Yesterday afternoon, the special presidential taskforce that was established few weeks ago to investigate allegations of bribery in relations to the Sable Mining debacle formally turned over its prosecutorial gavel of authority to the Ministry of Justice.
Addressing the press yesterday at the regular Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) briefing, Cllr. Fonati Koffa, among other things, had this to say: “The taskforce has indicted at least four individuals, one corporation, interviewed more than twelve witnesses in Liberia and abroad, reviewed more than 700 pages of documentary evidence. Now that we have gotten to a point at the level of the taskforce where the statutory agencies can fully pickup their respective roles individually and independently even though they were working under this multi-agency arrangement, it is time for the Ministry of State to take its usually supporting role because we have begun active prosecution.” Explaining the new developments further, Cllr. Koffa said his role in the Global Witness corruption prosecution would now be to assist the Ministry of Justice compile evidence in preparation for prosecution so as to obtain favorable judgment for the state. Koffa further clarified that though he’s relinquishing leadership of the Global Witness corruption saga prosecution, he still remains special prosecutor for the state. “I still have prosecutorial powers. I am a special prosecutor. I have been granted a Letter Patent by the Ministry of Justice. So to the extent that I am needed to prosecute any aspect of the Global Witness report, we will be there to prosecute,” Minister Koffa said. The Task Force, Koffa noted, would now commence compliance screening of all audit reports submitted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) which are not currently being investigated by the LACC or prosecuted by the Ministry of Justice. “Our role is not to investigate and prosecute the GAC report. Our role at this point, is to do compliance screening assisting the GAC, ensuring that answers to the questions that were left unanswered are resolved. If we find improprieties, we will refer those to the LACC,” the Task Force Chairman clarified. The conspicuous absence of the LACC Chair James Verdier at the MICAT press briefing obviously sent mixed signals about the Taskforce’s statement. Why was Verdier not present at that briefing? Of notable interest also was Justice Minister Frederick Cherue’s open admission that he is yet to see the indictment to know what it contains, and that he will be looking to the head of the Taskforce to help in that regard. Without a doubt, the turning over ceremony by the Koffa Taskforce leaves too many concerns. Even before this development, speculations have been running rife that the Task Force had been facing lot of pressure to back down off with the prosecution. It is alleged that Koffa had even vowed he would rather turn over than back down. While it would be absolutely premature to adduce the outcome of Justice Minister’s Cherue handling of the Global Witness corruption saga, it is yet troubling disclosures of close connections he has with one of the main accused, Senator Varney Sherman. We sincerely hope that Government’s prosecutorial arms continue to work with relevant anti-graft institutions to bring the Global Witness corruption case to its logical conclusion, where all accused will be given their fair day in court. We hope the transfer of authority to the Ministry of Justice in prosecuting those Global Witness corruption indictees will see a new day where corruption will be stripped naked of its impunity status.