Corcerns are being raised about the possibility of President George Weah securing a second term following series corruption allegations linking key officials of his government.
The latest is the saga involving Bill Twehway, the influential Managing Director of the National Port Authority who refers to himself as Gbehkugbeh Jr (NPA) and Cllr. Kanio Bai Gbala, Vice Chairman of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC). They are among those said to have established a company with the sole purpose of awarding the handling services contract at the Port of Buchanan to themselves.
They allegedly used funds from the NPA to purchase a US$65,000 966 Loader to carry out the handling services at the Port of Buchanan by their newly established Creative Developers Inc. (CDI).
Shares for the purported company are said to have been distributed among MD Twehway (60%), Cllr. Bai-Gbala (10%), Deputy Comptroller Christian Brownell (15%) and Hamed Sidiki Fofana (15%).
“So, from the time the company was founded, they had a single machine and each time a vessel is in port, it will be used to do the loading and their invoices will be sent to them,” a source divulged.
But in defense of his boss, NPA Public Relations Manager Malcolm Scott argued that at no time did MD Twehway become a shareholder of the CDI company.
Scott contended that the company contract with the Port of Buchanan was terminated since 2018 after his boss noticed that it no longer had the capacity, logistics and funding to operate.
For his part, Cllr. Gbala has requested a leave of absence following allegations that he professionally conflicted regarding the ongoing corruption investigation of the NPA.
“While I am absolutely convinced that I have committed no legal wrong nor violated any conflict of interest provision of our laws, I believe it is necessary that I take this leave of absence in order to allow the independent and professional men of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to undertake a speedy and impartial investigation into this matter without any public perception of bias or impartially,” the LACC official said.
Cllr. Gbala denied being a shareholder of the company CDI but stated, “I bought shares in Creative Developers on behalf of my younger sister, Zarylee Gbala upon being invited by my friend Sidiki Fofana who established the company and is the CEO.”
The reports of conflict of interest involving the two officials of government has been generating concerns among Liberians at home and abroad.
Beyond just conflict of interest this is a landmark corruption scandal under the nose of President Weah who is opting for reelection in 2023.
Bill Twehway’s denial also see his brother Peter Twehway who has got no authority in port activities as a partner of Creative Development Inc.
Peter is yet to speak on the subject as well as Kanio’s sister who he said he bought shares for.
How Weah handles this matter and other existing corruption issues would leave Liberian confident or less interested in the government’s fight against corruption.
A new LACC boss appointed has promised to be robust in the fight against corruption especially after the US Ambassador near Monrovia visited him and assured him of the US government’s support in the fight against corruption.
Whistleblower thinks the President has to take serious steps in the fight against vices in his government especially ones that brings in his confidantes as election approaches.