“A Non-Validated GAC Report Not Instrument for Indictment “

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Grand Gedeh Senator G. Alphonso Gaye_web.jpg
Grand Gedeh Senator G. Alphonso Gaye

-As Solicitor-General-designate requests PAC for five “audit reports”

Grand Gedeh County Senator G. Alphonso Gaye, has expressed serious exception to what he described as the Ministry of Justice habitual practice of seeking out cases to prosecute rather than having cases forwarded to it for prosecution.

In a June 20, 2019, communication to the Senate plenary, Sen. Gaye said that his decision was necessitated by 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 General Auditing Commission (GAC) reports they may have in their possession. “This is wrong, and it should be halted immediately.”

Sen. Gaye, who welcomed the Justice Ministry’s responsibilities in keeping with statute, maintained that such should be done within the framework of the law and established procedures. “The Ministry of Justice should not be in the business of looking for cases to prosecute…”

Gaye, who serves on the Legislative Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said that the GAC, by law, reports to the legislature after an audit is completed and the Legislature, in turn, mandates the Public Accounts, Audit and Expenditure Committee for scrutiny through a public hearing conducted by the Joint Public Accounts Committee.

“It is upon the completion of the scrutiny and validation by the Committee, that the report is submitted to the plenary of both Houses for endorsement, which will be submitted to the President, who has the authority to forward same to the Ministry of Justice for action, based on the findings and conclusion contained in the validated report,” Sen. Gaye said.

Against this background, Gaye emphatically said that a “GAC Report that is not validated by the Legislature cannot be used as an instrument for the indictment of anybody, be it former or current government officials.”

SG-designate requests long list of audit reports

In an apparent show of compliance with the Weah Administration’s resolve to audit and prosecute former government officials, the Senate Committee on Public Accounts and Expenditure has received a letter from the Justice Ministry, requesting it to aid the ministry, through the solicitor general-designate, with a list of audit reports acted upon and subsequently submitted to the Executive for action.

In a letter dated June 18, 2019 and in possession of the Daily Observer, the solicitor general-designate, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, is specifically requesting audit reports on the Executive Mansion Renovation; the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) sale of Oil Block 13 to ExxonMobil; the collapse of NOCAL; the NASSCORP; and the Central Bank of Liberia Construction.

“As part of the mandate given us to practice and prosecute cases on behalf of the government and people of Liberia,” Cllr. Cephus said in his communication, “our attention is drawn to the wave of rampant corruption, and misuse of public monies and assets by some government officials and private citizens aiding them.”

The Executive Mansion, which was gutted by fire in 2006 has been under renovation since then

He added, “In an effort to curb this economic epidemic, we have taken into consideration the need to review all audit reports the GAC submitted to your august body for consideration.”

Cllr. Cephus informed the Senate’s PAEC committee that his communication is based on a patent letter issued by Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean, allowing him to practice as prosecuting attorney, pending his confirmation by the senate, and subsequent appointment and commissioning by the President as solicitor-general.

Meanwhile, the Senate committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petitions, headed by Senator Varney Sherman, on Thursday, June 20 submitted a report on the confirmation hearings of Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, recommending that he be confirmed, along with Assistant Minister for Taxation-designate, Cllr. Aaron Kparkillen.

As usual, and as is the case in many instances, the two were expected to be confirmed in executive session.

5 COMMENTS

  1. If GAC audits must detour to the Legislature or Executive Mansion, rather than straight to LACC, or the Criminal Justice System, in lieu of gathering evidence to suit specific elements of crimes, why such elaborate fiction about fighting fraud or corruption?

    Apparently, we, Liberians, love the whining, but won’t do anything substantive about corruption. We, seemingly, don’t even want our criminal justice system, integrity institutions, security sector, income generation institutions and so on to be effective. We are used to waiting for strangers to solve all our problems; little wonder, then, the country has been vulnerable to cheap and easy foreign covert aggressions with horrendous outcomes.

    • Mr. Moses , should the Chosen Son of the soil disliked the law and its twist and turns, change the law. The Chosen One did not like Justice Ja’neh, he got him out and replaced him with one of his own from the Southeast. He wanted tenured positions changed, he submitted a bill. But for now its THE LAW !

  2. I guess there should be no justice system in Liberia then. If we have to go through this and that before a single person can be persecuted for corruption, then we need a benevolent dictator. It’s time to ditch the Legislature because they are not worth the pupu in their bathroom. Useless morons. Useless Senator Gaye is just trying to protect his buddies on the list. We need another Doe to get rid of the corrupt fools we have in our government.

