Internal Affairs Minister Morris M. Dukuly Tuesday invoked what he called “The Fifth Amendment,” refusing to expound on his recent allegations that a lawmaker of the 53rd Legislature had made a written request to transfer US$800,000 to his or her personal account from the County Development Fund and the Social Development Fund of a particular county.
The Internal Affairs Minister, however, informed the legislature that he would avail himself to that body in executive session if they (Senate) deemed it necessary, where he promised to disclose the name of the lawmaker who made the request.
It was not known up to press time Tuesday whether Minister Dukuly made good on his promise by disclosing the name of the lawmaker who made the request. Executive session decisions are not for public consumption, at least not immediately.
However, an authoritative source close to the leadership of the Senate last night hinted to this newspaper that during the executive session, Minister Dukuly contradicted his earlier assertion about the US$800,000, and he may likely face contempt charges when he reappears again soon before that body. The source did not elaborate.
Minister Dukuly made the assertion about the US$800,000 request last Thursday when lawmakers grilled him about his decision to place a moratorium on the disbursement of county and social development funds.
The reference by Minister Dukuly to the “5th Amendment” prompted some legal minds of the Senate to leaf through the Constitution, only to conclude that no such provision is contained in the country’s organic law.
Following the Minister’s hours of standing before the Elders of the Legislature, and receiving a barrage of questions, the Senate saw the need to go into executive session; but only after Minister Dukuly, who once served as Speaker of the House of Representatives, frowned upon the lack of courtesy afforded him, recalling that all the time he served as Speaker, he could not recollect meting out such treatment to a senior government official invited to appear before lawmakers.
Minister Dukuly's summoniing by the Senate plenary followed a loaded dossier of accusations by a cross section of Senators that the Ministry of Internal Affairs was taking unilateral decisions that need the blessing of Legislative committees having oversight of its activities.
Among other things, the Senators complained to plenary that Minister Dukuly was in the habit of deleting names of chiefs with the excuse that they are either too old to function, or that most of them have long past the age of retirement.
Other Senators accused Minister Dukuly of placing a moratorium on the disbursement of CDF and SDF to counties.
But during his earlier appearance Thursday, Minister Dukuly clarified that he did not place a moratorium on the CDF or SDF, but had rather instituted a selective review process.
An hour before Minister Dukuly’s appearance Tuesday, Grand Gedeh County Senator Alphonso Gaye, wrote the Senate plenary requesting that a committee be set up to investigate the US$800,000 allegation, but his colleagues voted that the Minister be asked to elaborate by naming the lawmaker.