A Special Commission set up last year to investigate a multitude of emails published on the Internet and suggesting corruption by individuals in and out of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government submitted its report to the president Wednesday.
Some of the emails alleged that some current and former officials in the Sirleaf government solicited bribes from an American who heads the Liberian International Shipping Corporate Registry (LISCR) in order to get a renewal of his contract without competitive bidding.
U.S.-based Liberian University Professor D. Elwood Dunn and chair of the commission told VOA that it is now up to President Sirleaf to release the report to the Liberian public.
“In keeping with our mandate contained in Executive Order No. 15, we completed our work and submitted the report to the president, along with a financial statement on the outcome of the carrying out of the mandate of the commission. The mandate was to investigate certain allegations that were contained in email exchanges on FrontPage Africa and things related thereto,” he said.
One of the Dunn Commission’s duties was to determine the authenticity of the published emails containing allegations of corruption.
Dunn said it would be too hasty to reveal the findings of the commission’s report.
“I believe it’s premature to say anything of substance related to the report at this point. It’s all in the president’s hand, and I think she has the prerogative to act,” Dunn said.
Thomas Nah, executive director of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia told VOA Liberians expect President Sirleaf to punish those government officials who would be implicated in the so-called Knuckles Gate II commission report.
“The expectation of the Liberian people is that those who believe that government is a hunting ground to illegally enrich themselves should be prosecuted and dealt with under the law. And if this report authenticates that indeed the emails were authentic, we will expect that the president act, and she will act decisively. She will dismiss those who are in government, and we will expect that there will be legal recourse also,” he said.
Nah said Liberians will be too disappointed if President Sirleaf failed to act on the Dunn Commission recommendations.
“We think the president has little options but to act at this juncture, and it would be quite disappointing if she fails to act because she has consented that corruption is a problem. It undermines the growth of this country. So when people who are in her inner circle are involved in acts of corruption and she fails to act, I mean it’s a sign of weakness. And I think it’s going to undermine the image of the government, and at this stage where Liberia is trying to resuscitate the economy and trying to project an image that will help our national democracy, for the president not to act on such an important issue would be quite unpleasant for our own country,” Nah said.
Some of the emails alleged some current and former officials in the Sirleaf government solicited bribes from an American who heads the Liberian International Shipping Corporate Registry (LISCR) in order to get a renewal of his contract without competitive bidding.
Nah said companies seeking to do business in Liberia, like the Liberian International Shipping Corporate Registry (LISCR) should pay the price if found they tried to corrupt Liberian government officials.
“In our fight to rid Liberia of corruption, it means that people that we transact business with, whether internally or externally will have to exhibit a high degree of integrity because if we allow people to come and interact with the government and corrupt officials of government and taint the good name that we are trying to build, then that’s wrong. If 90 percent of the emails are authentic and some of the transactions in those emails reflect the discussions between Mr. Cohen or LISCR and Mr. Knuckles and other parties, we think that just as the local officials or other people that are involved in the scandal are dealt with, there should be a way that we should also deal with the LISCR situation. And that would mean looking at our own contractual relationship with LISCR,” he said.
Nah said Liberia should not do business with companies that seek to undermine the integrity of the country.