-For his non-appearance and reaction to contempt charges
Members of the House of Representatives unanimously voted yesterday to command officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) through the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to arrest and enforce the appearance of journalist Philipbert Browne, publisher of the Hot Pepper newspaper, before the full Plenary on Friday, November 30, 2018, at 10 a.m.
The Lower House made the decision during the 14th Day Sitting following the third absence of Mr. Browne. House Speaker Dr. Bhofal Chambers said Mr. Browne’s action is deliberately callous, violates the constitution and remains contemptuous.
Sinoe County District #3 Representative Matthew Zarzar proffered the motion.
It can be recalled that Mr. Browne was invited to appear on Thursday, November 22, following a communication from Nimba County District #5 Representative Samuel Kogar, inviting the publisher to provide evidence on the involvement of lawmakers in aiding and abetting the printing of L$5 billion and additional L$10.5 billion.
Rep. Kogar recalled on Wednesday, November 14, during an evening phone-in show on OK FM radio, known as the “Afternoon Conversation,” while in studio, Mr. Browne revealed that more than 15 lawmakers of the 53rd Legislature, 12 of whom are members of the 54th Legislature, received bribes from the Central Bank Liberia (CBL) through an inappropriate communication to print additional L$10.5 billion banknotes.
Mr. Browne alleged that some of the lawmakers distributed the “inducement money” at the T-Five Academy, located in Neezoe Community, Paynesville, and also at the CBL’s parking lot in Monrovia. T-Five Academy is owned by Montserrado County District #5 Representative Thomas Fallah.
In reaction, Mr. Browne, citing poor health, wrote Plenary that his invitation be rescheduled.
The House Plenary on Friday, November 23, voted to invite Mr. Browne to appear on Monday, November 26, 2018.
The failure of Mr. Browne to appear before the House of Representatives on Tuesday, November 27, as scheduled,in order to help in the investigation of the newly printed L$10.5 billion, prompted lawmakers to place him under contempt.
Mr. Browne’s conspicuous absence on Tuesday prompted members of the House of Representatives to vote and mandate the Executive Branch, specifically the Ministry of Justice, through the LNP, to arrest and bring the living body of Mr. Browne to respond to his contempt charge.
Meanwhile, the House has also voted to conclude the investigation of the alleged authorization of the L$10.5 billion involving former governors of the CBL and to forward findings to the Executive Branch of government in order to help with prosecution of those involved.
Those who were involved in the investigations included former Executive Governor Milton Weeks, former members of the Board of Governors Kolli S. Tamba and Melisa Emeh, as well as a sitting member of the Board of Governor Elsie Dossen Badio. Others were Deputy Governor Charles Sirleaf and the Director of the CBL and Deputy Director for Internal Audit Adolphus Forkpa and Joseph Dennis, respectively.
However, the motion, which was proffered by Rep. Zarzar, has been held following a motion of reconsideration from Grand Bassa County lawmaker Vincent Willie.