Liberia: Senate Seeks Clarity From the Minister of Heath On Claims That Lawmakers Collected Money for 'Undefined Purposes'

Monrovia — The Plenary of the Liberian Senate has mandated its Statutory Committee on Health to cite Health Minister, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, to clarify her recent assertion made against the Legislature that the purpose of USD$15,000 previously given to each Legislator wasn't clearly defined.

The action of the Senate's Plenary was based on communication written by River Gee County Senator Jonathan Boycharles Sogbie.

It can be recalled that Senators of the Liberian Senate received US$15,000 each through budgetary allocation for Legislative engagement, of which Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darrius Dillon donated USD$ 7,500 to the Montserrado County Health Team in support of the fight against COVID-19.

Upon hearing about the donation, the Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah wrote the Head of the Montserrado County Health Team, Dr. Yatta Wapoe, to return the US$7,500 donated by Senator Dillion.

Meanwhile, said amount was subsequently returned to the office of the Senator on Tuesday, July 20, 2021.

The Health Minister in a communication informed Dr. Yatta Wapoe that in an Incident Management System (IMS) meeting held on Saturday, June 19, 2021, IMS appreciated Sen. Dillion's kind gesture, but however, the IMS cannot accept such a donation from the Senator or any other Legislator at a time of ongoing polemic and public outcry concerning the source and exact purpose of the funds.

The Health Minister also told Dr. Yatta Wapoe in the communication that the IMS notes that she receives donations from private individuals and organizations, in this case, the IMS is cautious of the sources of the resources despite its challenges, adding "kindly return to the Senator said donation until further clarification."

Notwithstanding, the MOH boss told Dr. Wapoe that the IMS looks forward to the supplementary budgetary allocation from the Honorable Legislature to enhance the fight against the deadly disease.

The committee is expected to report two weeks after the Independence break.

Senate committee to investigate vessel sinking

Also, the Plenary of the Liberian Senate mandated its committees on Defense, Security, Intelligence and Veteran Affairs to conduct a speedy investigation issues surrounding the sinking of the locally registered NIKO IVANKA vessel which led to loss of lives of about 15 passenger.

The decision by the Senate was triggered by a communication from Rivergee County Senator, Jonathan Boycharles Sogbie.

Senator Sogbie in his communication to Plenary on Thursday, July 22, 2021, called for the Commissioner-General of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA), the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) to be cited to give clarity on how NIKO IVANDA, a detained vessel lacking all safety measures and not licensed as passenger carrier could have sailed without the knowledge of the LMA and AFL, especially with passengers and goods on board.

The committee is expected to report its findings to plenary two weeks following the Independence break.

Zargo finally takes on Security committee from Prince Johnson

In a related Senate news, the Plenary of the Liberian Senate on Thursday elected Lofa County Senator, Steve J.H. Zargo as Chairman of the Senate's Statutory Committee on Defense, Security, Intelligence and Veteran Affairs.

Senator Zargo was elected Thursday July 22, 2021 on a white ballot, weeks following the resignation of Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson as Chairman of said committee.

Casting the white ballot, Grand Bassa County Senator, Nyonblee K. Lawrence said the decision of plenary to elect the Lofa County Lawmaker is based on his hard work, competence and experience in the security sector.

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