— As Ad Hoc Committee takes charge of Sen. Tengbeh’s letter to investigate Dillon
Amidst speculations among both opposition parties Senators and the general public, a debate that lasted over three hours on Wednesday, June 3 at the Senate, has clarified that a letter from Lofa County Senator George T. Tengbeh, is not calling for Senator Abraham Dillon’s suspension or expulsion.
Since the submission of Senator Tengbeh’s letter calling for the investigation of the Montserrado County Senator, there have been mounting debates both at home and abroad, condemning and/or decrying the suspicion that Senators were contemplating the expulsion of the tough-talking Senator.
Wednesday’s debate followed a report submitted by the Senate Leadership, which was last week requested to look into the complaint and advise plenary.
In their report, the Senate’s Leadership, among other things, noted that since the Senate operates through committees, it has decided to set up a three-man ad hoc committee to be chaired by Senator H. Varney Sherman, with Senators Henrique F. Tokpa and Matthew Jaye serving as members. However, at the close of the debate, Senator Sherman announced that he was recusing himself as one of the Leadership Committee members, whose decision prompted the set up of the ad hoc committee.
As expected, a good number of opposition Senators, led by the political leader of the Liberty Party and Senator of Grand Bassa County, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, vehemently protested the alleged attempt by majority Senators to violate several articles of the Senate Rules and the Constitution of Liberia.
The opposition Senators, including Oscar Cooper, Stephen Zargo, Daniel Naatehn, Sando Johnson, Conmany Wesseh and former Pro Tempore Armah Zolu Jallah, all cited Articles 19, 20, 23 and 40 of the Senate Rules, which highlight conditions and procedures for suspension or expulsion, as those violated by Senator Tengbeh while complaining his Montserrado County colleague. However, it was clarified that Tengbeh’s communication did not call for suspension or expulsion, but for an investigation of Dillon.
Addressing his colleagues, the accused Senator Dillon tried to recall a statement by Pro Temp Albert T. Chie last August, on the occasion of the Montserrado Senator’s induction to the Senate.
“Today, I am reminded of August 15, 2019 when I was inducted to represent the people of Montserrado and the Republic of Liberia; my welcoming comments and remarks by the Leadership of the Liberian Senate, today [are] being manifested. I was reminded that the people sent me here and [I] have now ‘become part of us and you do what we say, and the people do not matter.'”
Senator Dillon maintained that those welcoming words were part of the plot that is now being put to the test to expel him.
But in what appeared to be an emotional reaction, Pro Temp Chie tried to divulge what he described as his efforts to establish a cordial relationship between him and Senator Dillon over many years.
“Dillon worked for me before he became Senator and I used to pay him from my pocket,” Senator Chie explained. “When Senator Dillon got elected, he was finding difficulty to pay his poll watchers. He called me to help him pay his poll watchers and I gave him US$3,000. So, there is no way Senator Dillon can say the Pro Temp has a premeditated mind against him.”
Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, who presided over Wednesday’s sitting found it difficult, if not impossible, to call to order the Pro Tempore, who was then speaking in his capacity as ordinary Senator of Grand Kru County. At the closing stages of the debate, Vice President Taylor called both Dillon and Pro Tempore Chie to her desk, apparently to appeal for reasoning and harmony.
Through a motion by Montserrado County Senator Saah H. Joseph, Senators agreed that the ad Hoc committee handles the complaint and report to plenary within one week.
It can be recalled that among many violations outlined, Senator Tengbeh, in his communication, noted that the Senator Dillon’s action has brought the Senate and Senators to unjustifiable public ridicule and irreparable damage done to the reputation, integrity and dignity to the Senate; at the same time dishonored the Senate and made it a laughing stock.
“This pattern of behavior on the part of Senator Dillon must not be allowed to continue unchecked and unsanctioned; I therefore kindly request the Leadership of the Liberian Senate to subject Senator Dillon to an investigation, give him due process in line with the Senate Rules and the Constitution of Liberia, and apply the appropriate sanction if found guilty of the allegations I have levied against him.”