The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) wants dissolved the Fonati Koffa led Presidential Task Force set up by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to probe the damning Global Witness Report linking some former and current officials of the Liberian government to bribery.
In a press release issued yesterday, May 23, ALJA said it wants the task force disbanded because its chairman, Counselor Koffa, lacks the integrity to head such an important investigation.
“Because of Cllr. Koffa’s past criminal history in the United States, he is not credible to handle such a high profile case,” ALJA said in a release signed by its president, Moses Sandy.
ALJA said Cllr. Koffa, who now serves in the Sirleaf government as Minister of State without Portfolio, is unfit to lead the investigation because he is a convicted felon who in 2006 pled guilty to four federal charges in the United States in relation to his suspected embezzlement of
US$500,000.He is reported to have duped several of his clients in North Carolina while providing legal services to them as a private attorney.
“He was convicted, fined US$250,000 and sentenced to jail for more than two years. He is barred from practicing law in the United States,” ALJA said in the press release.
ALJA has meanwhile welcomed the action taken by the Liberian government to bring to justice Counselor Varney Sherman, House Speaker Alex Tyler and the others, who allegedly connived with Sable Mining to engage in economic crimes against Liberia.
However, the association is proposing that the investigation be turned over to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and the Ministry of Justice for speedy prosecution.
ALJA said the LACC and the Justice Ministry have the statutory authority to resolve such a matter and also called on Cllr. Sherman, Speaker Tyler, the UK based Sable Mining and Global Witness and all parties associated with the case to cooperate fully with the Liberian Government in getting to the core of the matter.
The London based watchdog, Global Witness, in a report titled, The Deceivers, released a week ago, alleged that the British company, Sable Mining, in collusion with the chairman of the ruling Unity Party(UP), Cllr. Sherman, in 2010, dished out more than US$950,000 to several top government officials of the Johnson Sirleaf administration to make alterations in Liberia’s mining laws with the sole purpose of giving the company undue influence in securing concession rights to Liberia’s Wologizi Mountain.
Cllr. Sherman, the report alleged, told Sable Mining that in order to get the contract the company must first offer bribes to senior officials to change Liberia’s concession laws. However, Cllr. Sherman has denied the allegation and has also refused to submit himself to any probe by the task force established by the government.