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LACC’s blunder adds to nation’s woes

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh      James N. Verdier, Jr



I know from common sense that when a person is accused of a crime and is finally charged with that crime, prosecutors are expected to quickly put their case together to put the individual on trial for such alleged act.

After that is done, care is taken so that an overzealous, or perhaps an incompetent prosecutor will not overplay his or her card to make a mess that will result in a mistrial or acquittal.

When a former political activist who is widely known for his inflated rhetoric and in- your-face style of getting his points across is indicted for corruption and left alone to campaign for a senate seat as if he did nothing wrong, not doing anything says a lot about the administration on whose watch the alleged violation took place.

J. Milton Teahjay, the former Superintendent of Sinoe County who won a Senate seat to represent that County during the December 20, 2014 mid-term senatorial elections, was charged by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) with the “Misapplication of Entrusted Property” and “violating the Public Procurement Act of 2005.”

Since Teahjay – now Senator Teahjay was indicted by the LACC for corruption before the mid-term elections, the names of other high-profile officials including Speaker Alex Tyler has been mentioned; to show that the LACC is serious about curbing corruption in government.

It is unknown whether the LACC is serious about actually pursuing corruption in the court of law, or is only interested in pursuing ‘verdicts’ in the court of public opinion; even as the careers and the little that’s left in the individual’s reputations are being dragged in the mud on a daily basis, without an actual court trial.

Senator Teahjay is fighting charges of “theft and/or illegal disbursement and Expenditure of Public Money for unauthorizingly using, disbursing and expending without evidence and or documentation” of money entrusted in his care for his various districts as the LACC sees it.

As expected, Speaker Tyler is also fighting back. More so, Deputy Speaker Hans M. Barchue is fighting back as well.

Hans M. Barchue, who has since denied those charges that he received $1.2m for consultation from the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), reportedly said the budget for consultation was $900,000, which “was used accordingly.”

Why did it take the LACC so long after the indictment before talking about bringing J. Milton Teahjay and others to trial? Why did this body allowed Mr. Teahjay to even campaign for the senatorial seat, then had to wait until after his decisive victory before talking about dragging him to court to prosecute him?

Do you think the politically skillful, verbose and theatrical Teahjay who is good at manipulating public opinions will sit back supinely and not fight back and cry political witch hunt and political disenfranshisement, in the wake of his decisive victory?

I believe strongly in the eradication of corruption, the prosecution of corrupt government officials and the confiscation of their stolen wealth.

But when incompetence and indecisiveness plays out so openly as we have seen with the LACC that it threatens this case and peace in general, than the LACC is a problem.

Whether the indecisiveness on the part of the LACC stems from some obtrusive orders coming from the Executive Mansion can be debated; because it smells like political interference from the highest political office of the land.

Remember, Senator J. Milton Teahjay is now a member of the ruling Unity Party.

However since Mr. Barchue did not elaborate any further as to how he used the money “accordingly,” I am not ready to assume anything, except to say that we (Liberians) are in a mess.

We are in a grand mess that just doesn’t seem to go away, even as we called ourselves dabbling into democracy and the idea of electing Representatives and Senators whom we wholeheartedly believe are working for us.

It is the opposite, of course, when endless stories of incompetence and naked heartlessness are reported about House and Senate members who seem to be living on another planet in terms of the way they understand poverty and legislation, and what needs to be done to represent those they were elected to represent.

I have written over and over that corruption in the Liberian government will never be contained or go away completely under Sirleaf, when the executive branch of government is unserious about pursuing corruption, as we know it.

That is because Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is good at playing games with the Liberian people every time she publicly claims to be ‘fighting’ corruption.

However, when a president looks the other way instead of the right way to deal with an issue such as corruption, even when the president’s grown children, friends, cronies and other family members reportedly are at the top of the list of those the LACC should be investigating for corruption, makes a mockery of any campaign to eradicate corruption.

Of course, corruption is a serious problem in Liberia that shouldn’t be ignored. As corruption and unemployment gets our attention daily, rape and physical abuse are on a rise.

The Liberian House and Senate members are tone deaf to the plight of their people and country; and appear to be benchwarmers whose only concerns are representing their respective pocketbooks, in a country where 85 percent of the population is unemployed.

As the LACC and the legislature go back and forth pointing fingers at the legality of prosecuting the alleged legislative criminals in this ongoing saga, young girls as 12 years old are constantly being raped and physically abused by men as old as 40 years old.

As our young daughters and mothers are being raped by these rogue men, one would think the Liberian Legislature will rush to put some bills with teeth on the table intended to throw the individuals in jail for life, so that such criminal behavior will never be carried out on more females in this age of AIDS and other diseases.

It seems everybody is on his or her own in Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s dysfunctional and leaderless Liberia. We are in for a long ride, folks.

Category: Editorial, News Headlines

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