— LNBA turns down invitation to participate, citing Nwabudike’s involvement
The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) in collaboration with other anti-graft institutions will on Wednesday, September 16, commence a National Anti-Corruption Conference (NACC) at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town.
The National Anti-Corruption Conference is the fifth phase in the series of consultations to address the issue of corruption, the LACC said in a release.
The idea of the National Anti-Corruption Conference came about as a result of Liberia’s dismal performance over the last three years on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI).
In 2016, Liberia ranked the 90th least corrupt out of 198 countries on the CPI, with a score of 37%. However, by 2019, the country’s ranking had dropped to being the 137th least corrupt out of 180 countries, giving it a score of 28%.
The CPI report affects Liberia’s international relations with donor countries and multinational organizations that support the country’s development agenda.
In light of this, the government saw this drop as a steep decline and, along with development partners, crafted a macroeconomic strategy termed as the, “Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development”.
“A key pillar of this instrument is Transparency and Accountability. Therefore the need to hold a National Anti-Corruption Conference was paramount,” the LACC release said.
To set the agenda for the National Conference, three regional consultations were held around the country, which brought local officials together to recognize and deliberate on issues of corruption in their respective counties.
The regional consultations and sectoral meeting were under the theme: “Re-Shaping Perception on Corruption and Identifying New Approaches to Addressing Systemic Corruption in Liberia”.
Region One was held in the Southeast in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County on August 26 and brought together Grand Kru, River Gee, Maryland, Sinoe and host Grand Gedeh counties.
Region Two was held in Central Liberia in Gbarnga, Bong County on August 31 bringing together Nimba, Lofa, Margibi and hosts Bong County.
Region Three was held in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, on September 3 with hosts Grand Bassa, Rivercess, Bomi, Gbarpolu, and Grand Cape Mount County.
Also a one-day Sectoral Meeting was held in Monrovia, which brought together the Inter-Religious Council, Political Parties, The Press Union of Liberia, the Liberia Marketing Association, the Federation of Liberian Youth, the Liberia National Student Union and Civil Society Organizations.
Regional consultations and sectoral meetings were centered on challenges, strategies and roadmap.
The challenges impeding the fight against corruption in Liberia are numerous and cut across many sectors of the Liberian public sector. They can broadly be subcategorized as the frameworks around accountability, coordination and collaboration, legality and political will.
The strategies looked at practical measures, tools and case studies of how effective anti-corruption strategies have been implemented and how the LACC and other government actors can adopt some of these measures.
After identifying the challenges and strategies to curb corruption, the next steps dedicated itself towards actions that can be taken in the short-term and the long-term to jumpstart the fight against corruption.
Delegates at the National Anti-Corruption Regional Consultative Meetings held in three regions of the country, as well as the participants at the sectoral meeting, have made a common position to the government for increased political will, improvement in the justice system of the country and the establishment of a specialized court to deal with corruption cases.
They acknowledged the drastic decline in public trust for national government over the years due to bad governance since the formation of the country.
They called for an end to the patronage system and bribery among law enforcement agencies, especially the Police.
Delegates also unanimously recommended that the government should tackle the country’s young generation by emphasizing anti-corruption education in public schools across the country
Recommendations from the Regional Consultations and Sectoral Meeting will be presented at the National Anti-Corruption Conference, which is slated to be held on September 16 & 17 in Monrovia.
The NACC is funded entirely by the Government of Liberia with the LACC taking the lead in collaboration with the General Auditing Commission (GAC), the Internal Audit Agency (IAA), the Governance Commission (GC), the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), the Public Procurement & Concessions Commission (PPCC) and the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI).
The National Anti-Corruption Conference will be opened by His Excellency President George M. Weah and will be attended by government officials, international partners among others.
The conference is expected to have one of the most concentrated gatherings of Liberian integrity institutions, many of whose officials are financial professionals and lawyers accredited by the Liberia National Bar Association.
However, as the LACC commences its conference, the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA), being one of the invited institutions, has turned down the LACC’s invitation to participate.
The LNBA’s response, under the signature of Executive Director Edward W. Bonwinkor, Jr., to LACC’s Chairman, Ndubuisi Nwabudike’s invitation states: “I present my compliments and acknowledge receipt of a communication from you under date September 7, 2020, in which you invited the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) to partake in a National Anti-Corruption Conference scheduled for September 16-17, 2020 at the Ministerial Complex in Monrovia. Regrettably, I wish to inform you that by directive of the National President of the LNBA, Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe and the Executive Council, the LNBA will not be a part of any conference of which you are a host.”
In June of this year, the LNBA declared that, after investigating and establishing that Ndubuisi Nwabudike’s claim to Liberian citizenship was not authentic and, therefore, his entry into the legal profession in Liberia was marred by fraud, the Bar expelled him from its membership with the mandate that he should not be allowed to practice law in Liberia.
The LNBA’s action followed Nwabudike’s rejection by the Senate, where he had gone for confirmation to serve as Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) after being nominated by President George Weah to succeed Jerome Korkoyah.
Even though the Senate established the fraudulent nature of Nwabudike’s nationality status in Liberia and he was rejected, causing the President to eventually withdraw the nomination, President George Weah, however, has continued to maintain him at the LACC, despite the fact that it is not lawful for such a position to be occupied by a non-Liberian especially one who has presented conflicting documents to authenticate his nationality.