Monrovia - The ongoing saga at the House of Representatives over Speaker Tyler’s recusal due to his indictment by the state for alleged bribery took another dimension at the Supreme Court on Monday with the lawyer representing the Anti-Tyler bloc telling the court that the Speaker has been asked to recuse himself due to conflict of interest.
Cllr. Arthur Johnson, the lead lawyer for the anti-Tyler lawmakers made the assertion in his argument at the Supreme Court on Monday at a conference arranged by the Supreme Court Associate Justice –in- Chambers, Jamesetta Howard-Wolokollie, over the embattled Speaker’s petition for an alternative writ of prohibition against the anti- Tyler lawmakers holding of parallel session at the Capital Building.
“This is a conference, not a hearing. Usually I hold conference in my office but I knew that you could be many, this is how I suggested that we come in the chamber of the Supreme Court,” said Associate Wolokollie.
Given his side of the argument, Cllr. Johnny Momoh, the lead lawyer for the embattled speaker told the high court that Speaker Tyler has been indicted by the state along with several other defendants but some of his colleagues have asked him to rescue himself from his post when there is no law or rule of the House of Representatives requiring the elected speaker to rescue himself because he has been indicted.
Cllr. Momoh continued that the speaker is the only presiding officer but his colleagues who have requested that he rescue himself from presiding have, for the past two weeks, been holding another session at the Capitol Building under the gavel of Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue and not Speaker Tyler, which is illegal.
“You don’t have to hold parallel session at the House. This is illegal; there is no need for the deputy speaker to preside when the speaker is available.
Recusal is for judicial officials, not the speaker,” said Cllr Johnny Momoh, adding that Liberia is a country of law and not men, praying the high court for the issuance of an alternative writ of prohibition against the anti-lawmakers’ session.
Cllr. Momoh went on to say that the law provides that a speaker can be removed but the removal of the speaker must be for a cause and that cause should be explained and made known.
Contrary to Cllr. Momoh’s argument that there is no law that calls for the speaker’s recusal, Cllr Arthur Johnson maintained that there is a rule in the House of Representatives.
Citing Rule 45.1 of the House of Representatives, Cllr. Johnson stated that rule 45.1 says that a speaker or member of the house can have himself rescued for conflict of interest, indicating that a member could do that when an issue has been raised against him/her. That member could rescue himself from a committee until that issue is resolved.
Cllr. Johnson also indicated that the majority bloc has asked the speaker to rescue himself from presiding so that he can have an ample time to go through his trial but House Speaker Tyler has deliberately refused to entertain a motion to have himself rescued, insisting that the action at bar has to do with the issue of integrity.
He went on to say that the saga among the lawmakers is a political issue in which the court cannot handle because the court does not involve itself in political issue, adding that the decision by the majority is political in nature which has been endorsed by the Executive as evident by a letter written by President Ellen Johnson recognizing the majority bloc
Following the pros and cons of the argument, Associate Justice Wolokollie told the parties she will study the facts in the case and will make a determination whether or not to issue the alternative writ of prohibition, showing no specific date.
Monday’s conference was attended by the Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue along with several of the majority lawmakers while the embattle Speaker Tyler was absent but represented by few of the pro-Tyler lawmakers, including Maryland’s Bhofal Chambers, Harrison Yealue of Nimba County and Lester Paye of Bong County.