The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) has called on the Liberian Senate to take appropriate punitive actions against Sinoe County Senator J. Milton Teahjay for practicing interest of peddling and bribery by soliciting jobs for his family members, friends, and confidants as a basis for confirming presidential nominees.
CENTAL’s call follows a FrontPage Africa July 10, 2020 video wherein he was heard saying, “It is his traditional form of corruption.”
Addressing journalists at a news conference in Monrovia on July 16, 2020, the head of CENTAL, Anderson Miamen, said his organization strongly detests the recent statements attributed to Senator Teahjay as counterproductive to the fight against corruption.
“In that recording, the Senator alluded to what he coined as ‘his traditional form of corruption’ before and after the confirmation process of nominees for particular positions before the Liberian Senate, especially the Standing Committee on Autonomous Agencies from which he was recently replaced,” Mr. Miamen said.
Mr. Miamen termed this as a clear violation of relevant Liberian Laws, including Section 9.6 of the Code of Conduct of 2014 and the 1986 Liberian Constitution. He also used the occasion to call on the leadership and members of the Liberian Senate to timely and thoroughly investigate the reported payment of US$20,000 by Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike, the current head of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Corruption, to be confirmed as Chairperson of the National Elections Commission.
Mr. Miamen noted: “This act of political and official corruption, which has led to the recruitment of incompetent individuals in strategic positions in government, is one of the key contributors to the increasing level of poor performance in many government ministries and agencies in Liberia.”
He said if the senator can unduly solicit jobs for family members, supporters, and cronies, it is equally possible that he requests for monetary rewards in the performance of his duties. Furthermore, those recommended for employment could be required to commit portions of their salaries as a precondition for their consideration by the senator and his committee.
He recalled that the same senator, in the Case R.L. Vs. J. Milton Teahjay, which took place at the 14th Judicial Circuit of River-Cess County in 2018, was found guilty of violating the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) guidelines and procedures in the awarding of contracts for the implementation of county development projects, while serving as Superintendent of Sinoe County, and was accordingly fined US$50,000 to be paid within the period of nine months in government’s revenue.
“Such continuous misrepresentation and abuse of public trust and confidence by the senator is totally unacceptable and should have no place in the Liberian society, especially public service,” Mr. Miamen said.
Mr. Miamen encouraged the national Legislature to do more to enhance public confidence in its work and activities. “At the moment, the public perceives the Legislature as the weakest link in Liberia’s governance process, a view Senator Teahjay’s actions tend to validate.”
He said as Liberia strives to regain its position among the comity of nations, it is incumbent upon those serving in positions of public trust to exert every degree of particularity and nationalism in ensuring that the system works better for all. And the Legislature, as the first branch of government and direct representation of the people, must lead by example on this.
In another development, CENTAL’s attention has been drawn to a recent media publication, which speaks to the discovery of an alleged fraudulent situation at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) involving some ‘unscrupulous individuals.’
It may be recalled that on Monday, July 13, 2020, a media report was published indicating that six employees at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) were arrested for an alleged criminal cartel. The scandal, which was unearthed by the Comptroller and Accountant General of the Republic of Liberia, Mr. Janga Kowo, pertains to illegal withdrawal of L$6M from an account owned by the MFDP.
“This incident further exposes loopholes within the financial management system, which needs to be identified and addressed to prevent abuse of public resources by unscrupulous individuals in an already impoverished country like Liberia,” Mr. Miamen stated.
Meanwhile, CENTAL appreciated the MFDP for its initial stance in uncovering the said plot, and also informing the public about the situation.
The organization further calls on the relevant state actors, especially the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, to robustly and impartially investigate the incident. “And the outcome of such investigation must be communicated to the public and fully implemented, including the prosecution of those who masterminded and perpetrated the act,” said Miamen.
Mr. Miamen: “We urge the Government of Liberia to be more decisive and pragmatic in dealing with corruption in the country, including timely investigation and prosecution of all reported corruption scandals/cases.”