Protesters Plunge House Speaker In Hot Water -Accuse Him of Taking $500,000 Bribe from Guinean Company

It seems the fight over Liberia’s only functional railroad by foreign concessionaires is igniting serious power play in the Legislature and the ripples are casting aspersion upon key decision-makers. House Speaker Bhofal Chambers is being fried in the maze of things as protesters chant slogans and make assertions that are quite incriminating. Chambers’ House of Representatives recently slowed down if not rejected the much-talked-about ArcelorMittal’s Amended Mineral Development Agreement expressly seeking more consultation and discussions after the Senate has passed on it. As The Analyst reports, insinuations are flaring up and forming dissent not directly for his Lower House’s lackluster decision on the MDA but on a seeming rival company which protesters think has offered him a huge bribe.

Protesters are demanding the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to investigate an alleged questionable payment of US$500,000 to Speaker Bhofal Chambers by Guinean-based Mining company, HPX, for Legislative engagement.

The protest comes in the wake of an explosive leaked receipt from the office of the Speaker of the House last week.

The leaked receipt surfaced on social media and in the print media few days after the government of Liberia signed a rail and port agreement with Ivanhoe – HPX, which many complained was shrouded in secrecy.

Protesters with placards were seen early Monday April 11, 2022 assembled at the Sinkor offices of IVANHOE Liberia, the subsidiary of HPX demanding the allege corruption probe.

Last week FrontPage Africa and several media outlets in Monrovia reported a leaked receipt allegedly from the officer of Speaker Bhofal Chambers, which suggests that the speaker signed for US 500K from HPX for Legislative engagement.

Both speaker Chambers and HPX have denied any wrongdoing even though, the receipt reportedly bears the signature of the speaker of the House of Representatives on Ivanhoe’s letterhead.

Despite the Speaker’s denial, since the leaked receipt came to the public glare, the Political Officer in the office of the Speaker, George D. Watkins, has been on the defensive discrediting the receipt.

This kind of financial scandal is not new to the Lower House. It can be recalled on 12 May 2016, following the report by Global Witness alleging wrong doing by Sable Mining and some government officials, including some from the National Legislature, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered an inquiry into Sable Mining’s attempt to acquire an iron ore concession in northern Liberia. This investigation led to the indictment of many prominent Liberians.

The young men leading Monday’s protest said it was unacceptable for a ranking member of the House to be bribed in such a way that rubs the Liberia people of their future; therefore, an immediate investigation must be launched into the allegation for those involved to cleared themselves.

“We are suffering and you have the speaker signing for US$500 thousand dollars on a single sheet” said one protester who added that “this must stop and the LACC must investigate the HPX and the House of Representatives”

At the same time, the protesters have branded HPX as a double standard company that has nothing substantive to offer Liberians apart from corrupt business deals.

According to them, all well-meaning Liberians must join them to ensure that corporate corruption is exposed.

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