Amidst internal wrangling among lawmakers over the removal of House Speaker J. Alex Tyler for alleged bribery as reported by corruption watchdog Global Witness, the Speaker has accused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of blackmail, financial inducement and other dictatorial and undemocratic schemes to unseat him.
In a very startling revelation, the Speaker stated that the President, in her recent ‘political diabolical ploy,’ is calling on members of the House of Representatives to induce them through an unknown offer of a financial package to sign a resolution for his removal.
He failed to state the amount of the inducement, but an unconfirmed source said the President is offering US$20,000 to each lawmaker for his dethronement from the Speakership.
In a press conference on Monday, June 27, in the House’s first floor room, the Speaker stated that the President threatened to withhold the benefits and entitlements and District Project Funds of lawmakers if they failed to have him removed.
“These well-orchestrated ploys by the President to hold the House of Representatives to ransom, by denying members their due benefits and entitlements as a means to strangulate us into undue political submission, is in itself dictatorial and undemocratic to say the least,” Speaker Tyler said.
He added, “We will resist any sort of blackmail and hold high our standing and maintain that our benefits and entitlements are by law and not by the will and pleasure of President Ellen Sirleaf.”
In unrelenting fashion, the Speaker also accused the President of exploiting the Global Witness Report to fight against corruption and to unconstitutionally exercise control over the House of Representatives and the Legislature.
The Speaker said the President is using surrogates, firstly by calling for his recusal on what they termed as moral grounds, which he rejected as illegal and unfounded; that it is not moral or legal to punish an innocent person as the constitution is clear that an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of competent jurisdiction.
“The chief architect of this ploy is President Johnson Sirleaf and her chief motive is to remove me as the Speaker of the House of Representatives who is seen in her mind as an obstacle in the pursuance of her personal agenda,” the Speaker said.
The Speaker indicated that as part of her plan, the President firstly set up a bogus task force targeted at him and had a hasty indictment drawn, while she is pursuing a world-wide search for evidence.
He intoned that it is obvious that the President has challenged his moral standing, using surrogates to ask for his recusal, and is now inducing and making financial offers to secure his removal.
“In view of all we are witnessing and experiencing, it is reasonable to anticipate, given our political history and context, that the next move could be an attempt on my person and my life,” the Speaker opined.
“In my opinion, instead of the President using the country’s resources for my removal, which could be a bit costly, I would like to admonish Her Excellency to redirect those resources to the prosecution and speedy trial of the case; and when I am adjudged guilty, I will step down as Speaker.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the press, despite all the intrigues, persecution, intimidation, witch-hunt, character assassination and possible threats to my person, we will uphold, maintain and protect the sacred doctrine of separation of powers as enshrined in our constitution and together with some of my colleagues we have reaffirmed our commitment to maintain the independence of the Legislature.”
This is the second time the President has been accused of trying to remove a sitting Speaker through a financial package.
In 2007, former Speaker Edwin M. Snowe accused the President of masterminding his removal, after which one of the plotters, J. Alex Tyler, was elected as Speaker.
It may be recalled that in the damning May 11 Global Witness Report, Speaker J. Alex Tyler Sr., Sen. Varney Sherman and other top officials of government are alleged to have changed the Public Procurement Commission Committee (PPCC) Law in favor of the London based company, Sable Mining, to exploit iron ore in the Wologizi Mountain, Lofa County.
The Speaker and other former and current officials have been indicted by Criminal Court “C.”
According to the report, by August 2010 Sable allegedly paid out more than US$900,000, of which US$75,000 was given to Speaker Tyler.