LIBERIA: Alleged Money Request By Lawmakers Disappoints Sawyer

The Chairman of the Governance Commission, Dr Amos Sawyer says allegation that some lawmakers requested money to ratify an agreement relative to the National Oil Company of Liberia must claim the attention of the National Legislature and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).

According to the Liberia News Agency (LINA), Dr. Sawyer said the Governance Commission is concerned about the allegation and is in the process of sending a letter to the LACC urging prompt investigation into such allegation.

It can be recalled that the former Chairman of the Board of Directors of NOCAL, Clemenceau Urey told the Public Accounts Committee public hearing last week that some members of the 52nd Legislature requested for thousands of United States dollars to ratify an agreement NOCAL sent to it.

Dr. Sawyer who made the statement Monday when he addressed a public hearing on the Code of Conduct Act organized by the House’s Committee on Good Governance and Government Reform held in the joint Chambers of the National Legislature, emphasized that it is difficult to ignore such allegation when it comes from such an authority.

He pointed out that the Legislature sits for long hours in extended sessions debating issues pertaining to contracts and concessions, authority relations between the Executive and the legislature, yet the Code of Conduct which is one of the fundamental instruments that should guide the body in carrying out its oversight responsibilities continues to languish in committee room.

Dr. Sawyer indicated that it was disappointing that the Code of Conduct Act has not risen to the level of importance and urgency in the calendar of the Legislature since it was submitted in 2009.

Sawyer, one of the crafters of the Act, further emphasized that the slow response of the legislature to meet this constitutional requirement after it was passed by the Liberian Senate, has been disappointing.

The Governance Commission Chairman noted that responding to the need to improve ethical values in governance; the Executive had issued several Executive Orders requiring Asset disclosure on the part of senior officials of government, adding that these Executive Orders would not have been necessary had an implementable Code of Conduct been passed into law.

Dr. Sawyer commended Representative Acarous Gray who chairs the committee for his farsightedness in bringing the Code of Conduct Act to public hearing, and hoped that this time the Act will be passed.

For his part, Representative Gray thanked all the witnesses that gave inputs during the hearing and asked them to document their views about the process and submit same to the committee on Wednesday, this week.

The witnesses include Dr. Amos Sawyer, Chief Zanzan Karwah of the National Traditional Council of Liberia, Thomas Doe Nah of the Center for Transparency and Accountability, the Chairman of the National Muslim Council of Liberia, Sheik Kafumba Konneh and the Chairman of the LACC James Verdier, among others. 

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