Does House Speaker J. Alex Tyler know who Big Boy 1 and Big Boy 2 are? The wording of an official statement signed and issued by him late yesterday sure sounded like it as he flat out rejected the special prosecuting team, appointed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to investigate allegations made by Global Witness into the bribery of several prominent government officials.
In a press statement issued yesterday, Speaker Tyler differed with and objected to President Sirleaf’s appointment of a special prosecuting team, headed by Cllr. Fonati Koffa, Minister of State Without Portfolio, because the team lacks the authority to investigate the President and other elected officials.
He said Cllr. Koffa is a presidential appointee and he functions under the supervision of the president and therefore he cannot be trusted to carry out an impartial investigation of the allegations.
The speaker said in order to lend credibility to the process; he has proposed that an independent panel outside of government, with representation of the Press Union of Liberia, Civil Society, Inter-Religious Council, the Liberia National Bar Association and others be constituted, to launch an immediate inquest into the alleged bribery scandal.
He said considering the gravity of the allegations and their potential to undermine “our governance structure, I am stating publicly my willingness to submit myself and fully corporate with an independent investigation of the allegations, raised by the Global Witness report.”
Speaker Tyler called on “Big Boy 1” and “Big Boy 2” to submit themselves to the probe as well and noted that not to prejudice any potential investigation, he would refrain from making any further comment on the matter.
He described as “untrue” the May 11 Global Witness Report alleged that a “leaked email” insinuated that he received USD75,000 to help change the law in favor of Sable Mining.
“I, at no time received any money from anybody neither did I hold any discussions with anybody regarding Sable Mining,” Speaker Tyler said.
He further quoted the Global Witness Report that said “the President and other senior officials of government, including myself, aided a private mining company, Sable Mining to acquire concession rights to the Wologizi Mountain.
“The publication further alleged that this was to be achieved by changing the Public Procurement and Concession law to enable Sable Mining secures the Wologizi Mountain outside of competitive bidding process.”
Global Witness, he said also reported that: “Edmonds and Grooves came to West Africa in 2010 hungry for iron ore. When the country’s procurement law interfered with their plan, they set out to change it.”
“The report goes on to quote Belleh, saying: “We finally got the revised PPCC act completed,” and according to the report, “Belleh wrote (Varney) Sherman on August 6th 2010 and the Minister of Justice and I met with the president last night and reviewed areas of concern to her, she approved.
“The document has been forwarded to the National legislature. It is expected to be fast-tracked.”
Speaker Tyler said that the above report supposedly suggested that President Sirleaf approved and orchestrated the change in the PPCC law to enable Sable Mining to achieve its objectives.
While refuting Global Witness Report’s claims, Speaker Tyler concluded that he would make himself available to any such body to safeguard the integrity of his office and that of the entire Legislative Branch of government.