Home Governance They Can’t Produce Evidence Against Themselves …Gov’t Says of Sanctioned Officials

They Can’t Produce Evidence Against Themselves …Gov’t Says of Sanctioned Officials

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By: H. Richard Fallah

MONROVIA: Barely six (6) months since the United States Government Sanctioned five (5) of President George Weah`s top government officials for corruption, many political pundits and ordinary Liberians, have been on the back of the Government to probe the allegations levied against them.

However, the Weah-led Government, through the Minister of Information, Ledgerhood Julius Rennie, told a local radio station, (OKFM), Wednesday, February 22, 2023 in Monrovia that the government, under President Weah, did not say it would have prosecuted those sanctioned by the U.S Treasury Department.

According to Minister Rennie, the five (5) designated officials are in no quarries with the laws of Liberia. He made the statement on February 22, 2023.

“The government did not say it will investigate, it said the three officials should avail themselves for investigation, we cannot ask them to bring evidence against themselves,” he emphasized.

The hope and expectation of many Liberians and groups that the CDC-led Government would have probed the corruption claims against the three former officials seem to have been dashed; as such probe by the Administration is seemingly becoming impossible as the office of the President has also become tight lipped on the issue.

Nevertheless, some citizens and other political analysts are of the view that the probe of such claims made by the US Government has been compromised by the Liberian ruling elites.

Others see it to be something which has already been swept under the carpet due to personal relationships the three (3) sanctioned officials have with President Weah. This claim has, however, not been independently confirmed by this paper.

It can be recalled that on Tuesday, August 16, 2022; President George Manneh Weah suspended the named officials: Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel Falo McGill; the Managing Director of the National Port Authority, Bill Twehway; and Solicitor General and Chief Prosecutor of Liberia, Cllr. Sayma Syrennius Cephus with immediate effect “to enable them face investigation.”

With this reference, many citizens are now questioning Minister Rennie, and /or the Government, as to what President Weah meant, then, when he (Pres. Weah) spoke about allowing the three designated officials to “face investigation,” if Rennie, as Information Minister, is now inferring that the Government did not promise to investigate sanctioned officials.

The three (3) top former government officials, Nathaniel McGill, Sayma Syrenius Cephus, and Bill Twehway were sanctioned on August 15, 2022, for their alleged involvement in ongoing political corruption in Liberia.

These officials, according to the US Treasury Department, were designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world.

According to the US Government, “Through their corruption, these officials have undermined democracy in Liberia and that the decision taken by the Treasury Department of the United States, demonstrate that the United States remains committed to holding corrupt actors accountable and to the continued support of the Liberian people.”

The United States through its embassy accredited near Monrovia, having observed reluctance from both the government and some Liberians, especially when they started seeing these same very officials (sanctioned officials) campaigning to participate the 2023 elections, and also being celebrated ahead of the October 10, Polls, came up again with an open letter to Liberia during the observance of “World Anti-Corruption Day”.

Though many Liberians had expected additional sanctions as being perceived and speculated before said day, the United States Embassy near Monrovia, said in open letter, even though they were not announcing any new U.S. sanctions, but stated that the US anti-corruption efforts remain robust and continuous.
The embassy letter continues that, all-important goal of transparent, free, credible, and peaceful elections in October will be one important factor in decisions about additional sanctions in the months leading up to the vote.

With this open letter, many are now wondering if the Weah led government is cognizant of the consequences should there be additional sanctions against its officials, especially few months to crucial elections in which the President is seeking second term.

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