There are clear indications from the corridors of the Capitol that a third attempt to unseat Rep. Alex Tyler from Speakership is in the offing, and could take place any time this month.
The Daily Observer reliably gathered that since the House adjourned last Thursday, July 21 for the 169th Independence Day celebrations, there have been several consultations and meetings among “rebellious or renegade lawmakers” to dethrone Speaker Tyler over what has been described as a “fight of morality.”
A lawmaker, who asked to remain anonymous, said they have desperately regrouped for what is described as their “last chance” in the remaining nine working sessions before this year’s 5th Session closes at the end of August 2016.
Constitutionally, the Legislature on August 31 adjourns for its annual agriculture or constituency break and resumes work the second working Monday of January. Next year, 2017, shall be the 6th and final session of the 53rd Legislature.
This would be the group’s third attempt at the removal of Speaker Tyler since he was accused of allegedly receiving US$75,000, according the controversial Global Witness report released May 2016. The report cited his alleged role in changing the Public Procurement Commission Committee (PPCC) Law in favor of London based mining company Sable Mining to acquire a concession deal for the iron ore rich Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County.
Late Sunday, impeccable sources told the Daily Observer that only eight affirmative signatures are now needed to unseat Speaker Tyler through a resolution for a cause by signatures of two-thirds (2/3) members of the Lower House.
According to our sources, some lawmakers who intensely opposed the Speaker’s removal have affixed their signatures to the resolution document. These include Reps. George Mulbah, Lester Paye and Clarence Massaquoi.
Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue still remains a strong supporter for the toppling of the Speaker.
The aggrieved lawmakers, who Speaker Tyler described as “surrogates of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf” for his removal, argued that the indictment of the Speaker by Criminal Court ‘C’ has brought the honorable House of Representatives into public disrepute and immorality and urged him to recuse himself and subsequently resign his position as Speaker.
The so-called ‘morality campaign’ is spearheaded by Montserrado County Rep. Edwin M. Snowe and Margibi County Rep. Emmanuel Nuquay.
Maryland and Montserrado County Representatives, James Biney and Solomon George, and J. Gabriel Nyenkan, respectively, and other Lawmakers said the accusation is politically motivated, that a person is constitutionally presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of competent jurisdiction.
Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Armah Z. Jallah also added his voice decrying those who have called for the Speaker to recuse himself, arguing that the Speaker is innocent until proven guilty.
It’s been alleged that a financial package of US$20,000, according to sources, has been offered to each lawmaker to sign the resolution to vote Tyler down, coupled with the approval of District Project Funds (DPF) under the Legislative Support Project (LSP).
Reportedly, US$10,000 would be given upon the affixing of each lawmaker’s signature and the approval of DPF, with the remaining US$10,000 given after the final ousting of Speaker Tyler and the last consent of the DPF.
It is believed that the ousting of Speaker Tyler has been set for between Tuesday, August 9, and Thursday, August 18.
It has also been gathered that if the Speaker delays in putting the resolution on the agenda, which has a cause and signatures of two-thirds (2/3) of members, the supposed “majority” will have a divided session in the Joint Chambers, and will discuss the decision reached. Any ranking official or designated person will serve as presiding officer.
After the ousting of the Speaker, reports say, the acting Speaker and Plenary might suspend the Rules and Regulation of 34 Statutory and Standing Committees.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s trusted servant and political troubleshooter, Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, is said to be the Chief Lobbyist. Nagbe, who serves as the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, is said to be standing in as the Acting Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, a function previously occupied by the late Dr. Edward B. McClain.
Minister Nagbe was recently elected as the Secretary General of Unity Party (UP).
He is the only Minister in more than 35 years who has served as Minister of three Ministries under one regime, while at the same time heading the Secretariat of the ruling Party after having previously served as Secretary General for the main opposition party, Congress for Democratic Change (CDC).
The President replaced Executive Mansion’s Liaison Officer Elijah Seah, who she reportedly referred to as “too diplomatic”, bringing in her Minister of State without Portfolio, Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa, who she has assigned to troubleshoot legal matters.
Mr. Julius Sele, the Executive Director of the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE), is among others who are part of the campaign to remove the Speaker. LACE is a strong partner of the Government through the Legislature and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in implementing development projects in the country’s 73 electoral districts.
Holding funds hostage
After two unsuccessful attempts to remove him from his speakership, Speaker Tyler accused President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of blackmail, ‘cash violence’ and other dictatorial and undemocratic schemes to unseat him.
He said the President, in her politically diabolical ploy, is calling on the lawmakers to induce them with US$20,000 each to unseat him.
The Speaker stated that the President threatened to withhold the benefits and entitlements and District Project Funds of lawmakers if they failed to have him removed.
“These well-orchestrated ploys by the President to hold the House of Representatives in ransom by denying members their due benefits and entitlement as a means to strangulate us into undue political submission is in itself dictatorial and undemocratic to say the least,” Speaker Tyler said. But President
Sirleaf’s office rejected the Speaker’s claims, describing them as baseless and unfounded and instead urging him to focus on the things that matters to the nation.
In 2007, Rep. Edwin M. Snowe accused the Executive of interfering into legislative politics and later that year also blamed the President for funding his removal.
He was unseated (the race for Speaker was between Montserrado County Lawmaker Edward Forh and the Bomi County Representative Rep. Alex Tyler).
The President publicly pledged support to Rep. Forh, and Rep. Snowe as retribution supported Rep. Tyler, who won the election.
In the 2011 race for Speaker, the President supported Nimba County Representative Ricks Toweh against incumbent Speaker Tyler. Rep. Tyler again won the election.
Some believe that the quarrel between the President and the Speaker escalated when the House of Representatives refused to ratify three offshore blocks, while others say the squabble between them intensified when Speaker Tyler resigned from the Liberia Action Party (LAP) – and influenced the resignation of key officials from the Bomi County chapter of the ruling Unity Party.