Expand Investigation into Auditors’ Mysterious Deaths -ALJA Calls for Swift and Impartial Investigation
In the wake of the Government of Liberia requesting the Government of the United States of America to assist in investigations that would uncover the cause of the death of the two recently discovered dead employees of the Liberia Revenue Authority, the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas(ALJA) says while it appreciates Liberia’s President George Weah’s recent request to the United States’ Embassy in Monrovia to assist the government in the investigations of the mysterious deaths of four public auditors in the country, it is however, proposing that the ongoing probe to be expansive.
According to an October 13, 2020 press release, ALJA says, given the inability of the Weah administration in unraveling past secret killings including that of Matthew Innis of the Central Bank of Liberia who was found dead last year, it is proposing that the ongoing probe involves local representatives of the United Nations, the European Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union(AU).
The Association further recommended the inclusion of representatives of the Liberia National Bar Association, the Inter Religious Council, Press Union of Liberia, and other civil society organizations on the investigative panel, while urging the Liberian government and the international community to act swiftly in conducting the investigation.
The Association also proposed that the government must ensure that where foul play exists, the perpetrators must be made to face the full weight of the law. ALJA says such action would begin the process of ensuring public confidence in the Liberian criminal justice system.
The Association expressed grave concern over the gruesome and mysterious deaths of the Liberian auditors in recent times.
ALJA says the fact that the four persons recently found dead in less than two weeks were all auditors from two integrity institutions including the Liberia Revenue Authority (the LRA) as well as the Director General of the Internal Audit Agency, Emmanuel Nyeswa, is troubling and the situation creates the impression of an attempted coverup.
ALJA maintains that the auditors’ deaths have created an atmosphere of fear in the country and the situation could have serious repercussions on the safety of ordinary residents, and the peace and security of the country if not quickly addressed.
The Association says while crimes exist in every society, the recent deaths are further exacerbated by the absolute loss of confidence in the criminal justice system of the country by most Liberians who believe that perpetrators of crimes in the country usually go unpunished.
The United States-based Liberian Journalists organization stressed that the Liberian government has the constitutional responsibility of protecting all residents of the country and ensuring that peace and tranquility prevail in the country.
ALJA notes that the recent wave of mysterious deaths further suggest that the Weah administration is failing in upholding that obligation and ensuring the rule of law.
In a related development, ALJA has accused the Liberian Senate of aiding and abetting President George Weah in undermining the principles of good governance in Liberia as evidenced by the recent confirmation of Labor Minister Charles Gibson.
Prior to his recent appointment by the President, Cllr. Gibson withdrew his nomination as Justice Minister designate in 2018 after reports surfaced that he misappropriated over US$25,000 from a client for which the Supreme Court suspended him for two months from the practice of law in the country. News reports at the time also alleged that Cllr Gibson lost his job at the United Nations for shortchanging one of his clients in a land deal.
ALJA says that President Weah’s appointment of a man with proven questionable character and the Senate’s subsequent confirmation run contrary to the government’s professed commitment to fighting corruption and ensuring integrity in government.
According to news reports, Cllr Gibson was recommended for confirmation after a plea from Sinoe County senator Milton Teahjay that the nominee had been without a job for the past three years and that he was a family man who had responsibilities to care for his family.
ALJA described Senator Teahjay’s plea and justification for Cllr Gibson’s confirmation as unwarranted, embarrassing, and shameful.