For the third time in many months this year, Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly Tuesday, June 24, had his way when his excuse not to face the Senate plenary was granted, but again with an order that he appears Thursday, June 26, 2014.
The decision to invite Minister Dukuyly to appear before the Senate plenary started early March, when some Senators accused him of taking unilateral decisions within local government administration.
In what many of the Senators vowed will be his last communication for excuse, Minister Dukuly in a letter dated June 23, 2014, acknowledged receipt of a letter from the Secretary of the Senate inviting him to appear before the Senate plenary on June 12, 2014 and June 24, 2014.
Minister Dukuly’s letter reads: “Dear Mr. Singbeh, I present my compliment and acknowledge receipt of your letter dated June 12 and June 23, 2014 respectively, inviting me to appear before the Honorable plenary on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 to provide clarification on issues surrounding the deleting of names from the payroll of the Ministry of internal Affairs.
I sincerely regret to inform you that I am scheduled to attend a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, June 24, 2014 to be chaired by the President of Liberia. The cabinet meeting commences at 11a.m.; further, my Deputy Minister for Administration, Honorable Varney Sirleaf has travelled out of the country, and is unavailable to proxy for me at the cabinet meeting. Consequently, I wish to request that you please inform the distinguished members of the Honorable Senate and to convey that my profound appeal be considered to appear on Tuesday after the cabinet meeting, or on Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 11a.m.”
Immediately reacting to the communication, Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper recalled the length of time given the Minister and argued that it was about time he respects them by appearing before the Senate this time.
“This Senate should not continue to tolerate the behavior of this Minister, we have given due process to for months to appear before this honorable body,” Senator Cooper bellowed.
“If we have to suspend all other activities to make sure that Minister Dukuly appears today, let us do that,” other Senators demanded.
River Cess Senator Dallas Gueh asked his colleagues to give the Minister time so he can appear on Thursday. “Because whatever we do, he will still have his way, so let us agree with him.”
At the end of the debate, a consensus was reached and the Minister was given a reprieve to appear Thursday.
It may be recalled that in March, some Senators accused Minister Dukuly of unilaterally dismissing chiefs and other local government officials on ground of old age, and for placing moratorium on the use of the County and Social Development Funds.
The plenary was informed in one of the complaints that four nominees for the posts of District Commissioners in Gbarpolu County whose confirmations were rejected by the 2nd session of the Senate, were still working on the order of Minister Dukuly, while River Cess County Senators J. Jonathan Banney and Dallas Advertus Gueh alleged that the Minister was placing the names of certain local officials on the Government of Liberia pay roll.
They further accused him of mismanaging Social Development Fund and County Development Funds and re-documentation of local officials.
The Internal Affairs Committee, headed by Gbarpolu Senator Armah Zulu Jallah, among several decisions, recommended that Minister Dukuly be fined LD$4,999.99 for his unilateral decision to place a moratorium on SDF and CDF without legislative approval. Senator Jallah ordered that the amount be placed in Government of Liberia’s account in 24 hours.
It was further ordered that the Minister pays all arrears owed by County Education Committee within 15 days in line with the Internal Affairs Committee’s decision, and that the re-documentations of local county officials be halted until chieftaincy elections are held.
The committee also recommended that those affected by the unilateral dismissal be immediately reinstated.
In a related development, the Senate Pro Tempore, Gbehzohngar M. Findley, yesterday requested the Senate secretariat to cite the Minister of Public Works Antoinette Weeks to appear before the plenary on Thursday. Minister Week’s appearance is the third since the Legislature started taking interest in her Ministry’s activities concerning road construction and/or rehabilitation.