MONROVIA – The House of Representatives have elected J. Fonati Koffa as the next Deputy Speaker. Mr. Koffa who could likely become speaker, is now a heartbeat away from the Liberian Presidency, according to pundits. His election was a massive talking point on Tuesday evening and went viral on social media + the Liberian press. Koffa rise to power while very much unusual is not unlikely in Liberia, but speaks to the kinds of characters and individual parading the corridors of power in post war Liberia, laden with impunity, patronage and corruption reports say.
According to an Associated Press 2006 story, Mr. Koffa “a former Zebulon town manager who embezzled nearly a half-million dollars to help build roads and bridges in his native Liberia was sentenced to nearly 2 years in federal prison. Prosecutors didn’t dispute that Jonathan Koffa spent nearly $465,000 he took from clients to help with public works projects in the [western African country where he was born.
“He truly had a noble cause, but obviously he did it the wrong way,” defense attorney Rick Gammon said at Koffa’s sentencing in New Bern federal court. Judge Flanagan sentenced Koffa to 29 months in prison and three years of probation and ordered him to compensate his victims. Koffa still faces state charges in the same case.
Koffa resigned in February 2004 as legal adviser to Liberian presidential candidate Charles Brumskine in order to deal with the charges facing him in the United States. Koffa quietly left the United States and came back home having fallen from grace and his legal profession in tatters. In Liberia, he caught the eye of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who quickly nominated him to quite very important government positions and offices, her motives for bringing Koffa that close to power are unclear—given she is a Nobel Laureate who said only individuals with integrity would serve in her government. Sources say she is singerly responsible for his rise to power, in a country in which, warlords, thieves, and murderers are the highest officeholders, according to Liberia news reports.
Koffa who represents District Two in Grand Kru County was elected to the position on Tuesday with 45 votes. Rep. Clarence Massaquoi who was nominated by the Collaborating Parties Legislative Caucus (CPP) came next with 20 votes, more with this story in the coming days.
Main Photo: Fonati Koffa