The Solicitor General Designate of the Republic of Liberia, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephas has declared that the war against corruption begins not later, not hereafter, not tomorrow but now.
Cllr. Cephas made the remarks at the Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism’s (MICAT) regular press briefing held every Thursdays in the conference room of the entity.
Earlier, President George M. Weah during his inauguration last year January emphasized that his government is willing to fight corruption in public places and promised that anyone caught in corrupt acts will face the full weight of the law.
In his inaugural address to the nation, he said
“But those who are quite knowledgeable about Liberia and its history of abuses, waste and rampant corruption in its governance system decided to adopt a play wait and see posture whether, in the fullness of time, the regime will be able to match its avowed commitment to fight corruption in public places with action.”
The Solicitor General Designate of Liberia yesterday disclosed that they have come at the threshold of that promise and without any stupor, he reiterated and declared that the war on corruption has already begun with the declaration from the President.
Cllr. Cephas told the gathering that they have begun a critical and comprehensive review of all reports that were submitted by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission on allegation of corruption and mismanagement of public funds for personal gains in which no action has been taken.
He further noted that those whose names and titles have decorated in those audit reports will be invited by a team of well-trained criminal investigators and seasoned state prosecutors to determine two basic priority questions, namely, restitution and possible prosecution where the evidence is compelling and incontrovertible; investigation only when necessary.
The yet-to-be confirm Solicitor General, Cephas indicated that LACC investigation including but not limited to the Executive Mansion Renovation Project and all will be formally invited and their names will be published in the media as a form of notice and in the event of noncompliance on the part of any invitee.
He stated that in the case of non-compliance of the part of any individual invited for questioning will be viewed as undermining the war against corruption, abuse and mismanagement in public places, appropriate legal actions leading to the drawing up indictments and possible arrest and prosecution will be taken.
“Henceforth, any arrest and prosecution of any auditee will be based on the choice the auditee himself/herself has made, meaning, she/he will decide whether to go to court and face public disgrace or quietly make restitution and walk away in peace,” Cllr. Cephas stated.
Cllr. Cephas who was one of the government’s lead lawyers in the impeachment trial of Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh case further stated that based on the amounts involved, accused persons will be given the opportunity restitute the amount to avoid going through litigation that could cause more embarrassment.
The Solicitor General Designate, Cllr. Cephas said where probable cause is established that those funds were criminally misapplied and/or stolen, indictments will be swiftly drawn against to those persons to account for their criminal wrongdoings.
Speaking on other issues, Cllr. Cephas said currently, there are some major cases ongoing which they have been briefed and have also participated in some of those proceedings but assured that they will remain engaged at every stage of these cases to ensure that the trial of those individuals is free, fair, and transparent.
“We want to assure the public of our commitment to fight for the rights of our women and girls. SGBV will be given keen attention to ensure that crimes against our women and girls are prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” he noted.
He warned those public officials who names are mentioned in the audit reports to make no mistake to test his resolve; adding that “we pledge that whenever an accused person’s right is being violated by any law enforcement officer, we will take the appropriate legal action to address such situation.”