Seventeen aggrieved members of the House of Representatives have expressed their disappointments at Speaker Bhofal Chambers for the subjection of Montserrado County District #10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah to an investigation of the Civilian Complaints Review Board of the Liberia National Police.
Some of the lawmakers are members of the Independent Legislative Caucus — a newly established block which involves members from all the 15 Counties’ caucuses and it is aimed at bringing about independence and credibility to the House of Representatives.
The lawmakers said Speaker Chambers should not have prioritized a letter from an agency of the Executive Branch — the Ministry of Justice — on a so-called thorough investigation of Rep. Kolubah involving an incident that occurred on Sunday, January 20, 2019, at a Children’s Party in the Old Road area, which was organized by the Montserrado County lawmaker.
The lawmakers’ anger was prompted following a letter from Justice Minister Cllr. F. Musa Dean, Jr., requesting assistance from the House of Representatives to ensure that Rep. Kolubah cooperates with the investigation on the allegations against the LNP, including the accusation of the LNP Inspector General Patrick Sudue’s alleged unprofessional conduct.
in his communication, which was read On Tuesday, January 22, during the 4th day sitting, Cllr. Dean said violence erupted at the children’s party organized by the Montserrado County lawmaker in the Old Road community, in which several citizens sustained injuries, including children.
“Officers of the Liberia National Police were called in to bring the situation under control. Several persons were arrested by the Liberia National Police. Those injured were sent to medical facilities for treatment. There are no reports of any death,” Attorney General Dean wrote.
In counter-argument, the chairman of the Independent Legislative Caucus, Nimba County District #8 Representative Larry Younquoi, said, in the spirit of collaboration, the Speaker should have allowed Rep. Kolubah’s complaint about the alleged unprofessional conduct of the LNP and the shooting to take precedence and be investigated by the august body with the summoning of the LNP Inspector General instead of voting to forward Rep. Kolubah to the LNP for investigation.
“The Legislature is not a branch of the Executive, we are the 1st Branch of Government and must work independently in the interest of the people who elected us,” Rep. Younquoi said.
The lawmakers who frowned on the Speaker included Rep. J. Nagbe Sloh (Sinoe County District #2), Cllr. Beyan Howard (Lofa County District #5); Rep. Adolph Lawrence (Montserrado County District #15), Rep. Larry Younquoi ( Nimba County District #8); Rep. Rustonlym S. Dennis (Montserrado District #4); Rep. Thomas Goshuah (Grand Bassa County District #5); Rep. Vincent S.T. Willie (Grand Bassa County District 4); Rep. Francis S. Dopoh, II (Gbarpolu County District #3); and Rep. Ivar Jones Margibi (County District #2).
Others were Rep. Ben Fofana (Margibi County District #4); Rep. Hans Barchue (Grand Bassa County District #1); Rep. Lawrence Morris (Montserrado County District #1); Rep. Dorwoh T. Gleekia (Nimba County District #6); and Rep. Francis S. Nyumalin (Lofa County District #1).
“We are not against the investigation of Rep. Kolubah, but as a precedent and member of the House of Representatives of the 54th Legislature we should first launch our investigation before subjecting one of our own to another branch of government,” Rep. Adolph Lawrence ranted .
Despite the aggrieved lawmakers dissenting views, the motion proffered by Rep. Matthew Zarzar (Sinoe County District #3) which said Rep. Yekeh should cooperate with Civilian Complaints Review Board of the Police was carried by a ‘yea and nay’ votes in which the aggrieved lawmakers also said was a procedural error.
Rep. Ivar Jones of Margibi County District #2, on behalf of colleagues barked that in the case of an intense debates of which of 20 lawmakers expressed their “unreadiness” on a motion, it should have been decided by a ‘head count’ instead of a ‘yea and nay votes.’
“The Speaker has blatantly thwarted the rules. Yea and nay votes are done on un-debated issues not on debated issues,” Rep. Jones fumed.
The aggrieved lawmakers also complained of the Speaker’s decision that the amendment made by Rep. Acarous Gray (Montserrado County District #8) that a motion for reconsideration must be tested only on Tuesday, and not within 72 hours.
“As far as I am concerned, I have 72 hours to file in my motion for reconsideration according to the rules, and for the rules to be suspended there must be a vote of 49 persons to suspend them,” Rep. Lawrence argued against the amendment which demanding him to make the motion of reconsideration on Tuesday.
But in bitter response, Rep. Gray argued that it is a also precedent that when the amendment is made about the motion for reconsideration and is accepted by the moment (the lawmaker who proffered the motion) and there are more than 50 lawmakers recorded in a session, their votes make up the suspension of the rules.’
Speaker Chambers further told his colleagues that in order for democracy to succeed, justice should be given a chance to prevail. He said the participation of Rep. Kolubah into an investigation is part of the tenacity of democracy.
Meanwhile, the Speaker mandated Rep. Yekeh Kolubah to cooperate with the LNP Civilian Complaints Review Board, consistent with Section 22.85 of the LNP Act (2015), for a thorough investigation into the entire incident, including the allegations made by Rep. Kolubah.
“I hereby request Rep. J. Fonati Koffa, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and Rep. Alfred Koiwood, chairman on National Security, to accompany Rep. Yekeh to the investigation and we expect a full report,” Speaker Chambers said.
However, the Chairman of the Independent Legislative Caucus, Rep. Younquoi, said following the procedural errors on the part of the Speaker and differences of the lawmakers in session which ended in clamor, it would be advisable for Rep. Kolubah not to participate in the LNP’s investigation until a full decision is made by the full plenary.
Commenting on the establishment of the Independent Legislative Caucus, Rep. Younquoi said the Caucus is intended to bring sanity in the House of Representatives and is not going to fight against the interests of the Executive or hatch a plan to remove House Speaker Bhofal Chambers.
“This group is intended to bring back credibility to the House of Representatives,” Rep. Younquoi said. “We have observed that the House of Representatives has become a partisan place and we think this is wrong in the tripartite arrangement of our governing system.
“We are not established to fight the Executive or remove the Speaker. We feel it when it is about the party, it should be and when it is about the Legislature and representation, it should be about the interests of the people we represent,” he added.