Having been accused by some of his fellow lawmakers that he has failed to play the required leadership role, mainly in managing circumstances which led to government not holding a state requiem for fallen Montserrado District #15 Representative, Adolph Lawrence, House Speaker Bhofal Chambers did not attend the funeral service held on Friday, April 26, 2019.
In spite of the Speaker’s notable absence from the funeral service at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, the ceremony went on peacefully, although several of the mourners expressed grief and surprise at his behavior, which one mourner (not named) described as being “heartless.”
Other CDC elected officials who were conspicuously absent from the funeral included Thomas Fallah, Acarous M. Gray and President George M. Weah. Notably, President Weah and Speaker Chambers were in full attendance at the funeral of the late Senator Geraldine Doe Sherif, which was held at the same venue, just weeks earlier.
It may be recalled that several lawmakers on Thursday, April 25, 2019, also expressed their frustration and disappointment when a planned solemn state requiem was not held for their fallen colleague in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building due to a scuffle that erupted reportedly between a group of militants from the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and others from the Liberty Party (LP) and its collaborating political parties.
“We have said it on numerous occasions that Chambers has proven to us his inability to play the role of a speaker. This is why we have decided to be called the Independent Legislative Caucus to bring sanity to the House,” Representative Larry Younquoi told journalists on Thursday, following the disruption of the planned state requiem in the Rotunda.
Also speaking to the Daily Observer via telephone, Margibi County Electoral District #2, Ivar, K. Jones, said it is left to Speaker Chambers — and no one else — to tell the Liberian people the reason he did not attend the funeral ceremony of the late Lawrence.
“With that hanging over Chambers’ head, we the members of the Independent Legislative Caucus will not relent to ensure that sanity is restored at that august body.”
At Friday’s funeral service, Carlos Edinson Tingba, one of the persons who survived the accident in which Rep. Adolph Lawrence and a young female university graduate lost their lives, told reporters that he will never agree with anyone that the late Lawrence and the young lady’s tragic deaths are not political.
“Being alive today does not mean I am better. All I can say is that I was not a direct target, but the lawmaker. This government has a calculated attempt to eliminate all critical voices against its poor management of the country,” Tingba alleged.
According to him, he was not surprised that Speaker Chambers did not attend the funeral service of the fallen lawmaker.
“Some of us, I am sure, may die too for our strong advocacy against ineptitude and poor governance of our nation, but we will not relent. The moment I recover, we will amalgamate more strong minds that will join us in the Weah step down campaign,” Tingba, who is the chairman of the University of Liberia (UL) Student Unification Party (SUP), said.
Still recovering from injuries, Tingba said the country should have no confidence in the leadership of President George Weah to provide security for all, as well as other basic necessities.
He said his going up with a number of militants of SUP to bid farewell to Rep. Lawrence was because the late lawmaker was a product of the UL, who later became a Geology instructor with so much passion to motivate young people.
“His ideology was synonymous to ours. As he believed and worked for justice, so we too have stood ever since to pursue justice for the benefit of the suffering masses,” Tingba said as limped in excruciating pain due to his wounds.
At the Sacred Heart Cathedral, scores of sympathizers made reference to the fallen Lawmaker’s humility and the simplistic life he lived, which they said imbued him with love.
Delivering a tribute on behalf of the Senate and also on his family’s behalf, Senate Protempore Albert Tugbe Chie said, other than their meeting at the Legislature, he knew Lawrence for a long time. He said Lawrence was a good person, committed to sacrificing his personal comfort for the well-being of others.
“We will all miss him, because he was a utility player at the Capitol, who was always of help, not only at that august body, but even at the Senate too. He used to encounter chambers to support the Legislative quests of his wife, Senator Yongblee Karnga-Lawrence,” Senator Chie said.
Hundreds of the mourners were in tears as stories of the late Adolph Lawrence, particularly concerning his assistance to his district and acts of good will to individuals.
Among those who paid tributes at Friday’s funeral service, was former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Kabineh Mohammed Ja’neh, who represented the Nimba Women United for Peace and Reconciliation.
He described the loss of Lawrence as a blow to the country, because he was always there in the interest of the ordinary citizens.
“One character of Lawrence I so much cherished — because that is me — is being bold on issues affecting the larger society,” Ja’neh said other mourners, many of who were visibly weeping.