9 June 2017

Liberia: House Demands Minister's Appearance

The House of Representatives is demanding the unconditional appearance of Lands, Mines and Energy Minister Patrick Sendolo before that august body.

The lawmakers want Sendolo to provide detail information next Tuesday on a reported private contract being negotiated by the Board of Directors and Transitional Management Team (TMT) of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC)

Minister Sendolo should have appeared before the lawmakers on Wednesday along with the Board of Directors and Management of the LEC, but he sent one of his deputy Ministers to provide the information.

However, a motion by Representative Edwin Snowe of Montserrado County, which was endorsed by plenary, said if Minister Sendolo fails to appear in person before them on Tuesday, they will be left with no alternative, but to enforce their constitutional power by holding him in contempt.

Article 44 of the Liberian Constitution says "Contempt of the Legislature shall consist of actions which obstruct the legislative functions or which obstruct or impede members or officers of the Legislature in the discharge of their legislative duties and may be punished by the House concerned by reasonable sanctions after a hearing consistent with due process of law. No sanctions shall extend beyond the session of the Legislature wherein it is imposed, and any sanction imposed shall conform to the provisions on Fundamental Rights laid down in the Constitution,"

The Representatives said the Minister's refusal undermines their functions.

The representatives said they cannot sit under the voice of the Deputy Minister for the hearing because he was not the one sent invited to provide the information. The representatives also did not allow the Managing Director of LEC, Foday S. Sackor to talk because he (Sackor) should have been accompanied by the Chairman of the Board of LEC.

Sackor and the Deputy Lands, Mines and Energy Minister were sent home to re-appear with Minister Sendolo and the LEC Board Chairman.

The appearance of these officials was triggered by Representative Saah Joseph's letter requesting his colleagues to summon Minister Sendolo and the LEC management to provide reason why they are proceeding improperly with the Manitoba Hydro International against the interest of the public.

In his letter, Rep. Joseph argued that a procurement audit carried out by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) against Manitoba, unearthed serious irregularities that need to be addressed.

"In keeping with our national duties, I pray that this plenary invites the Chairman of the Board of Directors of LEC, the Minister of Lands, Mines, and Energy and the Managing Director of LEC to appear and explain why they rushed towards negotiating another Management Services Agreement when the former is under a cloud of inconsistencies and is being investigated.

He also wants the LEC Board and TMT to explain the "irregularities" of procurement carried out by Manitoba and to ascertain how US$42million was allegedly used.

It can be recalled that Minister Sendolo told the House of Representatives that decisions by the Executive Branch of government to transfer the assets of BHP Billion to Jona Capitol did not require their input.

Liberia

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