The Liberian Senate seems seriously split over a ‘joint statement’ issued with the House of Representatives, calling for a halt to the investigative taskforce appointed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to probe the recent Global Witness report, linking several current and past officials to accepting bribes.
Grand Bassa County Senator Jonathan Kaipay raised a concern last week that the joint statement does not represent the full decision of the plenary of the Liberian Senate. He said the statement was reportedly compiled and read to the media by few senators, close to the Senate President Pro-Tempore Armah Jallah.
Making disclaimer in the chambers of the Liberian Senate during its statutory sitting on Thursday, Senator Kaipay said although plenary mandated the senate leadership to have prepared a statement, but said statement should have been brought back to plenary before its issuance to the public, something he noted, the leadership failed to do.
Also distancing himself against the joint statement, Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper said, it was secretly done by few senators and issued in the name of the entire senate, terming it as unfortunate and an injustice to the rest of those senators who were not in the know of its content.
Several members of the senate, including Senators Cooper, Jewel Howard Taylor and others have expressed having no knowledge of the “Joint Statement”, signed by House Speaker Alex Tyler and Pro-Tempore Armah Jallah.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has reportedly forwarded four names as its representatives on the “Legislative Joint Committee” to investigate the Global Witness Report. Those seconded include Maryland County Representative James Biney, who had earlier condemned the Global Witness report, Montserrado County Representative Dr. Edward Forh, and two others.
The Liberian Senate has not named its representatives to the joint committee as it does not seem inclined to naming anyone to that body. The Liberian Legislature recently issued a joint statement, calling for a halt to further actions against all of its members accused of accepting bribes from Sable Mining of Britain to relax Liberian concession laws in favor of Sable.
“We are also aware that search and seizure writs were issued against the home of Senator Varney Sherman. Media reports around the country carried the news that the Senator’s home was put under siege by security forces on May 23, 2016; and that there are further attempts to go after other Legislators in like manner” the statement said. It said the legislature has seized itself of this matter for several reasons and has appointed a joint committee of both the House and the Senate to thoroughly investigate the matter, commencing with a public hearing, and a subsequent public debate before reaching an ultimate decision.
According to the statement, the Executive has failed to observe the principle of coordination, consistent with the Constitution and the rules of both Houses of the Legislature.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne