New Castle, Delaware- The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas(ALJA), is recommending the dissolution of the Fonati Koffa Presidential Task Force recently set-up recently by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to probe the damning Global Witness report, which linked some former and current officials of the Liberian government to bribery.
The London based watch dog group, Global Witness, in a report titled, The Deceivers, released a week ago, alleged the British company, Sable Mining, in collusion with the Chairman of the ruling Unity Party(UP), Counselor Varney Sherman, in the year 2010, dished out more than US 950 thousand dollars to several top government officials of the Johnson Sirleaf administration to make alterations in Liberia’s mining laws with the sole purpose of giving the company undue influence in securing concession rights to Liberia’s Wologizi iron ore.
Counselor Sherman, the report alleged told Sable Mining that in order to get the contract the company must first offer bribes to senior officials to change Liberia’s concession laws. ALJA in a press release issued on Monday, May 23, 2016, said it wants the task force disbanded because the Task Force’s Chairman, Counselor Fonati Koffa, lacks the rectitude to head such an important investigation. ALJA said because of Counselor Koffa’s past criminal history in the United States, he is not credible to handle such a high profile case.
ALJA said Counselor Koffa, who now serves in the Sirleaf Government as Minister of State without Portfolio, is unfit to lead the investigation because he is a convicted felon. In the year 2006, Counselor Koffa pled guilty to four federal charges in the United States in relation to his suspected embezzlement of US 500 thousand dollars. He is reported to have duped several clients of his in the State of North Carolina while providing legal services to them as a private attorney. He was convicted, fined 250 thousand dollars, and sentenced to jail for more than two years. He is barred from practicing law in the US.
Meanwhile, ALJA says it welcomes the action taken by the Liberian Government in bringing to justice Counselor Sherman, House Speaker Alex Tyler, and the others, who allegedly connived with Sable Mining to engage in economic crime against Liberia. However, the Association is proposing that the investigation be turned over to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and the Ministry of Justice for speedy prosecution.
ALJA said the LACC and the Justice Ministry have the statutory authority for resolving such matter. The Association also, called on Counselor Sherman, Speaker Tyler, the UK based Sable Mining and Global Witness, and all parties associated with the reported bribery case to cooperate fully with the Liberian government in getting to the core of the matter.
Gardea V. Woodson
National Secretary General
Moses D. Sandy, MSW