By Paul Nicholson
March 20 – Liberian FA president Musa Bility may be standing down at the next elections scheduled this March, but the corruption plagued federation does not appear to be cleaning up its act with allegations of election rigging and candidates standing who shared in the misappropriation of $50,000 of FIFA funds – aid that was sent to fight the Ebola epidemic but never made its way past the LFA executive committee.
In a letter to FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura, sent March 19, by presidential candidate Rochell Woodson, she ask FIFA for intervention in what she says is in danger of becoming “a fraudulent electoral process”.
In a separate letter, sent jointly with Wallace Weiah, who is standing for LFA executive committee election (both are current exco members), to LFA election committee chairman Sarfuah Gray, they point to multiple breaking of the LFA statutes and deliberate withholding of information, including who is standing for election, the changing of eligibility criteria for candidates, and failure to notify the system of balloting.
Woodson and Weiah say they are withdrawing from the election process until it is brought back under the rule of the LFA statutes and transparency is installed. They also issue a warning, saying: “An attempt to conduct these elections in the midst of these gross violations as protested upon, the elections shall be considered illegal and non-statutory which shall leave us with no other alternative but to institute the necessary legal actions.”
In her letter to Samoura, Woodson is more specific on the allegations of financial fraud both against Bility but also against his allies within the LFA who are now seeking election, and in particular acting LFA president Musa Shannon whose name has repeatedly cropped up alongside Bility’s in all former corruption allegations, and who now seeks to take over as full time LFA president.
Bility and Shannon have both admitted receiving a share of the Ebola cash for personal use but neither has been sanctioned, despite a FIFA audit in the country last December.
That audit also reportedly discovered an unaccounted for $700,000 from the LFA accounts. The money was issued to Bility’s wife and son via cheques signed by himself. Bility immediately claimed his signature was a forgery and informed the Liberian National Police who he said had opened an investigation. No results of the investigation have been released.
Woodson requests FIFA to release the results of the audit and the investigations into LFA officials so that stakeholders have clarity before elections. She says “these reports will either indict or exonerate would be aspirants from the executive committee in their quest for leadership.”
Liberia and especially Bility, were strong supporters in the election of African Confederation president Ahmad Ahmad. Bility has also been a strong supporter of Gianni Infantino who he boasted of having a close relationship. If that was the case it will be one that FIFA will be keen to distance itself from now. Ensuring an honest and transparent Liberian election process would be a first step, but FIFA’s involvement in African football politics under the current regime would not necessarily guarantee that happening though they are very aware of the problems they face.
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