Editorial: UP Joseph N. Boakai’s Potent Political Operatives
A FEW WEEKS after Unity Party (UP) Standard Bearer, Joseph Nyuma Boakai, announced Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) Senator, Jeremiah Koung, as his Vice Presidential running mate for the October 10, 2023 polls, Koung has begun to suffer the backlashing of critics, especially those of integrity institutions. According to the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) 2021 State of Corruption Report, several members of the National Legislature were involved in high-level corruption. The two-year CENTAL investigation linked then Nimba County Representative, Jeremiah Koung, Montserrado County Senator, Saah Joseph, and district #6 Representative, Samuel Enders, and others to massive corruption.
CENTAL REPORTED THAT, between 2012 to 2021, Representative Koung received nearly US$1 million to run his privately owned hospital, Esther and Geraldine Hospital, in Nimba County. Further, in the 2020/2021 budget Senator Jeremiah Koung and his colleagues at the Legislature awarded themselves US$3.6 million in the name of “legislative engagement and public accessibility fund”, with each legislator taking US$30,000.
AGAIN IN THE 2022 budget, Senator Koung and his colleagues at the Legislature awarded themselves an additional US$3.6 million, with each legislator taking US$30,000 in the name of “legislative engagement and public accessibility funds”, while public institutions, including hospitals and schools, were hugely underfunded. At the same time, Senator Koung and his colleagues are said to be busy diverting funds through budget paddling and redirecting those funds among themselves, as was recently disclosed by the United States Ambassador, Michael McCarthy.
UP STANDARD BEARER Joseph Boakai takes his share of the criticism. “Is Joseph Nyumah Boakai complicit in encouraging the democratization of corruption in Liberia by choosing Jeremiah Koung as his running mate? Is it a major, general mistake for Mr. Boakai to be romancing corrupt individuals while pretending to be a rescuer? The on-going caricature is simply a case of democratization of corruption; a case of birds of the same feathers flocking together, literally,” the critics observed.
ACCORDING TO THEM, to say Senator Koung, along with his political godfather, Senator Prince Yomie Johnson, are the most potent political operatives is not an overstatement. They say even before Koung rose to power he was highly connected by virtue of his political godfather, ex-warlord, and current Senator Prince Yormie Johnson– the strong man of Nimba politics.
SENATOR PRINCE JOHNSON, who founded the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), which Senator Koung is now Standard Bearer of, has been sanctioned by the United States government for corruption under the Global Magnitsky Act.
ON DECEMBER 9, 2021, Prince Yomie Johnson was placed under sanctions by the US Treasury under the Global Magnitsky Act. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), “as a Senator, Johnson has been involved in pay-for-play funding with government ministries and organizations for personal enrichment. As part of the scheme, upon receiving funding from the Government of Liberia (GOL) the involved government ministries and organizations launder a portion of the funding for the return to the involved participants. The pay-for-play funding scheme involves millions of U.S. dollars. Johnson has also offered the sale of votes in multiple Liberian elections in exchange for money.”