House to Appear before Supreme Court

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Temple of Justice.jpg
Temple of Justice, home of the Supreme Court of Liberia

Will it heed to the Supreme Court Order if invited?

The House of Representatives—in the same manner as the Liberian Senate—is expressly authorized within the 1986 Constitution (Article 38) to discipline or “punish” its own Members. 

This authority of the House to discipline a Member for “disorderly Behaviour” is in addition to any criminal or civil liability that a Member of the House may incur for particular misconduct, and is used not merely to punish an individual member but to protect the institutional integrity of the House of Representatives, its proceedings, and its reputation.

It is against this backdrop that the Plenary, the highest decision-making body of the House of Representatives, recently took a decision to suspend Rep. Yekeh Kolubah of Montserrado County Electoral District$10 for 30 Days of sitting (equivalent to almost four months) without pay for what the House terms as his constant habit of raining insults on the President.

However,  Article 20  (a) also states that “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, security of the person, property, privilege or any other right except as the outcome of a hearing judgment consistent with the provisions laid down in this Constitution and in accordance with due process of law.”

 Rule 48.5 of the House of Representatives states that “Any members against whom the request which demand the taking of the disciplainary step is presented has the right to due process of the law.”

But the petitioner is now arguing that there has been no Investigation done by the Houses’ Committee on Rules and Order to authenticate the truthfulness of  the allegations as  punishment imposed against him is unconsitutional, vague and ambiguous.

On his behalf, Counsellors Lavala Superwood and Jimmy Saah Bombo have therefore file a Writ of Prohibition against Speaker Bhofal Chambers and members of the House of Representatives (respondent) before Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe, Chamber Justice of the Supreme Court, to place a stay order on the enforcement of the suspension.

It is uncertain, however, whether or not the Supreme Court will address concerns raise by Representative Kolubah the court’s intervention in the case involving former Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh in 2019 to call the Speaker and the House for hearing was turned down.

During the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration, 46 members of the House of Representatives signed a resolution removing then Montserrado County District#5 (now district#6) Rep Edwin Snowe as speaker of the House. 

Snowe, like Kolubah, took his case to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the process to remove him at that was flawed. 

The court issued a Writ of Prohibition against the 46 members ordering them to return to the status quo with Snowe as Speaker pending examination of the matter, something that seems different in the Weah Administration as the record remains active that the House refused an invitation by the Supreme Court for hearing and it refused. 

Kolubah has complained that his colleagues rendered the final decision of suspension against him without due process as provided for in their own rules and procedures.

“The respondent complaint against the petitioner was never submitted to the Committee on Rules and Order as they unanimously agreed to deal with their own matter. Most surprisingly, the Committee on Rules and Order did not submit report and recommendation to be examined by the House for final decision,” Kolubah’s lawsuit argues.

Rule 48.1 of the House of Representatives says”The House shall take disciplinary measure against any members who violate or fail to comply with the House’s Ethics and Procedure specified in the rule”.

 Furthermore, 48.2 provides that, “Where any member is aware of the existence of a breach of the code of conduct and procedures, he or she may request the House to take the necessary disciplinary measure against the person alleged to have committed the breach.”
Rule 48.4 also states that “The Speaker shall refer the matter to the Committee on Rules and Order of the House after examining the report, and recommendation submitted shall render its decision, and that decision is final.”

Rules 48.3 further provides that “The request to be presented pursuant to Chapter XI of the Rule shall be in writing and submitted to the Speaker together with the evidence and Rule 48.4 compared the speaker to refer the matter to the Committee on Rules and Order, contrary to the rule on due process. The respondent failed, refused, and neglected to submit the matter to the Committee on Rules and Order to investigate the matter in keeping with the House Rules and Procedures.”


On the issue of what constitutes the 30 days suspension, Kolubah argued that Rule 2 provides that “Daily Session of the House of Representatives shall be held on Tuesday and Thursday of each week from the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at which time roll call and votes are taken, while Monday and Wednesday are set aside for Committee meetings and Friday to be observed for constituency business, and this rule applies that there are sixteen meetings or sessions in a month.” He argues that the punishment is unfair and contrary to the rules.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Yekeh Kolubah has a point, as far as this matter not going through the due process or procedure, The HR and Order Committee. Secondly, it is sad that the House does not even know that other than Tuesdays and Thursdays as days for sessions, Mondays and Thursdays as committees working days can be counted as working days of the house too. Equally so Fridays can be counted as work days too, except if members don’t regard “constituency business” as part of their official functions. Rushing to judgment will be the undoing of this other action. Yekeh wins, as nefarious as his actions are. Very instructive too, as future reference.

