By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) Act of 2018 states in part six, Section 6.3 that all commissioners must have good moral character but that seems to be the contrary with the commissioners and some senior employees appointed at that integrity institution.Section 6.8 also states that, “A commissioner shall hold office during good behavior. A commissioner shall be removed from office by the President for any gross breach of duty, misconduct or any proven act of corruption.”
Heaps of internal acts of corruption are being unveiled since members of the LACC’s Board of Commissioners began digging into each others’ closets in the dire minutes when the Chairperson Ndubusi Nwabudiki has barely 10 more days to exit.
The latest of the allegations has been raised by the Executive Director Atty Mohammed Fahnbulleh who told a press conference on yesterday that he was clarifying allegations made by the vice chairperson, Kanio Gbai Gbala who is presumed to be the next in line for the chairpersonship when Nwabudiki leaves in the FrontPage Africa Newspaper entitled, “Liberia: Cllr. Nwabudike’s Last-minute Appointments and Promotions Creates Feud at the LACC.”
In that news article, FrontPage Africa explained that its investigation had discovered that the chairperson Nwabudike is not leaving in peace as his last-minute decisions continue to stir feud between him and his principal deputy, Gbala as his departure will be leaving the Commission with only two commissioners.
The FPA who described Cllr. Nwabudike as being controversial said recently he embarked on a series of new hiring, promotions and the renewal of the contract of the Executive Director, Atty Mohammed Fahnbulleh, who had been serving in that capacity since the ear of the former chairperson James Verdier.
The renewal of Atty Fahnbulleh contract seemed to have heightened the feud because in his assessment report by the Board, the ED is reportedly deemed him incompetent something which Cllr. Gbala flagged in an email opposing the renewal of his contract.
Many are of the conviction that Atty Fahnbulleh is buying a space into the ongoing hullaballoo among the commissioners as something said in the African parlance that he is ‘using his hands to take the fire’ which is that he is under the shadow of his outgoing chairperson and joining the fray of trading accusation when his contract should be reviewed by the Commissioners or the chairperson.
However in reaction, Executive Director Fahnbulleh told the media that the President imposed trust in Cllr. Gbala’s commitment to curb corruption for which he was nomination in October 2019 but he willfully and deliberately dashed said trust by engaging in ‘stealing’ from the government.
He also accused the vice chairperson of misleading the Executive Director, the former Commissioner Charles J.L. Gibson, III, and the outgoing Chairperson in an acquaintance meeting in which he informed them that he had resigned from the UNDP and took office at the LACC immediately.
However, Fahnbulleh stated that he received information that Cllr. Gbala was still in the employ of the UNDP and was receiving salary for October, November, December and January while also on the LACC’s payroll.
He further accused Cllr. Gbala of receiving Daily Sustenance Allowance (DSA) of L$50,000 and fuel valued at US$1,474.75, as well as scratch cards valued at US$300 to travel to Grand Gedeh but never made the trip instead he told the Commission that he went to Grand Bassa which was a misappropriation because he never returned the money, the fuel and the scratch cards.
According to Fahnbulleh for MICAT press briefing in August 2020, a cash advance of US$500 was given to Cllr. Gbala, and he is yet to account for it despite several requests from the finance unit.
Fahnbulleh in his communication urged Mr. Boakai and his team to demonstrate courage, consistency, independence and impartiality to the Liberian people, partners in order to help change the perception of corruption in Liberia pointing out, “We should not protect our own and investigate others!”
Meanwhile, Atty. Fahnbulleh having equipped the program manager with his pieces of evidence and list of contacts on the allegations for verification, has instructed the Program Manager to submit his findings to the outgoing Chairperson, Nwabudike on Friday, February 19, for onward submission to President Weah.
However, on February 9, Cllr. Gbala communicated to Nwabudike that he was no longer willing to go ahead with the renewal of the contract of the Executive Director as well as the summary elevation of the current Chief Accountant to the post of comptroller.
He even requested a comprehensive financial budgetary analysis be performed and shared with all commissioners on the implication of all other proposed staff changes before such changes are effected and or contracts issued.
Cllr. Gbala said reason for his decision was that he got informed about the proposed changes on February 8, in a called meeting and needed little time to fully digest through in order to consent in principle.
In a communication also to Fahnbulleh dated on February 10, Gbala said, “I have no personal vendetta here. All my decisions have always and will always be driven by the evidence. The evidence in relation to your contract renewal is that you were evaluated by the BOC as well as ordinary LACC staff who independently arrived at the conclusion that you have underperformed. There are staff that have worked with you prior to the chair and I coming to the LACC.”
“As I joined the LACC immediately upon appointment because the presidential mandate carried the words ‘With immediate effect.’ I informed my supervisors at the UN of this fact. It was YOU who solicited my account and other details which YOU claimed were needed urgently to complete my transition process apparently because you had already hatched this ploy,” Gbala clarified.
He reminded Fahnbulleh that, “It was YOU who authorized the payment of those monies into my account WITHOUT my EXPRESSED APPROVAL. Unfortunately for you, all monies paid into that account remained UNUSED and same was duly returned to the LACC in the manner and for me advised by the Chair.”
“By no point in time have I received ANY DSA, scratch cards, fuel etc for which I have not performed. I did not attend the meeting in Zwedru because you disrespectfully procured a defective vehicle and expected me to drive hundreds of miles without AC while you sit in Monrovia pushing papers. To compensate, I attended both meetings in Gbarnga and Buchanan with my persona; vehicle at no extra cost to the Commission,” he told Fahnbulleh.