Members of the House of Representatives are expected for the first time today (Tuesday), to grill and unleash their anger, either by ordering the Imprisonment or imposing fines on the head of a privately owned international company, BIVAC, having failed to honor two separate invites from the House.
Section 4.1 of the House’s Rule and Procedures says: “Contempt of the Legislature shall consist of actions which obstruct the Legislative function or which obstruct or impede members or officers of the Legislature in the discharge of their Legislative duties,” and is punishable by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars (US$5,000.00) and/or imprisonment in a common jail for not more than one month or the duration of the current session of the House; after a hearing consistent with due process of law. Decisions rendered from contempt charges are not appealable.”
Last Thursday, the majority of the lawmakers following their stunned expressions and postures, voted to summon under a contempt citation, the Managing Director of BIVAC, Mr. Laurent Koenig for his refusal to comply, which according to the leadership of the House is obstructing their work.
The Belgian company, BIVAC, is the short form of Bureau Varitas Company Group and among other things, is responsible for pre-shipment inspection services for sea import.
The House of Representatives summoned BIVAC to respond to issues relating to their operations in Liberia and the 9.67% increment of cargo goods levied by APM Terminals, but it has failed on two occasions to appear before the House’s Plenary on Tuesday and Thursday, January 26 and 28 respectively.
Through a unanimous vote, the House’s Plenary summoned the defiant BIVAC under contemp to appear before the full Plenary of the House of Representatives tomorrow Tuesday, February 2, 2021. The management is being advised to come with a lawyer.
The communication was delivered by Sergeant-at-arms Martin Johnson.
A lawmaker who asked for anonymity told the Daily Observer that BIVAC is under a compelling obligation to appear to provide testimony or produce requested documents.
The lawmaker said the refusal of BIVAC to appear before the House’s Plenary twice is a “Deliberate disrespect,” and the manager will be penalized for the gross insurbodination to the august body, which is tantamount to imprisonment or fine.
Meanwhile, another lawmaker who also begged for anonymity said in the inherent contempt power, if BIVAC fails to appear before the House’s Plenary today again, a vote will be taken to instruct the Minister of Justice to work along with Sergeant-at-arms Martin Johnson to arrest Mr. Laurent Koenig (or any top manager).