  2. Daily Observer, whether during the Edwin Snowe’s case mentioned by you, the Supreme Court issued a writ or prohibition or not, DOES NOT MATTER. As you saw, and can still recall, both Edwin Snowe’s appeal, and the the so called issued writ of prohibition ended as a mere futility, as Edwin Snowe was removed forthwith.

    Yekeh Kolubah, you are simply fattening the bank accounts of those lawyers you believe are working for you, and nothing more. THE LEGISLATIVE INVESTIGATION against you was your CONSTITUTIONAL AND STATUTORY DUE PROCESS RIGHTS IMPLEMENTED.

    Your SUSPENSION WITHOUT PAY is A ”POLITICAL QUESTION” clearly and solely within the jurisdiction of The House of Representatives, hence a limitation on judicial review viz the Supreme Court.

    AGAIN, YEKEH KOLUBAH, YOU ARE SIMPLY WASTING YOUR TIME AND FATTENING THE BANK ACCOUNTS OF THOSE KOUBAH (YOUR LAWYERS). FOR THE LEGISLATIVE INVESTIGATION against you was your CONSTITUTIONAL AND STATUTORY DUE PROCESS RIGHTS IMPLEMENTED.

    FOLLOW THE THEN SPEAKER ALEX TYLER’S CASE INFRA, AND MIRROR THE LACKADAISICALITY OF YOUR DUE PROCESS RANT. AND SEE THAT YOU HAVE NO CASE.

    Removed Speaker Waives Due Process – Runs From Legislative Investigation

    CULLED FROM FPA September 30, 2016

    Monrovia – Since a resolution signed by 49 Lawmakers removed Bomi County Lawmaker Alex J. Tyler as Speaker of the House of Representatives, there has been concerns that the ousted Speaker was not given due process in line with the constitution of Liberia and the rules governing the House of Representatives.

    Human Rights Lawyer, Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe told FrontPageAfrica that the removal of the lawmaker Tyler as Speaker was illegal and that he was not given due process in line with article 20 of the Constitution of Liberia.

    But documents in the possession of FrontPageAfrica indicate that the Speaker was written by the Committee setup to investigate him based on complaints from two other Lawmakers as it is a regular practice of the body but the ousted Speaker failed to show up to answer to the complaints against him.

    In keeping with normal legislative practice when a compliant is brought against any member of the body a committee is step to probe the complaint by inviting both the complainants and accused to a hearing which was done in the case of the ousted Speaking around documents.

    Two Lawmakers’ complaints

    Documents indicate that two Lawmakers, Henry Fahnbulleh (Montserrado County, Unity Party) and Samuel Kogar (Nimba County) officially complained to the House of Representatives alleging two different issues against the sitting Speaker.

    Representative Fahnbulleh complained in a communication dated August 15 that while sitting as Speaker, Tyler was indicted by the Government of Liberia for Criminal offenses relating to his duty as Speaker and as such violated the rules of the House of Representatives by bringing the August body into public disrepute.

    Lawmaker Fahnbulleh also added in his complaint that on August 9 the lawmaker Tyler brought or caused to be brought to the premises of the Legislature hooligans and thugs to disrupt the activities of some Lawmakers including Hon. Fahnbulleh who refused to sit under the gavel of the Speaker Tyler but instead decided to peacefully use the Joint Chambers.

    In the complaint, lawmaker Tyler was also accused of making public statement in which he accused Lawmakers of taking bribes to initiate his removal as Speaker of the House of Representatives. The statement by the sitting Speaker at the time, Lawmaker Fahnbulleh expressed brought the members of the House into public ridicule and disrepute.

    Second Compliant alleges misleading information

    Another lawmaker, Kogar on August 30 wrote the body complaining that Speaker Tyler mislead the public that Hon. Eugene Fallah Kparkar, Getrude Lamin, Ricks Y. Toweh, Bryon Zahnwea, J. Byron Brown, Gabriel Neynkan and Thomas T. Fallah all of who signed the resolution to have Speaker Tyler recused from presiding and have also been fully participating in the Joint Chambers of the Legislature, were part of the quorum he professed to have.

    Committee schedules first hearing

    As part of the investigation process, document indicated that the Committee on Rules, orders and Administration on August 31 served Hon. Tyler with notice for hearing to be conducted on Friday, September 2, 2016 at 2:00 p.m.

