The expected tutorial class for Information Minister Lewis G. Brown and Deputy Minister for Public Affairs Isaac Jackson on public relations and information dissemination has dramatically turned into a ”Probe Hearing,” with Montserrado County’s Representative Acarous M. Gray being accused of being “The Counterfeit.”
The House Committee on Information and Broadcasting yesterday, finally had in attendance, after a three-time deferral, the two top Information Ministry officials.
But the Committee, upon reviewing the invitation written by the House’s Chief Clerk Mildred Siryon to the Information Ministry, and the complaint contained in Rep. Julius Berrian’s letter, changed the designation of the tutorial class into a “Probe Hearing.” This change of subject description excluded the Information boss from being part of the investigation.
After the administration of the oath, Deputy Minister Isaac Jackson categorically denied calling all the Honorable Members of the House of Representatives as counterfeit. He said the complaint was a total and deliberate falsehood and a distortion of what he actually said.
The Deputy Information Minister maintained that he was referring to a lawmaker, specifically, Montserrado County District # 9 Representative Acarous M. Gray, who previously called him “A Mad Lawyer” for defending President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s letter for additional power to restrict the movement of Liberians.
Mr. Jackson argued that Rep. Gray’s insults were aired and published in the local dailies.
“I don’t want to jeopardize the finding of the Committee, because accordingly, the finding will be brought before the Plenary for discussion.”
For his part, Nimba County lawmaker Garrison Yealue, a member of the House Committee on Information and Broadcasting, said it was wrong for both public officials to engage in abusive language, which contravened the Code of Conduct.
“A public servant shall exhibit conduct that will contribute to a positive work environment and not compromise the integrity of the public service. He or she shall not engage in abusive language or fight on any government premises, or any public place,” Rep. Yealue quoted Section 11.10
But Rep. Yealue asked Deputy Minister Jackson why he did not write the leadership of the House of Representatives, but instead insulted the House.
Deputy Minister Jackson argued that he had responded equally to the insults in the heat of emotions.
“I don’t want it to live after me …and you know Sir Isaac Newton’s third Law of Motion, for every action there is an equal and opposite re-action,” Deputy Minister Jackson said.
Another member of the Committee, veteran journalist turned Representative, Francis Paye, also expressed his dissatisfaction over the “insults,” noting that all of the branches of government are working towards the same goal.
Information Minister Lewis Browne thanked the House Committee on Information and Broadcasting for the hearing and making reference to the Code of Conduct, but indicated that some members of the other branches of government have the habit of dividing the government.
“And in doing so, they seem to cultivate the habit by being disrespectful to members of another branch of government,” Information Minister Brown said.
For his part, the Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Richmon Anderson, thanked the Minister and Deputy Minister for being in attendance and urged them to popularized the Code of Conduct, giving a copy to every appointed and elected public official.
“Thank you for coming. Hopefully as mandated by Plenary, our finding will be submitted to them,” Rep. Anderson said, concluding the session.
Meanwhile, the decision to invite the MICAT officials was prompted by a communication addressed to plenary by Montserrado County Representative Julius F. Berrian, in which he complained about the two officials describing lawmakers as “counterfeit.”
According to Rep. Berrian, the constant outbursts from Jackson against members of the Legislature could no longer be tolerated, and as such, actions must be taken to remedy the situation.
Berrian noted that during a MICAT regular press briefing this week, Jackson referred to members of the House as “counterfeit lawmakers” which he (Berrian) described as counterproductive and a gross disrespect and abuse to the first branch of government.”