Monrovia - The failure of the Supreme Court to grant Rep. Alex Tyler’s petition for a writ of prohibition has led to him being finally ousted with the election of Rep. Emmanuel Nuquay as the second Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to issue an alternative writ of prohibition over the removal of House Speaker Alex Tyler by his colleagues, a step many Liberians viewed as politically motivated.
Tyler complained that he was not given due process before his removal by his colleagues in the House of Representatives.
Prior to the Tyler’s conference, another one was heard for Representative Adolph Lawrence who petitioned the high court for a full bench hearing into the prohibition conference of the Speaker election as he opposed Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh presiding over the matter alone.
According to Representative Lawrence, his request was made on grounds that Justice Yuoh is the wife of Representative Snowe, an ally of Rep. Emmanuel Nuquay.
In arguing, Cllr. Cooper Kruah, who represented Representative Lawrence, requested the court to allow the Deputy Speaker to end the tenure of ousted Speaker Tyler.
Cllr. Kruah cited Article 49 of the Constitution and Rule 10 of the House of Representatives, adding that the matter is constitutional and thereby requested the court to interpret the law.
Said Cllr. Kruah: “Since the Deputy Speaker is not part of the problem in the House, he should be given the time to end the tenure because election in the House should occur after 6 years.”
He added that the rules the majority relied on contravene the constitution. But in counter argument, Cllr. Beyan Howard said the Court has no power to give anything that the constitution did provide. “Article 49 needs no interpretation; you can’t give a party litigant what he/ she is not entitled to.”
He continued: “There is no reason to order the writ issue, so we prayed the court to decline on the issuance of the writ, because they adapted their rules and why are they now challenging it.”
This is the second time that the high court has declined to issue an alternative writ of prohibition filed by the recused House Speaker Tyler who has been under immense pressure from his colleagues to step down after the Global Witness Report accused him and other government officials of bribery.
The first time the Supreme Court declined to issue an alternative writ of prohibition prayed for by the Speaker was in September 2016 when he filed a writ of prohibition to stop his colleagues from operating a parallel session at the House of Representatives.
The parallel session at the House of Representatives came about when lawmakers, under the banner of majority lawmakers, refused to sit under the gavel of recused House Speaker Tyler because of his indictment in the Global Witness Report. An indictment the majority lawmakers said brought disgrace to the August body.
However, the recused Speaker prayed the court to issue an alternative writ of prohibition against the majority bloc to bar them from sitting in a parallel session without an elected Speaker, saying it was a violation of Article 49 of the Constitution and Rule 4.9 of the House of Representatives.
Article 49 of the Constitution provides that a Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be elected once every six years while Rule 4.9 of the House of Representatives provides that the Speaker of the House of Representatives should be the only presiding officer.
But Associate Justice Jamesetta Howard-Wolokollie, who the writ of prohibition was filed before following a hearing, ruled and declined to issue an alternative of prohibition.
However on Wednesday recused House Speaker Alex Tyler, who is also a lawmaker of District #1 in Bomi County, suffered another legal blow when the Supreme Court Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene-Youh declined to issue another alternative writ of prohibition over the removal of recused House Speaker Alex Tyler who was ousted by his colleagues in a 2/3 vote last week.
But Tyler, in his petition to the high court Associate Justice Youh which she declined to issue, stated that he was removed from his post by his colleagues on allegation that he referred to them as surrogates of the Executive and was never given due process under the law.
“Your honor, my client was never given due process in this regard to remove him as the Constitution requires that no person should be deprive of liberty and that when a person is adjudged guilty, that should be done in line with the due process of law,” said Cllr. Johnny Momoh, legal counsel for recused Speaker Tyler.
Contrary to Cllr Momoh’s claim, lawyer representing the House of Representatives, Cllr. Beyan Howard, counter argued that the recused Speaker was given due process when he was invited by the Committee on Rules Order and Administration through a notice for hearing which was received by his office but the Speaker failed to turn up for the hearing.
Justice Yuoh, though reserving ruling after the conference in open court, later declined from issuing the writ, something which led to an election at the House of Representatives.
New Speaker Elected
Representative Emmanuel Nuquay (UP-District #5Margibi County) has been elected Speaker of the 53rd Legislature on white ballot, replacing removed Speaker Alex Tyler.
The election should have been held Tuesday October 4, 2016, but a stay order from the Supreme Court stalled the process due to a petition for a writ of prohibition filed by Representative Adolph Lawrence (CDC-District # 15 Montserrado County).
A stay order was placed on the election for a new Speaker at the House of Representatives pending the outcome of the scheduled conference.
Prior to Wednesday’s election, on Tuesday Deputy Speaker Barchue, using his gavel as presiding officer, adjourned session for the Legislative constituency break but that decision was rejected by 33 members of the House, including the chairman on Executive, Representatives Josephine Francis who was recently appointed by Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue, replacing Rep. Wesseh Blamo who acted as presiding officer.
Barchue, to the dismay of many witnessing the session, said he was not aware of the agenda for Tuesday session. Rule 25.11 states that the chief clerk, under the supervision of the Speaker, prepares and distributes the agenda at the beginning of every session.
The Deputy Speaker’s argument was that as per the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, no body of the Legislature shall adjourn for more than five days without the consent of the other.
Since Tyler’s recusal, many members of the House have called for the election of a new Speaker. But Barchue and others argued about continuality, using article 48 of the Liberian constitution as reliance.
In his remarks as the newly elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emmanuel Nuquay called for reconciliation amongst members of the House of Representatives and asked that they unify as a legislative body as 2017 approaches.
He warned that the threat which hung over the 52nd Legislature and resulted into a low turnout of lawmakers who contested re-election could hurt the current members of the body.
“We are confronted with the challenge to ensure that we properly coordinate with the executive to ensure the development agenda of the current government. I come with the requisite qualification and experience to lead this body. I am a team leader and a capacity builder, a seasoned negotiator.
“I have come to work along with you to build the leadership team that will project a positive image of the House of Representatives. I work with you to ensure that capacities are built to ensure a high turnover of members from the 53rd to the 54”
But in an Interview with FrontPage Africa, a legal pundit said the election was proper because Tyler filed his petition which was not granted by the court.
“There was nothing before her as long she, as Justice in Chambers, declined from issuing the writ. The House had all right to conduct an election,” said Cllr.Tiawon Gongloe.