Liberia: Lawmakers Accuse Speaker Chambers, Associates of Impropriety; Reecho Calls for Speaker’s Resignation
Monrovia – A barrage of claims and counterclaims, coupled with acrimonious infighting that marred the first session of the 54th Legislature, particularly the House of Representatives are resurfacing as the Lower House embark on their second session.
Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]
A group of lawmakers including Sinoe County District #2 Rep. Jay Nagbe Sloh (UP), Adolph Lawrence (Montserrado Dist. #15, CDC) and Yekeh Kolubah (Montserrado Dist. #10, CDC) are demanding House Speaker Bhofal Chambers and his leadership to respond to a barrage of allegations of malpractice levied against them.
In a scathing attack on the Speaker Chambers following the first-day sitting of the Second Session, Rep. Sloh revealed that they have in their possession documents which show that some lawmakers, with the consent of the Speaker have over the months received and disposed personally “huge quantity” of duty-freed gasoline that was intended for the entire body.
According to Sloh, they had requested an executive session to address these allegations with the Speaker and the leadership, but the Speaker denied them and instead instigated a commotion on the floor that led to Rep. Lawrence’s expulsion from Tuesday’s Sitting by the Speaker.
“We have the detailed statistics that we have received from our sources. So, we wanted to confront the Speaker and his administrators on what has happened to this duty-free gasoline that we are supposed to be receiving that we understand a few people are receiving and converting into their personal use,” he said.
“We wanted to give them the courtesy and the respect, but now that they want us to wash our dirty close in the open. But since indeed the Speaker and his people think that they will threaten and harass us in the public hearing, I am not afraid. Let them tell us who have been receiving this duty-free gasoline.”
In addition to the gasoline’s allegation, Rep Sloh narrated that lawmakers had an agreement with the Executive Branch wherein to forgo portion of their benefits (legislative project fund) and only be given vehicles due to financial constraints.
But since the passage of the budget, he said they have not been given the vehicles, accept Speakers Chambers who has a fleet of luxurious cars in his convoy.
“Since the budget was passed, we have not received any car. But the Speaker has a separate budget and I believe he has bought more than two cars now since he took over. Are we animals and not entitled to cars too? To get to my district, I rent a car for US$250 per day. We are demanding that our cars be delivered to the capitol building.”
He furthered that following the passage of the 2018/2019 budget, again Speaker Chambers and his team ‘clandestinely’ altered the budget and apportioned figures to “bogus institutions’ out of conflict of interest.
“How did St. Francis Hospital in Pleebo (the Speaker’s constituent) get more than US$300,000 when JJ Dorsen Hospital (government’s institution) in Haper did not get that,” he asked rhetorically.
It can be recalled that in October 2018, some aggrieved members of the Ways, Means and Finance Committee wrote the Speaker expressing shock and regret about alteration of the entire 2018/2019 budget.
A memo obtained by FrontPage Africa revealed how over a million United States dollars allotted to some public health institutions in the approved draft national budget were diverted to some private healthcare centers and clinics in the printed version of the national budget.
Sloh threatened to not sit under the gavel of the speaker until these issues are addressed and further called for the removal of the Speaker for his “incompetence.”
He also called on his colleague to speak truth to power, and not always ‘whisper at the back and voice their opinions through gossip.’
“We told them in the letter that until we can discuss that issues, some of us will not sit under the speaker’s gavel. That is poor leadership, the speaker is very incompetent. He cannot manage 71 people. Is this the man who in case of any eventuality will become President of this country? Only over the dead body of some of us. The guy is completely incompetent, and I have no regret saying it,” he vented.
Meanwhile, Rep, Yekeh Kolubah, addressing reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday, January 16 displayed series of documents allegedly signed by Rep. Mariamu Fofana, Chairman of the House Rules, Order and Administration Committee which showed that she received some items on behalf of the House.
He blamed the Speaker for the miss understanding that has plagued the Lower House and called for his removal.
FPA was unable to reach the Lofa County District #4 lawmaker up to press time.