Lawmakers in support of House Speaker Alex Tyler, comprising 53 members of the House of Representatives, have maintained that it is unconstitutional and against their Rules and Procedures for the Speaker to recuse himself when he is presumed innocent following his indictment for allegedly receiving US$75,000 as bribe to change the PPCC law to favor London based Sable Mining Company to get a mining concession for the Wologizi Mountain.
In a heated argument which lasted for about three hours, and while Speaker Alex Tyler was administering the regular order of business for the Thursday, June 16 session, Margibi County Representative Emmanuel Nuquay, called the Speaker to order and requested that he recuses himself as presiding officer while he is in court for a criminal offense.
Rep. Nuquay demanded that the Speaker respond to his order, as it would be a conflict of interest were he not to recuse himself, according to Rule 45.
Montserrado County lawmakers Bill Tweahway, Acarous M. Gray, Thomas Fallah, Julius Berrian, as well as Lofa and Bassa county lawmakers (respectively) Eugene Fallah Kparkar and Gabriel Smith, also called the Speaker to recuse himself to save the “integrity” of the House.
The lawmakers said the indictment of the Speaker has brought the “Honorable House into disrepute,” and he must recuse himself until the court’s indictment is resolved.
Interestingly, Montserrado County lawmaker Edwin Snowe, who trumpeted that the Speaker should recuse himself because of the criminal indictment, was quiet.
In reaction, Maryland Representative James Biney described the aggrieved lawmakers as “hooligans” arguing that the Speaker will never recuse himself because “he isn’t guilty,” that “to recuse is voluntarily” and that the indictment is politically motivated.
Lofa County Representatives Moses Kollie and Clarence Massaquoi and others, including Montserrado County lawmakers Solomon George, Saah Joseph and Gabriel Nyenkan, said “there is no magnitude in the argument since the case is still in court and a guilty verdict has not been given by the court.”
Rep. Joseph said the failure of the Executive Branch to write the Legislature about the alleged bribery, for peaceful coordination, is a disregard to the Legislature.
Rep. Solomon George, who is one of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) lawmakers against the Speaker recusing himself, told other lawmakers to “shut up and wait for the verdict from the court, since it’s already there.”
He later threatened to beat Rep. Gray if Gray insulted him.
The Speaker, however, told the aggrieved lawmakers to put their order into writing.
It may be recalled that Speaker Tyler and Sen. Cllr. Varney Sherman were indicted by Criminal Court C. The indictment of the two senior lawmakers grew out of a May 2016 Global Witness Report released on Liberia where the pair and several other senior government officials were accused of allegedly receiving bribes to award a concession agreement in favor of Sable Mining to mine iron ore in the Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County.