Senators Divided Over Name Disclosure…On US$800,000 Request To Pres. Sirleaf

By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie

Internal Affairs Minister, Morris Dukuly who made a shocking revelation last week that a particular lawmaker wrote President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf requesting US$800,000 to be placed in his personal account for projects from the County Development Funds (CDF) has refused to disclose the name of the lawmaker to the public.

Minister Dukuly was summoned last week by the Plenary of the Liberian Senate to explain why the names of chiefs have been deleted from the ministry’s payroll and why he decided to place a moratorium (freeze) on the County Development Funds (CDF). He was also invited to give reason(s) for the dismissal of two commissioners.

At his appearance last week, Montserrado County Senator, Joyce Musu Sumo Freeman along with other Senators asked the minister to reveal the name of the lawmaker that requested the money from President Sirleaf but the presiding officer Senate Pro-tempore, Findley overruled the question and threw it out.

But several Senators demanded that the minister should call the name of the individual lawmaker who requested the amount. As a result of that, the hearing process was halted and majority Senators voted requesting Plenary that Minister Dukuly should re-appear before that August Body and reveal the name of the lawmaker.

Yesterday, Minister Dukuly reappeared before Plenary on Capitol Hill but insisted that it would not be prudent to call the name of the lawmaker in an open session instead; he would prefer doing that in camera.

Mr. Dukuly’s refusal to call the name of the individual in public generated a huge division among several Senators while his (Dukuly) appeal was being debated on the floor of the Senate.

Grand Gedeh County Senator Alphonso G. Gaye, Oscar A. Cooper of Margibi County, Armah Zolu Jallah of Gbarpolu County, Thomas Grupee of Nimba County among other Senators angrily blasted at Senate Pro-tempore, Gbehzohnzar M. Findley who presided over the session that Minister Dukuly should be compelled to voice out the name of the lawmaker to the public because he initially made the allegation in the public.

The Senators argued that most Liberians already have the perception that lawmakers are in the habit of receiving bribes, so any attempt for Mr. Dukuly to hold to his chest the name of the lawmaker, it would place a dark cloud over the 53rd National Legislature.

But those Senators’ arguments were strongly opposed by Grand Cape Mount County Senator, Abel Momolu Massalay, Sen. Lahai G. Lansanah of Bomi County, Isaac W. Nyenabo of Grand Gedeh, Joseph N. Nagbe of Sinoe County among others that Minister Dukuly’s revelation of the lawmaker’s name should be done in closed session so that Plenary can carefully investigate the matter.

After several hours of debate, a motion was proffered by Nimba County Senator Thomas Grupee that Minister Dukuly should be sent to jail for 24 hours if he refuses to call the name of the lawmaker. The motion was seconded but several amendments were made by Senators who were in agreement for the minister’s testimony to be done behind closed door.

One of the amendments was, instead of sending the minister to jail, the Senate Plenary should do all in its power to resolve the matter with Mr. Dukuly in an executive session before the day ends but Sen. Grupee who brought forth the motion and earlier refused to hear the Minister in closed door accepted the motion according to him to make progress with the hearing.

And so journalists along with civil society groups and other Liberians who had gone to witness the proceeding left the chambers of the Senate in order for the executive session to take place. Up to press time, the Liberian people do not know the name of the lawmaker that requested the US$800,000 from the President from the CDF funds.