Montserrado County District #15 Representative Adolph Lawrence was thrown out of Tuesday’s session on the orders of House Speaker Bhofal Chambers over his “continuous disturbances to stall the business of the session”, while Sinoe County District #2 Representative J. Nagbe Sloh and Montserrado County District #10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah, in defense of Rep. Lawrence’s uproar, ranted that the Speaker and his majority bloc are “ostracizing and denying” them their benefits and participation in debates during sessions.
Nimba County District #8 Representative Larry Younquoi, also shouted at the Speaker of being marginalized during session debates.
The trio (Reps. Kolubah, Sloh, and Lawrence) revealed that they have in their possession documents, which show that some lawmakers, with the consent of the Speaker, have over the months received, and disposed of, personally, of “huge quantity” of duty-free gasoline that was intended for the entire body.
The hullabaloo erupted because of the Speaker and majority members’ failure to allow the ‘aggrieved lawmakers’ letter to be discussed in executive (secret) session under six signatures, including Reps. Vincent S.T. Willie, II (Grand Bassa District #4); Thomas A. Goshua, II (Grand Bassa District #5); Beyan D. Howard (Lofa District #5); Adolph Lawrence (Montserrado District #15); J. Nagbe Sloh (Sinoe District #2) and Yekeh Y. Kolubah (Montserrado District #10).
On Thursday, January 17, during the House’s 3rd day sitting, following a letter from Representative Munah E. Pelham-Youngblood, on the attitudes of the trio to constantly appear on local media, including their accusation that some lawmakers personally collected “huge quantity” of duty-free gasoline that was intended for the entire body, it was voted unanimously that the trio should go under probe by the House’s Rules and Procedures, and report to the august body within one week.
The motion proffered by Representative Edward Kafiah (Bong County District #5) was amended by Representative Clarence Massaquoi (Lofa County District #3) that the Chairperson of the Rules, Order and Administration, Lofa County District #4 Representative Mariamu Fofana, who was also accused of alleged corruption, and Representative Edwin M. Snowe (Bomi County District #1), who insisted that any other lawmakers, who will go to local medal should also be subjected to similar investigation.
Representative Jeremiah Koung (Nimba County District #1), said the allegation made by Speaker Chambers that he (Koung) is a ‘Togolese’ should also be part of the investigation, while Representative Emerson Kamara (Grand Cape Mount County District #2) maintained that a motion for reconsideration should be tried to avoid the normal 48 hours.
This means Bong County District #3 Representative J. Marvin Cole will be acting chairman of the Rules, Order, and Administration Committee to investigate the trio (Reps. Kolubah, Sloh, and Lawrence).
This is the second time for Rep. Kolubah to be subjected to an investigation by the House’s Plenary. He was forwarded to probe after he (Rep. Kolubah) allegedly accused President George M. Weah of storing one of the alleged missing containers of the L$16 billion. Reps. Lawrence and Sloh made their debut.
Rep. Sloh’s Assertions
In a scathing attack on the Speaker following the second day sitting of the Second Session, Rep. Sloh, who is considered the spokesperson of the Aggrieved Lawmakers, revealed that they have in their possession documents, which show that some lawmakers, with the consent of the Speaker, have over the months received and disposed of personally “huge quantity” of duty-free gasoline that was intended for the entire body.
According to the Sinoe County lawmaker, the aggrieved lawmakers insisted on an executive session to address their allegations with the Speaker and the leadership, but the Speaker denied them and instead instigated a commotion on the floor that led to Rep. Lawrence’s eviction from Tuesday’s sitting by the Speaker.
“We have the detailed statistics that we have received from our sources. So, we wanted to confront the Speaker and his administrators on what has happened to this duty-free gasoline that we are supposed to be receiving that we understand a few people are receiving and converting into their personal use,” he said.
“We wanted to give them the courtesy and the respect, but now they want us to wash our dirty clothes in the open. But since indeed the Speaker and his people think that they will threaten and harass us in the public hearing, I am not afraid. Let them tell us who have been receiving this duty-free gasoline.”
In addition to the gasoline’s allegation, Rep. Sloh narrated that lawmakers had an agreement with the Executive Branch on where a portion of their benefits should go (Legislative Project Fund), to get them vehicles.
But since the passage of the budget, he said they have not been given the vehicles, except Speaker Chambers who has a fleet of luxurious cars in his convoy.
“Since the budget was passed, we have not received any car. But the Speaker has a separate budget and I believe he has bought more than two cars now since he took over. Are we animals and not entitled to cars too? To get to my district, I rent a car for US$250 per day. We are demanding that our cars be delivered to the building.”
Following the passage of the 2018/2019 budget, he added, again Speaker Chambers and his team ‘clandestinely’ altered the budget and apportioned figures to “bogus institutions’ in a conflict of interest scheme.
“How did St. Francis Hospital in Pleebo (the Speaker’s constituency) get more than US$300,000 when J.J. Dorsen Hospital (government institution) in Harper did not get that?” he asked rhetorically.
It can be recalled that in October 2018, some aggrieved members of the Ways, Means, and Finance Committee wrote the Speaker expressing shock and regret about alterations of the entire 2018/2019 budget.
A memo obtained by FrontPage Africa revealed how over US$1 million allotted to some public health institutions in the approved draft national budget were diverted to some private healthcare centers and clinics in the printed version of the national budget.
Sloh threatened not to sit under the gavel of the Speaker until those issues were addressed and further called for the removal of the Speaker for his “incompetence.”
He also called on his colleagues to speak truth to power, and not always ‘whisper at the back and voice their opinions through gossip.’
“We told them in the letter that until we can discuss that issue, some of us will not sit under the speaker’s gavel. That is poor leadership, the speaker is very incompetent. He cannot manage 71 people. Is this the man who in case of any eventuality will become President of this country? Only over the dead body of some of us. The guy is completely incompetent, and I have no regret saying it,” Sloh said.
Rep. Yekeh Kolubah’s Complaints
Rep. Kolubah is on record challenging President George Weah to make public his bank statements from January 2018 to present to prove that the costs of the simultaneous constructions of his private properties are being funded with his own money.
The lawmaker’s challenge to the President was predicated on his previous assertion that President Weah has in his home a container full of money (as part of the reported missing billions of local currency).
“I challenge him to show any bank statement that these properties that he’s building on 9th Street, Rehab, Jamaica Resort, Marshall and other places; the land he just bought near Vamoma – the place they’re fencing that the President just bought. Yes, I challenge him to show me bank statement,” he said.
Kolubah alleged President Weah is using national resources to enrich himself.
He said since the beginning of the 54th Legislature, lawmakers have not been given their entitled vehicles due to the economic constraint the country is faced with, yet, the President is continuing with the erection of gigantic structures in several locations around the country.
“We’re entitled to cars, up to now, we have not gotten them. Can you imagine? The President is building big properties, and we are using our private cars to do the Liberian people’s work and he’s using the money the way he feels like and they say we should not talk,” Rep. Kolubah said.
He also challenged the government to show which bank was used to infuse the US$25 million into the economy to mop out excess Liberian dollars.