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Liberia’s problem

By Jacob D. Massaquoi and Cllr. Frederick A.B. Jayweh, Esq          Culture of Impunity

 

This brief analysis and reflection on the culture of impunity in Liberia highlighted since 1847 to today, demonstrates that the fundamental problem facing Liberia (i.e. the Liberia’s conundrum) is not based on the strengths or weaknesses of a particular political party, civil society organization, ethnic grouping, Americo-Liberians/Conguos People, or Aborigines; nor human rights issues, or political activism of a particular group of people; but rather, this is an age-old systemic and structural problem of governance. Liberia, as a nation has a Constitution and government modeled after that of the United States; but regrettably, successive Liberian governments and leaders have consistently and systematically refused to abide by the rule of law and the principle of good governance and democracy in Liberia.

 

Hence, the cancerous problem facing pre and post war Liberia and its people, is the culture of impunity and the lack of moral and political will on the part of previous and current governments to implement most needed structural and societal reforms in the general and common interest of the Republic and its people. As the saying goes, Liberia, is a nation of paradox; unlike the United States where there is a check and balance system in place to ensure good governance, accountability and the rule of law on the part of its citizens irrespective of one’s social and political persuasion, status or wealth, Liberia as a country, has a serious deficit when it comes to good governance, accountability, and democracy.

 

Although 99% of Liberian past and present leaders are products of some of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world, (i.e. Harvard University), notwithstanding, they willfully refused to uphold ethical and judicious practices, and/or implement ethical business principles according to industry good governance and acceptable legal standard. Past and Present governments in Liberia, have always operated in a vacuum without a clearly defined and measurable strategic plan covering their term of office. Universal ethical business standards all over the world, demands that public officials be subjected to extensive background checks, which involve declaration of assets during and after employment, academic credentials, family background, work, criminal history, etc. before ascending to and continuing in office. In the Republic of Liberia, it is business as usual and don’t dare rock the boat.

 

But in the current government of Liberia and in Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s world, there are no ethical or business oriented standards. For instance, in another attempt to deceive the Liberian people and international community as usual, on 22 August 2012, 46 government officials including the biological son of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf were ordered suspended for what Madam Sirleaf referred to as “failing to declare assets1.” The unprecedented and inconsistent salary gap for the same positions, skills, qualifications, and experience for the current Liberian government employees, local and Diaspora employment in Liberia, highlights the inconsistency and incompetence and total lack of respect for the rule of law, good governance, and accountability, and fairplay in Liberia.

 

Prior to ascending to state power and assuming the national role as President and commander-in-chief, Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf and her associates were highly consumed with being the most vocal critics of Liberian history. But today after assuming the Presidency and Power in Liberia, the story of development, advancement, good governance, and accountability in Liberia stays the same; nothing has really changed. Liberians are saying that the Sirleaf-led government is ten times more corrupt than the governments of Presidents Edwin J. Barclay, Charles D.B. King, Samuel K. Doe, Charles G. Taylor and the late interim President Charles G. Bryant who Mrs. Sirleaf arrested, imprisoned, released and later let go from further prosecution; believing that the Johnson Sirleaf-led government is doing the worst and repeating the identical and same bad form and type of history of bad governance in Liberia.

Foreign Investments And No Development

Since ascending to power and the Presidency of Liberia, the government of Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf formulated and signed into law investment contracts relating to nearly 70 foreign companies and concessions. The most permanent investors already operating in Liberia are displaced as following:

 Investment Table 2006 to 2014

MINING SECTOR CAPITAL POTENTAL JOBS LOCATION

China Union/Bong Mines MDA $2.6 Billion 3,000 Bong County

BHP Billiton/Kitoma, Goe Fentro MDA $1.8 Billion 2,500 Lofa, Nimba Counties

Africa Aura (Gola Konneh) $150Million 200 Grand Cape County

AGRICULTURE

Decoris Oil Palm Plantation $64Million 1,000 Maryland County

Sime Darby Gurthrie Plantation $800Million 30,000 Grand Cape County

Equatorial Palm Oil $100 Million 10,000 Grand Bassa County

HOTELS

Golden Gate Hotel/SKD Stadium $8 Million 100 Montserrado County

INDUSTRIES

BR Power 35MW Power Plants $150 Million 300 Grand Bassa County

FORESTRY

4 Forestry Management Contracts $60 Million 2,000 Various Counties

PETROLEUM

20 New Total Stations $20 Million 1,000 Various Counties

FINANCE

Access Bank $6 Million 100 Montserrado County

Liberian Enterprise Development Fund $8 Million 10 Montserrado County

Major Companies

Firestone Margibi County

Liberia Agricultural Company Grand Bassa County

2

The above foreign investment record of concessions in Liberia shows that since January 16, 2006, the government of Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf has encouraged and signed billion of United States dollars worth of investment contracts with foreign investors, but the crimes of corruption, money laundering, and capital flight and other serious violations of the laws of Liberia have reduced Liberia into the Sirleaf’s Family Enterprise Ltd; leaving Liberia and its people with the least to show resembling development and advancement in Liberia. At worst, it is reliably reported that out of the nearly 70 concessional agreements signed into law by the government of Mrs. Sirleaf, a total of 68 of those contracts signed into law and permitting these foreign investors and companies to operate in Liberia are in absolute violation of the Constitution, Statutory and Administrative Laws of Liberia.3

