Liberia: Battle for Integrity At LACC

President George M. Weah on Inauguration day
28 November 2019

-As official defies board of commissioners

The former Comptroller of the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC) J. Bernard Nagbe responds to position by the LACC Board of Commissioners, asking him not to leave the country, pending completion of an ongoing audit at the integrity institution, saying that the LACC is not a court to restrict his movement.Mr. Nagbe tendered in his resignation this week in frustration over unpaid salaries covering three months.

"I am not receiving my remuneration on time and my service to the Government and people of Liberia is not for free", he writes, adding, "That's just in simple term; I owe my life, career and service to my country but ultimately, my family comes first. I have never had this experience in my professional life, and never am I [prepared] to endure this nonsense", he continues in his letter of resignation to the Board of Commissioners.The former comptroller laments that he is indebted to almost everyone in Liberia and can no longer endure such degree of difficulty of not receiving his monthly salary from the government despite working.

But the commission in a reaction says it "is shocked and astounded by the abrupt and unprofessional nature of the resignation of Mr. J. Bernard Nagbe (former comptroller of the LACC) which occurred at the commencement of a financial and institutional audit being conducted by the General Audit Commission (GAC)." It says notwithstanding the unprofessional and unethical nature of Mr. Nagbe's actions, the LACC Board of Commissioners (BOC) respects his wishes and hereby accepts the resignation.

"However, the LACC BOC emphasizes that given the critical nature of the role previously occupied by Mr. Nagbe, a role indispensable to the completion of the pending GAC audit, the BOC strongly advises its former Comptroller to remain in-country and to fully cooperate with the GAC for the speedy completion of the ongoing audit."

But Mr. Nagbe in an interview with OK Fm Wednesday disclosed the LACC audit is a routine exercise, and since its start in April this year, he had cooperated all along.

"I have never been accused of anything, and the LACC is not a court to bar me from leaving the country", he argues.

In a press statement issued by the LACC Executive Director, Atty. Mohammed E. Fahnbulleh, the Commission emphatically clarifies that ALL its employees, including former Comptroller (Mr. J. Bernard Nagbe) have consistently received monthly salaries since the institution's inception in 2008 up to September 2019, and are poised to receive their salaries for October, 2019.

"Considering this, the LACC further represents that Mr. Nagbe's action smacks of sabotage, subterfuge and ingratitude to the LACC given that he was one of the first employees of the Commission since December 2008 and has for 11 consecutive years received salaries, benefits and logistics as a senior staff of the Commission in a timely manner to date."

But Mr. Nagbe discloses that it has been a practice at the Commission to pay salary on 25 of every month so, current delay in salary payment is creating serious untold suffering. "What do you tell your little daughter when food can no longer be put on the table; what do you say when your daughter is asked out of school because of unpaid fees?" He asks in frustration.

Meanwhile, the LACC reminds the public that as a government institution, it is not immune to the effects of an ailing economy and the requisite austerity measures that must be taken to address the malaise and therefore assures the public that the normal work of fighting corruption in Liberia will remain unabated at the Commission.

Public employees here have not received salaries for months due to a serious shortage of cash in the economy, forcing commercial banks to ration payment to depositors.

The government is considering printing new Liberian dollar banknotes to replace the current banknotes in circulation. Finance Minister Samuel Tweah had announced most of the local banknotes are not with commercial banks, but being kept in homes, posing risk to the economy. Nagbe's resignation brings to three, the number of high profile officials who have quitted the Weah administration recently amid the prevailing monetary and fiscal challenges.

A recent protest by employees at the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation over the lack of pay subsequently led to the resignation of the Deputy Managing Director of that entity, Dan Saryee. At the Bureau of Concessions, its head, Mr. Gregory Coleman, threw in the tower, citing, among others, personal reasons.

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