Liberia: The U.S.$20,000 Probe At the Liberian Senate

The Liberian Senate is probing itself over claim by a staffer that senators on Capitol Hill in Monrovia recently received US$20,000 bribe to sign a resolution, approving request by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to print new family of Liberian bank notes, totaling more than US$48 Billion.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Albert T. Chie has instructed the Secretary of the Senate to review the accusation made against the body and report to the leadership following the Easter Break.

That the allegation came from the Administrative Assistant in the office of Grand Bassa County Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence tends to indicate there is smoke in the Senate, particularly when this same body in 2020 distributed money totaling about US$180,000 among its members and kept silent after it signed a joint resolution with the House, approving President Weah's COVID-19 Stimulus Package.

It took opposition Senator Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado County who went public and disclosed that each senator received US$6,000 of the amount for what he termed "operational cost." The following day, Nimba County Senator Prince Yormie Johnson, appeared on radio and confirmed that he received US$7,000 of the amount for 'special or extra sitting' and then, the Pandora box came to light amid public outcry.

We hope this is not a replay of that ugly scenario from 2020 that received widespread public condemnation at a time Liberians were facing total lockdown characterized by lack of food and money.

We understand that already, Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence has suspended her Administrative Assistant Daniel Sando for one month without salary for accusing members of the Senate, while the entire leadership of the Liberian Senate headed by Pro-Tempore Albert Chie has called for an investigation.

We look forward to outcome of the investigation. But it is hardly possible the Senate would indict itself for corruption or receiving money for the approval of the CBL's request to print new family of bank notes.

Additionally, Daniel Sando is already being punished by his boss for the allegation he made, and would not be prepared to persist any further without proof. The only option he has available is to succumb and say that he lied, which could even bring more heavier punishment.

But what could have led him to make such allegation against the entire Liberian Senate that includes his boss, Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence? Why such suspicion in the first place if there were no smoke? Something smells here, given past history at the Senate.

We can only but advise senators on Capitol Hill to conduct themselves transparently before their staff to avoid such suspicion that leaves a stain on public perception about them, particularly when the whistle is blown from within because it clearly presents a likelihood of believability more so when staffers at the Capitol generally have seen the Liberian dollar component of their monthly salary disappeared without remedy despite several investigations by the leadership.

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