    Stated the letter to Hon. Tyler “I am pleased to extend compliments and to have you inform that the committee on Rules, Order and Administration is in receipt of a complaint filed against you by Honorables Henry B. Fahnbulleh of Electoral District #4, Montserrado and Samuel G. Kogar., Representatives of Electoral District #5 Nimba Counties, Republic of Liberia”.

    The letter further stated “In view of the above, the Committee wishes to invite you to a hearing of the compliant on Friday the 2nd of September, 2016, at 2:00PM in the 1st floor conference Room of the House of Representatives wing, Capitol Building. Please find attached copies of the complaints”.

    The Investigative committee reported that the Bomi lawmaker failed to appear in line with the notice served in the communication.

    Hearing rescheduled

    According to documents, after the Speaker failed to appear, the Committee rescheduled the meeting on September 5, citing him for the second time.

    “The Committee in its considered judgment and in deference to the Speaker rescheduled the hearing for Monday, September 5, 2016. Hon. Tyler was again duly notified about the postponement”, the Investigative committed reported.

    Again documents show that the accused did not appear for the second hearing.

    “On Monday, September 5, 2016, the hearing was called to order. The complainants, witnesses and committee members were present.

    However, Speaker Tyler, having been duly notified of the charges against him and the date and time for the hearing, failed, refused and neglected to appear and the committee proceeded with the taking of evidence”, the committed stated in its final report to plenary.

    Four Witnesses testify against Tyler

    The Committee arraigned four witnesses against the accused including Lawmakers Fahnbullhe and Kogar along with two other witnesses-Alex W.Z. Payee, an employee of the House of Representatives and Arthur Wogbeh.

    Under oath, the committee reported that Witness Payee testified that he personally observed on August 3, 2016 that Hon. Tyler and a host of official vehicles, unmarked cars, and vehicles belonging to Hon. Tyler entered the grounds of the Capitol at which time the occupants disembarked and proceeded into the building where they attempted to obstruct, prevent, and/or impede the activities of the group of Lawmakers who assembled to protest and/or read a press release asking Speaker Tyler to recuse himself as presiding officer.

    “Another witness Wogbeh appeared and produced a sworn affidavit to the fact that he witnessed staffers of Speaker Tyler booing members of the Honorable House of Representatives.

    Witness Wogbeh further testified that he heard and witnessed the staffers chanting abusive slogans and referred to the Lawmakers as “madam Sirleaf’s bag boys, surrogates, paid agents, and rogues”, the committee report continued.

    The Committee reported that after testimonies of the witnesses, it reviewed video recording which substantially corroborated with the testimonies adduced.

    The Committee concluded “For the acts complained of herein and based on the findings of committee, and pursuant to Article 33 of the Liberian Constitution and rules 48.1, 48.2 it is the unanimous recommendation that Hon. J. Alex Tyler be removed from his position as Speaker of the House of Representatives, a position he holds by privilege of the members of the House of Representatives, republic of Liberia”.

    Seven Lawmakers signed the report which was used to oust the Speaker on Tuesday. The members of the committee included Representative Prince Togbah, member, Munah E. Pelham Youngblood, member; Edward S. Forh, member; Bill Twehway, Co-Chair; Richmond Anderson, member; William Dakel, member and Jeh Byron Brown, Chairman.

    Tyler’s tactics

    Some lawmaker said the Speaker waived his right to a fair hearing by refusing to appear and instead requesting for an excuse when was already served a letter to appear for investigation.

    “The letter was written on August 31 and he received it on September 1 than one day later he wrote an excuse, he waived his right to be heard, he was given due process”, one lawmaker said.

    The lawmaker also said the ousted Speaker was given courtesy with the hearing postponed.

    The further explained: “The letter to Speaker and complaint was dated August 31 for September 2 hearing; house log shows Speaker waived after he received the letter at 10:00 September 1; instead of going to hearing he writes a letter and send to deputy for excuse on September 2; because he did not appear and out of courtesy to him the hearing was continued till the 5; the house log shows he his Chief of Staff received the second notice on Sept 2 at 4:05 pm.

    On Sept 5 he failed to show up and the hearing was conducted. On September 6 his excuse was read on the floor of the house and not acted on. Tyler left on or about the 8th of September 3 days after his hearing.

    Due process is notice and opportunity to be heard. He was given that. He did not avail himself. He was in the country the whole time”.

    The Bomi lawmaker who is currently out of the country is yet to comment on his removal. He is facing trial at criminal Court C following his indictment by the state on multiple criminal charges.

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