Making Sense of Senator Albert Tugbeh Chie’s Anti-Democratic Rants

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“Here, the rules of the Liberian Senate are the Bible of the Senate. This is a political house that you do what it says. You were elected by the people of Montserrado County but, from today’s date, you belong to the Liberian Senate and that is why the framers of the Constitution stated that the power to remove you from here is not with the Liberian people, it is with us here; we alone have that power.

“Here Mr. Senator, we act beyond party lines. We act and think independently; no party dictates to us. Within six months, Mr. Senator, you will understand that we do serious business here because legislative politics is practical and different from church book politics. Here, we are masters of our own rules.”

Those were the words contained in the response of Grand Kru Senator and President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Albert Tugbeh Chie, to Montserrado County Senator Darius Dillon. Senator Dillon, since his election to the Senate has been a very critical voice on pressing issues of national concern.

More besides, he has often publicly voiced his criticisms of the workings of the Senate under the leadership of Senator Chie. His recent remarks lambasting those senators who had signed Chie’s bogus resolution, calling them cowards and spineless, has apparently infuriated Senator Chie to the point where he has threatened to have Senator Dillon expelled from the Senate.

But Senator Chie’s declaration that once elected, the power to remove Senator Dillon from office rests no longer with the people who elected him but with a band of 30 other men and women (including the President of the Senate) is a gross misinterpretation of Article 38 of the Constitution:

“Each House shall adopt its own rules of procedure, enforce order and with the concurrence of two-thirds of the entire membership, may expel a member for cause. Each House shall establish its own committees and sub-committees; provided, however, that the committees on revenues and appropriations shall consist of one member from each County. All rules adopted by the Legislature shall conform to the requirements of due process of law laid down in this Constitution”.

On the flip side, Article 42 clearly states:
“No member of the Senate or House of Representatives shall be arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried as a result of opinions expressed or votes cast in the exercise of the functions of his office. Members shall be privileged from arrest while attending, going to or returning from sessions of the Legislature, except for treason, felony or breach of the peace. All official acts done or performed, and all statement made in the Chambers of the Legislature shall be privileged, and no Legislator shall be held accountable or punished therefor”.

This means, for example, if a member of the House faces criminal charges, he can be expelled upon conviction. Additionally, if a member of that body is found guilty of a felonious offense, that will constitute grounds for removal. But from all indications, Senator Dillon has not committed nor is he charged with committing a felonious offense.

His only crime appears to be his open criticisms of his colleagues who he believes are not acting in the best interests of the country. And for this he is being threatened with expulsion in attempt to create a vacancy in the Senate which could be filled by a party loyalist or surrogate.

Article 1 of the Constitution clearly provides that the power to change governments or cause public servants to leave office is inherent in the people and not in a little band of 30 plus 1 men and women.

Further to the above, Senator Dillon’s “harsh” words may have riled many senators who feel personally insulted, particularly Senator Albert Chie. And he (Chie) has, accordingly, threatened retribution by having his colleague expelled from the Senate.

Such threats to have Dillon expelled because he may have “insulted” some senators has no Constitutional basis and it further exposes Senator Chie’s ignorance of the Constitution. Perhaps Senator Chie needs to be reminded that, granted Dillon may have insulted some senators or even all, it is matter which is cognizable before a court of law, of competent jurisdiction.

Again, this is clearly spelt out in Article 44 of the Constitution which says, “Disputes between legislators and non-members which are properly cognizable in the courts shall not be entertained or heard in the Legislature”. By extension, this includes disputes between legislators as well, which are cognizable before a court of law.

But more to the point, Senator Chie’s remarks are out-rightly anti-democratic. This is because they tend to suggest that Dillon’s open critical stance on issues of public concern warrants his expulsion from the Senate as a way of silencing him. Should Senator Chie actualize his threats, it will spell doom and a virtual death knell for democracy and freedom of expression in Liberia.

Senator Chie should be reminded that awarding monopoly concession rights through dubious means over virtually the entire mineral-rich southeast, to a fly by night company (Hummingbird Resources) in which he is shareholder constitutes more than sufficient reasons to have him expelled from the Senate for betraying the interest of the Liberian people, particularly Liberians from that part of the country which is most socially deprived with its people mired in poverty.

And lest he forget, Senator Chie needs to be reminded that he was previously dismissed from the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy by President Sirleaf for corruption. At the end of the day he will have to account. If others before him had to face public execution for corruption, there is no guarantee that he will forever continue to elude the long arms of justice and the law.

“Kaka dey long tay……”. It is an old Krio proverb Senator; check it out!

3 COMMENTS

  1. Webmaster Admin, you are a disgrace. Why delve into the interpretation of the statutes or the constitution; when your knowledge about interpreting statutes or the constitution is worse than a layman?

