sieh Brown is giving her day in court to account for funds entrusted in her care to procure uniforms for LNP officers. Speaking at the Commission’s third anniversary ceremony on Monday, its Vice Chair Joseph Kollie Acqui, Sr. recommended the setting up of Fast Track Court on corruption. “The Commission is often dismayed by the delay in prosecuting cases of corruption”, he added.
According to him, the LACC has prosecuted nine cases and forwarded five to the Justice Ministry for further trial. We believe the government’s commitment to fighting corruption will not be taken seriously if one set of officials are put on trial while others are allowed to go scout free. The battle against corruption should be holistic no matter who’s involved.
It is therefore our hope that the current bill before the Legislature, when passed into law, will truly take the corruption fight one step further by giving the LACC a free hand in sweeping this ‘public enemy number one’ out of our governing system to ensure unhindered delivery of basic social services to our people.