24 June 2019

Liberia: Tyler's Appointment Revoked

Former Speaker J. Alex Tyler (pictured) is yet to be cleared from a series of high-profile corruption cases that he got entangled with when he served as speaker of the 53rd Legislature.

President George Weah has withdrawn the nomination of Alex Tyler from the Board of ArcelorMittal Operating Company. The President provoked the ire of Liberians on Tuesday when he announced the appointment of the former House speaker. This is a man that has been dubbed 'corruption King Kong' as a result of his alleged involvement in numerous corruption cases in the country.

President Weah, in an Executive Mansion statement over the weekend, said he withdrew Tyler's appointment. The President's decision did not came out of the blue sky as many believed, but was provoked by the barrage of criticisms that occasioned the Tyler's appoint.

His replacement, according to the president, will be announced shortly.

Some Liberians feel that the worst any leader could do to an enraged nation such as Liberia -- which continues to feel the pinch of the menace of corruption -- is to bring back into public service a man like Tyler, whose integrity and personality has been shattered by litany of corruption cases. And this is exactly what President Weah did last Tuesday and, given the backlashes he received, was compelled not just to act, but immediately.

While many of the President's supporters are hailing him for the decision to withdraw Tyler's nomination, his critics and many neutrals have frowned on the decision to have even appointed the former speaker in the first place.

Tyler's nomination was embedded among a plethora of appointments the President made last Tuesday, June 18. He was appointed as one of two representatives of the government to ArcelorMittal Liberia. He is the founder and political leader of the Liberia People Democratic Party (LPDP), one of the three political parties that make up the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), and he serves as a council member of the Coalition.

Tyler is yet to be cleared from a series of high-profile corruption cases that he got entangled with when he served as speaker of the 53rd Legislature. He is currently on trial for allegedly soliciting and receiving bribes in the Sable Mining saga that was reported by Global Witness.

The Sable Mining alleged bribery scandal is prime among the corruption cases that have overwhelmed the former Bomi County Representative, and it was regarded as one of the largest corrupt syndicates in administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, involving many of her top officials.

The Sable Mining alleged bribery report led his colleagues of the 53rd Legislature to have him impeached and dethroned from the speakership -- practically disgracing him as as the third most powerful man in the country for over five years.

Many feel Tyler's appointment was one of the many poor decisions President Weah has made since his he came President of Liberia.

"You cannot say you want to fight corruption and, at the same time, appoint someone like Tyler. It is a complete contradiction on the part of the President. I want to believe that President Weah was testing the water to see how Liberians would have reacted to this appointment," Student leader Martin Kollie said.

Some of the corruption cases that rattled Tyler's integrity include, but not limited to the Sable Mining bribery scandal, Bong County Technical College corruption saga and his involvement in an illegal logging company.

The Sable mining corruption case that was unearthed by Global Witness practically brought Tyler to his political end, not just at from the helm of the Legislature, but in public service as a whole. This was a scandal that saw top government officials receiving nearly US$1 million to manipulate the country's procurement laws in favor of Sable Mining, a British company.

Details from evidence presented to the court by the Special Presidential Task Force that was set up by former President Sirleaf revealed that former Speaker Tyler threw himself into the alleged bribery syndicate by demanding US$250,000 from Sable Mining to effect changes in the Public Procurement Concession Commission Act to pave the way for Sable Mining's attainment of an iron ore mining concession at the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa County.

In the Bong County Community College (BCCC) saga, Tyler was named alongside Maryland County Representative Bhofal Chambers, former Representative Ketehkumehn E. Murray, along with a Chinese national as co-owners of the construction company that presumably won the contract for to construction the Bong County Technical College - a project which began in 2010 and was expected to have been completed in 2011, but is still ongoing.

The BCCC project was originally expected to cost US$4,394,776.97, but the contract's worth grew to US$7,604,926.97 and the completion date changed to May 2017, without any significant changes to the original design of the building.

The former Speaker also surfaced a Global Witness Report on Liberia, titled: "Hold The Line."

In this one, he is reported to have been a joint owner along with two other colleagues, Moses Kollie of Lofa County, and Ricks Toweh of Nimba County, all members of the 53rd Legislature, of a logging company which is, according to the Global Witness, among a group of illegal loggers that lied, shortchanged the country in several shady deals and through illegal logging activities.

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