LACC official calls on government functionaries to ensure that nothing less than justice [is achieved]
The Program Manager for Education and Prevention Division at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), James K. Kingsley, says if the fight against corruption will achieve results, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), LACC, the Judiciary and the National Legislature will have to collaborate and work together.
Mr. Kingsley made the remarks on Wednesday during the Center for Transparency and Accountability of Liberia’s (CENTAL) one-day Anti-Corruption forum in commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day, celebrated annually on December 9. The program was held at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) hall in West Point.
“Based upon the existence of these institutions, which the LACC is required to investigate corruption, the Judiciary is mandated to interpret the law, the Legislature is required to make law and the Executive or Justice Ministry, they need to work in ending corruption in Liberia. So when a judge is presiding over a corruption case, he knows that it’s a national obligation and ensure that nothing less than justice [is achieved],” Kingsley said.
According to him, cases reported to the court in Liberia take a longer time before being adjudicated.
“Milton Teahjay, a current lawmaker of Sinoe County, was expected to pay US$100,000 to the national government and also go to jail for five (5) years but was instructed by the judge to pay only US$50,000 and not to go to jail,” Kingsley said.
The one-day event, which aimed to increase citizens’ access to information on the causes, effects, and the implications of corruption on society and their lives, to enable them meaningfully contribute to ongoing anti-corruption efforts in the country, brought together about 60 participants.
“We are not taking the fight against corruption for granted; this is why we are in the various Mosques and churches to educate the public about the work being done. We actually need the support of the Liberian people in the fight against corruption,” Kingsley told reporters shortly after the official program.
According to him, the Legislature is responsible for Liberia’s serious setback to the fight against corruption, stressing that, “the LACC laws are not too strong to demand to prosecute people for many things including illicit enrichment. If we indict people for illicit enrichment, the laws provide that LACC will provide evidence and not the person indicated due to lack of illicit enrichment law that is being proposed to the Legislature. We need to have a law that forces people to show how they make the money to build such house(s) or properties,” Kingsley said.
According to him, many people do not want to go to court now in Liberia because of the many hurdles involved in going to court. He is calling for LACC to be given prosecutorial power, which will handle corruption cases much more robustly.
Abayomi Cole, Communication Analyst for outreach at the General Auditing Commission (GAC), expressed gratitude to CENTAL for reaching out to ordinary citizens and informing them of what is required by citizens in the fight against corruption.
Mr. Cole indicated that the GAC works with civil society organizations, especially the CENTAL, because of a special goal — making Liberia corruption-free.
“Things that have hindered national development need to be addressed because the effects of corruption affect every ordinary citizen across the country,” Mr. Cole told the Daily Observer shortly after the program in West Point.
“This is intended to abolish or reduce the corruption in Liberia. We have come a long way to ending corruption in this country,” CENTAL‘s executive director Anderson Miamen told participants.
According to Mr. Miamen, Liberia has built institutions to help in the fight against corruption, which is embraced by many citizens of West Point.
Mr. Miamen said “corruption is in government, schools, Mosques, churches, media, various communities and other places, which call for citizens’ efforts to eradicate it,” Mr. Miamen said.
CENTAL’s program director, Gerald Dan Yeakula, told participants that Liberia needs to solve its corruption problems.
“This is a community that the residents do not want to leave again. West Point residents are very peaceful people,” Mr. Yeakula indicated to newsmen.
“The anti-graft institutions, especially the LACC are not working properly due to lack of prosecutorial power to help in the fight against corruption. Government officials are very corrupt,” James Weah, one of the participants told the Observer.