Exonerated -Investigation Absolves LACC Acting Boss of Corruption

Liberia’s premier integrity institution, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) has lately been embroiled in hullabaloo bordering allegations and counter-allegations of corruption leaving the public to bow in shame. Even before the advent of former Chairperson Ndubuisi Nwabudike who was recently bullied into resigning over integrity issues, the LACC had witnessed verbal upheaval between two of its outstanding officials who also traded allegations of fiscal improprieties. The exit of Ndubuisi Nwabudike’s appeared not to save the Commission from embarrassing disquiet amongst its officials fighting for each other’s head. The most recent commotion flared up between the acting Chairperson, Kanio Bai Gbala, and the Executive Director, Mohammed Fahnbulleh, with the latter accusing the former of corruption and dishonesty. The allegations prompted a forensic in-house probe to determine the veracity of Mr. Fahnbulleh’s allegation and perhaps subsequently forestall Gbala’s appointment as LACC Chairman proper. But it sees the Fahnbulleh maneuvers could not stand the test of factual scrutiny, thus leading to the declaration of Gbala not guilty of any wrongdoing. The Analyst reports.

The Acting Chairperson of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Cllr Kanio Bai Gbala, must be celebrating by now as news leaks that investigation of fiscal and moral indecency unbefitting of any public official levied against him by the Executive Director of the Commission are found unverified and fallacious.

Following the resignation of his predecessor, former LACC Chairperson Ndubuisi Nwabudike as a result of pressure from the Legislature and the civil society over integrity issues, Cllr. Gbala was widely viewed to be named by President George Weah as the Commission’s next Chairman until the man who runs the administrative activities of the LACC, Mohammed Fahnbulleh, muddled the chances with a barrage of allegations.

The LACC Executive Director, Mohammed Fahnbulleh, amid Nwabudike’s withdrawal from the Commission took to the media with allegations that Gbala, who was second in command under Nwabudike, was double dipping by working with the LACC and UNDP-Liberia and collecting salaries and benefits of the two institutions at the same time.

Fahnbulleh had alleged that Gbala was therefore not fit to stand as an official of the LACC let alone to head it after former Chairperson Ndubuisi Nwabudike, allegations that Gbala concurrently denied.

It now seems that fact of the matter has come out clearly and that Fahnbulleh’s allegations were far from the truth as determined by a secret probe carried out by agents of the Commission.

It is not known who carried out the secret probe, whether it is Mohammmed Fahnbulleh consistent with his threat that he would engineer an investigation into Gbala’s alleged misdeeds, or whether it is Kanio Gbala opting to clear his own name from the mud or the Executive Mansion interested in bringing the matter to a logical closure.

What is clear is that there is a copy of an investigation in the possession of The Analyst, seemingly from a secret investigation of allegations of corruption against LACC Vice Chairperson, Cllr. Kanio Bai Gbala, and that findings have totally absolved him of all wrongdoings.

It can be recalled that about a month ago, former LACC Executive Director Atty. Mohammed Fahnbulleh accused Cllr. Gbala of being engaged in various acts of corruption.

In a written request made to former Chairperson who was then on his way out, Atty. Fahnbulleh requested the LACC to initiate an investigation into acts of corruption allegedly committed by the LACC Vice Chairperson. He also asked urged President Weah to dismiss Cllr. Gbala.

But according to anonymous sources within the LACC, after weeks of forensic investigations, included interviewing multiple sources, the LACC investigation unit finally submitted its report to Hon. Nathaniel Mcgill (Minister of State) with copies to Cllr. Archie Bernard (Legal Advisor to President Weah) and Sen. Henrique Tokpa (Senate Chair on Autonomous Agencies).

Essentially, the report exonerates Cllr. Gbala of all accusations of corruption.

LACC staff speaking on condition of anonymity to The Analyst divulged that they had all along known that the Fahnbulleh allegations were out of place and driven by fear of the loss of his contract which he believed would not be renewed upon the departure of Cllr. Ndubuisi Nwabudike from the LACC.

One of the LACC staff also indicated that a few months back the contract of the former Executive Director had expired and the LACC Board of Commissioners mandated a performance evaluation to inform renewal or nonrenewal.

It is said that even ordinary staff of the LACC were asked to submit observations in what was termed as a 360-degree performance evaluation.

At the close of the evaluation (copies in our possession), it was reported that a majority of the staff including 2 out of 3 Commissioners found the former Executive Director to be inefficient and thus recommended the nonrenewal of his contract.

Interestingly, it is also said, Cllr. Gbala was one of the commissioners who recommended the non-renewal of Atty. Fahnbulleh’s contract based on the performance evaluation, but the former Chairperson, Cllr. Nwabudike, ignored the results of the evaluations from staff and other commissioners.

The sources said Nwabudike insisted that Atty. Fahnbulleh remain as executive director, based on the fact that he was misled by Fahnbulleh to believe that he (Fahnbulleh) could neutralize the political pressure for his (Nwabudike’s) removal as Chairperson because he (Fahnbulleh) was a longtime undercover Unity Party ideologue with strong ties to Rep. Hassan Kiazolu and Sen. Darius Dillon.

Unfortunately for Nwabudike, the political climate was too much and could not tolerate his presence.

When engaged by Cllr. Gbala to respect the results of the evaluation and to not renew Atty Fahnbulleh’s contract, he took it as an affront and conspired with Atty. Fahnbulleh to bring what investigators now consider “trumped up charges of corruption” against Cllr. Gbala.

According the report, the LACC Administration, through its Human Resource Department, carry out proper due diligence and rigor in the processing and transitioning of newly hired or appointed staff.

This, they argue, will help to avoid mistakes or contradictions in the future.

The report also recommended that the LACC Administration maintains a stronger oversight on the process and accounting for DSA and other logistics that are used by the entity for operational work.

Meanwhile, Cllr. Gbala has assumed the role of Acting Executive Chairperson of the LACC in line with laws creating the commission.

The Investigation Continues.

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