    Is that fool Darius Dillon to be expelled “as a result of his opinions expressed or votes cast in the exercise of the functions of his office”? HELL NO!

    Are any senatorś UNRULY STATEMENTS, BAD BEHAVIOR AND UNBECOMING CONDUCT, PRIVILEGED and or official acts done or performed on the floor of the Senate? DAMMIT NO!

    The fool is to be expelled for his UNRULY BEHAVIOR AND UNBECOMING CONDUCT OF A SENATOR as stipulated in the Rules of the Senate ipso facto the implied and the inherent doctrines, and as sanctioned as well as stipulated in article 38 of the Liberian Constitution!

    DO NOT delve into the interpretation of the statutes or the constitution; when your knowledge about interpreting statutes or the constitution is worse than a layman!! Dillon is a hypocrite, a liar, a fool, an ignoramus, and a high school drop-out! Darius Dillon pollutes that senatorial seat, and contaminates the atmosphere of that bulwark and bastion of law, power, politics, and democracy!

  2. Liberia: Making Sense of Dillon’s receipt of “Operational Fund”

    By Gboko Stewart, Contributing Writer

    Calling it “operational funds” to fight COVID-19, Senator Dillon and the band of forty thieves – oops, I meant 29 senators – in the Liberian Senate received a whopping US$180,000 from the Executive to be shared equally for doing their constitutionally assigned job which they are supposedly paid US$9,000 monthly.

    The money, according to Senator Dillon, was not a bribe, inducement – or whatever euphemism he may want to call it – by the Executive, and that it had gone through all the necessary processes.

    “A voucher was raised and sent to the Ministry of Finance and a check was raised by the Central Bank of Liberia under the Senate operational fund budget,” he said.

    And this was all done, it seems, to make it appear legit and that Senator Dillon indeed has truth-telling as one of his many sterling qualities and as such, he must be canonized for sainthood.

    But barely has his candidacy for canonization been placed forward, it appears that Senator Dillon and his colleagues on Capitol Hill are nothing more than heartless and insensitive pecuniary searching hounds, seeking their interests, not the country’s.

    For example, rather than advocating and seeing the importance of US$180,000 going to the Liberian Disaster Management Agency (LDMA) to help ensure victims and would-be victims of the rainy season storm and the COVID-19 outbreak get all the help they would need, Senator Dillon and his colleagues chose to pocket the “operational funds” and engaged in acts of false magnanimity.

    “We received that money and have made an intervention in the county by helping storm victims reroof their homes after they were destroyed by the storm.”

    And rather than using the “operational funds” to buy ventilators and other equipment needed in hospitals across the country, Senator Dillon and colleagues, whose only skill set in fighting Corona is having their pictures emblazoned on buckets, chose to ignore the existing reality of the peril the country faces.

    His admittance comes in the wake of an imminent protest by health workers battling the COVID-19 over lack of payment of their salary and a lack of bump in their wages for hazard.

    Over a fortnight ago, Senator Dillon, in a post on his official Facebook page, called for public officials to half their salaries to fund the fight against COVID-19 if the government of Liberia cannot gather the resources.

    This post, plus many more bandied, has often been the subterfuge used by Senator Dillon and it was on this crest of social media wave he swam his way into the Senate.

    For example, Senator Dillon, prior to entering the Senate often decried the splurging of huge sums on SUVs every year for members of the Legislature, saying he wouldn’t ride and accept any vehicle costing more than US$9k and it would be bought from a local Liberian dealer in order to boost local empowerment.

    But barely before the dawn of the rising sun, Senator Dillon, with light, camera and small action, took receipt of an SUV which costs a staggering US$35,000. He would remain deaf and insouciant to the cries of the public that he returned the vehicle as it went against his espoused values, even if it were bought for his predecessor, Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff.”

  3. Mr. Editor, your editorial is absolutely an idiotic and ignoramus rant. What Senator Chie was admonishing the political neophyte, immature, inexperienced, but of course highly corrupt Darius Dillon, is that UNLIKE A POLITICAL PARTY, THE SENATE is neither a political party, a communal group, institutional group, nor an associational group! That THE SENATE is the other half of THE PEOPLEŚ BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT- THE UPPER HOUSE!

    Nor is the Senate some social club. Rather THE SENATE IS A POLITICAL HOUSE where they senators act and think independently! And no party dictates to them senators.

    And Dillon has now realized what Hon Chie admonished him, as his Dillonś own senatorial partisans are now ready to expel him CORRUPT AND POLITICALLY STUPID DILLON out of the Senate!

    You little rat Dillon, what an elder sees while lying down; the young or one less older cannot see even if he or she climbs up and stands at the apex of the sycamore tree or even Mount Everest!

    The Krio people say: “the bird which does not hear, the stone will make him hear.” Now you have heard what the elder was admonishing you the neophyte!

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