Since it was announced by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) indicting several current and former government officials of corruption, and the misapplication of entrusted funds, the proponent of this recent move has been met with huge criticisms from the public and those being indicted challenging the allegation.
Some of those being accused and indicted including Dr. James Kollie; former Deputy Minister for Revenue at the Ministry of Finance, Development and Planning (MFDP) now Commissioner General at the Liberia Maritime Authority, Grand Gedeh Country Senator G. Alphonso Gaye, and other are challenging the Ministry of Justice to prove beyond all reasonable doubt of the allegation leveled against them.
For his part, Dr. Kollie, in a communication to the Solicitor General designate Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephas who is yet to be confirmed by the Liberian Senate, said he is seriously taken aback of his indictment, wondering as to what gave reason for his name to be mentioned in the indictment.
In the communication to Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephas, and dated on June 19, 2019, the former deputy minister questioned the Solicitor General designate as to what ‘Basis upon which his name was mentioned on a list of ‘persons of interest’ issued by you on 19 June 2019”, challenged the Ministry of Justice or the GAC to proof where and when he was invited to any formal or informal audit meeting.
Challenging the indictment, Senator G. Alphonso Gaye, argues that stated in a communication to the Senate that he ‘believes the Ministry of Justice is using a wrongful procedure to indict former and current government officials implicated in prior audit reports, and further challenged the Ministry of Justice to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that it’s planned prosecution is not a wrongful procedures under the governance practice.
“This week, authorities of the Justice Ministry released past audit reports to the public saying, the Ministry reserved the right to invite anyone of interest that is named in the reports.
“The action by the Liberian Justice Ministry comes barely three weeks after President George Weah declared that his government will audit past government transactions.” A portion of Senator Alphonso Gaye’s communication read.
In recent weeks, the Weah’s Administration has been facing pressure from some quarter of the citizenry calling it to address several financial scandals.
Senator Gaye, communication read on Thursday, June 20, 2019, in the Senate chambers and address to Senate Pro Tempore, Albert T. Chie, insist that the ‘wrongful’ procedures being applied by the Justice Ministry to indict individuals named in the General Auditing Commission (GAC) audit reports are totally unacceptable.
“My attention is drawn to media reports naming former and/or current officials of government that are either indicted or to be indicted by the Ministry of Justice based on GAC reports that they may have in their possession. This is wrong and it should be halted immediately”, Senator Gaye’s letter read.
According to the Grand Gedeh lawmaker, while he applauds the Ministry of Justice for performing its duties and responsibilities in keeping with statute, then such action should be done in the framework of the law and established procedures.
Therefore, “the Ministry should not be in the business of looking for cases to prosecute, rather it should wait for cases forwarded to it for prosecution.“
The Senator letter reminded his colleagues that the General Auditing Commission (GAC) is obligated by law to report to the National Legislature upon the completion of audits.
“After GAC completes an audit, the report is submitted to the National Legislature who in return mandates the Public Accounts, Audit and Expenditure Committee for scrutiny through a public hearing conducted by the Joint Public Account Committee (PAC)”, The Senator stressed.
Furthermore, Senator Gaye said, “it is upon completion of the scrutiny and validation by the Committee that validated reports submitted to the Plenary of both Houses for endorsement.
After the endorsement by both Houses of the Plenary, Senator Gaye divulge that the endorsed report is then submitted to the President who now forwards same to the Ministry of Justice for action based on the findings and conclusion contained in the validated report.“
Against this backdrop, the Grand Gedeh Senator concluded that GAC report that is not validated by the Legislature and cannot be used as an instrument to indict anyone, be it former or current government officials.
Meanwhile, former Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr. James Kollie, Jr. and a former Minister of Information and UN Ambassador Lewis G. Brown have all joined in the crusade challenging the indictment.