Fighting Disrupts Liberia’s Lower House Again on Thursday When Some Lawmakers Decided To Disrupt Legislative Session Repeating What Happen on Tuesday in Protest.
A communication written to plenary and asking Speaker Alex Tyler of Bomi County to recuse himself from proceedings until he submits himself to the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission for investigation.
After session was called to order by the sergeant-at-arms of the House of Representatives Brigadier General Martin Johnson, the speaker proceeded with the session by instructing the chief clerk to proceed with the communications that formed part of the day’s agenda. However, Representative Henry Fahnbulleh(Unity Party, District No. 4, Montserrado County); Rep. Samuel Korgar (NUDP, District No. 5 Nimba) and Rep. Roland “Opee” Cooper(Liberty Party, District No. 1 Margibi County) took to their heels to call the speaker to order.
According to the House rules if an order is call three times and not recognized by the presiding officer that lawmaker who is making the order should keep quiet.
In the case of Thursday when the chief clerk begin to read the names of new committee members an order was called by Rep. Fahnbulleh, after three calls his order was not recognized which resulted him and his other colleagues in line with the order to stand to their heels some attempted reaching the speaker in angry mood but were prevented by the sergeant at arms and other personal security to the speaker.
Rep. Korgar, former co-chair on the Defense and Security Committee of the house now chair by Representatives Bhofal Chambers of Maryland County walked to the speaker desk and started smashing the desk of the speaker to draw his attention.
On the other hand Rep. Cooper who is one of the signatory to the December 13 resolution calling in the speaker to recuse himself from presiding until the Liberia
Anti-Corruption Commission25K indictment (LACC) against him is investigated, got into a heated argument with his colleague, Rep. Adam Bill Corneh(District No. 6, NPP, Bong County) one of those who signed the resolution to support the speaker.
Prior to his election to the House, Representative Cooper was among many accused of illegally selling land to people more than one time and has a history of violence.
The argument got heated between the two lawmakers leading to Representative Cooper smashing his colleague face with his hand.
The incident created another incident as Corneh, who according to some of his peers, suffers from high blood pressure, fell back into his seat, drawing the attention of other lawmakers who took papers to fan their colleague who lay helpless. Corneh later recovered and left the chambers.
Unlike Tuesday Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe(Independent, District 6, Montserrado County) played no part in the activities as he was seen quietly sitting in his seat while Rep. Cooper and others created the scene leading to the premature adjournment of the day’s session.
Thursday’s melee marked the second day in a roll that the House of representatives has failed to hold session to discuss the interests of Liberians.
Many political observers were baffled that the key issue of the controversial reopening of schools in the midst of Ebola, which was expected to be on the agenda for debate was not addressed.
Many parents facing the challenge of finding money to get their kids back in school are scrambling for answers as lawmakers continue their power struggles.
Despite the melee Thursday, Speaker Tyler went ahead and released the names of newly-appointed members of the House Standing committees, a sticking point to what many say is the burning core of the unfolding saga in the lower house. Many of those currently calling on the speaker to submit himself to a probe were left off of committee membership.
Some of those appointed on statutory committees include; HON. GEORGE WESSEH BLAMO chairman, HON. ZOE PENNUE co-chairman on executive, HON. JAMES BINEY chairman foreign Affairs, HON. S. GAYAH KARMO, .HON. SAYWAH DUNAH chair and co-chair on judiciary, while lucrative ways means and financed formerly chaired by Representative Emmanuel Nuquay one of the ring leader in the struggle to remove the speaker is being chaired and co-chaired HON. MOSES Y. KOLLIE and HON. SEKOU KANNEH.
The Committee on Rules, Order and Administration was whisked away from Tyler’s long-time friend and aide, Rep. Snowe and given to Rep. Byron Jeh Brown(Liberty Party, District No. 4, Grand Bassa County. Rep. MARIAMU FOFANA(Unity Party, District 4, Lofa County).
Rep. Hans Barchue(Independent, District 1, Grand Bassa County and Deputy speaker, slammed what he called a ‘barbaric’ act by lawmakers who disrupted session Thursday. Said Barchue: “This is not what honorable people should do their actions were Barbaric and we will deal with it as plenary we will meet and make decision. ”
The Deputy Speaker said, the rules governing the House of Representatives calls for the speaker to make appointment every three year and some of the very people making the noise Thursday had served on committees for more than eight years. “They are not super lawmakers; we must bring on board new breed of people after we are all elected by our people.”
Rep. Brown for his part said he was disappointed in the decision by some of his colleagues who denied the people of Bassa from having their voices heard for two days. “This is unprecedented; we are honorable men we must act at such. Our people did not send us here to represent them on committees. So I don’t see what the whole issue of grumble is coming from our rules give the speaker that exclusive right. ”
Lester Paye(Independent, District No. 4, Bong County) who was named as a member of the Judiciary committee, said he did not see what the noise was about.
“We are as equally qualified as those who have been replaced so I don’t see what the noise is about. There is no super lawmaker here. Some of them who are preaching the issue of integrity today are not clean of the very act. There is a famous proverb that says he who comes to equity must come with clean hands; some of the very frontiers here today philibustering are being indicted in the General Auditing Commission and some were caught on tape saying you eat I eat so what the issue of integrity is about.”
Rep. Acarous Gray(CDC, District No. 8, Montserrado County) who is currently in the U.S. told FrontPageAfrica via email Thursday that he was disappointed in Speaker Tyler. Gray who maintained his position as chair of the Good Governance and Government Reform Committee, said he is rejecting the appointment. Said Gray: “As the struggle for legitimacy and integrity hang over the head of Speaker J. Alex Tyler, and the quest by some legislators to have the Speaker disentangle his name from the LACC smoke of abused of public funds, I hereby reject the position as Chairman on the Governance Committee. Although I was not consulted or written prior to such appointment.”
The CDC lawmaker said it saddens him to know that Speaker Tyler will hastily focus on appointing committee members at a time the House is heavily divided over his legitimacy to lead. “The unity of the House matters more for me than a position intended to mitigate the ongoing crisis. Upon my swift return to work, I will not shy away from my undaunted quest to join those who seek the path of social justice and legislative moral standing.”
PUL Welcomes Probe, But…
Meanwhile, the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) says it is concerned about evolving situations in the House of Representatives, relevant to calls for the Speaker to come clean about a controversial arrangement involving the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL).
In a statement Thursday, the PUL notes that the drastic changes in the membership of the Liberian Senate signals popular discontent with the leadership being provided by our legislature, and the going forward must reflect change.
On this basis, the PUL said it applauds development that members of the House should be demanding greater probity from its leaders.
“While we welcome this demand, the lawmakers must be seen acting and managing their discontent in a way and manner that will represent stronger appreciation for discipline and as an example for the younger generation,” PUL President K. Abdullai Kamara said in a statement issued in Monrovia.
The PUL notes that the fight against corruption and misappropriation of state resources have been undermined in significant ways, both by those in various state functionaries, as well as civil actors, who are taking unfair defense of such shortcomings.
The PUL notes that the way going forward in Liberia is more about operating an administration that has the confidence of the Liberian people, and this can happen only when government functionaries take action to correct the wrongs in tour society.
The PUL welcomes the move to ensure integrity in public agencies as one that will instill confidence in the activities of the government and inspire the public into collaborating for development and peace.