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Full Text: Following his promise during his January 2024 State of the Nation Address, Liberian President Amb. Joseph Boakai nominated Cllr. Findley Karngar as Chairperson of the Office of the Ombudsman on April 5, 2024. 

The speech states, “Passage of the Code of Conduct for public officials has not had the full effect of the law. A major hurdle is a lack of ‘implementation infrastructure’. To this end, there is a need to establish the Office of the Ombudsman. When established, this office will supervise the enforcement of all provisions of the Code of Conduct and will also impose sanctions for infractions. We must begin looking at appointing an individual with the requisite moral standing to head and run the office.”

In a social media post, a government supporter, Martin Kollie, says the appointment is the first.

Kollie wrote, ” President Joseph Boakai has fulfilled a major promise: The appointment of an Ombudsman. The first President to do this. Congratulations to Ombudsman Cllr. Findley Karnga! The Ombudsman is responsible for enforcing The Code of Conduct.” 

His post attracted 471 comments, 105 shares, and 1K shares as of the time of the check.

We commenced a check as this post raised a huge debate among the public and the media.

The Office of the Ombudsman shall be responsible for collaborating branches of government regulations for the code of conduct,” according to 2.2 of the law.

This was approved by the Liberian Senate on June 6, 2017. Information on the establishment of the office of the ombudsman can also be found here, here, and here

Part XIII: Section 12.1 of the law establishing THE OFFICE OF OMBUDSMAN is hereby established as an independent autonomous body that shall be responsible for the enforcement, oversight, and monitoring of the adherence to the Code of Conduct.

It is stated in Section 12.2 of the law that “The Office of the Ombudsman shall receive and investigate all complaints concerning adherence to the Code of Conduct.”

On June 12, 2017, the lower house agreed with the Senate, changing the code of conduct that established the ombudsman’s office. In carrying out its duties, the Ombudsman sets the path for enforcing, supervising, looking into, keeping an eye on, assessing, and penalizing violations of the Code of Conduct.

Verification:  The Ombusdman office got its first nomination from former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in 2017 and now Cllr. Findley Karngar.

Madam Elizabeth Hoff was one of those nominated by ex-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the office of the Ombudsman and later replaced by Massa Jallabah as a member of the Ombudsman after Jallabah fell short of the age requirement to serve the office. But confirmation never takes place due to undisclosed reasons, thus rendering the office non-functional.

She said, “In response to your inquiry and based on knowledge gained during the time we spent working on the first setup, the ombudsman plays a watchdog role in the public sector, as we do in the media. 

“The head of the ombudsman is usually someone with a legal background (a lawyer) who has the mandate to supervise and monitor the implementation of the code of conduct.

The office of the ombudsman receives complaints arising from administrative malpractices in the public sector (government ministries, agencies, public officials, etc.), investigates such complaints, and renders judgment. This function is similar to that of the National Media Council, except that ours is not backed by a law.” This implies that the ombudsman was created under former President Sirleaf, with officials nominated as done for every other public position.

Gbelee Korbalah is one of those who also responded. Korbalah wrote, “Madam Sirleaf, like Boakai, nominated  Massaquoi, Dillon, and Elizabeth Hoff. 

Their names were forwarded to the Senate for confirmation but never confirmed. She did so in 2017 and it was an election year, hence leaving it undone. According to the COC, the office of the ombudsman can be held by an individual or a group of people.

We also saw the check done by a social media user on the same claim by Martin

Is Cllr. Findley Karngar appointed?

Cllr. Karngar is a rights lawyer and an activist who contested the Montserrado Senatorial Elections in July 2018.

He studied LLB at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law. He also studied politics and is known for taking on many political cases in Liberia. He was recently nominated by President Boakai to head the Ombudsman, pending confirmation, followed by appointment, commissioning, and taking over of the office.  

For a person to be appointed as claimed by Martin, we note that nomination should be followed by a confirmation hearing before the Senate, an appointment letter from the president, and subsequent commissioning before taking a seat. In this case, only nominations have been made according to the guidelines.

Conclusion: While Cllr. Karngar has yet to be confirmed by the Senate, Martin’s claim that he (Boakai) was the first Liberian president to appoint members to the office is misleading.


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