“I Did Not Eat Gov’t Money”

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Atty. Woods: "It is bad to lead by cheating from the governed."

Attorney Samuel Kofi Woods has dispelled rumors in some quarters that he resigned his post as Minister of Public Works because he siphoned enough money out of the ministry’s coffers.
Based on those rumors, Atty. Woods said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to conduct a full financial audit of the ministry after he resigned his post.
Mr. Woods made the disclosure yesterday at a program held in his honor under the “Peace Hut” in Sinkor, Monrovia by the leadership of Women in Peace-building Network (WIPNET), a Liberian Chapter of West Africa Network for Peace-building (WANEP).
The activities were under the theme, “Building Relationships for Peace.”
Mr. Woods’ clarification was a reaction to President Sirleaf’s letter to GAC, requesting for a “technical and financial audit” that would have been a crucial step in bringing closure to the issues of road contracts awarded during his tenure at Public Works.
“In that audit, GAC cleared me, but it was God that vindicated me, because I did not eat government money, rather I saved the government from spending huge amounts of money unnecessarily,” Mr. Woods stated.
He commended the women for their consistent prayers for the country, adding “it was through your prayers that God Himself vindicated me, because my character and record are clean.”
“Samuel Kofi Woods has come before you this morning to defend his good name and character, because I am not a citizen of any other country but Liberia where the citizens or government don’t praise the good name of an individual, but only look for the bad name and things in the good character,” Atty. Woods told the women who shouted Halleluiah.
The rights activist reiterated that as Public Works Minister, “I saved the government from unnecessary expenditure to the tone of US$25,000. I did not make you, the prayer women, shame but in the end the government insisted on an audit of my administration in two phases.”
He then challenged the government to also audit all former government officials and those in active service to establish facts in their financial transactions during and before they left office. It should not only conduct audits, but apply legal punishments for violators.
Atty. Woods also challenged the women to pray and act in accordance with their prayers so that all the “bad, bad things, including corruption, nepotism, injustice, discrimination and other vices in the country will come to an end.”
He observed that unless those vices are destroyed, the country will not go anywhere in whatever goals it attempts to achieve.
The rights advocate also called on the government to take full responsibility for the financial impropriety at the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) by suspending the payment of severance and other benefits to those retired and or dismissed until a full investigation is conducted.
The investigation, he said, should be void of members of the Board as announced by President Sirleaf, contending that “the NOCAL mess was created by the very board members.”
Shortly after Woods resigned from Public Works, President Sirleaf on May 28, 2014, requested the Auditor-General, Yusador Gaye, to audit his administration.
The President informed Auditor Gaye in her letter, a copy of which is with this newspaper, that the government is committed to fully addressing the serious issue of extra-budgetary commitments for the conduct of road works, which emerged in 2013 between the MOPW and road contractors. “As part of our commitment to deal with this issue decisively and in conformity with Public Financial Management (PFM) Law of 2009 and associated legal framework,” the letter noted, “I am directing the GAC to conduct a full financial audit of these projects.”
Paragraph two of the letter added, “This special investigative exercise should provide a clear and comprehensive picture of events leading to the commitments that have been made; and, in particular, determine whether all of these contracts were obtained in adherence to the laws governing such commitments.” “This,” the letter continued, “will help us establish whether any legal action is warranted, and will also guide us in making appropriate payment settlements for outstanding contracts.”

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