Those in Glass Houses Should NOT Throw Stones

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This age-old dictum may not appear in the exact wordings in the Holy Bible, but there are many Biblical quotations that underscore the identical principle.

Jesus came closest to that on at least two occasions.  First, he told the people, "Hypocrites, first take the beam out of thine   own eye, then take the mote out of thy neighbor's eye."  His second such admonition came when Jesus told the angry and vengeful male crowd that had gathered to stone the woman accused of adultery, "He who is without sin, cast the first stone."  Jesus' words were a terrible blow to the consciences of each of the would-be executioners.  One by one they dropped their stones and walked away. When no one was left save the woman, the Master then asked, "Woman, where art thine accusers?"  "They are all gone, Master," she replied.  He then said to her, "Neither do I condemn thee.  Go and sin no more."

The vast majority of members of the Liberian Legislature are Christians.  Yet we wonder how many them read the Bible and are familiar with the two quotations from the Master quoted above.  We suppose that, like all of us human beings–sinners all–when we are about to embark on an evil deed, we forget the Holy Writ and pursue our mission regardless.

That is what happened when both Houses of Legislature passed bills hitting viciously at Central Bank Governor Dr. J. Mills Jones, his Board of Governors and staff, barring them from seeking political office unless they resign three years prior to any election they wish to contest.

Yet, Governor Jones and his CBL colleagues, as far as we know, were all born in Liberia and have committed no felony or any other crime. So though NONE of them has declared any intention whatsoever to run for any political office, which each of them is constitutionally entitled to do, the Legislature has passed bills barring any of them from seeking political office.

Many, including Civil Society Organizations, lawyers and this newspaper, the Daily Observer, have called the Legislature's action totally "unconstitutional."

But look who's talking:  the very  Liberian Legislators, whom Mr. Clemenceau Urey, former Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) this week accused of receiving a US$50,000 bribe!

According to former Chairman Urey, NOCAL paid the money in order to induce (encourage, persuade) "some members of the Legislature to speedily ratify the petroleum agreement."

Now the eminent and fearless Counselor-at-law, Tiawan Gongloe, called a press conference at the Temple of Justice last week calling both the Legislators and Mr. Urey to be prosecuted because, according to the learned counselor, "bribery is a second degree felony, punishable by five years of imprisonment."

According to the Constitution, members of the Legislature "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."

But, according to Counselor Gongloe, bribery under Penal Code is a second degree felony, which carries a punishment of up to five (5) years imprisonment. "They committed second degree felony and they can be prosecuted," he insisted.

Now isn't that an amusing but very serious contradiction, irony and paradox: the very people who picked totally unnecessary and unwarranted fuss with the Central Bank people are now themselves in hot water over a far more serious constitutional and legal matter, felony!

And Mr. Urey is just one person who has mustered the courage to come forward to accuse the Legislature of bribery.  None of us know how many such people are out there!

We do not know whether President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her Ministry of Justice have the courage and resolve to prosecute the Legislators for bribery.  But whatever her decision, we should never forget this ancient dictum: "They who live in glass houses should NOT throw stones."

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