MONROVIA: Amid allegations that he amassed wealth which enabled him to own choice properties abroad such as the United Arab Emirates, former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Margibi County Senator-elect Nathaniel F. McGill has vehemently denied ever owning properties anywhere outside the country and challenged anyone with such information to go and provide the information to the Liberian government for seizure, just as he said he is in full support for audit of government officials and the setting up of a specialized court to investigate economic crimes in the country.
Speaking to journalists yesterday, Wednesday, November 29, 2023 on the allegation of property ownership abroad and other salient issues, the Margibi County Senator elect said he doesn’t have any property in Dubai or anywhere else, and clarified that all his properties are within Liberia.
“When I was sanctioned, some of those questions were asked and I responded to them. I listened to Spoon Talk two days ago and someone showed a picture of what they identified as my property in Dubai,” he reacted, saying, “And I said to Stanton that if you have the document that those properties are mine, please turn it over to the Government of Liberia.
“I am begging the government to please ask Stanton who said he has documentary evidence that the properties are mine to turn the documents of the properties over to the Government of Liberia,” he said, adding, “It will be a shame if the government doesn’t go to take the properties. If somebody bought them and put them in my name, let the government take them,” he said.
He explained that he has visited Dubai a few times, but that he didn’t know any government officials except for the Prince of Dubai that he met once. “It was just a visit; from that time, I never had any communication. I left the hotel I went to – I never visited any property in Dubai,” he said.
He maintained that there are some property owners who, at the airport come and seek after people to invest in their properties, but he never invested in any of those properties in the country.
“But again, if Stanton said he has the documents, let him turn the documents over to the Government of Liberia since in fact he was showing all inside the house, noting that it will allow the incoming government to go and seize the property and let the Liberian people own it.
He said the allegations reminded him of the days of the 1980 Coup when the coup makers were just going around seizing people’s properties and killing people.
“I think the direction that Stanton is taking this new administration by lying to people making malicious statements is bad. I remember people started going around saying Ellen Johnson Sirleaf owns a hospital in South Africa. This is the same kind of thing here. But Stanton has plenty of money. Maybe that’s his own properties he thinks people own. If he has the document let him give it to the government,” he lamented.
Senator-elect McGill also shared his views on the call for audit of the outgoing government, which he said is of obvious necessity. “Obviously! I think an audit is the best thing to do. Audit will be appropriate.”
He said he listened to people saying the President said people should not witch-hunt his government officials, pointing out, “I don’t think the president meant to say ‘don’t audit my government.’ The President believes that audits are a matter of transparency.”
He said that those who are leaving public service need to account for their stewardship, saying that this is why he totally supports the call for an audit.
“For me I wouldn’t mind to present myself to account for my stewardship if I am called upon. Even as Senator for Margibi County, I should use my influence amongst my colleagues to see whether we can set up a specialized court to deal with economic crimes,” he said.
He stressed that he will convince his colleagues in the Senate of the 55th Legislature to legislate a war and economic crimes court, even though he said he is aware there are courts, “but we need to find a way to deal with economic crimes specifically to account for the stewardship of the past and the present, and going forward, people need to account. And besides that, we need to deal with people who commit atrocities – war crimes.”
The former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs who was suspended on the merit of the US Global Magnitsky Sanction indicated, “So it is not just about auditing, it is about finding a way to deal with crimes that border on stewardship.”
Saying Liberians are lying to their compatriots so much, Mr. McGill opined that these lies are traded from one government to the other. “You will see after two months to three months, all the allegations of corruption will shift on the incoming Boakai government officials,” he said.
The Senator-elect said the lies were told first on Madam Sirleaf regime officials; after that it shifted on George Weah officials; after Weah administration it will be shifted to Joseph Boakai officials.
“We need to find the facts so we don’t punish innocent people. It is to find people who you believe committed crime; you don’t just make open accusations. So, I encourage this incoming government to do an audit,” he said.
He maintained that when President Weah said ‘don’t witch-hunt’ he meant to say ‘don’t be selective,’ adding that as a member of the incoming Legislature, “I will encourage my colleagues to support the audit because my understanding is once the audit is done it will go to the Legislature and the legislature will have to verify and mandate the LACC to take action.
“I think the current LACC has teeth to bite. They are supposed to ask questions where questions are supposed to be asked. And so, I support the call for audit and the president should support the call for audit. I didn’t listen to him calling the audit witch-hunt, but I read it in the newspaper and you know the president is a man of transparency. If you have nothing to hide, you should submit to the call for an audit,” he advised.
