The Statutory Committee on Rules, Order and Administration of the House of Representatives has launched its investigation involving at least eight Representatives, who allegedly disrupted sessions, and led to a violent assault on one of their colleagues.
The Committee was tasked to probe the lawmakers after Plenary (the highest decision making body of the House of Representatives) reached a unanimous decision on Thursday, January 22 during the 4th day sitting of the House of Representatives.
According to Plenary’s decision, the Rep. Jeh Byron Brown’s Committee is expected to come out with a ruling to advise Plenary on disciplinary actions by Thursday, January 29. Plenary’s decision stemmed from letters of complaints from Reps. Adam Bill Corneh and George Wesseh Blamoh.
Members of the Committee on Rules, Order and Administration, who are expected to do the investigation include Reps. Mariama Fofana, Co-chairman; Edward Forh, Malai Gbogar, Richmond Anderson, Prince Togba, Muna Pelham Youngblood and William Dakel.
In a letter of complaint to Speaker Alex Tyler, Bong County # 6 Representative Adam Bill Corneh said on Thursday, 15 January, while attempting to intervene in the acrimony in Chambers, he was provokingly insulted and physically assaulted by Rep. Roland Opee Cooper of Margibi County.
“In view of the above mentioned, Mr. Speaker, distinguished Colleagues, I wish to respectfully pray that this Honorable Body examine and investigate this ugly development in accordance with our Standing Rules, with a view of maintaining the sanctity of the Chambers,” Rep. Corneh wrote on 21 Janaury.
Rep. Corneh is the chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Utilities; and member on the Committees of Ways, Mean, Finance and Development Planning; Commerce and Industries; Post and Telecom as well as the Joint Legislative Public Account Committee.
For his part, Rep. George W. Blamoh said the action of the lawmakers was characterized by shouting matches, the rhythmic drumming on furniture and the vile and physical attacks of colleagues.
“Ostensible, these displays of infantile disorder are in gross violation of both our rules (Rule 48) given their unethical nature and the constitution of the Republic (Article 44) given the contemptuous coloration they have assumed,” Rep. Blamo wrote the Speaker on the same date as Rep. Corneh.
He added: “Against the background of the above stated, it is my humble submission and prayer that these undesirable acts of depravity on the part of our colleagues be investigated and censured in order to deter their recurrence. Attached is the video of the two Session days mentioned.”
He added: “Notable actors in this tragic comedy were Hon. Edwin M. Snowe, Hon. Emmanuel Nuquay, Hon. Bill Tweahway, Hon. Henry B. Fahnbulleh, Hon. Samuel Kogar, Hon. Roland O. Cooper, among others.
Rep. Blamo is chairman on the Statutory Committee on Executive and a member on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning; and Investment and Concessions.
“Meanwhile, the letters of complaint were in fulfillment of the House’s Rule 48.3 that a written complaint and evidence should be presented to the Speaker, and the Speaker will submit same to the committee on Rules, Order and Administration for an advisement to Plenary.
Article “42.2 of the House Rules says, ‘No Member shall insult, abuse or harass other persons within the confines of the House, or cause disturbance to the activities of the House;” while “48.1: The House shall take disciplinary measures against any member who violates or fails to comply with the House’s ethics and procedure specified in this rule.”
However, according to Rule 48.7, the decision can be either of the following: oral warning; written warning; suspend a member for not more than 30 days of meeting; stop the payment of salary and allowances due him/her for the days of suspension, as the case may be; and expel a member from the House where the breach is very serious or where it is committed repeatedly.
The disturbances by the lawmakers during the two sessions were owing to the investigation of Speaker Tyler for soliciting US$25,000 from the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) for a local contract on the draft Oil and Gas Laws on behalf of Plenary.
The lawmakers have requested through a letter, that Speaker Tyler be subjected to an investigation.