Bribery Claim Hangs Over Lawmakers

By Morrison O.G. Sayon

Members of the 53rd National Legislature have been accused of receiving huge bribes from some western companies to ratify certain oil blocks in the country.

A group of concerned citizens who staged a peaceful protest on the ground of the Capitol Building against the sale of additional oil blocks on Tuesday has pointed accusing fingers at the Legislature especially its leaders of receiving bribe from oil giant companies in America and Europe for the ratification of block 7, 16 and 17.

The head of the concerned citizens who stormed the seat of the National Legislature on Tuesday, Mr. Henry P. Costa, appearing on a local radio station yesterday alleged that the President Pro-tempore of the Liberian Senate, Gbenzohngar Findley and House Speaker, Alex Tyler and members of both august body have been offered millions of United Dollars to sell the Liberian people’s oil blocks.

Mr. Costa further alleged that US$120,000 was given to members of the Legislature to ratify a particular oil block, while the House of Representatives took US$1.2 million from government’s coffers to go on a nation-wide tour to hold consultations with those in the various counties. Costa boasted of having substantive evidence to substantiate his allegation against the Legislature.

Mr. Costa and his group of concerned citizens, with anti-government slogans stormed the Capitol Building with their petition to the National Legislature against what they called the planned sale of oil blocks 6,7,16 and 17.

In their petition the citizens noted, “We, a cross section of concerned Liberian citizens, cognizant of the poor and, abusive management of our natural resources, particularly our last extractive frontier; the oil and gas sector, and realizing our conscious duty and responsibility to defend and safeguard our future, and children’s future, do hereby assemble invoking Article 17 of our Constitution to petition our National Legislature not to ratify the planned sale of oil blocks 6, 7, 6 and 11.”

They also warned against future sale of any oil blocks until at such time when the ongoing reform process is completed ensuring significant Liberian participation.

Few hours following the presentation of the petition, Senate Pro-tempore, Findley at a well-attended news conference, accused Presidential hopeful, Benoni Urey of inciting the group to stage the protest at the Capitol Building.

Pro-tempore Findley accused Mr. Urey of supporting the protesters referring to them as paid agents and that Urey was inciting violence in the country. But in their reaction, Costa said Sen. Findley is accumulating wealth at the expense of ordinary Liberians who have no bread on their tables.

Costa said Sen. Findley and his colleagues are mortgaging the country’s resources by ratifying bogus oil deals and other concession agreements for personal aggrandizement while the majority of the citizens live in abject poverty.

“You have not completed the reform process and you are attempting to sell additional oil blocks, and say that we are paid agents? Does Urey have money to pay those responsible people you saw yesterday at the Capitol Building to pay them, or is he dishing out money? We are speaking of our right, the sale of our oil blocks and you describe us as paid agents? Mr. Costa wondered.

He said Sen. Findley is one of the ungrateful Liberians and a coward whose budget at the Legislature amounts to US$1.34 million while his people are suffering. “Yesterday was just the beginning, the next time we will enter their Chambers, sit there and vote with them,” Mr. Costa, in strong words said.

He added that the protest was organized by cautious-minded individuals who were simply invoking Article 17 of the Liberian Constitution and was never paid as claimed by the Grand Bassa County lawmaker.

At the same time, Mr. Costa has taken serious exception to claims by Senate Pro-tempore that the Capitol Building protest was sponsored by Mr. Benoni Urey. Costa said as conscious Liberians they will never be paid by anyone to exercise their constitutional rights.