Following the removal of the leadership and members of the House’s Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning Committee, who are considered Pro-Tyler Lawmakers, former chairman Rep. Moses Kollie said their rights were violated and is demanding immediate reinstatement.
The Lofa County District # 5 Representative and ten others lodged a complaint for ‘declaratory judgment’ against Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue, Acting Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives.
The eleven, claiming marginalization because they were ejected as members of the House’s Finance Committee, believe their rights were violated in accordance with the House’s rules and procedures.
A declaratory judgment determines whether or not someone has a legal right to action.
According to the Writ of Summons of the Declaratory Judgment, Deputy Speaker Barchue and others are commanded to appear before the Sixth Judicial Circuit, which is the Civil Law Court for Montserrado, before Judge Yussif Kaba on Monday September 19.
Rep. Kollie and others argued that under Chapter 43.1 of the Civil Procedure Law, “Courts of record within their respective jurisdictions shall have power to declare rights, status, and other legal relations whether or not further relief is or could be claimed.
“No action or objection or proceeding shall be objected on ground that a declaratory judgment is prayed for, and such declaration shall have the force and effect of final judgment.”
The petitioners (Rep. Kollie and others) claimed that under Article 38 as found on page 26 of the Liberian Constitution, each House shall establish its own committees and subcommittees. Rep. Kollie, in his petition, argued that the Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning is among the Statutory Committees under the House’s Rule 56, which is headed by the petitioner.
“Under Rule 54 of the House’s Rules, all committees’ chairpersons and memberships shall serve for three years, but only the chairpersons and co-chairpersons are subjects to removal by 2/3 majority vote of the membership of the House for a cause,” the petition said.
“Because petitioners contend… that the respondent herein, in violation of Rule 54 of the House, the respondent are replacing members of the statutory committee members, whereas petitioners served for only one year and six months.”
It added: “And also because petitioners submit… that Rule 53 of the House states that Ways, Means and Finance and Peace and National Reconciliation shall consist of one member from each of the fifteen counties, and shall serve for three years, but the Respondents disregarded Rule 53 and began appointing its own supporters, disregarding other Counties in gross violation of Rule 53 of the House.”
On Thursday, September 1, a new Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning Committee was appointed by Deputy Speaker Barchue in the wake of the in-house wrangling, and sacked and replaced eleven of the 15-members on the House Finance Committee.
The chairman is Rep. Prince Moye (Bong County District # 2), vice chairman Rep. Jeremiah Koung (Nimba County), and members Rep. Julius Berrian (Montserrado County); Rep. Julia Wiah (Lofa County); Rep. Haja Siryon (Bomi County); Rep. Gabriel Smith (Grand Bassa County); Rep. Jefferson Kanmoh (Sinoe County) and Rep. Isaac Roland (Maryland County).
The rest are Rep. Aaron Vincent (Grand Cape Mount County); Rep. Morais Waylee (Grand Gedeh County); Rep. Opee Roland Cooper (Margibi County); Rep. Numennie Bartekwa (Grand Kru County); Rep. Johnson Chea (River Gee County); Rep. Alfred Koiwood (Gbapolu County) and Rep. Byron Zeahway (Rivercess County).
The selection of the committee was made in the Joint Chambers, predicated upon a motion from Montserrado County Rep. Edwin M. Snowe on Thursday, August 25, mandating the Rep. Kollie’s Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning (in the main chambers) Committee to resume budget hearing on Monday, August 29.
However, the Committee failed to resume the budget hearing, which according to sources was due to the intensive division among lawmakers, and of the parallel sessions, which have also spilled over to the Senate.
Budget Hearing Resumes
Nonetheless, Chairman Kollie resumed hearing on the Expenditure Component of the 2016/17 Draft National Budget, which is expected to end on Friday, September 16, while sources said the budget may be endorsed on either the 20th or 22nd of September.