Red Flag Greets Ombudsman Nomination -As Critics Accuse Cllr. Findley Kangar of UP partisanship

MONROVIA: At long last, the President of Liberia, Joseph Nyuma Boakai on April 5th, Friday nominated Cllr. Findley Karngar as Chairman for the Office of the Ombudsman for the Republic of Liberia in keeping with the laws of Liberia, but the appointment of the Liberian legal practitioner, the first nominated to the position since the last Unity Party government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaaf, has begun to generate apprehensions in some quarters on grounds of partisanship and loyalty to the ruling Unity Party.

With the appointment of Cllr. Karngar pending confirmation from the Senate critics have seen him not to be neutral as required by the laws establishing the office of the Ombudsman as the Code of Conduct requires that the office of the ombudsman be occupied by independent persons or people.

Part XIII: Section 12.1 of the law establishing THE OFFICE OF OMBUDSMAN provides, “The office of an ombudsman is hereby established as an independent autonomous body which shall be responsible for the enforcement, oversight, monitoring and evaluation of the adherence to the Code of Conduct.

It is stated in Section 12.2 of the law that, “The Office of the Ombudsman shall receive and investigate all complaints   in respect to adherence to the Code of Conduct.”

The Section further states, “In the case where there is a determination of guilt and violation of the code of conduct by private or public officials and employees of government, said violation shall be submitted by the ombudsman to the Liberia Anti—Corruption Commission (LACC) or other relevant agencies of government.

“The Office of the Ombudsman shall be responsible to collaborate with the three Branches of Government and Civil Society Organizations in order to develop regulations for the code of conduct,” According to Section 12.2 of the law.

Similarly, Section 1.3.17 defines “Ombudsman” to mean “someone or a group of persons appointed or authorized by the President of the Republic of Liberia and confirmed by the Senate to enforce, oversee, monitor, and evaluate adherence to the Code of Conduct. Such individuals or group of persons shall receive and investigate complaints against public officials, employees of government and national institutions.

But Critics of the nominated Chair for the Office of the Ombudsman have associated Cllr. Karngar to be one who holds loyalty to the Unity Party Alliance that voted President Boakai to the presidency, stating that his involvement with the disbanded Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) and the Council of Patriots (COP), which was and has been a strong arm of the Unity Party does not make him an ideal person for the job.

“The nominated Chairman of the Office of Ombudsman was the same lawyer who stood as guarantor for Henry Pedro Costa in the fraudulent laissez-passer case and allowed Costa to escape! He’s the same man who represented Mo Ali after MO’s threatening statements led to the home of Justice Joseph Nagbe being attacked,” and opposition politician who preferred anonymity has recounted.

“This dude has always been associated with the interest of the Unity Party; meaning that his neutrality is questionable, so is his independence! He will be pulled by his nose! We can’t trust him to enforce the CODE OF CONDUCT,” the critic said.

“This is a man who has been paid legal services for Support to Unity Party related interest, why should one think he is a neutral man, other critics opined”, another critic said.

A January 19, 2021 Information Ministry Statement attested to the reading of the critics when the Ministry said Mr. Henry Costa was undergoing investigation for laissez passer fraud at the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) under the custody of the law when his counsel, Finley Karngar signed for, and obtained Costa’s living body, with firmed assurance of producing him whenever he was needed, but has not been seen since then.

 

The Government of Liberia therefore at the time called on Cllr. Karngar to make good his promise to unconditionally turn over Mr. Henry Costa to the Liberia Immigration Service.

Costa had been a Joseph Boakai’s Unity Party diehard supporter until when the then presidential candidate Boakai refused to select him to be his running mate, and that his Council of Patriots that he chaired when he was arrested has been a supporter of the Unity Party

Calls for the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman have echoed in the country prior to the nomination of Cllr. Karnga to investigate and prosecute Personnel that have offended the Code of Conduct.

On January 29, 2024, while delivering his annual message to the joint chambers of the Liberia Legislature, President Joseph N. Boakai assured Liberians of his government’s commitment to enforcing the implementation of the Code of Conduct.

According to the Liberian President, the passage of the Code of Conduct for public officials has not had the full effect of the Law.

In his annual message, President Boakai emphasized that there was a major hurdle which is the lack of ‘implementation infrastructure.’ “To this end, there is a need to establish the Office of the Ombudsman.”

It may be recalled former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf formulated and published the National Code of Conduct Act but was soon violated by public officials with rampant corruption and looting of state assets.

For 12 years in power, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her Unity Party which government Boakai served as Vice President for 12 years, failed to set up an Ombudsman Office.

Making matters worse, former President George Weah and his CDC government following the takeover of power in January 2018, also failed to set up the Office of the Ombudsman responsible to enforce the Code of Conduct.

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