In that same vein, McGill said he supports the call for an exit audit by the LACC. The LACC recently announced that by December 12, all outgoing officials should be able to declare their assets relative to what they had when they came to the government and what they have as they depart the government.
Commenting on this, Mr. McGill asserted, “I think the law is the law, we should all follow the law. The Call for exit asset declaration if it is part of the law, should be respected. So, I don’t think it is a wrong call for exit asset declaration.”
Asked about his take on Liberians calling for his investigation and that of sanctioned Bill Tweahway, a former National Port Authority boss who has also been elected Senator for River Cess County, former State Minister McGill said he has always said “I have already made myself available.”
He said when he was suspended from office by President Weah, he asked the President to have an investigation. “But like I said, as I always said, I am innocent.”
He furthered, “The United States should not be blamed for the sanction; the United States Government is saying that it wants transparency. If you look at the sanction document, the sanction is not to punish people, it is to make people change their behaviors.”
According to him, people may have provided the wrong information to the U. S. Government, noting that this is democracy. “If you are not guilty [of wrong] they will take the appropriate steps. I met the American ambassador and he said, ‘These are allegations that they made against the [Liberian] government officials. They need to be investigated,” McGill said.
“The law is the law. So, as it stands now why do you want to stop me from taking my seat? I don’t commit crime in Liberia. However, anytime they call upon me to answer a question, I will go,”
With the journalists saying the CDC government did similar things before, Mr. McGill quickly indicated, “I don’t want to be responding to ‘they say’ and ‘you say’. At the appropriate time my legal people will respond. So, I don’t want to be responding to hypotheticals,” although he reiterated that he is open to investigation.
On the debate of who should be the Pro Tempore for the 55th Liberian Senate, He said the Senate is divided just as the country, and that the CDC has not decided on a candidate. “I don’t have a candidate. If you look at the results of the elections, you realize that the country is divided in the middle. The Unity Party won with some 20,400 over the CDC, he said, noting that the narrow margin shows that the country is divided strictly in the middle; almost 50-50.
“The senators elected for the CDC are 15; and on the other side, meaning Unity Party and its Alliance also 15. So, the whole country is divided. As it stands for now, we don’t have a candidate. Nobody approaches me officially because they want to be protemp. Besides, we have not decided who our candidate is. I am a team player, I will support the candidate of my team,” he maintained.
He then praised President Weah for his early concession to defeat. “What I can say is to thank the President, His Excellency George Weah, for being magnanimous in defeat. You know President Weah has set a new standard in our democracy. When we were going to the elections, there were people who assumed that the President was going to rig the elections; some people assumed that the President was not going to accept the result and all of that. He did the best thing for our country,” Mr. McGill said.
McGill said the President has introduced dynamism to African electoral politics where an incumbent President has conceded defeat. “This is a new trend that people will follow. This has been happening in America where a contender will call the winning party to congratulate them; this is the standard the President has set, and I think succeeding presidents will follow the same pattern.”
By his observation, Liberia is gravitating toward two-party state as it is in America, the two leading parties now in the country are the Unity Party and the CDC, just as the Democratic Party and the Republic Party in the United States, adding that in the Senate, there are two major bloc – the UP or the CDC.
Regarding his relationship with President Weah, he said, “It is very good! Very, very good! The President did congratulate me and as a Senator-elect I also sent him a message”.
He then consoled CDCians not to give up hope as Liberia is for all Liberians. “This country belongs to all Liberians”, he said, noting that Liberians have to keep the peace in our country. “We get to do it justly; we get to do it fairly. I want anybody who is in a position of authority to do things justly and rightly for the peace of Liberia,” he averred, as he advised public officials from both sides to desist from what will destroy this country.
“I want to thank President Weah for making the sacrifice for our country. It’s painful. I thank CDCians that they fought a good fight. You did your best, but God’s time is the best; don’t lose hope, the future is still bright,” accentuated.
“You were in opposition for 12 years, the Liberian people gave you power for six years and they felt that you didn’t do what they expected you to do, they took it from you; but that is not the end of your journey. Tomorrow, if the Unity Party doesn’t perform, the Liberian people will come back to you. You’ve learned your lesson, and you can still come back. The country belongs to all Liberians, every Liberian has the right to serve their country,” he concluded.