-But will the arrest be made to appear before the Plenary today?
Justice Minister and Attorney General Frank Musa Dean has refused an order by the House of Representatives to arrest Mr. Philbert S. Browne, publisher of the Hot Pepper Newspaper, recommending that the August Body should have made its Sergeant-at-Arms the main arresting officer, while the Justice Ministry, through the Liberia National Police (LNP) support the process, the Daily Observer has gathered.
The Justice Ministry has pointed to the ‘Procedural Error’ of the House of Representatives and said that each House’s Sergeant-at-Arms is and remains the chief law enforcement officer of either House.
As chief law enforcement officer of the House, the LNP said the Sergeant at Arms is charged with maintaining security in the Capitol including serving as the executive officer of the House for enforcement of all rules of the Committee on Rules, Order, and Administration regulating the Lower House.
It is indicated that, besides being the enforcement officer, the Sergeant-at-Arms also controls access to the House’s chamber and sessions, including when sessions are open to the public. The Sergeant-at-Arms and under officers (doorkeepers) are responsible for maintaining order on the floor of the House.
The Daily Observer has further gathered that a letter to the Justice Ministry to affect the arrest has been discarded and corrected and a new letter from the Justice Ministry through the LNP to aid Sergeant-at-Arms Martin Johnson, the chief enforcement officer of the House of Representatives, to lead and affect the arrest, has been communicated.
Reports further said the Justice Ministry has acknowledged receipt of the new version of the communication.
On Wednesday evening, Nov. 28, a staff in the office of the Sergeant-at-arms told the Daily Observer that the offices of Mr. Browne on Benson Street has been closed for the last three days and his phones are switched off.
It is not clear if he is out of the country, but an unconfirmed report says Mr. Browne is in Japan.
Besides being the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Hot Pepper Newspaper, Mr. Brown also serves as president of the Liberia National Olympic Committee (LNOC), a post he has held for the past eight years.
Whether or not Mr. Browne will appear before the plenary of the House of Representatives today to respond to the contempt charge for refusing to help in the investigation of the newly printed L$10.5 billion and to name those lawmakers who received bribes, as he has claimed, remains uncertain.
It may be recalled that members of the House on Tuesday, November 27, during the 14th day sitting, following the third absence of Mr. Browne, voted for his arrest and demanded his ‘living body’ before the House of Representatives.
House Speaker Dr. Bhofal Chambers said Browne’s action is deliberate, callous, and violates the Constitution and is contemptuous.
Sinoe County District #3 Representative Matthew Zarzar proffered the motion.