Human rights lawyer, Cllr Tiawon Gongloe Thursday, February 20, called on the government to immediately prosecute in accordance with law individuals named by Clemenceau Urey to have received US$50,000 as lobby fee from the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL).
Clemenceau Urey is the former board chair of NOCAL.
He recently admitted approving the first payment of US$50,000 meant to speedily ratify the petroleum agreement to some members of the 52nd National Legislature.
Cllr. Gongloe made the called when he spoke at a press conference, held at the Temple of Justice.
Article 42 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia provides that “no member of the Senate or House of Representatives shall be arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried as a result of opinions expressed or votes cast in the exercise of the functions of his office.”
It further states that, ”members shall be privileged from arrest while attending, going to or returning from sessions of the Legislature, except for treason, felony or breach of the peace. All official acts done or performed and all statements made in the Chambers of the Legislature shall be privileged, and no Legislator shall be held accountable or punished thereof.
But, according to the counselor, bribery under penal code is a second degree felony, which carries a punishment of up to five (5) years imprisonment.
“They committed second degree felony and they can be prosecuted. And the public confession clearly demonstrated that the crime of “bribery” is committed by Urey and the lawmakers,” Cllr. Gongloe insisted.
He continued; “Since Urey, who is my good friend openly admitted to the crime of bribery, it is now time for the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC) to begin the process to prosecute them.”
“They need to urgently act and do it now, so as to ensure that it is committed to the fight against corruption and the misused of public office,” Cllr. Gongloe noted.
“Though under our law, the giver and receiver both bear the same responsibility, but, in this case, since Urey was truthful enough to admit to the crime, he could be one of the prospective witnesses for the government,” Cllr. Gongloe suggested.
Quoting, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Cllr. Gongloe said, “She promised that her government would make the fight of corruption as it number one pillar.”
“But, if she fails to act, then, she will be undermining public confidence in her government,” the human rights lawyer cautioned.
Besides, Urey’s confession, the General Auditing Commission (GAC), in it reports, said, a former lawmaker for Montserrado County, admitted receiving US$30,000 of the US$50,000.
The report said that lawmaker, also named another former Montserrado County lawmaker, who was chaired of the House’s Committee on Concession of being part of the deal.