“Govt. Will Not Compromise Accountability” -Minister Piah Defends Asset Recovery policy

MONROVIA: The government of Liberia has said despite stiff opposition to the resolve of President Joseph Nyuma Boakai to raid the country of corruption and instill a culture of accountability and ending impunity, it will not be deterred by any means or distraction and “anyone one who thinks the asset recovery measure is a joke, must have a rethink.”

The position of the government was re-echoed yesterday, Monday, April 1, 2024 by the Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Jerolinmek Mathew Piah when he addressed a regular media briefing to explain government’s policy as it governs since its inception. He said he was not surprised that the asset recovery policy was receiving some resistance from some people who obvious are “troubled by their past because they know what they have as stewardship, those are the bad experiences Liberians encountered during their tenure and are now poised to stop the government from knowing about their past”.

“You will notice that there has been a lot of people in arms and when I say arms that does not mean people are carrying guns but there have been attempts to stop the work of the asset recovery team. If Liberia must make progress there is nothing that will be compromised and no matter who shouts, whether you stand in the way of waterside market and shout, it is not going to deter the government in its resolve to hold people accountable.

“It is not a jungle justice kind of accountability, and therefore as I said before if you did nothing wrong, why are you weeping, why are you shouting, why are you crying, and I said it the other day that it reminds me of a scripture in the bible that says, the wicked flee when nobody pursues them.

‘Why be afraid, if you know you are innocent, if you know you did nothing wrong, you got nothing to fear. But no amount of noise making, no amount of ganging up, no amount of resistance, will stop our approach towards accountability”, Minister Piah said.

Minister Piah said it is was welcoming to see all those who felt aggrieved “by the initial steps and we appreciate the fact that they are not taking laws into their own hands, they are running to the courts, that is how our country should run”, wondering whether “we have had such in our recent past, if it is happening so now, that, too, is encouraging”,

“This country will do the right thing; this country will progress. We found ourselves in a vicious cycle where people are breaching public trust, where integrity is a problem and what we see from one stage is to say let us move on, the past is the past. The Boakai administration has that of opportunity to break away from that kind of scenario”, he said.

The minister asserted that since the inception of the asset recovery team, “we heard various comments that asset recovery is a joke, strangely some of them are coming from public officials.”

“Are we blindly supporting people who are suspected of having which are not legally theirs? Should we not be embracing a process that will lead to a closure?

Under the Liberian some is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, are we not under any obligations to make that process work?

“So I want to say this for the record that the government is unwavering, the government remains uncompromising as it takes the issue of accountability measures because people must account for their stewardship. When I leave this place tomorrow and there is any iota of suspicion, that I did something wrong, I should not be troubled, but it will be an attempt to show accountability”, the Minister said.

Minister Piah also used the occasion to address the place of the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism in propagating the activities of the government looking at core development and that the Ministry under his leadership has been working tirelessly that the ministry represents what it should be of a country which “is now in save hands and significant progress has made.

“We inherited a ministry like we said that was almost non-existent. Like what consistently said I don’t put blame on the individuals who ran the ministry. There was an intentional neglect of the Ministry of information by the central government.

“So when I raise these issues, it was not about Eugene Nagbe or Legerhood Rennie, it was how the government chose deliberately to abandon an institution that is important as MICAT and what we have been trying to do, is to call our government’s attention back to the fact that back to this ministry can be likened to a situation that is security because information and communication is security, there is no way you will want a country that succeeds when you do not pay attention to communication”, he said

He said under him as Minister, “we are determined to make the Ministry as active as possible and for all of you who have been covering the Executive Mansion activities have seen how active this place has been”.

“This is unheard of, this is unprecedented that the ministry’s platform is bringing top officials, almost consistently 3 times a week. I was here sometimes ago as a deputy minister and when I look back, I can see what it was then and what is it now.

And I can see we are making a lot of progress but then that is what happens when the government has a lot of say for her people and say from time to time we will engage the people.

He commended deputy ministry of technical services, Daniel Sando who was instrumental in opening a new website of the Ministry of Information which has been update the citizenry both at home and abroad.

“Our country is making progress, by the way the government through the Ministry of Finace, has signed a $40m loan agreement with the African development bank for the mano river road development facilitation, phase three, I know it started in 2008, is to make strategic intervention in critical strives and to upgrade 48km roads in Liberia, that links the country to Quindo in Sierra Leone, and towards Guinea, and it is also going to move towards the southeastern part, which is John town to Zwedru Section, to support the President policy of no car will hitch in the in the mud”, Fish town to Zwedru asphatization.

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