Within 192 hours Liberians and the rest of the world will know whether or not Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – Africa’s first democratically elected female head of state will stand trial for alleged acts of corruption that were committed while serving as President.
Johnson Sirleaf’s 12 years rule was fraught with high profile official corruption scandals and impunity. But the one that could bring the former leader to justice is the underhand transactions beclouding the 2013 ExxonMobil petroleum concession.
The UK based natural resource and governance watchdog Global Witness said in its March 29, 2018 report that several key officials in the Sirleaf’s administration received irregular payments from US oil firm ExxonMobil.
President George Weah has ordered all individuals connected to the reported crime to surrender to the special committee investing the matter.
Weah has pledged zero tolerance on corruption. His administration called the Global Witness’ revelation as allegation of bribery and abuse of office.
“All those directly or indirectly named in the Global Witness report are strongly advised to make themselves available and to corporate with the committee, “a statement from the presidency said. The Special presidential probe committee was constituted on April 17 and is expected to make public findings and recommendations on May 1.
How Ex President Sirleaf is involved
The New Democrat has obtained evidence detailing how then President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and son Robert Sirleaf approved the distribution of the country’s oil revenue amongst several top officials for their role in sealing US oil firm ExxonMobil petroleum exploration concession. Total amount dash out to officials is far more than what Global Witness reported.
Following Exxon acquisition of offshore oil Block 13 and subsequent payment of US$50million, the Board of Directors of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) convened an emergency board meeting on Saturday, April 27, 2013 to discuss how they will collect some of the Oil money for personal benefit, NOCAL board resolution showed.
The resolution revealed the official solicited the payment via a proposal to President Sirleaf, which she endorsed.
Johnson Sirleaf directed that 10 percent of the US$50million be given to Hydrocarbon Technical Committee members, NOCAL officials and staff.
The resolution: “Regarding the proposal that was approved by the president of the Republic of Liberia to use approximately 10% of the income that NOCAL generated from the Block 13 transaction (which amounts to roughly 500,000 United States dollars) for the payment of bonuses to the hydrocarbon technical Committee and support team, the Board of Directors, the management and staff of NOCAL for their hard work and dedication to ensuring the successful completion of the project, and on motion duly made, seconded and unanimously carried, it was resolved that the Board of Directors hereby authorizes the President/CEO to disburse bonus payments in an amount not to exceed $500,000 United States dollars in order to pay bonuses to the Hydrocarbon Technical Committee and Support Team, the Board of Directors, Management and Staff of NOCAL for their hard work in accordance with the payment listing that was approved by the Board and is attached to this resolution.”
A source with knowledge of the deal said on the basis of strict anonymity that the former President authorized close to five million United States dollars to be paid to legislators and select cabinet officials.
– Festus Poquie