  3. If what this senator laid out is the process that is used to prosecute and bring corrupt officials to justice in Liberia, then country’s political elite class has insulated from any accountability by intricate legislative means set up only to serve its own interest. A law crafted in a such way like this one cannot but has only one purpose that is to protect the powerful – usually members of the legislature and senior executive branch functionaries – at the expense of the suffering people. It’s a calculated sham enacted into law to make it seem that appropriate legal remedy has been established to fight corruption. The statue as referenced by Sen. Gaye appears to be an attempt by the legislature to arrogate unto itself what is clearly an executive branch function. Some key questions come mind and, I am sure the senator would be able to provide some answers: (1) How many of the several audits were conducted by the anti-graft institutions and submitted to the president and legislature during the Sirleaf administration were forwarded to the Justice Department for prosecution? (2) Could the Honorable Senator please disabuse public of the notion that law is designed to create unnecessary bureaucratic maze in order to sweep audit reports that implicates senior government officials under rug and foster rather than deter impunity? And (3) what is guiding legal authority under which the legislature assumes this administrative audit review functions? And finally does the Sen. Gaye feel this

  4. It’s quite comical that a CDC Government that is accused of stealing USD. 25m and Liberian 18b bank notes will now want to investigate and prosecute past corrupt officials. This is highly laughable. However, while I cautiously appreciate this effort of distraction from the dire prevailing economic conditions in our Nation and the desperation of our people, characterized by inflation and the depreciation of the value of the Liberian currency, I think this process of assets recovery and corruption investigations must be done with honesty, integrity and accountability. Like many other distractionary pronouncements by this administration, Liberians are watching with eagle eyes. We can no longer be fooled by empty promises for political advantage. These are cases of economic sabotage and should never be diluted with other criminal complaints that will water down these cases and set defendants free as was in the case of NPA’s former Managing Director, Parker.

    Justice Minister Musa Dean, Cllr. Sayma Syenius Cephus, Solicitor General-designate and other key officials of the Ministry of Justice, who are now appointing and nomination each others have played major roles in the legal representation of Sen. Varney Sherman, Alex Tyler, Richard Tolbert and others involved in the Sable Mining bribery allegation, in addition to their involvements in the Matilda Parker’s case from the National Port Authority and many other criminal cases in the Nation. In honesty and ethnically, these lawyers can not be the defenders of the Liberian people in cases of this magnitude. They have never been defenders of the interest of the Liberian people and will never honestly defend and uphold the laws in the supreme interest of the Liberian Government and its people in such important assets recovery and corruption cases at this time.

    The Weah’s administration and his criminal gangs must understand that they will eventually be arrested and prosecuted by succeeding Government of Liberia once their tenure has ended for their roles in the disappearance of the 25m and Liberian 18b. What’s even more comical is that officials of the Ministry of Justice now parading as saints to prosecute corrupt officials are themselves compromised and therefore, are unfit to represent the legal interest of the Liberian people in these critical cases. Their presence creates a conflict of interest situation to the highest level. It’s unethical to have Cllr. Musa Dean and Cllr. Cephus calling the shots as to who gets investigated and prosecuted since they were previously engaged in the legal representations of many of those accused of economic crimes. Given their former roles, they cannot be the same lawyers to represent the interest of the Government of Liberia. And so, if this government is serious about prosecuting massive institutionalized corruption and recover Liberia’s missing assets, those prosecuting such cases must be clean, clear of corruption and very independent and not contaminated in any way shape or form.

    My suggestion is that, if the Weah’s administration is serious about tackling and cubing massive institutionalized corruption and Liberia’s Asset Recovery to set our Nation on an irreversible path, the Government must invite and consult with honest legal minds and entities such as: Liberia National Bar Association, Africa Center for Law and Human Rights, Liberia Female Lawyer’s Association and many other civil society organizations, in an effort to establish a truly independent commission, clothed with the authority to robustly investigate and prosecute corruption cases and undertake Liberia’s Assets Recovery. Liberia must follow the model in Nigeria. This effort should not be a gamesmanship for political advantage and if done right, could bring in almost 400m us dollars to the Liberian Government.

    Please be reminded that my comments are in no way a support for Sen. Gaye’s official position which I found to be repugnant of a sitting Senator. Legally, it’s unconstitutional for audit reports to be brought before the Senate for approval. The Ministry of Justice has the sole prosecutorial powers and not the Senate. This process announced by the President, if honestly and legally prosecuted could raise almost USD 400m for the Liberian people in monetary value and repossess a significant real estate properties for the Nation. I’m convinced that the Liberian Government is now acting on corruption due to their various meetings with Liberia’s international partners and is now considering their views on corruption and Liberia’s Assets Recovery. This is a good first start if done right.

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