The dust is far from being settled on the ongoing Global Witness’ leaked bribery scandal involving some top Liberian officials including House Speaker Alex Tyler, and the ruling Unity Party Chairman Varney Sherman, who have been indicted on multiple criminal offenses as well as the correlating moral cloud hovering over the heads of these indictees for them to recuse themselves from doing normal official business until their names are cleared from the scandal.
The latest call comes from the USA Chairman of the Independent Congress for Democratic Change (ICDC), Elphinstone James Birch, who believes that the National Legislature should create a body of ombudsman to investigate members of that august body who are named in the Global Witness “Deceiver 1” expose of allegedly receiving bribe from UK listed Sable Mining Africa limited. Mr. Birch, in a press statement, said: “in keeping with the National Legislature Code of Conduct of the Republic of Liberia, this August Body should strongly consider the Code of Conduct which states: ‘PART IX of the Code of Conduct: "GIFTS, BRIBES AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST 9.1 Bribes and Gifts Public Officials and Employees of Government shall not receive nor encourage the giving of any form of bribe or casual gift in connection with the performance of his or her official duties, whether for himself or herself or members of his or her family or any other benefits that could have any influence on his or her professional approach to issues and the discharge of his or her official duties.” The ICDC-USA Chairman maintained that the law also indicates that this “shall not include gifts given during traditional ceremonies and celebrations, and fees paid for lobbying. The Legislature shall enact laws for the regulation of lobbying activities." The proposed political establishment added that it is therefore, on behalf of the Liberian people, calling on the Legislative Branch of Government to establish or create an independent body in keeping with PART XII: THE CREATION OF THE OFFICE OF OMBUDSMAN of the National Legislative Code of Conduct which states in part "12.1 The Office of an Ombudsman is hereby established as an independent autonomous body which shall be responsible for the enforcement, oversight, monitoring and evaluation of the adherence to the Code of Conduct. The Office of the Ombudsman shall be responsible to collaborate with the three Branches of Government and Civil Society Organizations in order to develop regulations for the Code of Conduct." Additionally, Mr. Birch noted that as part of this call, the Speaker of the House of Representatives should recuse himself from presiding over Plenary until he is exonerated from the charges levied against him adding, “Cllr. Varney Sherman should step aside as Senate Committee Chairman on Judiciary until his name is cleared from the bribery scandal.” The ICDC-USA Chairman emphasized that the House of Representatives own rules state that any member whose behavior brings the body into public disrepute should be reprimanded. “RULE 42 PRESTIGE AND DIGNITY OF THE HOUSE 42.1 Every member shall, at any place, keep the prestige and dignity of the House and refrain from undesirable acts. 48.7 The House may, according to the circumstances and degree of breach, take the following measures: a. it may give an oral warning; b. it may give a written warning; c. it may suspend a member for not more than 30 days of meeting, stop the payment of salary and allowances due him/her for the days of suspension, as the case may be; d. it may expel a member from the House where the breach is very serious or where it is committed repeatedly.” Grand Bassa District #3 Representative Gabriel Smith also echoed the call for Speaker Tyler to step aside as presiding officer but on moral grounds.