The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) said while it welcomes the resignation of the three former sanctioned officials, the Government through the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) should ensure they declare their assets in line with the Code of Conduct.
Front Page Africa reports that Part 10 of the Code of Conduct for public officials requires them to declare their assets, incomes, and liabilities while entering government, upon being promoted, and upon leaving government.
It states: “Every Public Official and Employee of Government involved in making decisions affecting contracting, tendering or procurement, and issuance of licenses of various types shall sign performance or financial bonds and shall, in addition, declare his or her income, assets, and liabilities prior to taking office and thereafter: a. at the end of every three years; b. on promotion or progression from one level to another; c. upon transfer to another public office; and d. upon retirement or resignation.”
The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission must legally ensure that they fully comply with this provision of the Code of Conduct, which is an important anti-corruption and accountability instrument, CENTAL urged.
The three officials including Mr. Nathaniel F. McGill, former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs; Mr. Bill Tweahway, former Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA); and Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, former Solicitor General, bowed to public pressure and tendered their resignations while under suspension following their designation by the U. S. Treasury Department for alleged public corruption in Liberia.
In a statement issued on Tuesday at a press conference, CENTAL, through its Executive Director Anderson Miamen called on President George Weah to commission a full-scale investigation to revive his “weak stance on corruption.”
“We welcome the resignations tendered in by the former officials themselves, possibly after a period of reflection and having realized that their disposition and statuses are incompatible with public office.”
Continuing, it said: “Notwithstanding, we reiterate call for the President to immediately commission a full-scale impartial and independent investigation into the alleged ‘public corruption’ practiced by the trio, in their former capacities. Their immediate investigation and prosecution will somehow signal a revival of the President’s weak stance against corruption.”
Since President Weah’s former officials including his confidante and chief-of-staff McGill were designated by the United States Government for their involvement in significant Public Corruption including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, and corruption related to the extraction of natural resources, CENTAL has been consistent in calling on the President to go beyond the suspension to part ways with them to boost his government’s fight against graft.
The President declined and said dismissal would have been pre-judicial, offering them a chance to have their day in court.
However, amid immense pressure from the public, and ahead of the President’s trip to the U.S., the trio resigned.
CENTAL said President Weah’s failure to take a tough stance against his former officials further demonstrated his lack of political will to adequately tackle corruption, no matter by whom it is practiced.
‘Confusing and vague’
Following the designations by the US Government, the President, on August 16, 2022 suspended the concerned officials with immediate effect to enable them to face investigation. But CENTAL pointed out that the statement conveying the decision did not mention anything about the forum to investigate the matter.
CENTAL said this was particularly confusing considering that the President had less than a month prior to sign inito law a bill that dismantled the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), creating a successor commission that may not get afloat anytime soon, the anti-graft institution noted.
It added that given the prevailing circumstances at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and the grave nature of the offences these officials are said to have perpetrated, it recommend that the President should establish an independent panel to investigate these troubling allegations.
“The Ministry of Justice must be instructed to work closely with the panel, following its investigations, to have the former officials prosecuted, if probable cause is established.”