LACC ‘Misplaced’

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The way Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) is conducting herself now sends a signal that the Commission is seriously “misplaced,” Deputy House Speaker Hans Barchue said.

LACC recently announced that it has launched an investigation into the US$1.2 million which, according to the graft commission, was remitted to the House of Representatives to conduct a nationwide consultation on the draft Oil and Gas law.

Reacting to LACC’s claims yesterday in a press conference, Deputy Speaker Barchue noted that the LACC’s well-publicized probe is “politically driven and lacks the basis of technical and financial institution as the LACC.”

According to him, LACC’s request for him (Barchue) to provide information relative to US$1.2 million that was allegedly given to the House of Representatives is totally “ridiculous.”

“I like to point out few errors in that communication from LACC. In the first place, we are not signatories to any account of the House as Speaker and Deputy, respectively. Signatories to the House’s account are the Chairman on Ways, Means and Finance and the Comptroller. How in the world will Cllr. Augustine Toe, who sits at the LACC and had been working with the Legislature over the years failed to know these things?

“As chairman of the Consultation Committee, I was only mandated by plenary, the highest decision making body of the House, to supervise the process, that which was done perfectly well.

“If there are issues, I believe the LACC should have directed her inquiries to the Chairman on Ways, Means and Finance other than me or the Speaker,” he maintained.

The Grand Bassa County lawmaker further added: “I’m not against the LACC probing financial allegations, but I believed their bullet is misguided and is now being used for political reasons other than technical.

“Under our constitution, you are not allowed to produce evidence against yourself, but interestingly; the LACC is requesting that I provide information and a comprehensive expenditure report including voucher and budget relating to said amount.

“Is the LACC asking me to adduce evidence against myself — taking into account Article 21(h) of the Liberian Constitution, which states: “The accused shall not be compelled to furnish evidence against himself…”?”

Deputy Speaker Barchue: “This is a simple and elementary error that makes LACC inept for which the fight against corruption remains a problem in our society today. An anti-graft commission like ours must check the facts properly before moving on with these things, but because there’s a motive; this is what we get from a body that should be exercising high degree of integrity.

“Another proof of an inept commission is a January 20, 2015 letter addressed to Representative Edwin M. Snowe in which he (Snowe) was referred to as Chairman on Ways, Means and Finance. Is the LACC not aware that Rep. Snowe is not the chairman on budget at the House but rather Chairman on Rules, Order and Administration? Another myth again is the LACC said the money came from NOCAL, which is false and counterproductive to the operations of the Commission because the money came from the government of Liberia and not NOCAL.

“All along, I have been announcing that only US$900,000 was released by the government of Liberia for this purpose, and if LACC is saying that US$1.2 million was issued to the House of Representatives; why not ask the House instead of asking me?”

Meanwhile, LACC Chairman Cllr. James Verdier has since contradicted information from the Commission relating to probing these allegations. In an interview Monday at the Capitol Building, Cllr. Verdier dismissed having knowledge on these investigations.

However, Justice Minister Cllr. Benedict Sannoh urged the graft commission to stop carrying herself “like the only institution in the fight against corruption” and work with the Justice ministry to address the problems affecting the Liberian society.

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