House Speaker Alex Tyler, one of the high ranking government officials at the center of a bribery scandal here has accused President Ellen Johnson- Silreaf of using the Global Witness report to have him remove as speaker of the House of Representative.
Tyler told journalists during his press conference Monday at the conference room of the Capitol Building that President Sirleaf took her agenda a step further by calling on individual lawmakers to induce them through the offer of financial packages to draw up and sign a resolution for his removal.
He alleged that the President has threatened to withhold lawmakers benefits and district project funds if they fail to have him remove as head of the lower house. Speaking from a prepared text, Tyler alleged that these well-orchestrated ploys by the president to hold the house in ransom by denying members of their due benefits and entitlement as a means to strangulate them into undue political submission is in itself dictatorial and undemocratic to the least.
“We will resist any sort of blackmail and hold high our standing and maintain that our benefits and entitlements are by law and not by the will and pleasure of the president. We maintain further that this is total disrespect and disregard to the constitution and laws of the land and to those who elected her, the very people we represent we are leaders of our people and not subjects of the president or kids running after her for candies. Be assured that we will defend the sacred of separation of powers enshrined in article 3 of the Liberian Constitution,” he said.
The office of the President declined to comment for now. When contacted Presidential Spokesman Jerolinmek Piah said the Office of the President will respond at the appropriate time. Tyler is already indicted by the government through the Presidential Taskforce for allegedly receiving a bribe of US$75,000 to change the Public Procurement Concession Commission act in favor of Sable Mining, a British mining firm.
Tyler told reporters that the executive branch hastily and dis-ingeniously set up the taskforce to investigate and prosecute those mentioned in the report without recourse to the judicial or justice system. He said the hasty arrangement of the taskforce is a ploy by President Sirleaf to remove him as the speaker, because according to him, he is seen as an obstacle in pursuance of her personal political agenda.
Tyler, who has not been able to preside over a full session since the release of the Global Witness report indicting him and several other officials both past and present further claimed that the President is seeking to bypass the constitutional safeguard of an independent legislature.
He said the president has employed the services of surrogates to accomplish his planned removal. He said these surrogates began by first calling for his recusal on what they termed as moral grounds. “My colleagues and I have rejected this illegal and unfounded call on grounds that it is not moral or legal to punish an innocent person. The constitution is clear that an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of competent jurisdiction,” he said.
He, however, failed to name his colleagues that are surrogates and that have received money from the president. He also dismally failed to state the amount that was offered to the lawmakers. Speaker Alex Tyler is alleged to have received US$75,000 as ‘consulting fees’ out of the US$950,000 by the company. Since the release of the report, there have been mixed reactions and political in-fights relating to the exposure of a corruption syndicate report by a renowned UK-based corruption watchdog group, Global Witness.
Speaker Tyler’s alleged involvement in the US$25,000 from the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) in 2015 was a serious controversy under investigation by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC). This almost ousted him.
When the LACC announced the launch of an investigation into the US$25,000 scandal linking Speaker Tyler and Representative Adolf Lawrence, the Capitol Building became very uneasy for Speaker Tyler particularly upon hearing news of a plot to remove him.
Tyler, having been arrested by Criminal Court “C” based on request by the Special Presidential taskforce constituted by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to immediately investigates him and those accused, he presided over the House’s Plenary 24 hours later on Thursday.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor -Edited by Othello B. Garblah