Blackmail!

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The architects and planners of the “uncivilized behaviors” exhibited by some members of the House of Representatives at the National Legislature on Tuesday was a plot instigated by some “selfish, greedy lawmakers,” who always want to prioritize self aggrandizement above the work of the Liberian people, some Representatives have opined.

According to those lawmakers, who are backing the Speaker, the plot is intended to blackmail him and, if the plotters succeed, subsequently oust him from the Speaker post.

“Some members of the House, who feel threatened by the latest moves of Speaker Tyler to carryout reshuffling in an effort to call on other members to serve, are the ones who are instigating this. But we will not sit to allow evil to prevail in this matter,” Grand Bassa County Representative Gabriel B. Smith said.

On Tuesday, a group of lawmakers allegedly led by Montserrado County Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe and Bong County Representative Emmanuel Nuquay, disrupted the House of Representatives’ first sitting of 2015.

The incident erupted when some lawmakers submitted a communication to the secretariat of the House, calling for Speaker Tyler to recuse himself from presiding until the corruption allegation filed against him at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) is addressed.

Accordingly, the letter was not placed on the day’s agenda, forcing the ringleaders to disrupt the holding of session.

The House’s rules say the Chief Clerk is under obligation to prepare the agenda of the House with the approval of the Speaker.

In keeping with that order, Speaker Tyler seized the communication and noted that the Leadership does not see it fit to place the item on the agenda.

This infuriated Rep. Snowe and his cohorts who burst into violent moods and action. This, however, caused serious contention among lawmakers both for and against, stoking a heated debate that lasted for hours leading to the first session being called off.

Snowe and others are accusing Speaker Tyler of allegedly embezzling US$100,000 as part of a US$1.2 million provided for the nationwide oil consultation. They also made mention of an additional US$25,000 allegedly requested by the Speaker from Chevron.

But speaking on a local radio on Wednesday, Rep. Smith, who of those against the actions of their colleagues, noted that Rep. Snowe and his cohorts have “ulterior motives” than what they are presenting as grievance for which they are justifying their actions.

He noted that their action borders on fear tactics. “They do not want to lose their respective posts in the pending reshuffles at the House,” Rep. Smith disclosed.

The rules of the House give the Speaker the power to appoint committee members and chairpersons respectively with a mandate to reshuffle them after three years.

 

Snowe and Nuquay head the Committees on Rules, Order and Administration, as well as Ways, Means and Finance, respectively.  The two positions are considered “highly lucrative.”

Rep. Smith equated his colleagues’ action to staging a coup at the legislature. He argued against their action being in the line of integrity, as some have insinuated.

“They are coming under a pretext of raising an issue bordering on integrity. Edwin Snowe himself was a very integral member of this committee, controlling the logistical arrangement where he was responsible for hiring of vehicles and purchasing of petroleum for the entire nationwide consultation exercises.

“He is now coming along with few of his cohorts to raise issues about expenditure and misappropriation at the Legislature during this process.  How would they not have known when Snowe was in the nucleus of the whole process?” he asked, rhetorically.

He reminded his colleagues that the House is an ‘honorable place,’ so people who go there to represent their respective constituents should behave ‘honorably’.

He said the LACC hasn’t raised any issue with the speaker as the “rioters” have claimed. He wondered why Reps. Snowe and Nuquay, who, according to him, have sat at the helm of power at the House for close to eight years and have enjoyed explicit confidence of the Speaker, would now bring out such allegations against the Speaker.

“Both have used their respective committees to their exclusive advantage imposing themselves on their colleagues at the House. These posts and the accompanying influences, they don’t want to let go; this is why they are just initiating this clandestine act,” he opined.

He stressed that his colleagues’ latest actions are meant to bring the House of Representatives to more public disrepute. “The actions were very childish and lack basis. We don’t expect people who call themselves lawmakers to bring themselves to such a low level,” the Grand Bassa County lawmaker noted. “We know what they are up to, this is not about financial improprieties, but we will address them as they come.  They want to ensure that the pending reshuffle committees’ chairs and members do not affect them, but this wouldn’t work.”

Rep. Gabriel Nyenkan of Montserrado County buttressed Rep. Smith’s assertions.

“We should stop blackmailing people around,” Rep. Nyenkan noted. “If it is about integrity we are interested. But these people who are talking are themselves corrupt.”

He re-echoed that the campaign is all about people holding on to their position.

Snowe has also been accused of “stealing” over US$40,000 intended to procure a vehicle for Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue. This allegedly led to him being sidelined during the US$900,000 Nationwide Oil Consultation.

Rep Nuquay was accused of linking with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to divert US$2 million to his personal projects in his district.  Both have remained tightlipped about the allegations against them.

Ironically, Reps. Snowe and Nuquay’s signatures are not affixed on the letter, which some lawmakers had addressed to the Speaker and wanted it part of the first session’s agenda.

“Both are working under disguise but are weeping more than the bereaved—putting out violent postures and actions more than the lawmakers who had signed the communication,” Rep. Smith said.

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