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NEC challenges LACC

-dismisses claim of guilt

By Jonathan Browne

The Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC) Davidetta Browne Lansanah, says last Wednesday’s claim by the Executive Chair of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission Cllr. Edwin Kla Martin in a press conference that she made certain admissions of guilt during the NEC appearance before the LACC is false and misleading. 

“We appeared before the LACC with our legal counsels, submitted the requested documents along with written statements; at no time during the interviews did any of us ever make any admission of guilt as falsely stated during the LACC’s December 15th press conference”, Madam Lansanah clarifies in a general response at a press conference here late Sunday, December 19, 2021, exactly four days after the LACC indicted her and other staff of the NEC  for awarding a contract to her brother in an apparent conflict of interest.

She argues that an agency with investigative and/or prosecutorial powers such as the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission is obligated not to make, condone, or cause to be made public, statement the agency knows or should reasonably know has the likelihood of prejudicing a criminal matter or heightening public condemnation of the target of an investigation.  

“Fellow Liberians, on November 19, 2021, the LACC served us with letters of invitation to appear for investigation. Before the ink could dry on the letter of invitation, the LACC sent it to local media, and its Chairman later that day appeared on the Voice of America international broadcast to tell the World the LACC had placed us under criminal investigation.” 

The NEC boss notes that on advice of her lawyers and out of respect for the LACC as another institution of government, the Commission had remained silent even in the face of weekly prejudicial leaks by the LACC to certain local dailies claiming it had found criminal wrongdoing but was receiving political pressure concerning the investigation, saying “Never before has such calculative and coordinated leaks been seen in the LACC’s investigative history.

“Following its investigation, the LACC through its Chairman held a press conference on December 15, 2021, in which he told the public the LACC had completed its investigation and then read out an outcome claiming we had made certain admissions of guilt during our appearance before the LACC. This is false and misleading.”

Report had it in November 2021 that the NEC under the supervision of Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah during the November 16, 2021 by-elections in four counties, rented thermometers from a company called Tuma Enterprises Inc., allegedly owned by her brother for over US$180,000 outside of government procurement regulations.

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But she reveals that up to the time of the press statement containing NEC’s general response, the LACC has not served the Commission with its report, so it cannot provide a detailed response to allegations contained in the LACC’s findings. “Moreover, because the LACC has not served its report on us, we on December 17, 2021, wrote the LACC requesting the report since it had already released the report to the public.”

“As we await the LACC’s report to provide a detailed response, we note that the Liberian Constitution instructs that an announcement to pursue an indictment should not raise inference of guilt, as all accused persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law”, Chairperson Brown Lansanah reminds the LACC.

Meanwhile, the NEC boss assures the public that the Commission remains focused on its critical role in the nation’s system of government to conduct free, fair, and credible elections here.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/nec-clarifies-us182k-thermometer-ai-device/

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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