In the wake of A plethora of rebuttals and clarifications against the recent announcement by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, LACC, against several government officials, its chairman Cllr. James Verdier has come under sharp criticism by several Liberians interviewed by the Daily Observer.
Many of those interviewed last week in Monrovia questioned the credibility of the LACC, wondering if Cllr. Verdier has not been manipulated by those who may have issues with the accused.
The LACC Chairman on October 23, at a regular press briefing at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, indicted several present and past government officials for allegedly misapplying millions of United States dollars intended for development programs and operations.
James Dorbor, 26, of Monrovia told the Daily Observer, “How could most of the people the LACC accused come out to challenge the decision? Is the LACC’s action a witch-hunt as former NOCAL boss Clemenceau Urey has indicated?” Dorbor said from the explanations so far, if the LACC had engaged in due diligence in its research and subsequent conclusion, “the LACC would have known that what happened at NOCAL was the modus operandi with the Senators.”
Related to Dorbor’s position is the fact that five other members, including the Ministry of Justice that voted to approve the payment under question were not accused, according to Theresa Kun of Central Monrovia. “Does this not suggest that not much due diligence was carried out by Chairman Verdier and his workers?”
In a telephone interview,Thomas Seeyon of West Point, regretted that in its attempt to unearth corruption, the LACC is engaged in a smear campaign against Liberians whose sacrifices, said Seeyon, are so immense in the country’s reconstruction. “For men like Speaker Alex Tyler and LPRC’s T. Nelson Williams to be brought into disrepute is sad and unfair,” he noted in disgust, adding, “I don’t think Cllr. Verdier’s role is to create confusion by hurting the hard earned image of distinguished Liberians?”
A resident of Logan Town told the Daily Observer that Rep. Adolf Lawrence’s clarification and threat to take the LACC to court indicates that the Commission did not exhaust its research on the case in question.
“I share the opinion of Rep. Lawrence that the Commission may have inadvertently distorted the facts,” he said, accusing the LACC Chairman of using the institution as a political tool rather than a professional entity.
When contacted, a source at the LPRC told the Daily Observer that Mr. Williams fully cooperated with the Solicitor General's office at the Justice Ministry by submitting all relevant documents but was shocked to learn of Mr. Williams’ indictment.
Though many of those interviewed sympathized with the LACC in its fight against corruption and its practices, they however indicated that the manner in which Chairman Verdier’s LACC has handled its report suggests an element of unfairness to those whose names the Commission has brought into disrepute.
Many who talked to the Daily Observer appealed to the LACC to go beyond brewing controversy, and be more organized and professional in exercising its duties.
Others who accused the LACC are Miatta Beysolow, former Minister of Commerce, Milton Teahjay, Superintendent of Sinoe County, Alex Tyler, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Adolph Lawrence, Representative District # 15, David Kortie, publisher of the FlashPoint newsletter, Josephus S. Keita, Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Public Works, Foday Kromah and Amos Koon, both employees of the Ministry of Finance, among others.
When contacted yesterday, LACC’s public relations officer, Ben Kolako, said: “The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) is aware and takes note of a series of sponsored propaganda in the media against the Commission by individuals opposed to the government’s anti-corruption fight. These individuals have planted paid agents in the media to discredit and misrepresent the LACC following a MICAT press briefing by the Executive Chairperson to update the people of Liberia on the status of corruption cases.
“Such propaganda is allegedly being orchestrated by some accused persons or their paid agents. They have allegedly dished out money to these paid agents as a result of a midnight meeting held on the Robertsfield highway, with the intent to weaken and discredit the Commission’s resolve to pursue the prosecution of individuals accused of corrupt practices.
“The LACC stands by its report, and therefore wishes to assure the public and its partners that it remains resolute and unshakable in the fight against corruption and will ensure that the accused are brought to justice,” Mr. Kolako declared.