Legislative Special Committee Investigating Executive Mansion ‘Delayed’ Renovation, Summons Finance Minister Samuel Tweah

The House of Representatives Special Committee set up early September, 2019 by the Speaker of the Honorable House of Representatives with a mandate to investigate the Executive Mansion renovation which has been ongoing since the fire incident at the Executive Mansion in July, 2006 has recommended that the Minister of Finance, Development and Planning, Samuel Tweah be summoned by the Plenary of the Honorable House of Representatives to explain his refusal, for nearly two years, to provide information requested by the Houses’ Special Committee to investigate the Executive Mansion renovation now in its 15th year; and, show cause why he should not be held in Contempt.

The G. E. Saigbe Boley-led report said, in early September, 2019 the Speaker of the Honorable House of Representatives, Honorable Bhofal Chambers, appointed a Special Committee of members of the House of Representatives with a mandate to investigate the Executive Mansion renovation which has been ongoing since the fire incident at the Executive Mansion in July, 2006. At the time of the appointment of the Houses’ Special Committee the renovation of the Executive Mansion had been going on for thirteen years.

The Investigation

The Committee met and decided to begin the investigation by gathering available information from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration through President Weah’s regime. The Committee first obtained the “Investigation Report on the Executive Mansion Renovation Project” submitted to former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf by then Minister of State Without Portfolio, Counsellor J. Fonati Kofa, Chairman, Special Presidential Task Force. The Kofa report dated June 21, 2017 was quite revealing and informative.

The Committee next met with Counsellor Sayma Julius Syrenius Cephus, Solicitor General of Liberia who, following a meeting with the Committee, engaged the Ecobank, Liberia, regarding the US$4,378,245.49 (Four Million Three Hundred Seventy Eight Thousand Two Hundred Forty Five Dollars Forty Nine Cents) representing the performance bond (indemnity bond) executed December 19, 2012 on behalf of the Chinese Company CNQC for the renovation of the Executive Mansion. The Chines Company CNQC, with no record of experience or qualification to execute the renovation of the Executive Mansion, was the first company contracted by Government of Liberia to repair the Executive Mansion following the July 26, 2006 fire. The CNQC contract was controlled by the Ministry of State.

The CNQC contract was terminated July 1, 2015. CNQC was determined to lack the qualification to carry out the renovation of the Executive Mansion. A second company, CESAF Liberia Ltd. was contracted February, 2016 to renovate the Executive Mansion. The CESAF contract was controlled by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.

In furtherance of the Committee’s mandate, the Committee, through the Chief Clerk of the House communicated with the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs requesting all documents including records of contracts awarded, payments made and outstanding payments from 2008 to present. In a letter dated October 18, 2019, the Deputy Minister for Administration, Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, Hon.Wesseh Blamah, submitted a report prepared by CESAF Liberia Ltd. the second contractor engaged by the Government of Liberia to execute the execute the Executive Mansion renovation project.

The Committee observed that when the Executive Mansion renovation contract with the Chinese Company CNQC was terminated, CESAF Liberia Ltd was hired at a cost of US$ 50,522,521.61 (Fifty Million Five Hundred Twenty Two Thousand Five Hundred Twenty One Dollars Sixty One Cents). It was further observed that the second contract for renovation of the Executive Mansion was controlled by the Ministry of Finance. The Committee also observed that between December 2018 and May 2019, the Weah government paid CESAF Liberia Ltd. the sum of 8.9 million United States Dollars (Eight Million Nine Hundred Thousand United States Dollars). There is no evidence that CESAF Liberia Ltd. Has done any appreciable work pertaining to the renovation of the Executive Mansion.

To enable the Committee continue its mandate, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning was requested, by a letter dated October 21, 2019, under the signature of the Chief Clerk of the Honorable House of Representatives, through the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Honorable Samuel Tweah, to provide the Houses’ Special Committee “all documents including records of contracts, payments made” relative to the renovation of the Executive Mansion.

Obstruction of Committee Mandate by Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah.

After the Chief Clerk’s letter to Minister Tweah the Chairman of the Committee met on several occasions (at Minister Tweah’s office, Speaker Chambers office and at other locations in the Capitol Building) with Minister Tweah and pleaded with him to provide the needed information to enable the Committee complete its mandate. Minister Tweah promised to provide the information requested by the Committee and never did as promised. On three separate occasions—once in the office of House Speaker Chambers when Minister Tweh was in the Office of the Speaker—the Chairman of the Committee appealed to the Speaker to urge Minister Tweah to cooperate with the Committee by providing the Committee the needed information to conduct the Committee’s business. Minister Tweah promised, in the presence of the Speaker, to provide the documents requested by the Houses’ Special Committee.

After nearly a year of waiting for Minister to make good on his promise to provide the information requested by the Committee, the Chief Clerk wrote a third letter to Minister Tweah, dated January 27, 2021, requesting the information previously requested to facilitate the work of the committee. The Chief Clerk reminded Minister Tweah that his refusal to provide the information required by the Committee is obstructing the work of the Committee and contemptuous.

In February, 2021, the Chairman of the Committee, Honorable Boley, informed the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Cllr. J. Fonati Kofa, of the refusal of Minister Tweah to provide information required by the Committee to conduct the investigation of the Executive Mansion renovation. Deputy Speaker Kofa promised to intervene. As of the submission of this report Minister Tweah has not provided the information requested to conduct the investigation mandated by the Honorable House of Representatives.

To date Minister Tweah has not acknowledged a single communication by this Committee mandated by the Honorable House requesting information pertinent to the renovation of the Executive Mansion. It has been nearly two years and Minister Tweah continues to stonewall the Committee and treat the Honorable House of Representatives with unbridled contempt.

Conclusion

The Special Committee appointed by the Honorable House of Representatives of the Republic of Liberia to investigate the renovation of the Executive Mansion, now in its 15th year of utter disrepair, has been unable to carry out the mandate of the Honorable House because Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah refused to provide the information requested by the Committee. The Committee observed that for the last fifteen years money has been allocated in the national budget for renovation of the Executive Mansion. Nobody is held accountable for this budgeted money while the once splendid Executive Mansion disintegrates to ruins and becomes an embarrassment to the nation.

Recommendation

The Committee recommends that Minister Samuel Tweah be summoned by the Plenary of the Honorable House of Representatives to explain his refusal, for nearly two years, to provide information requested by the Houses’ Special Committee to investigate the Executive Mansion renovation now in its 15th year; and, show cause why he should not be held in Contempt.

The report by Dr. G. E. Saigbe Boley, Chairman, Hon. Jimmy W. Smith, Co-Chair, Hon. Cllr. J. Fonati Kofa, Member Ex-Official, Hon. Robert Womba, Member, Hon. Tibelrosa S. Tarponweh, Hon. Moses Acarous Grey, and Hon. Rosana G.D.H Schaack concluded.

About Cholo Brooks 14633 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.

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