By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor
Members of the House of Representatives have set up a special committee, headed by the Committee on Judiciary of that body, to probe the more than US$200m allegedly spent on international public relations by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and some of her key officials.
The decision by the House was predicated on a communication dated January 29, 2014, from Maryland County Representative Bhofal Chambers.
The communication quoted Dr. Chambers as stating that his attention was drawn to the alleged ‘unexplained and unauthorized expenditure’ by the Executive Mansion of over US$200 million for public relations services rendered by foreign firms, as stated in the US State Department’s report.
The communication, read in the plenary on Thursday during the House’s regular session, indicated that the Fog Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) at the United States State Department records that the Liberian Government paid more money for public relations abroad in 2008 than expenditure it captured in 2007.
Dr. Chambers, through his communication, alleged that firms where services were periodically solicited or contracted were based in Washington, D.C., Virginia, the United States and Vienna, Austria.
“Hon. Speaker and Illustrious Legislators, based on manifest necessity, we ask your indulgence for this August Body to conduct a detailed investigation of these matters so as to bring some credibility to the governance process which we all seek to protect,” the communication added, further noting that despite the high rate of poverty looming over the 3.5 million Liberian population, it was unfortunate for the President to have spent such a huge amount for only image-building in the outside world.
Meanwhile, Dr. Chambers, in the same letter, has informed members of the House that it is a dramatic sway from the normal escort architecture of the President of the Liberia National Police to be completely excluded from the security detail of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, which is very worrisome, as the police are the true face of democracy.
Rep. Chambers, who won on the ticket of the Congress for Democratic Change in 2011 after he did so in 2005 on the ticket of the United Party, maintained that to have such vital security organs removed from the escort of the president gravely undermines the confidence of the people in the police and further threatens the national security architecture which they all seek to protect.
Following the reading of the communication, Speaker Alex Tyler announced that due to the importance of the communication and information therein contained a voting-taking exercise to constitute a special committee to probe the allegations. The committee is charged to submit its findings to plenary within two weeks for an official position of the House of Representatives.###New Dawn