Fonati Koffa Should Decline Investigating Global Witness Allegations

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We honestly do not believe it is necessary to say why Counselor Fonati Koffa should decline the President’s appointment of him to investigate Global Witness’ allegations of very serious corruption charges against several highly placed Liberian officials.

Why? Because by appointing Mr. Koffa to head the team investigating these allegations targeted at the nerve center of the Liberian Republic—its Legislative and Executive leadership—President Ellen Johnson clearly demonstrates that she is not serious about finding the truth in this matter.

Need we ask another why? If we must, then yes we will.

Who ever heard about sending snake to mind frog? Mr. Koffa himself knows why he should decline this appointment. Any investigative team should be composed of people of unquestioned integrity—that is if the team must be taken seriously. Does Mr. Koffa have the authority of character to invite anyone for an investigation of any kind?

But let us first find out what an investigation is. It is an analysis, an examination, an inquiry, a probe into an incident, a situation, a crime or a series of crimes, the aim of which is to get to the bottom of the underlying factors responsible for whatever happened—in other words, to find out the truth. The pursuit of truth is a sacred (holy, consecrated) undertaking. And he or she who is chosen to be part of that search for the truth—indeed all of them on such a team—must be people of unquestioned integrity and independent-minded.

Remember that at the end of apartheid in South Africa, who was it that was named to head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to probe into the many heinous crimes committed during the apartheid regime? He who was chosen was one of the most highly respected South Africans—Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Unlike so many of his compatriots and of his race, he never compromised with the rich and powerful racist regime but remained vocal and steadfast against apartheid and the terrible injustices it meted out to the non-white majority.

And who was it that President Lyndon Johnson appointed to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963? None other than United States Chief Justice Earl Warren.

So if President Sirleaf wants the investigation of the Global Witness allegations to be taken seriously, she should not appoint Mr. Koffa who, as a lawyer practicing in the United States, confessed to cheating his own clients of their money, was convicted of the criminal act and spent time in prison for that.

Further, if indeed the President were serious about conducting a probe into the Global Witness allegations, she would appoint an Independent Commission of Inquiry, comprising NO government officials, and they should be people of unquestioned integrity. But the President should know better than to appoint the government to investigate itself. No one would take this seriously—not least among them the people to be investigated.

We think this would be the better way forward—for the President to appoint a truly independent and reputable team of lawyers and other professionals not connected to government, to probe into this serious and urgent matter.

Meanwhile Global Witness must, without undue delay, come forward with its evidence to support the allegations made against those named. At the moment, the public responses from some of those allegedly bribed by Sable Mining to bend various instruments of transparency and accountability in Liberia, in order to acquire a mining concession for the Wologisi Mountain, have suggested that the authors of the Global Witness report simply do not know what they are talking about. How much of the report can actually be substantiated? How much of it might be a bending of the facts? So now, who is telling the truth? Let the whistleblowers defend their allegations and the accused, their names.

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