Liberia: Journalists condemn violations

ALJA National President Moses D. Sandy

ALJA National President Moses D. Sandy

The US-based Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) says the recent elections of Liberian government officials to senior posts within the ruling Unity Party(UP) consitute a flgrant violation of the Liberian government’s code of conduct.

Ministers of Information Culture Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Eugene Nagbe, and Labor, Neto Lighe, well as other political appointees of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf were recently placed into leading positions during the ruling party’s convention.

Ministers Nagbe and Lighe were elected secretary general and deputy vice chairman respectively. Bangole was voted in as the vice chairman for Inter-Party and NEC Affairs. 

In a release issued on July 24 in Delaware, the USA, ALJA said the elevation of Ministers Nagbe and Lighe, as well as General Services Agency Deputy Director Cole Bangole to top positions in the UP hierarchy would pose serious conflict of interest for them in the execution of their statutory duties in government.

ALJA, headed by Moses D. Sandy, wondered what will be the disposition of Minister Nagbe, who is the Liberian government’s chief spokesman, and his peers when confronted with critical national matters that hinge on the interests of the government and the UP as well as opposition political parties.

The association said Minister Nagbe’s ascendancy to the post of secretary general of the ruling party will create a serious credibility problem for the Johnson-Sirleaf Administration during the 2017 electoral period if the situation is not promptly revisited by the president. 

ALJA maintained the UP elections undermined the principle of good governance and universal best practices. The association called on President Sirleaf to swiftly correct the political blunder.

ALJA called on the Liberian Leader to muster the political will to request the three senior public officials to immediately resign from their elected posts within the ruling party or be dismissed from government because their recent elections contravene Section 5.1(A) of the nation’s Code of Conduct, which regulates the activities of political appointees in government. 

Section 5.1(A) of the Code of Conduct states “All officials appointed by the President of the Republic of Liberia shall not: (a) engage in political activities, canvass or contest for elected offices; (b) use government facilities, equipment or resources in support of partisan or political activities; (c) serve on a campaign team of any political party, or the campaign of any independent candidate.”

The Code of Conduct was legislated and passed into law in 2014. President Johnson-Sirleaf signed the Code of Conduct. The law seeks to control and minimize malfeasance in the public sector of the Liberian society.

Article 90(c) of the Liberian Constitution states, “The Legislature shall, in pursuance of the above provision, prescribe a Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees, stipulating the acts which constitute conflict of interest or are against public policy, and the penalties for violation thereof.”

ALJA described as inconceivable President Sirleaf’s decision to sit in and allow her direct supervisees proceed with the gross violation of the law she helped create while attending the UP convention in Gbarngba. The President is the principal signatory of the Code of Conduct.

The association said 2017 would be a critical era in Liberia’s quest for a peaceful and stable society; and the Silreaf-administration must exert every effort in curtailing acts such as the UP recent gross violation of the Code of Conduct.  

Meanwhile, ALJA is urging the concerned public officials and all political appointees in the Liberian government to eschew tendencies that are inimical to peaceful co-existence in Liberia.

ALJA is a conglomeration of current and retired Liberian Journalists residing in the Americas. The association was founded in 1998 and it seeks to foster peace and unity amongst its members. Also, ALJA is dedicated to the advancement of press freedom through media development and training; and the principle of Good Governance in Liberia.