Lawmaker Wants Conflict of Interest Avoided in Concession Review

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Grand Bassa County Electoral District Number Four Representative, Vicent S.T Willie, is calling on members of the Special Committee established by the President to review concession agreements reached with the Johnson Sirleaf administration to step down or be made to resign from the committee to avert any possible conflict of interest.

Willie said he has gathered sufficient evidence that some members of the committee, who are lawyers, have either provided legal counsel for concession companies or they are currently providing legal service for concession companies in the country.

Those appointed to the committee by President George Manneh Weah are: Hon. Archie Bernard, Legal Advisor to the President as Chairman; Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner, Vice Chair; and Charles Bright, Economic Advisor to the President as member. Other members appointed to the committee are: Cllr. Necular Y. Edwards, Cllr. Bendu E. Clark, Ms. Juah Nancy Cassell, Cllr. Jallah Barbu, Cllr. Teplah Reeves and Cllr. David A. B. Jallah.

The committee was mandated to review and ensure that all contracts entered into by the Government of Liberia and Concessionaires are executed according to agreed principles in accordance with the Laws of Liberia.

President Weah also instructed the committee “to ascertain and ensure that all contracts meet the legal requirements of the laws of Liberia and are fully implemented.”

The work of the committee risks being overshadowed by controversies and conflict of interest if these individuals do not recuse themselves or are not made to resign from the committee, the lawmaker said.

Willie, a new member of the legislature who chairs the House of Representatives’ committee on Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment, has raised a red flag over a potential conflict of interest based on the significance of the committee’s work and the critical nature of the task at hand.

Willie said he respects and hold in high esteem the characters and exceptional qualities of the aforementioned legal luminaries, but has vowed to ensure that the interest of the Liberian people is not circumvented because of personal interest.

However, the Grand Bassa County District Four Representative has opted not to disclosed details of individuals that might be embroiled in double standard, nevertheless; he will be unstoppable in disclosing more details about their connections with concession companies if they ignore issues of integrity that may impede the purpose of the committee.

“My fear here is that you cannot be a referee and a player at the same time, which means we cannot have a person who is providing legal guidance for a specific company by carving a contract in the interest of a company – which was best for their clients, perhaps at the time they were not looking at the interest of the Liberian people and that same person comes on a committee that is setup to review that very same agreement,” Hon. Willie said.

Representative Willie is however committed to working with the Executive to ensure that the interest of the Liberian people is prioritized through the work of the committee.