NEC Chairman Lansanah ‘Gave It’ -As Corruption Chases Her, She’s Now On The Run

Crime does not pay, be it blue or white collars, and those who are determined to ensure that such menace forms part of the cultural norm of the society are doomed and bound to spend sleepless nights in hiding, fearing the long arm of the law will someway and somehow, get even with them wherein they must face the music of justice.

When it all started following a local daily breaking the news that the Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Mrs. Davidetta Browne Lansanah’s hands were caught in the cookies’ jar for several missteps driven by corruption, the attention of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) was quickly drawn to the infamous practice and extended an invitation to NEC’s Chairman for investigation into the reported criminality.

At the end of the investigation, LACC brought down the NEC boss guilty of corruption ranging from money laundering. Conflict of interest, Insider-dealing including other charges incompatible to her official function as head of NEC.

Earlier, it was reported that embattled and on-the-run Davidetta Browne Lantanah committed the institution to purchase a thermometer from the TUMA Enterprises for over US$180K, a price (regular selling price) very far below the actual selling price from her brothers –one from the same mother and the other from the same father one owns the business and the other is a senior executive of the firm; and that she paid the full amount before the time stipulated without acquainting the rest of the commissioners about her connection with the owners of TUMA and moreover, the entire transaction of the deal.

Excitingly, upon the return of the chairman, now on-the-run and in hiding like a ‘fugitive’, expressed shock and dismay over the manner in which the LACC handled the investigation by releasing it to the media without the courtesy of sending the NEC a copy, something she frowned on, besides denying ever being guilty of any wrong doing.

However, while the LACC was in the process upon drawing up charges on the head of NEC to be prosecuted after sending the report of the investigation to the Ministry of Justice, the corruption embattled NEC Chairman remained consistently adamant’ and kept performing her duty while flatly ignoring the many calls from the public for her to do what is considered internationally best practice, by stepping aside and put up her defense in the court until she is exonerated, then she can resume her duty; and if she cares to, she can sue her accusers for deformation of character including damages; but she failed to adhere to any of the offered caution until the law is now running after her and she has no expectation of looking back nor come out from her hiding place.

The question on everyone‘s lips is just where is she? Why is she now hiding? Who’s hiding her and who gave her the tip-off regarding her arrest, and why is she shying away from the writ of arrest?

 It can be recalled that the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission was been hooked for corruption, conflict of interest, and money-laundering by the Liberia Anti- Corruption Commission.

The LACC’s findings against Davidetta Browne-Lansanah is a result of a month-long investigation into a Daily Observer report that the electoral body leased twenty facial recognition thermometers at the total cost of US$182,320 from a firm with family links to the NEC chair.

In the end, the LACC investigation found Mrs. Lansanah to be in violation of Section 1.3.6, of the National Code of Conduct, which speaks against conflict of interest; Part II, Section 2.2 of the LACC Act and section 15.3 of the Money laundering Act of 2012.

According to the LACC, the electoral body chair is being charged for not disclosing her vested interest in TUMA Enterprise Inc., which was awarded the US$182K contract for a facial recognition system while presiding over the procurement Committee.

“Knowing full well her vested interest (relationship) in the Tuma Enterprise Inc, and having failed to make full disclosure to her fellow Commissioners or to the Procurement Committee, is liable of the following counts: Section 1.3.6 (Conflict of Interest) of the National Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees of the government; and Part II, Section 2.2 of the Act establishing the LACC that describes insider trading as an act of corruption,” said  Cllr. Edward Martin, Executive Chairperson of the LACC.  “And violation of section 15.3 for money laundering under section 15.2 of the Money laundering Act of 2012 which provides insider trading and market manipulations.”

TUMA Enterprise is a technology company established in Liberia in 2020 and has since won lucrative contracts from the government, including the building of a mobile app to keep track of travelers in and out of Liberia with regard to their COVID-19 status.

The historic finding of the LACC investigation comes after NEC Executive Director Anthony Sengbe told the public that his boss did not influence the bidding process.

Sengbe provided documents to the Daily Observer, which suggests that the NEC held a restricted bid process, having invited three Liberian-owned technology firms, including Tuma Enterprises, for the provision of an electronic verification system (i.e., facial recognition thermometers).

But NEC claimed that only “TUMA Enterprises was the most responsive in the bidding process,” hence their final selection and approval by a panel of procurement officials.

The leased equipment costs not more than US$1,500 on Amazon.com; but NEC opted not to procure its own, spending US$9,166 to rent a single facial recognition system from TUMA Enterprises, paying a total of US$183,320 for 20 units of the equipment.  If the NEC had purchased the equipment, it would have saved a whopping US$153,320, while owning the equipment out rightly, instead of leasing it.

The systems were leased to detect the temperatures of trainee poll workers ahead of the November 16 by-elections in Nimba, Bong, Grand Gedeh, and Bomi Counties as well as to monitor access and attendance for safe and efficient access control of personnel.

Meanwhile, Cllr. Martin has disclosed that during the investigations, Madame Lansana admitted and confirmed that David Brown, Vice President for Operations of Tuma Enterprises was “her brother from the same father, while Arnold Badio, owner and incorporator of Tuma Enterprise is a brother to David Browne from the same Mother.”

“The National Elections Commission also awarded a certificate of completion to TUMA Enterprises on October 24, and paid a full amount of US$182,320 while the stipulated date for the contract to end was November 20,” the LACC boss disclosed.

-Writes GDJ

 

 

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