House of Representatives Speaker Alex Tyler, who was himself last Wednesday indicted, along with Senator Varney Sherman and others, for their alleged involvement in the bribery scandal revealed by Global Witness, was absolutely right in calling earlier this week for an impartial, non-government team to investigate the allegations.
That has always been the position of the Daily Observer and many other Liberians. We have contended that the GOL should not be seen to be investigating itself.
And considering the sacred principle of the separation of powers, we believe that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was patently wrong in appointing one of her Ministers to investigate another branch of government.
The proper thing to have done, and still is, to create an impartial panel comprising reputable people not connected with the government, to investigate those named in these allegations. In as much as the Global Witness report accuses officials of both chambers of the Legislature—the House and the Senate—as well as officials in the Executive branch of government, neither one of them should be in the driver’s seat in these investigations. Can’t we see the glaring conflict of interest inherent in either branch—the Legislature or the Executive—undertaking such an investigation?
That is why we have suggested that the Fonati Koffa Task Force should be dissolved and an independent panel of investigators comprising reputable personalities not connected with government be created to undertake this important and serious investigation.
This proposition—to appoint an independent, non-governmental panel—to investigate those mentioned in the Global Witness allegations becomes all the more tenable, because of the glaring, well substantiated rift between the President and Unity Party (UP) standard bearer and its chairman, Senator Varney Sherman.
Amid this open, embarrassing and even tragic rift that has irreparably split the ruling party, we insist that it is wrong for the President to have named one of her own Ministers, or any other Executive branch official, to head this investigation.
Liberia is gifted with enough highly responsible, intelligent and level-headed personalities to undertake this task. They would give the process far more credibility than what the President has done.
Is the President impartial in this? No! That is why without thinking, she rushed to appoint one of her own Ministers to head the Task Force investigating the Global Witness allegations. We say she was not thinking because she failed to realize that another branch of government was involved—the Legislature.
It is by this same token that we also reject the attempt by the Senate President Pro-Tempore, Armah Jallah, to set up a Legislative body to investigate these Global Witness allegations. Two wrongs do not make a right.
The Legislature should not be doing this for the simple fact that at least two of its high profile members, from both chambers are deeply implicated in the alleged scandal. Under these circumstances, it would be difficult to avoid the specter of partiality.
We, therefore, submit that it would be more prudent (judicious, discreet) of the President to appoint an impartial panel comprising independent persons not connected with government to investigate those implicated in the Global Witness allegations.