Opposition Lawmakers of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) are calling on their fellow Lawmakers who voted in favor of the suspension of Representative Yekeh Kolubah to rescind their decision and allow Kolubah to return to work and at the same time receive all the benefits he legally deserves.
At a press conference yesterday in Monrovia, the CPP Lawmakers said the two-thirds used in arriving at the consensus to suspend Rep. Kolubah was unconstitutional and, as such, the decision should not be enforced by the Plenary of the House of Representatives.
“The CPP Legislative Caucus is saddened by the decision taken by some of our colleagues in plenary that led to the suspension of Hon. Yekeh Kolubah. We believe that he was not accorded the due process as provided for by the Constitution and our rules and, as such, we want the decision to be reconsidered or we will support his legal pursuit against the House,” Senator Jonathan Boy Charles Sogbie said.
Senator Sogbie said while it is lawful that Kolubah can be held responsible for what he does or says, his comments or insults against President George Weah have not been done in Chamber in the confines of the Legislature in general.
He added that the CPP Legislative Caucus, considering the case involving former Grand Gedeh County Senator, Isaac Nyenabo, he (Nyenabo) was unlawfully suspended, and the Supreme Court ruled in his favor, so also will they support Kolubah at the Supreme Court if the Conference with the Court tomorrow (Thursday April 22, 2021) fails to compel the rescinding of the suspension.
Yekeh Kolubah represents the people of Montserrado District #10, and he has been in the news many times criticizing and in some instances making inflammatory comments against President Weah for bad governance and corruption he alleges the President is carrying on.
Sogbie said there were 37 members present and 27 voted for while 7 voted against the suspension of Rep. Kolubah, something he noted was completely in contravention of their Legislative rule on ‘majority’ to take a decision.
“It is not clearly written in our rule that the two third must be the entire membership but by technical definition, it should be the entire number. There was no due process accorded him,” he added.
In support to Senator Sogbie, Larry Yanquoi, Representative of Nimba County District #8, said while actions of politicians are most times political, they can also be legal or illegal.
“This is why we have the three branches of government, and the one responsible to bring us to check when we go against the Constitution or our own set of rules is the Judiciary,” Rep. Younquoi said.
“The option to go to court is there and you are already aware that the Supreme Court has invited the Plenary, meaning the entire membership of the House of Representatives for a conference on this matter following a complaint from Kolubah,” he added.
Both Yanquoi and Hanson Kiazolu, Montserrado District #17 Representative, said rule 48.7 of the House of Representatives was not duly followed.
Rule 48.7 of the Rules of the House of Representatives says: “The House of Representatives may, according to the circumstances and degree of breach, take the following measures:
- It may give oral warning, b. It may give a written warning, C. It may suspend a member for not more than 30 days of meeting, stop the payment of salary and allowances due or her for the days of suspension, as the case may be and d. It may expel a member from the House where the breach is very serious or where it is committed repeatedly.”
According to the CPP Lawmakers, Rep. Yekeh Kolubah in count two of Rule 48.7 was not accorded due process.
“There is no record that Hon. Yekeh Kolubah ever received a letter of warning. This is our concern and we think it will be unfair to him if he remains suspended and denied all of his benefits,” Hassan Kiazolu said.
The opposition Lawmakers said they doubt it that Joseph Nagbe, Justice in Chamber at the Supreme Court is independent and will act fairly in accordance with the law.
“When the matter reached before him (Justice Joseph Nagbe), he should have placed a stay order on the proceeding concerning the suspension of our colleague at the House of Representatives, but he didn’t do so. This is our concern,” they said.
While they have agreed to stand with Kolubah, none of them agreed or supported Kolubah insulting anyone, much more President Weah.
“Two wrongs can’t make any right. We may not choose the words Kolubah uses, but again, he has his right to freedom of expression. And sadly, to punish him, it is not called for that we use the wrong means to do it,” Rep. Yanquoi said.
CDC Reacts to CPP
Barely an hour following the opposition Lawmakers’ press conference, the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Legislators countered their colleagues’ arguments by saying that they (CPP) are in error and should let due process to take preeminence.
Tough-talking Acarous Gray, Representative of Montserrado District #8, said what the CPP Lawmakers did is a complete deception and an act contrary to the proceedings on Capitol Hill.
“The situation involving Rep. Kolubah began over a month ago and since then, even at the time we reached the decision to suspend him, none of those opposition Lawmakers ever stood up anywhere to call a press conference and make any legitimate defense. They should stop misleading the public about our workings,” Gray said.
He alleged that his fellow Lawmakers did not act independent of coercion from the leaders of their respective political parties.
“I am disappointed in them. It is sad that they no longer act independently. They have been pushed to do something they do not believe in and that is so sad. I say so because, why now? Why only at this time they have seen the need to make any formal collective statement on this matter? They were forced by their political leaders,” he said.
He added: “Rule 42.2 of the House or representatives says ‘No member of the House shall insult, abuse, harass or cause any disturbance in chamber or in the confines of the Legislature’.
“And Kolubah is guilty of this because many times he has even left his seat and went to the Speaker and pointed his fingers at him and insulted as well. He has been speaking to the press in the perimeters of the Capitol, not outside and such acts have given enough reasons for the suspension.” However, the Liberian Constitution also says that while in session, a lawmaker cannot be held accountable for what he says in session.
Gray, also relying on Rule 48.7, said all was exhausted and the decision by the majority is not in contravention of any law.
“I am more disappointed because I doubt it that our colleagues are reading with comprehension. The word “May” is not definite. Therefore it is up to the majority, in our case, two-thirds of the entire majority membership present to do what is right. There is no argument about that. Yekeh has been warned many times but he cared less,” he alleged.
He challenged Senator Darius Dillon of Montserrado County that he is not saying the truth and should therefore apologize to the public for saying that there is no rule in the House of Representatives calling for the suspension of any Lawmaker for whatever reason.
“Dillon goes around deliberately telling lies. He should see it fit to apologize for misleading the public. But again, he won’t do it because he presents himself as one who knows all, even though he knows nothing,” Gray claimed.
He said apart from the rules at the House of Representatives, the Constitution, which is the organic body of laws, says in Article 33 that simple majority of the entire membership of the House of Representatives and even the Senate can convene and take decisions.
“We are 73 but on that day, only 37 of us remained in Plenary while some other members came and left for some other reasons. Of the number, 30 voted for while 7 voted against, that was enough for the needed two-third as provided for under our rules.”
He said, whenever there is no quorum to convene any session, the House usually adjourns, but that was not the case when they took the decision against Kolubah.
Weighing in on former Protempore, Isaac Nyenabo versus the Senate’s case, Rep. Gray said it cannot apply to Kolubah because in the Senate rules, there is no provision for the suspension of the Protemp, but expulsion from the post.
“There is where they blundered at the time and the Supreme Court had to order them to reinstate him immediately. But this case is different because we have everything spelled out in our rules,” he said.