The United States-based International Justice Group (IJG) condemns the current state of affairs in Liberia and calls on all civil society actors and the international community to deplore the George Weah-led government’s lack of action and indecisiveness over human rights, corruption and important national issues such as justice, war crimes court and full implementation of the TRC Report.
IJG Executive Director, Cllr. Jerome J. Verdier, Sr., addressing Liberian journalists in America, further condemns acts of criminal elements within the government to pervert the ends of justice which got Grand Cape Mount County Senator Cllr Varney Sherman and others recently off the hook in the sable mining bribery scandal case.
A dispatch from Washington, DC quotes Cllr. Verdier as saying the IJG reliably unearthed that the presiding Judge in the Sable Mining case, Judge Peter Gbeneweleh, the prosecution team headed by Justice Minister, Cllr F. Musah Dean, Solicitor General, Cllr CyreniusCephas, County Attorney, Cllr Edward Martin and the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill, allegedly constituted themselves into a criminal syndicate to pervert justice by minimizing evidence and subsequently letting Cllr Varney Sherman off the hook characterized by executive coercion, diminution of records and other artifices to guarantee the acquittal of Cllr Sherman on all charges.
“To ensure this, without let, His Honor Justice Nagbe posited himself in court at the acquittal verdict to demonstrate solidarity with the scheme in pledge of loyalty to the Chief Executive”, he notes.
He says the Varney Sherman/Sable Mining conspiracy to subvert the justice process was cooked up by the Executive Branch of Government allegedly led by Minister Nathaniel McGill, who criminally solicited and enlisted the help of Cllr Varney Sherman, Senator Grand Cape Mount County, to overtly violate Article 73 of the Constitution of Liberia in order to facilitate the unsavory impeachment of Justice Kabineh Ja’neh through a kangaroo trial, in return for a promise by Mr. McGill, guaranteed by his boss (President Weah) to get him (Cllr. Verney) acquitted of all charges in the Sable Mining Bribery Case, thus making way for Justice Joseph Nagbe’s enrollment.
Cllr. Verdier reminds that Justice Kabineh Ja’neh was impeached for judgment he rendered in his judicial and official capacity as “Justice in Chambers Presiding” contrary to the expressed provisions of Article 73 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution.
Article 73 of the Constitution state, “No judicial official shall be summoned, arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried civilly or criminally by or at the instance of any person or authority on account of judicial opinions rendered or expressed, judicial statements made and judicial acts done in the course of a trial in open court or in chambers, except for treason or other felonies, misdemeanor or breach of the peace. Statements made and acts done by such officials in the course of a judicial proceeding shall be privileged, and, subject to the above qualification, no such statements made, or acts done shall be admissible into evidence against them at any trial or proceeding.”
Meanwhile, Cllr. Verdier laments the introduction of violence and thuggery into the political space here is abhorring and ridiculously reminiscence of the ruthless era of the ex-ruling National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) Youth Wing Task Force of the slain President Samuel K. Doe.
He explains that as ruthless as the NDPL era was, what is obtaining in President George Weah’s Liberia is the euphoric escalation of violence, thuggery and lawlessness, threatening the democratic space and thereby constituting a major threat to the country’s democratic aspirations for a free, open and competitive society without fear or intimidation but with security, protection and equal opportunity for all.
According to him, what started as an isolated event with Grand Bassa County Senator YongbleeKarngar Lawrence and the opposition Liberty Party (LP), spilled over to Montserrado County District#10 Representative YekeKolubah, who complained on diverse occasions of attempts by government operatives to kill him and some children within his electoral district.
“Now, violence and gangster-style killings have taken on a national fervor, law and order is rapidly breaking down and a state of anarchy and lawlessness is brewing in Liberia and the Weah Government as yet remains silent, spurring widespread suspicions that the President, is without doubt, behind the violence by his CDC’s goons to intimidate and coerce the opposition into submission and clamp down dissent as part of his political ambition to become a dictator in power for 27 years or more, surpassing President William V.S. Tubman.”
“That Liberia is a kleptocracy, this we know, but overwhelming tendencies of criminality, impunity, autocracy, banal disregard for human rights, and the elementary principles of good governance are worrying signs that, if corrective measures are not taken to reverse this trend, Liberia may slide back to the pariah state status it once was…” warns the former chair of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
However, he says while it is true that all of Liberia’s problems are not attributable to President Weah, his nonchalant disposition on corruption and human rights and his seeming condoning of the violence is a flaw of his presidency, pointing to a leadership deficit that demands attention.
He notes the President is indecisive, demonstrating a lack of authority and capacity over his men and cannot rein them in to follow the law or operate within the confines of the law, citing lack of Asset Declaration by public officials as a case in point.
The former TRC boss continues that President Weah prioritizes his social life more than the welfare of the poor people who voted him to office, saying, “The President, wanting in knowledge and sophistication has surrounded himself with low life figures, who have no vision or love for the country.”
He says the President and his team have failed to adopt any appreciable policy approach to address the issues confronting the country, as they have no plan for redressing the economy, stimulating national development or national reconciliation.Cllr. Verdier headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia, which final report recommends prosecution for perpetrators of heinous crimes and crimes against humanity here during the brutal civil war.
“To date, the President and his team have failed to embrace or appreciate the mammoth demands for the establishment of the War Crimes Court in full implementation of the TRC Report and in furtherance of US House Resolution HR 1055.
The President is giving lip-service to accountability and corruption issues. Neither Mr. President nor his officials have been audited or complied with the assets declaration requirements of law. Just as the both the National Legislature and the Honorable Supreme Court have never been audited, Continuing the policies of Former President Sirleaf, rendering these venerable branches of government as now national institutions of corruption and disgrace.”
He specifically points that President Weah granted a construction contract to his friend he claimed offered him a plane as gift without making full disclosure to the National Legislature or the people of Liberia directly, as to the nature of the gift as is customarily the case, and reminds, “Bribery is an impeachable offense against the integrity of the state.”
Cllr. Verdier alleges the President presided over the criminal misapplication of US25m intended for a mopping up exercise to remove excess liquidity from the Liberian market. However, he says with the explicit consent of the President the money was diverted for private, instead of public use, and a parallel market in foreign exchange was created to exchange missing Liberian banknotes with the US banknotes, bordering on exchange rate manipulation, insider dealing, money laundering, embezzlement, misappropriation of entrusted property, theft of property and fraud.
“The President has directly supervised the stealing of public money for personal causes but without accountability. The President withdrew US$80m out of the Liberian International Reserves in New York. Out of this amount only US$55 could be accounted for at the Central Bank. The difference of US$25m was commandeered from the airport to the Rehab Residence of the President. This deliberate, blatant act of thievery by the President is a felonious transgression that renders him unfit for the public trust and office he occupies”, concludes the critically outspoken Liberian lawyer, who currently resides in the United States.