In The Missing LD16 Billions Saga: House Summons Journalist For Details

Mr. Philipbert Browne, Publisher of The Hot Pepper

As Liberians anxiously await the outcome of the ongoing investigation regarding the alleged missing sixteen billions Liberian dollars as was uncovered by one of Liberia’s respected journalists and publisher of the Hot Pepper newspaper, Mr. Philipbert Brown has been invited by the Plenary of the House of Representatives  on Monday, November 18, 2018.

The Plenary has also invited one of its colleagues, Representative Yekeh Kolubah of Montserrado County District #10 in the wake of an allegation by leveled against President George Weah  accusing him and some members of the Legislature of receiving portion of the alleged missing L$16 billion.

The decision to investigate Mr. Browne, Publisher of the Hot Pepper Newspaper, and Rep. Kolubah, Montserrado District #10 Represenative comes in the wake of a communications from Rep. Samuel Kogar (Nimba District #5) asking plenary to invite the pair took place yesterday, November 15, 2018 during a Special Session.

Mr. Brownes’s Hot Pepper Newspaper was the first to report about a missing container of money imported into the country.

In separate communication, Rep. Kogar stated that their colleague (Rep. Kolubah) was heard on a local radio station accusing the President of having one of the alleged missing containers of money in his possession; while Journalist Browne, also speaking on the same local radio station on Wednesday, November 14, stated that he has pieces of evidence to show that 50 lawmakers received bribe for authorizing the printing L$15.5 billion banknotes.

According to him, Browne stated that the lawmakers received the undisclosed amount at two separate locations: the first at T-Five Academy, a school belonging to Rep. Thomas Fallah (CDC, Montserrado District #5) and the second was at the parking lot of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).

In defending his complaints on the floor, Kogar asserted that Rep. Kolubah’s accusation against the President was grave and needed to be investigated because if it is established to be true it would warrant the impeachment of the President.

He also noted that their colleague’s assertion, if it’s misleading, it would violate the House’s rules that forbid any member of the House of Representatives for practicing falsehoods.

He also accused Kolubah of publicly backing Journalist Browne live on the radio when some of the lawmakers placed a call to inform Browne that he will be invited to provide evidence over his allegations against the Legislature.

At the same time, he noted that Mr. Browne’s revelation is important and critical to the House’s ongoing investigation and as such it was prudent that he is call to provide evidence.

Following Kogar’s deliberations, plenary was turned into a scene of commotion as some of the lawmakers vehemently rejected his complaints on grounds that summoning Kolubah and Browne would be violating their rights to free speech and drawing the House to staunch public criticisms.

Several lawmakers including Reps. Issaac B. Roland (Maryland District #3), Acarous Gray (Montserrado District #8) and Solomon C. George (Montserrado District #7) backed Kogar; while Reps. Larry P. Younquoi (Nimba Distrct #8), Francis Dopoh (River Gee District #3), Robert Flomo Womba (Bong District #4) and Roger Domah (Nimba District #7) dissented.

Rep. Youngquoi called for a friendly invitation to be extended to Mr. Browne to assist the House in its ongoing investigation, but not to summon him for expressing his views.

“I do agree with him that the journalist (Browne) should come and help plenary with the investigation but I do not believe that this august body should put itself in the position of summoning people on an acrimonious basis,” he dissented.

Younquoi also advised his colleagues to be careful on how they treat their colleague (Kolubah) for expressing his views as he has a privilege to say anything while in session.

“The statement made by our colleague should not be a ground to investigate him. We will soon make the public to feel that we have so much to cover,” he said.

But he was interrupted by Rep. Acarous Gray who noted that Mr. Browne should be called to question by the House because Browne has brought that august body to public disrepute; noting that he can be held for libel if his allegations cannot be substantiated.

Rep. Solomon George also noted that Browne’s testimony will help them and cleared some of the innocent lawmakers of the 53rd.

“He has put a blanket statement over us. Let he come and name those he knows are part of this saga,” he said, while calling for Lawmaker Kolubah to be questioned by he House over his continuous reckless outbursts against the President and some members of the Legislature.

This triggered a heated argument between Reps George and Dopoh, who claimed that Kolubah should not be investigated for his views.

Rep. Womba joined in and indicated there have been many conflicting opinions, claims and counter claims by both private citizens and public officials and that Kolubah is of no exception.

This led to a sustained commotion on the floor until the Speaker called on the Sargent- at-Arm to restore calm.

Finally, the House, through a majority vote summoned journalist Browne to appear before the full plenary on Monday and placed Rep. Kolubah under the House’s Rules and Order Committee for investigation.

Credit:FPA

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About Cholo Brooks 15381 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.