Bomi County Senator Sando Dazoe Johnson has described as untimely the recent decision by Senate Pro Tempore Armah Zolu Jallah to remove Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper as chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Works.
“This comes in the middle of a very important public hearing. The decision undermined the work Senator Cooper was doing,” Senator Johnson said.
“The Pro Temp has the right to reshuffle, but when an individual Senator is investigating a particular situation and that Senator is removed, it creates doubts in the minds of the public. He should have waited for the conclusion of the investigation, because at the end of the day, a report was going to be made to the Senate plenary. But in the midst of this situation, who do you believe now? So the public tends to believe Senator Cooper,” Sen. Johnson noted.
Senator Johnson chairs the committee on Concession and Investment and serves as a member of the Public Works Committee. He made the statement yesterday during a talk show on one of the local radio stations. Senator Johnson disclosed that as a member of that committee, he was concerned about the manner in which the Ministry of Public Works was awarding contracts and the performances of contractors.
Based on that, he wrote Chairman Cooper requesting the appearance of Public Works Minister William Gyude Moore to exonerate himself.
“But in the middle of the game, the man is changed, the hearing goes away and nobody hears about it anymore. Then you put us in a very difficult position and we are caught between the scissors,” Senator Johnson said.
He said he was one of the Senators that was in line for replacement from his committee through someone’s suggestion, “but I told him ‘Mr. Pro Temp, if you want to, you can even change me, but it does not stop me from being vocal; I did not come here to become chairman of a committee or a committee member, the people of Bomi sent me here to represent them and speak for them; if you want take me out of all the committees, you are welcome,’” Sen. Johnson said.
He recalled how he was appointed to that committee by former Senate Pro Tempore Gbehzohngar Findley, noting that his removal would even strengthen him to fight further on.
Sen. Johnson described as dangerous a letter from Minister Moore asking President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to leave the Executive and interfere with the Legislature and dictate the course of action as to what happens at the Senate, adding “we will have problems.”
The Bomi lawmaker said after the Legislative annual break next year, he foresees more suggestions coming for the Pro Temp to change more people who are more critical and radical; “but we are not going to run away from that; and if we are not careful, we may not have a
Legislature anymore and only the Executive Branch of government running. So I see it as a direct interference that is intended to silence us and at the same time make some of us who are vocal from the opposition bloc silenced forever in the Legislature. This is what some of us will not tolerate.”
Citing an alleged reply from President Sirleaf to an earlier letter from him, in which she described him as a risk to national security, Johnson said his only wrong was that he stood by the side of the Law and Constitution with respect to his stance against the removal of former
Speaker of the House of Representatives J. Alex Tyler.
“I told the President that if by standing on the side of the law means that I risk a security threat, then it’s a sad day for me in Liberia. We must be bold to tell our leaders the truth in a very respectful manner, and if we don’t tell you the truth, we will cause problem for you and the country. I will continue to stand by the side of the law and Constitution. So if you want to remove the speaker or anybody, it must be done in line with the law by establishing a cause. But to do it the other way around, I will not support it and Bomi County will not stand on your side on this matter.”
Senator Johnson was elected on the ticket of the National Patriotic Party (NPP). He spoke about a meeting reportedly called by President Sirleaf and attended by four members of the Bomi Legislative Caucus, where she told them that she was no longer comfortable to work with her kinsman as Speaker, a decision that came after former Speaker Tyler resigned from the ruling Unity Party and formed his own political party with his eyes on the presidency.