President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf conceded in her 2014 Annual Message to the Liberian Legislature that corruption, which she had earlier described in her inaugural speech in 2006 as “Enemy Number One”, has transformed to vampires, eating the fabric of Liberia and depriving citizens of much desire socio-economic development.
Graft in the Sirleaf administration has become widespread so much so that the nation’s celebrated National Oil Company of Liberia or NOCAL crumbled last year, declaring bankruptcy even while in its infancy and unable to settle accumulated rentals to its landlord or lessor, the Episcopal Church of Liberia.
Several past and current officials of the government have been indicted in audit reports released by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission with some being tried and others on the run, evading justice. The Government, apparently embarrassed by citizens’ outcry against the lack of accountability and broad day theft in the public sector, issued a Writ of Arrest Wednesday, 24 February against four ex-officials, including a former member of the cabinet for alleged economic sabotage, misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy, criminal facilitation and violation of required Public Procurement Concession Commission or PPCC procedures and processes for their role in the sale of rice donated by the Government of Japan to the People of Liberia.
The indictment was issued by the resident circuit judge at the First Judicial Circuit, Criminal Assizes “C” for Montserrado County, A. Blamo Dixon, sitting in its February Term, 2016 thru the LACC, has ordered the arrest of ex-Commerce Minister, Madam Miata Beysolow; the former director of the Division of Price Analysis and Marketing at the same ministry, Steve FlahnPaye; former managing of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), T. Nelson Williams and the ex-Deputy Managing Director for Operations at the LPRC Aaron J. Wheagar.
They were allegedly involved in a fraud that robbed the State of millions of United States dollars during the sale and distribution of the Japanese oil grant valued at US$13,083, 350 or the equivalent of one billion, one hundred million Japanese Yen donated by the Japanese Government.
The scheme involved 15,000 metric tons of petroleum products that were intended to help the government in its economic and social development efforts, which prosecution put the total amount collected from the sale as up to US$5,764, 110.84.
Accordingly, the government has also issued a Writ of Summons against Aminata& Sons Incorporated through its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. SiakaTuray, in connection with the criminal syndicate. At the same time, ex-managing director of the National Port Authority Miss Matilda Parker and her comptroller have been on trial for more than US$800,000 contractual agreement.
The list of suspected vampires that have drained the state coffers could be countless in the months ahead, especially as the administration is left with less than 24 months to leave power.