Civil Society Calls for Prosecution of Corrupt Officials

By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
April 22, 2005


Leaders of four civil society organizations have asked ECOWAS Panel of Investigators currently in Liberia to publish their findings and recommended that individuals or groups of individuals responsible for breaking the law be held accountable and duly prosecuted in accordance with the laws of Liberia.

Mr. Ezekiel Pajibo, Executive Director, Center for Democratic Empowerment (CEDE); Mr. Sam Hare, Jr., Foundation for International Dignity (FIND); Mr. Aloysius Toe, Executive Director, Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy (FOHRD) and Atty. Alfred Brownell of Green Advocates made the remarks at a recent news conference held in the conference room of CEDE. The rights advocates applauded the Supreme Court decision to remove the “stay order” on the investigation of alleged corruption within the National Transitional Government of Liberia by a Panel of Investigators dispatched to Liberia by ECOWAS.

In a joyous mood, Mr. Pajibo said “this is indeed a historic day, and a reminder that our country, the Republic of Liberia, the oldest independent Republic in Africa is on course in deepening democratic tendencies, supporting the rule of law and promoting transparency and accountability in our national governance structures”.

He further stated that the decision, in essence, gives the ECOWAS Panel of Investigators the right to proceed and investigate the probable misapplication of national resources and public funds.

Mr. Pajibo also noted that he and his colleagues were “called upon the Liberian Government and all peace-loving Liberians to cooperate and ensure that the ECOWAS Panel of Investigators carry on its tasks.”

Mr. Pajibo added: “as independent and professional individuals, we expect that they would marshal the evidence, and the Liberian nation would, for once, get a good idea about how public funds are being expended.”

He told the news conference that it is their ardent hope that the international community will see the ruling by the Supreme Court that Liberia is keen on continuous engagement with them in order that durable peace in Liberia can be established and a democratic order is put in place.

“The statement by the International Monitoring Committee that issues of accountability and transparency are at the core of building lasting peace in Liberia has been affirmed by our court,” Mr. Pajibo noted.

He used the occasion to laud the independent media for its role in ensuring that transparency and accountability animate our national government and that the people are enabled to fully appreciate the whereabouts of state funding.

“We want to thank ECOWAS and the International Monitoring Committee and all dutiful citizens of Liberia in remaining steadfast on this issue. We know that this is just the beginning the arduous task of establishing a responsible government in this country”, Mr. Pajibo concluded.

The ruling of the court squashed a writ of prohibition filed against the ECOWAS Panel by the Liberian Institute of Certified Public Accountants led by its Executive Director, Samuel Momboe who argued that the investigation by regional body would undermine Liberia’s sovereignty.

In the wake of the legal wrangling and intense debate over the issue, the International Monitoring Committee (IMC) which comprised of representatives of the African Union, ECOWAS, the European Commission, France, Ghana, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, the United States and UNMIL last Tuesday met to review the developments concerning the peace process.

According to the IMC, by virtue of signing the comprehensive Peace Agreement, the state of Liberia accepted partnership with the international community in the management of its affairs until the conclusion of the CPA process.

IMC noted that given the widespread perceptions at the international level of extensive misappropriation of public funds in Liberia, any attempt to obstruct the work of the Panel would have dire consequences on the nation and would affect Liberia’s relations with the international community.

According to the IMC, the perception of high-level corruption if left unchecked, would have negative impact on the ongoing preparation for a second donors’ conference on the reconstruction of Liberia.

The IMC called on all sections of the Liberian society to collaborate with the international community in stamping out corrupt activities in public life.