Liberia: Madam Sirleaf Corruption Rejects Land in Boakai's Government

Vice President Joseph Boakai casts his vote.

Monrovia — A hallmark of President Joseph Nyuma Boakai's election campaign was his commitment to fight graft and incompetence in government. The President has repeatedly echoed this promise at various national programs and events since ascending to the presidency. However, some of the President's recent actions seem to go contrary to his promise.

"We can no more attempt to bury our heads in the proverbial sand. We see hard times, we see disfunction, we see culture of impunity, we see corruption in high and low places. It is these and similar conditions that we have come to RESCUE. But we come with false assurance to no one. Our plan to fix the ills we are inheriting must go together with realistic expectations. We will act in the first hundred days of our Administration, and then diligently pursue our rescue mission," President Boakai said during his inaugural address in January.

Despite these hefty promises to fight corruption and ineptitude, President Boakai, who is on record for admitting that the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's government under which he served 12 years as Vice President squandered opportunities, is seen bringing back officials from the Sirleaf government, who were either dismissed for alleged corruption or forced to resign for dismal performance.

Nortu Jappah Forced to Resign

One of such individuals is Nortu Jappah, who served as the Managing Director of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) and his then deputy for technical services, Elmos B. Glay.

Jappah has now been appointed by President Boakai to head the National Lottery.

Jappah and his deputy at the LWSC were the first to suffer the casualty of President Sirleaf's wrath against corruption and incompetence just six months into her second term.

He may have been forced to resign by the LWSC Board on July 5, 2012, while Glay was recommended for dismissal due to "administrative ineptitude".

"I accept your resignation, while expressing great disappointment that you were unable to set the example and provide the leadership that would have enable LWSC to meet our operational goals," noted a release from the Executive Mansion quoting President Sirleaf.

A FrontPageAfrica investigation discovered Jappah and Glay's resignation and dismissal were linked to the importation of substandard pipes and chemicals for the LWSC, which they said cost US$1M intended for the upgrading of the corporation's Whiteplains facilities as officially announced in May that year.

After Jappah's resignation, the LWSC experienced massive water loss - about half a million gallons of water when the pipelines were tested to supply water to Monrovia, the then Acting Managing Director, Emmett M. Watson disclosed at the time.

Patrick Sandike Embroiled Corruption

Sandikie, who was also nominated as Deputy Managing Director for Technical Services at the LWSC, was reportedly dismissed for alleged act of corruption when he served as Operation Engineer on Rehabilitation of the White Plains Treatment Plant.

After signing the contract for the African Development Bank sponsored project aimed at rehabilitating the Water Treatment Plant, with Mr. Patrick Sandikie as the lead project coordinator, approximately $250,000 in cash was promptly deposited into Sandike's account at the Liberia Bank for Development & Investment (LBDI).

What raised concern was the deposit into his payroll account, particularly because only his regular payroll of approximately $1,600 was expected.

A member of the board at the time of the Sandikie saga remembers the case quite well.

"Patrick made a very large deposit at the bank in his payroll account which sparked the bank's compliance department curiosity. They drew the management attention to this development and knowing that he was an occupying a key position at LWSC we made discreet inquiries with the Board Chairman and the MD.," said the former board member who preferred anonymity for this report.

The former board member further explained: "We interestingly learned that the procurement process for a large contract funded by a multilateral partner for LWSC had just been concluded and there were investigations into alleged impropriety on the part of some members of the team heading that procurement process. It is my understanding that he may have been dismissed as a result of this case. The bank released the money to him finally after he provided some questionable " documentation" to prove that the money was legal. It interesting that he has resurfaced again."

Upon the end of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's presidency, the decision was deferred to the incoming MD and board of the Weah government LWSC, during which Mr. Sandikie was terminated from the entity. Despite over two years passing, he failed to provide a valid explanation for the source of the funds, prompting the bank to temporarily retain the money. At this juncture, the bank should have transferred the funds to the appropriate government agency for further investigation.

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