To date, the Sirleaf-led government has remained mute and done nothing to remedy these public violations of our laws. By compulsion, indigenous and native inherited lands are ceased and given out to foreign investors without the people’s prior and informed consent and compensation as demanded by national and international law. By law, the native inhabitants of indigenous lands must give their prior and informed consent to have their lands contracted out for investment’s purposes. Absolutely, the Sirleaf-led government careless about this law and rights of the people of Liberia; hence the following concessional agreements are in absolute violation of Liberia’s laws; and thus, constitutes a ground for impeachment as provided for by the Constitution and Statutory laws of Liberia.

Capital Flight in Liberia

Corruption, Money Laundering, and Capital Flight, are domestic and international crimes. When unchecked and controlled, developed and developing countries and their citizens are startled by war, conflict and countless suffering. The table below shows how corruption, money laundering, and capital flight have engulfed Liberia and are responsible for continual suffering of Liberia and its people.

Corruption Table 2013

KRL International, LLC #5788 1701 K Street, NW, Suite 550,Washington, DC 2006 Edward A. McCain Liberia’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Public Relations Paid US$45,000 for 6 Months.

LISCR, LLC #5490

8619 Westwood Center Drive

Suite 300

Vienna, VA 22182 LISCR, LLC # 5490 Maritime Support Services US$39,486,665 paid for 6 Months

Corruption Table 2012

KLR International, LLC #5788 Suite 550, Washington, DC 20006 Edward A. McCain Liberia’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Public Relations Paid US$30,000 for 6 Months

LISCR, LLC #5490 8619 Westwood Center Drive Suite 300 Vienna, VA 22182 LISCR, LLC Maritime Support Services Paid US$37,583,564 for 6 Months

Corruption Table 2011

KLR International, LLC #5788 Suite 550, Washington, DC 20006 Edward A. McCain Liberia’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Public Relations Paid US$30,000 for 6 Months

LISCR, LLC #5490

8619 Westwood Center Drive

Suite 300

Vienna, VA 22182

LISCR, LLC Maritime Support Services Paid US$34,878,080 for 6 Months

 Corruption Table 2010

KLR International, LLC #5788 Suite 550, Washington, DC 20006 Edward A. McCain Liberia’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Public Relations Paid US$60,000 for 6 Months

LISCR, LLC #5490

8619 Westwood Center Drive

Suite 300

Vienna, VA 22182

LISCR, LLC #5490 Maritime Support Services Paid US$29,459,2946 for 6 Months

 Corruption table 2009

JWI, LLC #4990 1401 k Street, N.W, Suite 400, 4th Floor Washington, D C 20005 AmLib United Minerals (t) JWI, LLC #4990 AmLib United Minerals (t) Public Relations Paid US$50,000 for 6 Months

KRL International, LLC #5788

1701 K Street, NW

Suite 550

Washington, DC 20006 Edward A. McCain Liberia’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Public Relations Paid US$40,000 for 6 Months

LISCR, LLC #5490

8619 Westwood Center Drive

Suite 300

Vienna, VA 22182

LISCR, LLC #5490 Maritime Support Services Paid US$19,225,0280 for 6 Months

 Corruption Table 2008

JWI, LLC #4990 1401 k Street, N.W, Suite 400, 4th Floor Washington, D C 20005 AmLib United Minerals (t) JWI, LLC #4990 AmLib United Minerals (t) Public Relations Paid US$64,696.36 for 6 Months

KRL International, LLC #5788 Edward A. McCain Public Relations

1701 K Street, NW Suite 550 Washington, DC 20006 Liberia’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Paid US$68,209.34 for 6 Months

Radelet, Stevens Charles #5823 (T)

1776 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, 3rd Floor

Washington, DC 20036

Government of Liberia (t) Government of Liberia Lobbying Paid US$90.000 for 6 Months

LISCR, LLC #5490

8619 Westwood Center Drive

Suite 300

Vienna, VA 22182 LISCR, LLC #5490 Maritime Support Services Paid US$11,284,289 for 6 Months

 Corruption Table 2007

Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, LLP #508 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20006-1801 Liberian Government Legal and Other Services/Lobbying Paid US$228,933.70 for 6 Months

JWI, LLC #4990

1401 k Street, N.W, Suite 400, 4th Floor

Washington, D C 20005

AmLib United Minerals (t) JWI, LLC #4990 AmLib United Minerals (t) Public Relations Paid US$105,772.58 for 6 Months

KRL International, LLC #5788

1701 K Street, NW

Suite 550

Washington, DC 20006 Edward A. McCain Liberia’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Public Relations Paid US$68,045 for 6 Months

