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Friday, July 19, 2024

FORMAL COMPLAINT FILED TO OMBUDSMAN OFFICE AGAINST SENATE PRO-TEMPORE OVER US$565K MISAPPROPRIATION

Date:

MONROVIA – Accountability and transparency have long been contentious issues in Liberia, particularly among public figures who are frequently accused of misappropriating public funds for personal gain. Civil society organizations have been vigilant in exposing such corruption. Recently, a significant controversy has emerged from the Senate retreat held in Buchanan, where US$700,000 was reportedly expended. The scrutiny continues as Martin K. N. Kollie, a civil society activist, demands that Senate Pro-Tempore Madam Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence account for US$565,000 of the funds.

In Kollie’s latest article titled, “Happy Birthday Senate Pro-Tempore Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence – PLEASE account for our people’s money US$565k,” he calls for transparency. He writes, “We just forwarded a formal complaint to the Ombudsman Office Cllr. Finley Y. Karngar. Please see the attachment. Before this complaint, we evoked the 2010 Freedom Of Information (FOI) Law requesting a list of documents from the Senate Leadership.”

Kollie outlines the steps he intends to take to compel Pro-Tempore Karnga-Lawrence to account for the money. He explains, “The next steps are a formal complaint to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) calling for a full-scale investigation into possible mismanagement, abuse, and impropriety of public funds (e.g., $75k for feeding). Secondly, a formal complaint to the Independent Information Commission of Liberia (IICL) seeking timely redress from that body to compel Senate Pro-Tempore Karnga-Lawrence to respond to our FOI request. Thirdly, a letter to Transparency International with carbon copies (cc) to international development partners and civil society organizations. Fourthly, a lawsuit seeking redress to our FOI request if the IICL does not provide a satisfactory response. And fifth, a mass peaceful protest on the grounds of the National Legislature.”

Kollie emphasizes the importance of accountability, stating, “We promised our people an accountable and open government. We must do what we promised. Anything less than this, we will keep the government in check. Our people deserve a breakaway from poverty and corruption after 177 years on a journey to nowhere.”

Despite a press statement issued on June 12, 2024, by the Senate, led by Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, claiming that only $50,000 was spent on the retreat and providing a detailed breakdown of expenses, many Liberians remain skeptical. They question the credibility of the Senate’s account, doubting the integrity of the provided figures.

The scale of the alleged misappropriation of funds has raised serious concerns about the governance and ethical standards of the Senate. The claim that over $700,000 was spent on a retreat, in a country where basic services are often lacking, highlights a disconnect between the lawmakers and the needs of the citizens they represent.

Public outrage is evident, with comments on social media expressing distrust and frustration towards the Senators. This situation has significantly wrinkled public trust in the lawmakers, particularly the Senators, and stresses the urgent need for transparency and accountability in Liberia’s governance.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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