Liberia: The Credibility of Autopsy Is Key to Bring Closure to Auditors' Deaths


DAYS AFTER the deaths of four auditors including the head of the Internal Audit Agency(IAA), Mr. Emmanuel Nyeswa; Mr. Albert K. Peters, Assistant Commissioner, for Internal Audit of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), Mrs. Gifty Asmah Lama, Manager, Tax Services and Mr. George Fahnboto, also an auditor at the LRA, the families of the deceased appear to be discontent with the manner in which authorities are handling the investigation, including the autopsy which commenced Monday.

IN A STRONG STATEMENT Sunday, the eve of the commencement of autopsies on the deceased, the families of both Mr. Peters and Mrs. Lama announced that they have already expressed to the government that they are no longer interested in the outcome of the investigation and wish to proceed with the burial rites of both deceased.

THIS IS A DISTURBING DEVELOPMENT which if not addressed could deal the George Weah-led government some serious consequences which could take a long time to repair.

THE FAMILIES expressed valid concerns that the government has been leaking out information to unauthorized third parties with the clear aim of lending legitimacy to the purported causes of death. This, according to the families, is providing conflicting information to the public regarding the investigation. Furthermore, the families believe that public statements made by key policy makers of the Government appear to be solely intended confirm the opinions which obviously prejudices the investigation.

THE DEATHS, COMING within a space of four days have no doubt drawn attention across the globe with key stakeholders taking keen interest in how the investigations will be conducted.

OVER THE PAST few days, the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) called on the U.S. government to support Liberia President George Weah's request for help in investigating the incidents.

IN A FORMAL LETTER to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, IIA President and CEO Richard F. Chambers stated, "While evidence of any wrongdoing in the recent deaths of the four auditors so far appears inconclusive, the United States and Liberia have a special relationship dating back more than 160 years and supporting this notable ally would be an important gesture of our countries' commitment to each other's security."

THE IIA AVERRED: "If these deaths are determined to be more than coincidental accidents, we feel that such a sinister act, particularly on public servants whose sole role is to protect the country's citizens, would be an attack on the people and an assault on society and democracy," Chambers wrote. "Internal auditors serve as guardians of trust for their organizations. This is particularly true of public-sector auditors, for they hold a special place in demonstrating and defending the grandest virtues of society and of our noble profession."

SEPARATELY, THE REV. Dr. Samuel B. Reeves, Senior pastor of Providence Baptist Church, has urged the government to speedily investigate circumstances leading to the mysterious deaths of three Liberian professionals.

IN A PASTORAL LETTER Sunday, Rev. Reeves said the urgent need for investigation would help put away the countless perceptions built on mistrust, foul play and suspicion that have characterized these mysterious deaths.

WE AGREE that erasing the perceptions and innuendos now dominating the public domain is key, if the administration wants to convince stakeholders and the world that these deaths were void of foul play.

A THOROUGH investigation will also ensure that the fears and concerns of the families would be put at ease and the lingering mystery now engulfing the nation would find some closure.

WE ALSO AGREE WITH THE FAMILIES that initial reports coming from government circles have the propensity to discredit the victims, especially the pair found in the vehicle on Snapper Hill Broad Street.

ALL THIS IS BEING COMPOUNDED by revelations made Monday by Dr. Benedict B. Kollee and Dr. Zoebon B. Kpadeh , both employees of the Ministry of Health and the John F. Kennedy Medical Hospital respectively, who are conducting the autopsies, that they are working pro bono. "We are independent, and we are technicians and are here to gather the scientific evidences or facts. We don't have any special interest in this case either in the interest of government or those that are accused", Dr. Kollee said prior to the start of the autopsy Monday.

THE PATHOLOGIST explained further that the "government is not paying them for this service that we are offering because we are doing it for the country".

AS THE FAMILIES HAVE STATED, both individuals were persons considered by families, friends and co-workers to have exhibited outstanding integrity in their personal and professional lives. "Even in their death, we desire to uphold their legacy and integrity and herewith reject the speculations concerning the circumstances leading to their death."

WE CLEARLY BELIEVE that it is in the government's best short and long-term interest, for there to be no shred of doubts regarding the credibility of the investigation and ongoing autopsy.

DR. KOLLEE'S assertions that the outcome of the autopsies conducted will end some of the speculations or accusations surrounding the deaths of the Liberian auditors, may run into problems if the families do not have faith in the process.

WE HOPE that in spite of the families' concerns, the government would ensure that the findings from the autopsy and investigation into these deaths would satisfy an antsy nation growing increasingly concerned about the state of security and wave of panic and fear sweeping across Monrovia.

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