New SG Falls to Lewis Brown’s Literary Sword -Stern Prosaic Response to ‘Persons of Interest’ Publication
Liberia’s former Information Minister, Lewis G. Brownm, II who also served reasonable time of the current administration as Prominent Representative to the United Nations, Mr. Lewis Brown, is one of several “persons of interest” in the campaign to recover the country’s stolen wealth from former officials of government and their private colluders. The heat is on, and it seems the current Solicitor General-designate, Cllr Sayma Syrenius Cephus, is on fire and leaving no stone unturned in getting President George Manneh Weah’s version of anti-corruption fight to a logical conclusion. In what most pundits consider the hasty release of the names of “persons of interest”, the Solicitor General-designed appear to provoke spontaneous ripostes from individuals who feel their toes were stepped on inadvertently or wrongly. Mr. Brown is one of them and he is not taking lying down the accusation of him being “person of interest” in corruption investigation. He summoned in pen expertly prosaically communicating his qualms about the mention of him and others he worked with at the Ministry of Information. The Analyst reports.
Liberia’s former Information Minister, Ambassador Lewis Brown has strong reacted to reports that he is one of several “persons of interest” that Government is pursuing to recover stolen money.
The Ministry of Justice, through the office of the Solicitor Generator, has released a long list of individuals, prominently former officials of the then administration of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, considered as “persons of interest” scheduled to stand investigation over their alleged roles in purloining public funds.
The longtime journalist and diplomat is not taking the inclusion of his name on the list kindly and has tendered a communication targeting the torchbearer of the investigation, Solicitor General-Designate, who is also a journalist.
“I am constrained to draw your attention to the online and print publications of the June 19 and 20 Editions of the Liberian Analyst Newspaper which quotes you extensively as the source of a ‘List of Former Government Officials’ said to have been investigated and or audited by either the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) or the General Auditing Commission (GAC), and accordingly, have been determined to be liable to restitute, be prosecuted for, and or jailed supposedly on the discretion of the newly-created office of the Assets Recovery Team (ART),” said the former Liberian Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
He continued: “My name, and those of other colleagues with whom I was privileged to have served during my tenure at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), have been included in those publications erroneously purveying the public impression that we have either been audited by the GAC and or investigated by the LACC, and as a consequence of these audits and or investigations, evidence exists of the collective and or individual commissions of fraud, misappropriation, misapplication or otherwise theft of public monies entrusted into our individual or collective care, for which we must now answer to the ART.”
The former Information Minister said it was instructive that none of the individuals listed under MICAT had either participated in any audit of MICAT by the GAC or have been made aware or participated in any investigation by the LACC.
“The closest I have come to information concerning the alleged conduct of an audit by the GAC was through a publication in the September 18, 2018 online and print edition of the FrontPageAfrica Newspaper, more than two and half years after I had left the MICAT, under the byline of journalist Alaskai Johnson who was kind to inform me that the source of his story was a member of the Liberian Legislature,” he stressed, adding, “This was my first time hearing about the “audit” and the claims supposedly contained therein.”
He opined that one cannot react to an audit that s/he did not participate in, was unaware of, and was, as yet, unpublished and therefore felt compelled to limit his reaction to the news article of the FPA, which he said he did on September 22, 2018.
“In that letter to the editor of the FPA, I faithfully represented that I was unaware of the conduct of the audit, have not been consulted at any stage of the audit, nor had I been afforded any copy of its findings,” Mr. Brown, who also welcomed the need for continuous audit in the public service to ensure transparency and accountability.
But he cautioned that the important exercise of audit must be pursued with due professional care and diligence to avoid unnecessary, unintended and irreparable harm to the reputations of undeserving individuals or risks to the reputations of our public institutions that are tasked with performing these much-needed and important functions.
He bemoaned how the publications have caused him and his family “undeserved embarrassment and public derision. I have to assume it has done the same for my colleagues as well.”
Amb. Brown said further: “I cannot emphasize enough that we owe a duty to ourselves, as officials and as citizens, to guide against the seemingly growing temptation to wreck the reputations of each other without the required exercise of due professional care and reciprocal respect especially in the discharge of the duties and functions of our entrusted offices.
“This is even more compelling in today’s advances in communication technology. Importantly also, we risk denigrating the important duty of public accountability and transparency, for which we must all be supportive, as opposed to casting it in dismal and unwanted political theater when we do not permit ourselves to thread carefully, professionally and diligently in the pursuit of these important public undertakings.”
He said while the fight against corruption is an honorable one with which all must be faithfully enjoined because it is one from which all will benefit, a fight against each other is one with which everyone must dread to be enjoined because it is one for which all are inextricably destined to lose.
“This, then, is why I use this opportunity to urge us not to turn a blind eye to corruption wherever manifested; and yet, I must again caution that we do not invest ourselves in shooting each others hard-earned reputations and public service records down without the associated regard for due professional care and much-needed diligence, even if it fashionably feeds into the currency of political divisions.”
He urged the Solicitor General and his Asset Recovery Team “to cause an adjustment in the publication attributed to you, by removing my name, those of my colleagues as well as the names of all others similarly situated, because the basis on which you have supposedly relied to engineer the publication is legally untenable and professionally flawed.”