The National Executive Committee of Liberia’s main opposition political party the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), says it has suspended with immediate effect, four of its top executives from the party for their alleged complicity in a bribery scandal involving the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCOL).
The four, who are all Members of the House of Representatives of the National Legislature in the west African Republic of Liberia include, Mr. Acarous Gray, the most powerful General-Secretary of CDC and Montserrado County’s 8th District Representative.
Also affected is Mr. Thomas P.Fallah, Chairman of the Congress for Democratic Change’s Legislative Caucus. He represents Montserrado County’s 5th District. The rest are, Messrs. Julius Berrien and Saah Joseph, who represent Districts numbers 10 and 13 respectively, also of Montserrado County.
The Liberian Lawmakers are being accused by their party of receiving five thousand United States dollars (US$5,000.00) each, in an apparent attempt to induce them to protect NOCOL’s interest, while handling Liberia’s oil and gas exploration.
The Party did not say why or how the Lawmakers were to protect the company’s interest, since the National Oil Company of Liberia, is a one hundred percent government owned? The party failed to specifically identify whoever allegedly offered the purported bribes.
However, while announcing the suspensions of the four Lawmakers at the party’s headquarters on Sunday, April 22, the party ‘s Deputy General-Secretary, Phil Tarpeh Dixon, ordered the accused to turnover all of the party’s properties in their possession pending the conclusion of the investigation into the alleged bribery scandal.
The party has also ordered the four accused Lawmakers, to submit themselves to the CDC’s Grievance and Ethics Committee (G & EC), which will accordingly make an official report on the outcome of its investigation to the party, according to Mr. Dixon.
He also indicated that the suspensions of the four party executives take immediate effect as of Sunday, April 22. However, Political Observers and Legal Analysts conclude that the manner in which the Lawmakers are being treated, presupposes they are already presumed guilty until they prove themselves innocent.
The Observers and Legal Analysts opined that the party seems not to know the limits of its authority. The Legal Analysts argued that what the CDC fails to understand is that as elected Legislators, the accused Legislators are no longer amendable to the party.
They argued that no matter how egregious the Lawmakers’alleged crimes may have been, they are only answerable to the Grievance and Ethics Committee of the House of Representatives and not the CDC, although they were elected on CDCs tickets.
The Legal Analysts maintained that the CDC’s style of justice system of adjudging any accused guilty until he/she is proven innocent, amounts to “jungle justice.”
The Analysts are therefore describing the CDC’s justice system as being completely inconsistent with the United States’ justice system, after which the Liberian justice system is built.
The National Oil Company of Liberia which reportedly offered the bribes has been in the news for a protracted period now since President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf appointed one of her sons, Robert Sirleaf, who is also her Senior Advisor, to chair NOCOL’s Board of Directors on a pro bono basis, in addition to his advisory responsibilities.
However, the appointment of her son, Robert Sirleaf to chair the Board of Directors of the National Oil Company of Liberia, is has sparked serious controversy since.
The President has being bombarded from nearly all quarters on allegation of practising nepotism, by appointing hers son Robert Sirleaf, to chair NOCOL’s Board.
Another son of the President is Mr. Charles Sirleaf, as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) and Fumba Sirleaf, as Director of the National Security Agency (NSA).
The CDC claimed the four Lawmakers breached the Code of Conduct and By-Laws as well as the party’s Constitution under section 24, Article 4 of the party’s principles. The Article “prohibits any practice of the virus of corruption that has permeated the Liberian society protractedly.”
The accusations against the four Lawmakers were said to be based on a communication addressed to Mr. Adama B. Samolah, Acting Chairman of the Congress for Democratic Change. The letter, dated Thursday, April 19, was signed by Mr. Emmanuel K. Robertson, Deputy General-Secretary of the party’s Youth League.
The letter reads in part, ”It has been divulged further that this secretly held oil meeting was disallowed by the Plenary of the 53rd Legislature, a decision that was breached and ridiculed by the collective and individual decision of the following members of our institution.
The Party maintained that the alleged action of the four executives who are also Members of the CDC Legislative Caucus, “compromised our ethical standards to grease their quest for personal financial accruement.”
The letter continued,“this grave offense being counterproductive and abhorring to the tenets and guiding principles of the CDC necessitates the expedient and legal basis for the immediate suspension.”
The party says “those involved, will remain suspended
pending other actions to be recommended by the Grievance & Ethics Committee, consistent with Article 5, Section 46 of the By-laws and Constitution of the party,” Dixon explained.
He narrated further that “the National Executive Committee (NEC) of CDC has received with grave concern, complaints of clandestine meetings being held by several members of the party’s Legislative Caucus.”
Rep. Gray and his colleagues were said to have held several secret meetings described as “oil meetings” with NOCOL. Dixon named one of the venues of the “secret” meetings as the Crystal View Hotel, where the four Lawmakers were said to have been in attendance.
Dixon said the four Lawmakers’ alleged action in a complaint against them suggest that “a serious breach of the CDC constitution may have occurred, thus requiring an immediate investigation of bribery and administrative malpractices.”
He then went on, “there are no sacred cows in the CDC on grounds that George Manneh Weah, Standard Bearer of the party will in no way place himself on the firing line for anyone found in a web of corruption.”
This statement is being interpreted by Political Observers to mean that Sports Ambassador George Weah, is the sole Owner of the CDC who has absolute authority to pardon any partisan within the party, no matter what the partisan is accused of.
He continued, “Given that CDC does not in any way endorse, coordinate, contemplate or accept corruption by any member of its leadership, this drastic action had to be taken.” Dixon emphasized.
“Where corruption exists, we punish it. Hence, since the National Youth League of the CDC has presented a clear basis for the action on this issue, we as a party must take a decisive stance as we have always done”. He pointed out.
“Consequently, it is my duty to clearly and fearlessly communicate in this manner the decisions of the National Executive Committee of the CDC to our loyal partisans and the general Liberian population.” The CDC Acting General-Secretary stressed.
Mr. Dixon also disclosed during the news conference that as Deputy General-Secretary, he has automatically assumed the office as General-Secretary of the CDC, performing the duties and responsibilities of said office as enshrined in the party’s constitution.
However, Political Pundits observed that “the CDC has a history of expelling and/or suspending its executives with promises of conducting thorough investigations and making the findings public , but never does so.”
The Pundits cited “the expulsion of the Party’s National Chair, Geraldine Doe-Sheriff, General-Secretary, Eugene Nagba, Standard Bearer, Cllr. Winston Alexander Tubman among others, with promises of investigating whatever they are accused of and making the findings public, but to date, no such thing has occurred.
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