Liberia’s Information Minister Suspended for Alleged Corruption

In Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has suspended Information Minister Laurence Bropleh pending the outcome of an investigation into a $300,000 scandal at the information ministry. Rodney Sieh, publisher of the online magazine FrontPage Africa, said the suspended Minister Bropleh is expected to appear before police investigators Monday.

…President Umaru Yar’adua of Nigeria should borrow a leaf from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf or perhaps it is time for a woman president in Nigeria….

“On Monday morning, about 10 O’clock, we gather that Minister Borpleh or suspended Minister Borpleh will be appearing before the Criminal Investigation Division to answer questions related to the multiple charges of financial irregularity at the Ministry of Information. It’s not clear whether he will be arrested or how the interrogation process will work,” he said.

Sieh said investigators appear to have a mountain of evidence supporting Mr. Borpleh’s alleged involvement in the scandal.

“Reports gathered so far suggest that Minister Bropleh had put names of certain individuals on the payroll of the Ministry of Information, mostly relating to media personnel in the Foreign Service. And these people some of them claimed that they never received payment, while others have said they received one or two payments,” Sieh said.

He said investigators are also looking into whether these so-called Foreign Service media personnel assigned to Liberia’s embassies around the world were appointed by President Sirleaf.

From the Justice Minister to President Sirleaf’s press secretary to the Anti-Corruption Commission, almost most government officials contacted were tight-lipped about the alleged corruption case involving the information minister.

Justice Minister Christiana Tah would only say that her ministry was still collecting and reviewing documents related to the case.

“I, as a minister, I do not investigate these kinds of cases. We turn it over to the police and they conduct the investigation and they will report to me. They have not reported anything to me, and I cannot interfere with them,” Tah said.

In one of his articles about the alleged corruption case Sieh suggested that the fight against corruption in Liberia has been marred by selective justice and preferential treatment for senior government officials.

Sieh said there are several recent examples of what he called selective justice.

“There have been several incidents where lower level people have been arrested and sent to the CID (Criminal Investigation Division) for investigation, but we haven’t yet seen a senior government official actually arrested and tried for corruption,” Sieh said.

He cited the example of Information Minister Bropleh’s brother Albert Bropleh who, as chairman of the Liberia Telecommunication Authority was arrested and jailed in April this year for alleged financial irregularities. But his case has yet to be prosecuted.

Sieh also cited the example of former Public Workers Minister Luseni Donzo who was replaced this year after it was discovered his administration misused millions intended for road construction but has yet to be prosecuted.

Another high-profile case involves Liberia Petroleum Refinery Corporation Managing Director Harry Greaves who was relieved of his post last month over a disputed $24 million contract at the corporation.

His case also has yet to be prosecuted. Instead a senior government official told VOA Greaves’ case has been turned over to a government committee to review.

Sieh said his reporters cited Information Minister Bropleh Sunday driving around Monrovia in his government-issued vehicle.

“We did hear that he’s getting ready for his session this morning. Those who know him say he’s suggesting that the evidence in the government’s possession is forgery. So that could be an angle that we should look out for in the next couple of days,” Sieh said.

Deputy Information Minister Elizabeth Hoff has been named acting minister.                                       

Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports out of Monrovia Sunday said lawyers for the comptroller and the chief accountant at the information ministry who had been held by authorities in connection with the same alleged corruption case have filed a Writ of Habeas Corpus.



President Umaru Yar’adua of Nigeria should borrow a leaf from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf or perhaps it is time for a woman president in Nigeria…No?