President George Manneh Weah is yet to appoint another government lawyer to prosecute former officials indicted by Global Witness recently in a damning report for allegedly receiving bribes to award Old Block 13 to Exxon Mobile, and America company.
President Weah had earlier appointed Justice Minister and Attorney-General of the republic of Liberia, Cllr. Musa S. Dean, to head the prosecution of those ex-officials named in the GW report. But the UK-based environmental watchdog objects to the appointment, citing conflict of interest and calling for his recusal, as Cllr. Dean represented the state in the signing of the NOCAL deal with Exxon Mobile.
Prudently, the Justice Minister heeded the GW’s call for his recusal and graciously backed off last week, leaving the task, which places him in a position to collaborate with the process by explaining his role played, rather being a player and referee at the same time.
Since he stepped down from the pending investigation, the President is yet to name another lawyer to proceed with prosecuting all those former officials named in the report, including Mr. Robert Sirleaf, former board chair of NOCAL.
The Executive Mansion in Monrovia hs not provided any explanations why the delay by President Weah in appointing another competent lawyer to take over the case and bring all those mentioned in the report to book.
We are raising this early concern because memories are still fresh about poor handling of similar trial of GW report by the past administration that had now become a cartoon, rather than a case with all indictees walking around today as free men.
It is very important that the President keeps his courage that moves him in the first place, to hace called for prosecution, appointing the Justice Minister, who however, fell short of the ethical standards to proceed accordingly.
We believe it is but expedient and morally imperative that he does so immediately to maintain the public confidence he has generated by calling for prosecution in the first place.
If the Coalition-led government can gather all relevant pieces of evidence and try those accused by GW in a competent court, it would have won for itself increased public trust both at home and in the international community about its professed determination to stamp out graft and corruption in the public sector of our country, where its predecessor failed miserably.
Consequently, we call on President Weah not to allow the momentum to diminish by promptly naming another lawyer to proceed with the prosecution accordingly, which would indicate a strong mark of departure from business as usual.