Report reaching this paper indicates that indicted House Speaker J. Alex Tyler was denied a diplomatic passport by authorities of the Passport Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday September 12. Tyler was recently forced to recuse himself from presiding over session following pressure from his colleagues.
Speaker Tyler, who faces criminal indictment here, had earlier written the plenary of the House of Representatives, seeking medical leave. But according to report, when he applied for renewal of his diplomatic passport, which had expired, officials of the Passport Division informed the Bomi County lawmaker that he's not entitled to such high profile passport on grounds that he has recused himself from the Speaker's post.
When this paper contacted the Chief of Office Staff of the embattled Speaker, Mr. Edwin Clark denied the information, but confirmed that his boss should travel anytime. Mr. Clark, however, said his boss has not started the process of documentation for his travel. He added that report of Tyler being denied Diplomatic Passport is not to his knowledge, and those who are spreading such information should be in the full know of the process of obtaining passport whether diplomatic or official.
Under the Criminal law of Liberia, a person facing criminal charges should obtain permission from the judge before leaving the country, and only for medical reason.It is not clear whether Tyler sought permission from the Resident Judge at the Criminal Court before applying for passport renewal. When Assistant Foreign Minister for Public Affairs, Mr. J. Wesley Washington was contacted via mobile phone, his phone rang endlessly without answer.
However, late Monday, a Tyler's confidants confided in this paper that the speaker has already left the country, but didn't say whether with diplomatic, official and ordinary passport. Speaker Tyler stepped aside recently to face prosecution after the Government of Liberia indicted him along with several current and past officials for their alleged role in a bribery scandal as reported by Global Witness.
The report claims among others that recused Speaker Tyler received US$75,000 to temper with the Public Procurement and Concession Commission Act, a an allegation the Speaker has challenged.
-Editing by Jonathan Browne