Monrovia - Over the last few weeks there has been rigmarole at the National legislature with some lawmaker calling on Speaker Alex Tyler to recuse himself from presiding over the deliberations at the National Legislature until an indictment against him by the state for allegedly committing multiple criminal offences is adjudicated by the court.
While the debate was intensifying, Representative George Mulbah (National Patriotic Party, Bong County) filed a motion for the House of representatives to suspend parts of its rules by considering the quorum for June 2 to remain static for a period of one month (June 2 to July 2), thereby making the body to avoid roll call for the period. Some lawmakers argued that Representative Mulbah filed the motion in order to protect Speaker Tyler by avoiding lawmakers calling for his recusal to not get additional support of other lawmakers who were not present during the June 2 sitting. Representative Edwin Snowe (Montserrado County, Independent) described his colleague Mulbah’s motion as unconstitutional and took the issue the matter to the Supreme Court where the high Court Associate Justice has asked Representative Snowe to allow his colleagues conduct hearing on his complaint. Representative Mulbah whose motion sparked the heated debate has defended that his motion was not intended to protect Speaker Tyler but to assist the Legislature deal with major national issues. Lawmaker Mulbah told FrontPageAfrica that as the essential draft 2016/2017 is currently before the National Legislature for discussion and passage into law, more than 23 lawmakers will be out of plenary deliberations attending to pressing legislative functions and as such getting quorum to deliberate on the budget will be impossible which prompted him to file the motion to enable the lawmakers present during the June 2 plenary discussions to continue to meet the requirement of quorum to discuss the national budget. “I want the budget debate to be accelerated. Twenty-three members of the body will not be available for plenary discussion from now until July." The Ways, Means and Finance committee has 15 members and Public Accounts Committee has 8 members. These members will not be present as they will be busy in committees room working on the draft budget. Four lawmakers will also be attending the African, Asian pacific and European Parliament meeting whole another three will be bust at ECOWAS”, he explained. According to the lawmaker with twenty-three members expected to be out and unspecified lawmakers might also be attending to other issues as it is usual occurrence, he fears that getting a quorum to discuss the budget will be very difficult which led him to raise the motion. “We need quorum to discuss this very serious instrument, at the time the economy is bad, so that motion will help the House of Representatives to avoid not having quorum on many occasions to discuss the budget”, he added. The lawmaker said he utilized his right as provided under section 62 B of the Rules of the House of Representatives which states that the House can suspend its rules in part or in whole. “It was on the basis of this that I utilized my right under our rules to make a motion. It was not intended to protect Speaker Tyler and I am not member of Speaker Tyler bloc. Under our rules the remedy for any motion if it is not favorable is for another lawmaker to file a motion for reconsideration”, he continued. A motion for reconsideration, he said was not filed against his motion. The NPP Lawmaker said the motion is also a punishment for lawmakers that supported this draconian rule drafted by the 52nd National legislature at the time under the leadership of Representative Snowe as Speaker. “It is also punishment for Snowe whose under his gable they passed that rule was passed. I am happy today that he is crying from this rule. He benefited from this rule and now he is crying against it. I warned him at the time that the rule will make the Speaker powerful but he still presided over the crafting of this same rule”, the lawmaker said. Representative Mulbah also said while Representative Snowe was serving as Speaker he ensured that Rule of House of Representatives was changed to give the Speaker the power to appoint the various committees rather than having election. “During the crafting of the rule in the 52nd Legislature he influenced the removal from the house rule that called for the election of the leadership of the house. He wanted authority to appoint committee members against my advice, I said to him it will make the speaker powerful now his own rule is hunting him”, Representative Mulbah noted. On the issue of Representative Snowe taking the matter to court, lawmaker Mulbah said it is not the fort time for his colleague to run to the court. “For court, if he and others allow the court to declare the motion illegal, than the WTO passage should also be illegal. It was under the motion that the WTO protocol was passed by the House of Representatives”, the lawmaker expressed. Representative Mulbah further said “If the court says the motion is illegal than the WTO protocol has to be returned”. Commenting on the debated issue of Speaker Tyler recusing himself from presiding, Representative Mulbah said there is no legal basis to support such call, indicating that should such law exist he will be one of the lawmakers supporting the Speaker recusing himself. “On the issue of Speaker Tyler recusing himself, if there was any law on the book, I will support it because I am one of those that was removed by Speaker Tyler from a committee, therefore I will be one of those pushing for him to recuse himself if there was law on the book for that”. In recent weeks the House of Representatives has been tense over the involvement of Speaker Tyler in a recent report released by Global Witness alleging that Speaker was one of several government officials that allegedly received money from Sable Mining Company to change the Public Procurement and Concession Law in favor of Sable Mining.