Senate Summons Minister Dukuly

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The Secretary of the Liberian Senate has been asked to invite the Minister of Internal Affairs to appear before the plenary of the Senate at its 15th day sitting today, Thursday, March 6.

Internal Affairs Minister Morris Dukuly is expected to answer queries on complaints filed by some members of that august body.

The Senate’s decision to invite Minister Dukuly was taken Tuesday, during the Senate’s 14th day sitting. It came after almost two hours of heated debates on recommendations from investigations by the Senate Committee on Internal Affairs, based on several complaints.

It may be recalled that Bong County Senator, Jewel Howard-Taylor, complained to the Senate plenary some time ago that the Minister of Internal Affairs was dismissing Chiefs in her county with the excuse that they have aged and would no longer be effective. In a similar situation, Gbarpolu County Senator, J.S.B. Theodore Momoh, complained that four rejected District Commissioners in his county were still working, on the order of Minister Dukuly.

The Internal Affairs Committee also probed into complaints by River Cess County Senators, J. Jonathan Banney and Dallas Advertus Gueh, of placing the names of certain local officials on the Government of Liberia pay roll; the management of Social development Fund; County Development Fund; and the re-documentation of local officials.

The committee, among many other things, recommended that as result of the moratorium placed on the CDF and SDF by the Internal Affairs Minister without notice to the Liberian National Legislature, money used to host the county council sitting to raise a county resolution are now considered a waste. They also recommended that Minister Dukuly be mandated to restitute all the county conference sitting costs for the length of time the moratorium had been in place and other rights of payment the county have under the SDF and CDF as justified by the respective resolutions emanating from the county council meeting.

The committee also recommended the Minister pay all arrears owed by the County Education Committee within 15 days of the Internal Affairs committee’s decision that the re-documentation of local county officials be halted until chieftaincy elections are held. They advised that those affected should be immediately reinstated. The Armah Zulu Jallah-Chaired committee further recommended that copies of the result of the internal audit that was conducted by the Internal Affairs over the management of SDF and CDF over five months be immediately sent to the Internal Affairs’ committee for review.

For the unilateral decision to place a moratorium on the SDF and CDF without legislature approval, the committee recommended that Minister Dukuly pay a fine of LD4, 999.99 into the Government of Liberia account in 24 hours.

But following the reading of those recommendations, a majority of the Senators agreed the Minister took unilateral decisions and that recommendations by the committee be upheld.

However, some legal minds among that august body argued that there were still many unfinished and ambiguous issues that needed to be clarified by the Minister. They made specific mention of the failure of the Internal Affairs Ministry to place on its payroll names of local officials that were working, but not receiving salaries, though the Legislature appropriated US$1m in the 2013/2014 budget.

It was at this juncture that a motion was proffered to invite the Minister and afford him due process, while putting a hold on some, if not all of the Senate committee’s recommendations.

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