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GeneralLiberia news

Prosecute sanctioned officials

--Civil society groups petition LACC

By Lewis S. Teh

At least eight Civil Society and Community-based organizations have petitioned the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to investigate and prosecute sanctioned officials.

The petitioners are made up of 228 practitioners under the auspices of the Joint Civil Society Anti-Corruption Initiative (JOCSAI).

In their petition, they have asked the newly confirmed Board of Commissioners at LACC to act against alleged sanctioned officials.

The CSO groups said they are committed to supporting the fight against corruption and bad governance in Liberia.

They call on the LACC to launch a timely, robust, and impartial investigation into corruption allegations.

They also petitioned the LACC to prosecute the concerned officials in line with its mandate of investigating and prosecuting all allegations and incidences of corruption in Liberia.

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 JOCSAI gets its funding support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA) through the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL).

JOCSAI took to the streets in Monrovia Wednesday, 6 December 2023 seeking the attention of the government through the LACC regarding its demand for investigation and prosecution of alleged corrupt officials.

The group presented a petition to the LACC to act on corruption allegations which led the U.S. to sanction three Liberian officials in the outgoing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)-led government.

Reading the petition at LACC’s office in Congo Town, JOCSAI member Alfreda T. Joe disclosed that Transparency International defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power and authority for private gain.

Alfreda lamented that corruption is pervasive in Liberia and it is considered one of the major causes of the country’s gross underdevelopment and poverty-stricken conditions of its citizens.

She noted that the country is endowed with natural and other valuable resources.

The group began its match against corruption from CENTAL’s head office and paraded the streets with several banners carrying different inscriptions.

Some read: Investigate sanctioned officials for a better Liberia; and don’t be part of corruption, be part of the solutions, among others.

According to JOCSAI, the Government of Liberia, supported by international partners, citizens, and other stakeholders, has established key anti-graft institutions and passed key laws.

It said the laws include the New Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission Act of 2022, the Whistleblowers Protection Act, the Witness Protection Act, and the Amended Code of Conduct for Public Officials.

Additionally, JOCSAI noted that Liberia has signed up to key international anti-corruption frameworks to fight against corruption. 

It named some of those frameworks as the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC).

Despite these efforts, JOCSAI lamented that the fight against corruption in Liberia remains challenged and undermined by several factors.

Alfreda named low budgetary and logistical support to public integrity institutions, and weak enforcement of anti-corruption laws and policies, as some of the challenges.

Alfreda called on the LACC to request from the United States Government all information related to corruption allegations involving persons sanctioned between 9 December 2020 to August 2022, regarding whom prosecutions are yet to commence.

She named the sanctioned officials including Cllr. Varney G. Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County; Nimba Senator Prince Y. Johnson; Margibi County Senator-elect Nathaniel McGill; River Cess County Senator-elect Bill Twehway; and Liberia’s former Solicitor General Cllr. Sayma Cyrenius Cephas.

In response to JOCSAI’s petition, LACC Executive Chairperson Cllr. Alexandra Zoe thanked the group for taking what she called a bold step in seeking a corruption-free society for the growth of the country.

“We are glad that you have come up with this, but I want to assure you that these actions [are] part of the LACC’s plan for 2024 to go after corrupt officials who have been accused,” she said.

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