Speaker Dweh, Others Accused of Corruption, May Face Indefinite Suspension Today If...


By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
March 14, 2005


Capitol - the Seat of The Assembly
The highest decision-making body of the Liberian parliament or the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA), the Plenary is expected to hold a special session today to institute punitive action against the leadership of that august body, that has been accused of engaging rampant corruption.

Accordingly, nothing less than expulsion or suspension as punishment is likely to emerge from the Plenary against Speaker George Dweh, and Deputy Speaker Eddington Varmah and two other colleagues.

Speaker Dweh and deputy Varmah represent the disbanded LURD rebel faction and the failed regime of former President Charles Taylor respectively. The two men were elected with ease without challengers.

The leadership of the house is being investigated for corruption, which allegedly permeates the parliament to the extent that members of the body are prepared to institute serious action against any member of the leadership found guilty of administrative and financial malpractices. They are of the opinion that the action will serve as a deterrent to others.

Sources at the Capitol Building told The Perspective Liberia correspondent that 46 out of the 76 members of the NTLA, have signed the resolution for the suspension or expulsion of the Dweh-leadership.

The NTLA needs a two-third majority vote which is 51 signatures to expel the leadership but up to press time, only 46 signatures have been obtained, thereby constituting a simple majority.

However, the embattled leadership has rejected the charges against it, accusing the plenary of doing great injustice by failing to grant them the opportunity to critically examine the Special Committee’s report. The special committee is headed by Representative Isaac Mannah, the Chairman of the Liberia Unification Party (LUP).

The leadership of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, UNMIL and ECOWAS on Friday, met behind closed door to intervene, but report from the meeting said the members have remained resolute to passing a vote of no confidence in their corrupt leadership.

According to our Capitol Building source, during Friday’s meeting, the committee headed by Representative Isaac Mannah revealed that it found strong evidence of administrative and financial mal practices against the embattled leadership.
Among other things, the committee revealed that each of the accused admitted that there were some lapses in administrative practices, that there is no accountability for the assets of NTLA and that speaker Dweh failed to bring on the floor the ad hoc committee’s reports.

The report also accused Speaker Dweh of personally distributing donated items by the Chinese Government on personal basis with no accurate record of personnel at the NTLA and the confirmation of the Way, Means and Finance committee chairman Tapple E. Doe and the controller, Mrs. Elizabeth Pelhan of mal practices at NTLA.

Further, the report added that allowances for members who were not seated on time, in the amount of US$92,000 were used by the leadership without approval of the plenary, the disbursement of funds without receipts, duplication of payments for items or supplies.

Accordingly, the NTLA’s “USD” Account has been closed without accounting for the funds while vouchers have been arbitrarily raised without appropriate and adequately supporting documents, and that vouchers have been raised and cash paid without the names of the receivers.

Despite the nation’s ailing economy, the NTGL in 2004 purchased 76 Grand Limited and Larendo Cherokee vehicles at the cost of US$2,649,248.70 from a Lebanese businessman, Mr. George E. Haddad for the use of NTLA members, though Mr. Haddad disclosed to the probing committee that he only received US$1.5 million while US$1.15 million is outstanding.

Members of the NTLA are using these expensive vehicles while ordinary Liberians including students and civil servants have to struggle to commute in buses and taxi- cabs to their respective destinations. Corruption is eating up the fabric of the Liberian society without stern action taken despite public outcry.