Corruption Table 2007

LISCR, LLC #5490 8619 Westwood Center Drive Suite 300 Vienna, VA 22182 LISCR, LLC #5490 Maritime Support Services Paid US$8,445,076 for 6 Months

Radelet, Stevens Charles #5823 (T)

1776 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, 3rd Floor

Washington, DC 20036

Government of Liberia (t) Radelet, Stevens Charles #5823 (T) Liberian Government Lobbying No Finances Not Reported

 Corruption Table 2006

BKSH & Associates #5402 1110 Vermont Avenue, N.W. Suite 1000 Washington, DC 20004 Liberian Governemnt (t) Liberian Government Public Relations Paid US$20,000 for 6 Months

JWI, LLC #4990

1401 k Street, N.W, Suite 400, 4th Floor

Washington, D C 20005

AmLib United Minerals (t) JWI, L.L.C # 4990 AmLib United Mineral Public Relations No Payment reported

LISCR, LLC #5490

8619 Westwood Center Drive LISCR, LLC #5490 Maritime Support Services

Suite 300 Vienna, VA 22182 Paid US$7,939,255 Months

4 As reported by the United States Department of Justice and published on www.fara.gov, the government of Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf without appropriation and approval by the National Legislature of Liberia, went ahead, appropriated and spent about US$362,979,645 Million dollars on LISCR5 for allegedly providing Maritime Support and Services to the government of Liberia from 2006 to 2013. Also, www.fara.gov reports that from 2006 to 2013, the Government spent a total of US$341,254 on Mr. Edward A. McClain, Liberia’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs for purportedly providing public relations services to the government of Liberia. And also from 2006 to 2013, the government spent US$494,705 on other private companies to provide alleged lobbying services to the government of Liberia. Did the Sirleaf-led government get legislative appropriation and approval prior to spending the following amounts of money generated by Liberia’s Maritime Fund? Are the following spending in violation of Liberia’s Constitution? Do these extra-constitutional and statutory spending amount an impeachable offenses?

The Legislative Power

Chapter 5, Article 29 of the Liberian Constitution provides that the legislative power of the Republic shall be vested in Legislature of Liberia which shall consist of the Senate and House of Representatives, both of which must pass on all legislation. Consequently, the Legislature shall have the following power:

a) Create new counties and other political sub-division

b) Provide for the security of the Republic

c) Provide for the Armed Forces of the Republic and make appropriations therefor

d) Levy taxes, duties, imports, exercise and other revenues, to borrow money, issue currency, and make appropriations for the fiscal governance of the Republic, subject to the following qualifications:

(i) All revenue bills, whether subsidies charges, imports, duties or taxes, and other financial bills, shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other bills.

(ii) No monies shall be drawn from the treasury except in consequence of appropriations made by the legislative enactment and upon warrant of the President; and no coin shall be minted or national currency issued except by the expressed authority of the Legislature.

An annual statement and account of expenditure of all public monies shall be submitted by the office of the President to the Legislature and published once a year. And,

(iii) No loans shall be raised by the Government on behalf of the Republic or guarantees given for any public institutions or authority otherwise than by or under the authority of a legislative enactment.6

Absolutely, no government of Liberia has the power to appropriate and spend a cent from out of the revenue and resources of Liberia, except by expressed appropriation enacted into law by the Legislature of the Republic of Liberia. No monies shall be drawn from the treasure of Liberia except in consequence of appropriations made by legislative enactment. The Johnson Sirleaf-led government, particularly President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf by appropriating and expanding over US$400 Million dollars from the treasury of the government of Liberia without legislative enactment, violates the Constitution of Liberia, and consequently this unlawful action of Mrs. Sirleaf constitutionally amounts to an impeachable offense.

The Executive Power

Chapter 6, Article 50 of the Liberian Constitution provides that Executive Power of the Republic shall be vested in the President who shall be Head of State, Head of Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia. Also, Chapter 6, Article 57 provides that the President shall have the power to conduct the foreign affairs of the Republic and in that connection he is empowered to conclude treaties, conventions and similar international agreements with the concurrence of the majority of each House of Legislature7. Under the Constitution and Statutory laws of Liberia, the President of Liberia has no expressed or implied power to raise and conclude investment contracts that are violative and repugnant to the Constitution and Statutory laws of Liberia. The nearly 350-page auditing report of Moore And Stephens of May 2013 underscores and holds that all the concessional agreements executed by the government of Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf and personally signed into law by Mrs. Sirleaf, 68 out of the nearly 70 concessional agreements are in absolute violation of the Constitution and Statutory laws of Liberia. This willful violation of the Constitution, Statutory and Administrative laws of Liberia constitutes an impeachable offense under the Constitution and laws of Liberia.8

6 Chapter 5: Articles 29, and 34 (a) through (d)(i) through (iii), 1986. 7 Chapter 6, Articles 50 and 57 of the Liberian Constitution. 8 Moore And Stephen Report on Liberia, May 2013.

Jacob D. Massaquoi is a human rights advocate. Frederick A.B. Jayweh is an attorney.

 

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