ALJA Condemns NEC Chairperson for Corruption

The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) has condemned the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Davidetta Browne-Lansanah, for reportedly engaging in acts of corruption at the commission.

ALJA says that while Madam Browne-Lasanah has done an admirable job as chairperson of the NEC, it believes that the recent allegation of conflict of interest against her by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) for her role in a bidding process at the  NEC last year has created an unnecessary and disappointing distraction for the Elections Commission with the potential of eroding the commission’s credibility if not adjudicated speedily and impartially.

In a press release issued on Thursday, January 6, 2022, ALJA says that the NEC, as an integrity institution, must be above any allegation of corruption and malfeasance, such as the latest from the LACC, that draws into question the integrity of its chairperson, Madam Browne-Lansanah.

ALJA says while it remains suspicious of the neutrality and independence of the LACC, it believes that Madam Brown- Lasanah’s actions demonstrate poor judgment  and Liberians of all political persuasions should condemn such corrupt practices especially one involving the head of an integrity institution.

The LACC recently indicted Mrs. Browne-Lansanah for conflict of interest after she presided over an NEC’s bidding process that allegedly fraudulently awarded a contract valued at more than 182 thousand US dollars to a Liberian business, Tuma Enterprise Incorporated.  The company which has a family tie with Madam Browne-Lansanah was contracted to supply facial thermometers to election facilities in Nimba, Bong, Grand Gedeh, and Bomi Counties during the November 2021 bi-elections. According to the LACC, Tuma’s Vice President for Operations, David Brown, is Chairperson Browne-Lansanah’s paternal half-brother while Mr. Arnold Badio, owner, and incorporator of the company, is Mr. Browne’s maternal half-brother.

The anti-graft commission claims that this action by the NEC Chairperson is a violation of Section 1.3.6 of the National Code of Conduct, which speaks against conflict of interest; Part II, Section 2.2 of the LACC Act and Section 15.3 of the Money Laundering Act of 2012.

The ALJA press release quoting the Association’s National President, Joe Mason, thanked the independent Daily Observer Newspaper for unearthing the reported deal at the NEC; and called on the LACC and the Ministry of Justice to collaborate fully in prosecuting Chairperson Browne-Lansanah. The Association also called for the prosecution of all NEC executives or employees linked to the reported crime.

The Association also called on the LACC to demonstrate its fairness by taking a similar robust stance in the exposure and prosecution of other high-profile cases of corruption in Liberia including the 25 million US dollars, which the Weah administration claimed to have used for a mop-up exercise. ALJA also urged the Commission to institute an immediate probe in the unaccounted for 30 million US dollars COVID-19 relief package established for assisting Liberians affected by the Corona Virus last year.

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