21 February 2013

Liberia: Why Legal Action Hangs Over LACC

The Director of Communications and Documentation at the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) Mr.Jesefu M. Keita has threatened legal actions against the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC) for unlawful detention.

In a letter dated February 05, 2013 that Mr. Keita who is the boss of Public Relations at the MPW has written to the Chairperson of the LACC Counselor Frances Johnson Morris-Allison, Keita averred that his inalienable rights were trampled upon. He was humiliated and kidnapped by security officers upon the orders of the LACC boss and detained in a filthy cell, where he was deprived of food and access to his phones which is a gross denial of his right to information.

"I suffered enduring physical pain and physical brutalities. My movement was not only restricted, but placed in a filthy cell and deprived me of food at the LACC cell," he said.

According to that letter, Keita said it all began on November 27, 2012 when Cllr. Morris-Allison wrote the Public Works ministry informing the ministry of the LACC's decision to investigate an alleged corruption involving a 2010 Media Consultancy Contract of US$12,000 for a 6 months duration.

What Keita is vehemently arguing is that the amount and the duration of the contract for which he was arrested and detained was completely inaccurate. He noted that the deputy minister of the MPW for administration requested for a postponement of the ministry's actions on the communication sent by the LAAC boss matter was on the grounds that the term of contract of the Acting director of the Communications and Documentation unit Mr. Christian Harris had expired,

The MPW in their argument further stated that they were on the verge of finding Mr. Harris' replacement and thus should be given time to act on their request.

Indeed it was improper for Keita to have been arrested and detained after fully cooperating with the investigations ordered by the LAAC boss which included responding to requests to submit the contract document, the financial implications and the performance evidences to the LAAC.

It can also be recalled that the MPW/PR Chief was at the time of the incident undergoing a course study at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration. Once he returned to Liberia, the MPW management gain assigned him to head the Communications and Documentation unit as Director.

This is why the management of the Informer newspaper takes serious exception to the arbitrary arrest and detention of the MPW/PR Chief Jesefu Keita. We hope that the LAAC in conjunction with the Ministry of Justice should conduct urgent investigations into the charges of alleged violation of rights against the person of Mr. Keita in the interest of the climate of the rule of law and transparency, that government is striving to establish in Liberia.

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