CENTAL demands Further Actions Against dismissed LISGIS Officials

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The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) has welcomed decision by President George Manneh Weah to dismiss officials at the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS).

Mr. Wilmot Smith, Acting Director General of LISGIS and the Deputy Director General for Statistics and Data Processing, Alex M. Williams were dismissed by President Weah three days ago for negligence of duty at the nation’s statistics house.

CENTAL, in a statement, said the act by the dismissed officials has brought so much embarrassment to Liberians, the government, and the country at large.

“CENTAL welcomes the decision of President Weah to dismiss Mr. Wilmot Smith, one of the individuals primarily responsible for the mess created at LISGS, which has brought so much embarrassment to the Liberians, the Government, and the Country at large. Had the President listened to earlier recommendations from citizens, civil society, and other stakeholders for dismissal and prosecution of those accused and investigated for multiple acts of corruption, the problems at the institution would not have degenerated to the current level. Hence, while we welcome the President’s dismissal decision, we strongly believe that the action is limited in scope. It should be broadened to include all those who have been at the center of alleged and confirmed incidences of corruption and incompetence at the institution, including the Director General, Comptroller and other officials. Liberians deserve better from their government and those entrusted with specific responsibilities, the officials of LISGIS in this instant case,” stated CENTAL.

With the officials dismissed on the heel of reported massive corruption, CENTAL has recommended that the accounts of LISGIS be audited by the General Auditing Commission(GAC), especially those containing the Census funds from which the reported questionable disbursements/payments have been made.

According to the transparency group, such Audit should be immediate and timely and the recommendations fully implemented to ensure proper accountability of public resources and assets.

CENTAL also called on the Liberian leader to dismiss other officials of LISGIS named in the LACC investigative report, stressing that those equally responsible for the mess at LISGIS cannot be allowed to continue presiding over activities related to the Census, including Mr. Lawrence George who has been named by the President to at act as head of the institution.

“That the Ministry of Justice be mandated by the President to timely act on the June 2022 investigative report from the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission covering corruption allegations against the leadership of LISGIS. Had the recommendations of the LACC’s Report been fully implemented, the worsening state of the mess at LISGIS would have been averted,” the group indicated.

Furthermore, CENTAL is urging that President Weah establishes an independent panel/committee with a mandate to review the entire preparatory processes around the Census to identify and recommend solutions to existing gaps that may further undermine the robustness, integrity and sanctity of the 2022 Census. Such committee should comprise of credible Liberians, civil society organizations, the Religious Community and other players not currently involved with the work of LISGIS.

“The Board of Directors must be warned against getting directly involved with dealings of the institution. Reports of individuals closely connected to some members of the Board of LISGIS receiving consultancy services from the institution undermines their ability to make timely and independent decision (s) on critical issues bordering on the entity,” CENTAL further recommended.

“We conclude by urging the President of Liberia to be more decisive and roust in dealing with corruption and other administrative malpractices when reported at any government institution, especially when such matters have been investigated by the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission. The President’s poor handling of the initial issues reported equally contributed to and exacerbated the situation at LISGIS,” CENTAL, among other things, added.

For several months, the LISGIS has been at the center of controversies, claims and counterclaims, and multiple allegations of corruption and financial mal-practices.

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