Liberia: House Sends Woman and her Brother to Jail after ‘Assaulting’ Lawmaker Who ‘Hit’ Her Car without Stopping
Capitol Hill, Monrovia – The House of Representatives on Tuesday sentenced two siblings, Makanvee Sheriff and Abdul Sheriff to 15 days in prison for allegedly assaulting one of their colleagues, Representative Nathaniel Bahway of Grand Kru County Electoral District One.
Despite the Sheriffs pleading guilty and begging for forgiveness, the House, citing Article 44 of the Constitution of Liberia, voted to punish them to “Set a precedent and deterred future attacks against lawmakers”.
On Tuesday, the Capitol was engulfed in a sea of drama when the Sheriffs, along with other two accomplices stormed the building in their vehicle; raining insults on Rep. Bahway for allegedly hitting their car while he on his way to the Capitol for session.
They accused the lawmaker of showing no remorse as he kept speeding towards the Capitol. They chased him, entered the courtyard and confronted him. Madam Sheriff did not only lead her relatives in raining insults at the lawmaker, but was at same time recording their action with her cellphone, according to eye witnesses.
The eye witnesses told FrontPage Africa that Rep. Bahway ordered his security to show restraint as he tried walking away, but Makanvee Sheriff held him by his shirt, and demanding apology from him before he was later rescued by his security and group of legislative staffers.
Meanwhile, the Sargent-at-arms of the House of Representatives, General Martin Johnson later intervened. And following a brief investigation, whisked Madam Sheriff in handcuffs to the Police Headquarters at Capitol Bypass.
Plenary then convened a closed doors meeting to discuss the incident. Citing Article 44 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, the Sheriffs were then summoned under contempt charges by the House and asked to appeared with their lawyer in open session.
Article 44 of the Constitution states: “Contempt of the Legislature shall consist of actions which obstruct the Legislative functions or which obstructs or impede members or officers of the Legislature in the discharge of their legislative duties and maybe punished by the House concerned by reasonable sanctions after a hearing consistent with due process of law. No Sanctions shall extend beyond the session of the Legislature wherein it is imposed, and any sanctions imposed shall conform to the provisions on Fundamental Rights laid down in the Constitution. Dispute between legislators and non-members which are properly cognizable in the courts shall not be entertained or heard in the Legislature.”
Without any delay, they both pleaded guilty before the House and asked for forgiveness. Makanvee lamented that she was not mentally well and that she allowed her emotions to take hold of her; while Abdul said he has always been a peaceful citizen, and was sorry for his action against the lawmaker who could be a father figure to him.
But despite their pleads, majority of the lawmakers including Representatives Thomas Goshua (District #5, Grand Bassa County), Jimmy Smith (District #2, Montserrado County) and Larry Younquoi (District #8, Nimba County), in a heated debate, called for though punishment to serve as a deterrence.
“The action of the lady and the gentlemen to come to the Capitol to do what they did, I believe was premeditated. We have to set a precedence or pretty soon, we will be attacked by people who feel they can get away with anything they do to us,” said Rep. Goshua.
Rep. Younquoi added: “I want to say that this lady has been given due process, and she has openly admitted to her action, she must put in jail and stay there until December 18. Thereafter, she can be tried for her crimes.”
Following a two-hour debate, Plenary voted in favor of Rep. Dixon Wlawlee Sebo’s motion to reprimand the Sheriffs in prison for 15 days.
However, before the vote could be taken, Makanvee, who had earlier complained of not being well, collapsed in the Chamber, and was rushed to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital.
The lawmakers, following several amendments to the motion, voted that Makanvee be treated under the watch of state security, and after her treatment be taken to jail; while her brother, Abdul, was handcuffed and taken to the Monrovia Central Prison to begin his sentence.