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Liberia: Former CDC Rep. Warns Against Hastily Targeting Ex-Officials in Asset Retrieval

Monrovia — A National Executive Committee (NEC) member of the former ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Solomon Claudius George has warned the Joseph Nyuma Boakai led-administration against hastily and unlawfully going after past public officials perceived to have in their possession assets belonging to the government.

Mr. George is a former Representative of district # 7 in Montserrado County. He was defeated in the October 2023 elections by Emmanuel Dahn of the governing Unity Party (UP).

It can be recalled that President Boakai recently setup an Assets Recovery Team to retrieve government assets from former public officials as part of efforts to combat against corruption in the country. The team commenced works by impounding vehicles belonging to few ex-public officials including former Police Inspector General and Chief of Protocol Patrick Sudue and Finda Bundoo last week.

However, it received series of backlashes when its action was overturned by the court for unlawfully executing its mandate.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with FrontPage Africa via telephone on Monday, April 1, Mr. George observed that there is a hidden motive behind the assigned tasks and responsibilities of the Assets Recovery Team as evidenced by the manner and form in which it initially commenced its operations.

He stated that the forceful seizure and impoundment of the assets of former government officials on suspicion of belonging to government amounts to witch-hunting some of those who served in the past adinistration.

He said government should identify its assets that have been lost or stolen and invite those who have them in their possession, instead of arbitrarily confiscating and impounding the vehicles and properties of ex-public officials.

“It is saddened and we believe it is witch-hunting. The government must use the right procedures. First, government must identify the loss or missing assets. After identifying, you can now find the persons that are having such assets.

Mr. George said though there may be some public officials who still have in their possession assets belonging to the government, the current administration should identify and serve them letters of invitation to state why they are still withholding public assets even though they are not in government.

Use the court

He noted that ex-public officials refusing to honor those invitations must be taken to court by the government.

He observed that the court would compel those officials to comply with the assets recovery process.

Mr. George maintained that government will face additional problems, in the midst of the mountainous challenges, if it fails to identify missing assets and those who have been linked, instead of witch hunting and going after everyone.

Financial loss

He pointed out that government will lose millions of dollars on the process if the right procedures are not followed in retrieving public assets.

Already, the Assets Recovery Team has disclosed that the amount of US$1.9M is needed to commence its operations.

But Mr. George observed that many public officials would institute and win legal actions filed against the government for unlawfully confiscating their properties or assets without any due process.

As a result of this, he added that government would lose millions of dollars for the damages caused to these former public officials.

“It is not impossible for public assets to be in the possession of some former government officials. But we have to be very careful and mindful. We need to identify those assets and those who have them. We always speak about the dark past; we should be careful how to take steps that would lead to the resurrection of the dark past.”

Mr. George maintained that government and its officials should also be mindful of how it interacts with its citizens.

“We are all Liberians. We need to interact positively and peacefully with each other. The government in power is acting the wrong way; they must act the right way. Our Secretary General is calling former public officials to not submit to the assets recovery process because he feels it is witch hunting. It is the sitting government that should play wisdom and go accordingly as it supposed to do.”

Too soon for protest

Acarous Gray, former Representative of district # 8 in Montserrado County and an executive of the CDC, has been rallying citizens to stage a protest against the UP led-government on April 6 due to alleged violations of the laws of the country, amongst others.

However, his call has been characterized with mixed reactions from the public.

But Mr. George said though the UP allegedly planted groups to protest against the Weah led-administration, the CDC should not trend similar path at this time.

He said dialogue is the way forward to checkmate the wrongs that are ongoing in the country.

He pointed out that his opposition to an early protest against the government is in keeping with biblical reference.

Mr. George made specific reference to Jeremiah 29:7.

“Not because they did it to us, we should do it to them. They didn’t give us the chance to govern. They started using people to come against us. For me, I believe that it is too soon (to protest). I am not ready to do that and we need to come to the table and dialogue right now.”

Mr. George said it is not prudent for Liberia to always be in turmoil from one administration to another.

“We need to help teach those that are sitting in power some lessons.”

He further appealed to government to abandon its downsizing exercise being carried out at some government ministries and agencies and discourage the police from exerting lethal force against peaceful citizens.

“I will like to see peace in Liberia. I strongly believe that this government must see the CDC led-government as a mirror and work positively. We do not have to be fighting around here.”

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