Liberia: Nimba, Bong Lawmakers Trade ‘Tribal Insults’ in Session

Bong County Representatives Cole and Mensah (left) addressing the House Deputy Chief Clerk and Stenographer (right) allegedly accused the staff of the Chief Clerk for inflating the votes to amend the Road Fund Act, 2016 to establish the National Road Fund Administration Act 2022


 — As House of Representatives, Senate adjourn to return Jan. 9

‘Tis the season to be catty — or so it seemed on the last day of session in the House of Representatives, as a massive dispute nearly resulted in fist fights between lawmakers from Nimba and Bong Counties.

The lawmakers seemed to overindulge themselves in “tribal insults” directed at each other’s kinfolk in the chamber of the House of Representatives on Thursday.

Representative Dorwhon Gleekia of Nimba County District #6, in an exasperating tone, said “Bong — Kpelle people are stupid, as being displayed” by Bong  County District #3 Representative, Marvin Cole, for accusing and threatening to administratively punish the staff of the Chief Clerk for  alleged ‘cheating’.”

Cole, who accused the staff of the Chief Clerk of inflating votes, in response to Rep. Gleekia, said “Nimba people are killers, murderers and are known for killing President.”

The Chairperson of the Bong County Legislative Caucus, Moima Briggs Mensah of Bong County District #6, pointed her finger angrily at Rep. Gleekia, saying he acted “very irresponsible” to lower his standards to insult the people of Bong County over disagreement.

Nimba County District #4 Rep. Kargon Gunpue, defending his kinsman Gleekia, intoned that “Nimba people are intelligent, but Rep. Gleekia was provoked by Rep. Cole.”

Gunpue stated that “Bong County people are also killers and murderers.”

The exchange of insults between the lawmakers on December 8, was triggered when Cole and several lawmakers accused the staff of the Chief Clerk of inflating the votes to amend the Road Fund Act of 2016 to establish the National Road Fund Administration Act of 2022, and therefore demanded a recount of votes.

Representatives Cole, James Kolleh, George Samah, Francis Young and others, said it should have been “12 voted against the bill, while 10 voted in favor”. Instead, they claimed the votes were rotated in favor of the passage and therefore demanded a recount.

Banging the desk, the co-chairman on the House’s Rules, Order and Administration, Cole, said he will “administratively deal with” the Chief Clerk’s staff, but Deputy Chief Clerk said, Rep. Cole and others should have rather called for a recount instead of threatening the Clerk’s staff. 

Senior Stenographer Cormicks Chea announced that 12 lawmakers voted in favor of the passage of the bill (through hand count), while 10 voted against. But angry lawmakers said the counts were wrong.

Presiding officer Acarous Gray called an abrupt executive  session, after which he called for peace and unity and also seized the results.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has adjourned today its Committee on Ways, Means, Finance, and Development Planning to scrutinize the 2023 Budget and report upon their return on January 9, 2023.

Both the House of Representatives and Senate adjourned the 3rd Quarter of the 5th Session of the 54th Legislature of the Republic of Liberia, which ran from October 2022 to December 8. Gray, who presided over the closing of the session, disclosed that a total of 13 regular sessions, 10 Executive or Secret Sessions, and one special session were held, as well as the appearances of seven directors.

According to him, the total number of Bills introduced in the House amounted to 22; the total number of Bills passed were 14; and nine Executive Bills were also passed by the August Body.

He further said that the number of House Bills passed were three with only one Joint Resolution from the House.