Lamenting Fogs over US Treasury Department’s Sanctions on GoL Officials

BOTH THE UNITED States Treasury Department and President George Manneh Weah have done little or no justice to the public in how they respectively have handled the accusing, sanctioning and suspending of three officials of Government over allegations of corruption and misuse of public office. The public, at least the level-headed and pragmatic segment of the public, is still left baffled why the US Treasury Department sanctioned the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel McGill, Solicitor General Sayma Syrenius Cephus, and National Port Authority Managing Director Bill Twehway, who were named and shamed with allegations of corruption. And doubts also still linger why President Weah suspended these three officials of Government without allowing the accused to have their day in court, or formally writing the United States Government to adduce tangible evidence that speak to the charges levied against the three named individuals.

LET US BE clear on the record: We are not suggesting that the US Treasury Department has no reason and right to probe corruption and identify culprits. We are not saying the US Treasury has spewed false allegations, or that it has acted inconsistent with mandates derived from the Magnitsky Acts. They do have the mandate and purpose to do so. And we doubt not that President Weah will suspend any of his appointed officials on frivolous charges. Surely, he does have the constitutional right to do so. But the question is, is there anything that both the US treasury department and President know about these suspended officials that they are hiding from the public?

BECAUSE, SO FAR, as the critical-minded people of this country are concerned—besides what the reining political antagonists (both ruling and opposition politicians) think about such a crucial matter—the public is groping blindly in the dark on the controversies simply because neither the accuser of the officials nor the suspender of the officials (the President) has said in concrete, variable terms that the “sins” of the “culprits”.

AS SOPHISTICATED AND venerated as the United States and its institutions are prided to be, we harbor no doubt about any probable cause for their action. But inasmuch as the US has sanctioned the three officials for corruption, they are yet to come clean with any empirical evidence to back their general claims of corruption and abuse of public office.

IT IS DIFFICULT to believe that the Treasury Department’s action against McGill, Cephus and Tweaway is merely political, an attempt to taint, shame and defame so that their political rivals take undue advantage. The United States doesn’t seem to favor any political candidate or regime in Liberia. The US is highly regarded for its investigative prowess, in hunting down criminals both nationally and internationally. Normally, the United States does not file a suit or accuse without evidence against the supposed culprit. But the wonder of the Century is why is the US Treasury is holding back probable evidence against three Liberian officials it has accused of serious crimes? Why is the United States giving Liberia, or the accused persons, exemption in its heroic crackdown on corrupt people? These are the vexing questions that cast aspersion upon their Magnitsky Acts Report on Liberia.

AS IF TO complicate matters, the President of Liberia suspended, almost immediately, his appointed officials that are accused by a foreign institution, as if the US Treasury Department is a de jure parallel authority over Liberia. Again, we refuse to believe that President Weah has got no reasons for his action. There could have been some basis for his action, and we don’t intend to wrestle with him on the prudence of his decision. But how come the President is keeping the Liberian people in the dark on the reason? Because the people are asking: Did he solicit evidence from the Treasury Department on its accusations against his officials or did he take even a slight glimpse at the evidence for their suspension? Has there been any submission of evidence since the suspension?

GIVEN THE ENTRENCHED, evasive and devastating nature of corruption in Liberia, the approach of the US Treasury Department and the President has done nothing substantive in finding the ultimate solution except for giving opposition to the Weah government a bit of propaganda chips and triggering endless debates amongst citizens. If a crime is committed, normally there must be investigation based on the evidence and there must be punitive action afterwards. To stamp out corruption from Liberia, which in part seems to be the reason the Magnitsky Acts authorized the report upon which the three Liberian government officials are accused and sanctioned, there must not only be allegations. Prima facie evidence must be adduced. Culprits must be processed, verified, and punishments served. Otherwise, a heavy fog hangs over the entire Magnitsky Report, and there is a need for a rethink.

TO CLEAR THE fog, and make the fight against corruption serious and well-intentioned, we call on the US government or the Treasury Department to quickly produce evidence against McGill, Cephus and Tweaway. That is the most human-right thing to do. That’s the most legal thing to do. And more so, that is the fairest thing to do. Otherwise, President Weah should request the evidence with a timeline to act. If the Treasury Department does so in time, he must dismiss the culprits if found guilty after investigation. If the Treasury Department does not do so in time, the President should reverse his action and reinstate the suspended officials. That’s the most sensible, legal and human rights thing to do. And the public is waiting!

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