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Lawmakers in ‘double dipping’

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Information from the corridors of the Capitol Building indicates members of the House of Representatives who won senatorial seats in the December 08, 2020 Special Senatorial elections are receiving salaries both for the House and the Liberian Senate.

Despite the December election, Bong County newly elected Senator Prince Moye, formerly a representative and deputy speaker, has received both salary and allowance for January for his previous posts, and later received salary and allowance for the same period from the Liberian Senate.

When contacted via mobile phone, Senator Moye defended that in accordance with the Labour Law of Liberia, if one worked for 15 days at a place, he or she is entitled to full month salary.

He explains that having worked for 15 days in January as Representative of Bong County before his ascendency to the senate, he is entitled to full salary and allowance for the period he served.

He argues that in accordance with the 1986 Constitution, the 54th Liberian Legislature resumes work the second working Monday each year, which means, he (Moye) assumed his senatorial seat the second working Monday, January 15, 2021.

The former deputy speaker continues that, similarly, taking up his seat in the senate on the same January 15, 2021 puts him in a comfortable legal position to also receive salary and allowance as Senator.
Article 32, (a) of the Constitution states, the Legislature shall assemble in regular session once a year on the second working Monday in January.

In December, four incumbent members of the House of Representatives won senatorial seats in their respective counties, namely; Bomi County Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe, former deputy speaker and Bong County Representative Prince Moye, Nimba County Representative Jeremiah Koung and Grand Gedeh County Representative Zoe Emmanuel Pennue, respectively.

While Snowe, Pennue and Koung faced both the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission and the Supreme Court on electoral disputes before they were finally declared winners, Senator Moye won straightly from the counting of ballots.

For the rest of the newly elected senators Snowe and Pennue reportedly received both salaries and allowances from the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate, despite the duo were certificated by the National Elections Commission last week and they took the oath of office last Thursday.

Both chairpersons of the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate Rep. Thomas Fallah and Senator Morris Saytumah are tightlipped on the matter.

But it is a known fact that after national elections, salaries and allowances are allotted for seats that are contested for while salaries and allowances for seats that are contested in electoral in disputes are kept, until the matter is resolved then the money is given to the official winner for January of that year.

Since both Zoe Emmanuel Pennue and Edwin Melvin Snowe were facing legal separate battles and allegations of fraud at the level of the National Elections Commission but were still sitting lawmakers in the House of Representatives, they were ultimately given two separate salaries and allowances.

However, when Senator Pennue was contacted via mobile Monday, March 01, he reluctantly said ‘no’, meaning he does not know anything of financial transaction from the senate end.Pennue had earlier admitted during an informal discussion of receiving both salaries and allowances from the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate.

But when Senator Snowe was contacted via mobile over the weekend, his phone rang endlessly and he’s yet to response to SMS and What’App message sent to him.

It has becoming more glaring that the Government of Liberia spent more money on salaries after elections by paying both outgoing and incoming lawmakers in a country where majority of the citizens live on less than a Dollar a day.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne

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