Welcoming The House Committee’s Probe, But…
By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
Yesterday, the House of Representatives, during its Plenary agreed to set up a committee to probe the allegations contained in the recent widely publicized “OPEN LETTER” written by the former president of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), Mr. Chris Neyor in which he made some serious allegations against the family and her family. In short, Mr. Neyor among other things insinuated that the Liberian leader and her son, Robert Sirleaf, former Chairman of the Board of NOCAL have been in acts detrimental to the general interest of the Liberian people.
Mr. Neyor also claimed that reliable source told him that President Sirleaf is against his bid for the senatorial race because her son, Robert Sirleaf is also said to be interested in the race. He believes in his letter that because he refused to exploit the resources of the Liberian people, it was for this the President was against her bid.
According to our reporter assigned at the capitol building, in its deliberation, several lawmakers argued that Mr. Neyor’s letter should be investigated because it is alarming. The lawmakers claimed that Mr. Neyor’s allegation of bribery that he was approached to provide US$4m from NOCAL’s money for campaign but refused is a crime under the law of Liberia that needs serious attention.
Members of the House debated that Neyor’s allegation involving the President of Liberia worth proper inquiry and as such, the first branch of government which has oversight on national issues should not sit and allow this allegation to go unnoticed. They, however, claimed that the letter has the propensity to derail the peace Liberians are enjoying thus far.
As a result of this, House Speaker Alex J. Tyler constituted a seven-man committee to probe the letter and report to Plenary in a weeks’ time. The committee selected include; the chair on the House Standing Committee on Judiciary, Governance, Lands, Mines and Energy, Ways, Means and Finance. Others are; Public Account, Investment and Committee on Contract and Monopolies.
For me, given the oversight functions of the Legislature, there is no argument that it has a duty to probe certain issues, especially those that have the propensity to affect national security and others that are detrimental to the general welfare and wellbeing of the Liberian people, as was one of the issues raised by Mr. Neyor in his open letter. I am one person who do not abhor the “oversight’ functions of the Legislature because it is a useful tool in strengthening the checks and balances doctrine of the government, as enshrined in the Liberian Constitution.
But the issue I am concerned about on this matter is whether or not the House would continue to delve into other similar issues and come out with results because the essence of this is to curtail malpractices and other acts that are counter-productive for national growth and development.
I recall that in the wake of secret recordings by the former Managing Director of the Roberts international Airport (RIA) Ellen Cockrum and her finance who have been accused by the Liberian government of siphoning public funds for personal gains, the House of Representatives announced that it would probe into the allegations. Disappointingly, to date, nothing has been heard about this probe. Now, with this latest information to probe the open letter, my concern is whether or not this would not be business as usual, as nothing has been heard from the reported probe of the Cockrum’s claims.
Whatever may have happened concerning the Cockrum’s probe, the House has again put itself on public record by ordering a probe into the Neyor’s letter. This is welcoming, so as to establish the truth of this matter. I say so because there have been reactions to Mr. Neyor’s claim. Therefore, it is imperative that this probe would establish the truth of this matter, as it is said, all of these are allegations until proven by the accuser. These allegations cannot be treated with triviality, especially so when they are centered on the office of the President of the nation, the symbol of the country.
As I observed in my article yesterday, Mr. Neyor, a former insider, and member of the President’s Kitchen Cabinet spoke of the issue of corruption and job opportunities for Liberians. At one point he believes that the reported attempt by the President to frustrate his senatorial bid was based on the fact that as head of NOCAL, he “refused” to give in to the President and her son’s “adventurism to exploit the oil resources for your own benefits.”
On some other issues, Mr. Neyor said, “The primary purpose of a government is to protect and empower its citizens but as President of our country, all I have experienced at close range with you is a selfish desire to protect and empower only your family where your son, Robert Sirleaf and your sister, Jan Barnard, are given power our constitution does not assign to instigate appointments, dismissals and amass ill-begotten wealth. You are good at showing two faces, one to the international community where you have been awarded medals and accolades and degrees and the other to your people at home where you have shown disdain and manipulation and deception and malice. You have been unable to reconcile the country because of your history of vindictiveness and putting Liberians against each other.”
Considering these serious allegations, let me suggest to the Honorable House that all of those who have been accused in this open letter should be contacted, “to give their side of the story,” as we say in journalism. By reading the opening letter, one would realize that Mr. Neyor has insinuated that bribery, which is a crime, took place while serving the oil company. Whenever it comes from the horse’s mouth, there is need for concern.
There is no argument on the issue of bribery that it is a crime under our law.
According to subchapter D, titled “Bribery and Intimidation,” under 12.50, regarding bribery, the Penal Law of Liberia states, “ a person has committed bribery, a second degree felony, if he knowingly offers, gives or agrees to give to another or solicits, accepts or agrees to accept from another, a thing of value as consideration for (a) The recipient’s official action as a public servant; or (b) The recipient’s violation of a known duty as a public servant.”
For me, because Mr. Neyor has insinuated the alleged commission of this felonious crime, it is necessary for the House to look into this matter to establish the truth. I hope all those accused should cooperate, as it borders around the highest office of the land.
Until the facts in this open letter are substantiated through the House’s probe, and are not treated with frivolity, I REST MY CASE.