Global Witness Condemns Weah for Illegal LEITI Appointment

MONROVIA, Montserrado – The anti-corruption group, Global Witness, has issued a statement condemning Pres. George Weah’s decision to appoint Gabriel Nyenkan as head of secretariat of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

Weah’s appointment meant that Konah Karmo was removed from that position and Global Witness contends that the action “violates Liberian law and severely undermines the independence of Liberia’s critical anti-corruption agency.”

“The removal of Mr. Karmo and appointment of Mr. Nyenkan is illegal. Liberia’s LEITI Act states that only the LEITI Multi-stakeholder Steering Group (MSG) can appoint or remove the Head of Secretariat,” the international NGO’s press release stated. “This safeguard is critical for the maintenance of LEITI’s independence, ensuring that the agency is not dominated by any of its constituent groups or subject to external interference.”

LEITI is part of a global standard, EITI, to promote transparent management of Liberia’s extractives industry. The agency regularly publishes reports on the revenues collected from the various concessions. Additionally, it produces documents that simplify the complex contracts signed with companies to clarify the obligations of companies.

Weah’s decision to dismiss Karmo and appoint Nyenkan as the head of the LEITI secretariat is not the first illegal appointment he has made, although it has drawn the most international attention.

Weah previously appointed Emmanuel Nuquay as director general of the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority, in violation of the act creating the agency. The act requires a director general to “have at least ten years management or similar technical experience in a field directly related to aviation.”

Nuquay served as house speaker and representative of Margibi’s fifth district during the Unity Party administration. He had never had any role in the aviation industry prior to his appointment. Nevertheless, the Senate confirmed Nuquay.

Weah also appears to have violated the law when he appointed Herbie McCauley as director and Myer Beaty as deputy director at the National Transit Authority.

The National Transit Authority Act puts the agency’s board of directors in charge of employing officers “charged with the duty of running the day to day affairs of the Authority.”

Weah further appointed Jerry Brown as acting director general and administrator at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center. The 2013 John F. Kennedy Medical Center Act puts the board in charge of “recruitment, employment, control, and supervision of all officers, agents and employees.”

The board had been dissolved at the time of Weah’s appointment of Brown, and the president made the appointment. However, the act required the board to have perpetual succession of members and permanent board members include the ministers of finance, justice, education.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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