Following months of leadership wrangling among members of the House of Representatives, especially the recent row that culminated in the removal of Rep. Alex Tyler from the Speakership, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor yesterday told a group of lawmakers who visited him and other justices at the Supreme Court to not always use the court to resolve their internal differences.
The delegation of lawmakers, headed by newly elected Speaker Emmanuel Nyuquoi, had gone to introduce the House’s new leadership to the full bench.
Hours after the closed door discussion ended, Chief Justice Korkpor told the lawmakers in full view of the public that using the court as a way to resolve their disagreements would create more division than unity.
Before the lawmakers’ visit, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had earlier visited the court, but the details of her visit were not disclosed to the press.
Though it is good to seek redress through the court, Justice Korkpor said, lawmakers should first learn to use peaceful means to address their respective concerns.
Justice Korkpor added: “You have to solve for yourself some of the problems with constitutional concerns, and stop running to the court for settlement, because doing so is not good for our democracy.”
“If you were to allow yourselves to have differences settled by the court, it would create bad feelings among you, because some of your colleagues would not want to accept the court’s decision in good faith. This is not healthy for our democracy,” Justice Korkpor said.
According to him, the visit was in line with the constitutional provision that has to do with three separate, but coordinated branches of government. “We have to coordinate because Liberia practices body politics, where we all have the responsibility to work together to make it better,” the Chief Justice said.
In a brief chat with journalists, Speaker Nuquay said the lawmakers’ visit to the court was to acquaint themselves with the five justices.
“As a new leadership at the Lower House, we have to sit with the justices to establish a cordial working relationship,” he said.
The crisis at the Lower House deteriorated when some lawmakers took exception to a request from their colleagues demanding the then Speaker Alex Tyler to recuse himself due to a bribery allegation. Tyler, who ran to the Supreme Court for protection, was turned away by Justice
Jamesetta H. Wolokollie, who sent the matter back to the Lower House suggesting that the lawmakers handle their own issues among themselves. Tyler was eventually replaced with Emmanuel Nuquay through a vote after the legal argument.