Liberia: House of Representatives Divided over Subjecting Yekeh Kolubah to Investigation, Forms Independent Legislative Caucus
MONROVIA – Plenary of the House of Representatives has subjected Rep. Yekeh Kolubah to an investigative board sanctioned by the Ministry of Justice in connection with the riot that occurred in his district during a children party he had organized on Sunday.
The decision was triggered by a communication from the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean to House Speaker Bhofal Chambers requesting the House to ensure that Rep. Kolubah cooperates with the investigation.
Minister Dean stated in the communication that owing to the gravity of the incident and Rep. Kolubah’s allegations that Police Inspector General, Patrick Sudue and his officers acted unprofessionally, the Ministry of Justice has referred the matter to the Liberia National Police Civil Complaints Review Board for a thorough investigation.
Members of the board sanctioned to conduct the investigation include the president of the Liberia National Bar Association, representatives of the Ministries of Justice and Internal Affairs, chairperson of the Independent National Human Rights Commission, president of the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY), chairperson of the National Civil Society Organization and the president of the Liberia Law Enforcement Association.
Cllr. Dean promised that following the investigation, the Ministry will take appropriate actions to ensure that such incident is not repeated.
Rep. Kolubah had earlier accused the Police Inspector General of only arresting his private security and leaving those he claimed instigated the violence that led to the injury of the scores of kids and the disruption of the event.
Minister Dean, however, noted in a press release issued on Tuesday that several persons were arrested in connection to the incident.
Plenary’s Decision Condemned
Meanwhile, the decision to subject Rep. Kolubah to the Justice Ministry’s investigation did not go down well with some lawmakers as they accused the Speaker of stage managing the votes taken on the floor.
Rep. Adolf Lawrence, in his protest argued that Rep. Kolubah’s letter to Plenary, complaining the LNP and citing series of violence act meted against residents of his constituent and that of his family should have been placed on the agenda for discussion, and not only the Minister’s letter.
Rep. Lawrence stated that the Speaker should have called for a head count vote instead of a nay and yea vote because of the divided opinion on the issue.
He threatened to file in a motion of reconsideration within 72 hours in line with the House’s rules in a bid to stop Rep. Kolubah from appearing before the Ministry of Justice’s sanctioned investigation until Plenary listens and acts on his (Rep Kolubah) complaint that has been submitted to the Speaker.
In a related development, a group of lawmakers of the House of Representatives have condemned the violent acts meted against ‘innocent’ children attending a party organized by Rep. Yekeh Kolubah of Montserrado County’s Tenth Electoral District.
The violence led to the injury of several people including children and police officers who had gone to put the incident under control and the disruption of the event.
Addressing the media at the Capitol Building on Tuesday, January 22, the lawmakers, through their spokesperson, Francis Dopoh also denounced the reported gun firing attack on the home of their colleague on Monday (January 21) and called on the President and the leadership of the 54th Legislature to see these actions threats to national security and address them.
“Such act threatens the security and protection of the peaceful people of Liberia and requires serious attention. Let this claim the attention of the Liberian Government, ECOWAS, African Union, the United Nations and our traditional partner, the United States of America as we are in the stage of consolidating the peace and the gains made by all of us,” the Lawmakers stated through their spokesperson.
The lawmakers are from diverse political parties and include Francis S. Dopoh, II (UP, River Gee Dist. #3), Jay Nagbe Sloh (CDC, Sinoe Dist. #2), Beyan D. Howard (UP, Lofa Dist. #5), Rustolyn S. Dennis (Independent, Mont. Dist. #4 Adolph A. Lawrence (CDC, Mont. Dist. #15), Thomas A. Goshua (UP, Grand Bassa Dist. #5), Vincent S.T. Willie (Grand Bassa Dist. #4) and Ivar K. Jones (Margibi Dist. #2).
Deepened Crisis At Lower House
In the wake of the ongoing acrimonious infighting at the House of Representatives, a group of aggrieved members have formed themselves into a group called the Independent Legislative Caucus.
According to the group’s Chair, Representative Larry P. Younquoi (UP, Nimba County District #8), the primary objective of the group is to bring about independence and credibility at the House of Representatives.
Rep. Younquoi asserted that the establishment of said group is not intended to fight against the interest of the Executive or a plan to remove Speaker Chambers, but to resurrect the legislature from its current state of partisanship.
“This group is intended to bring back credibility and sanity to the House of Representatives as we have observed the House of Representatives has become partisan and we think this is wrong in the tripartite arrangement of our governing system,” he averred.
There have been increasing call for the removal of Speaker Chambers coming from both the House of Representatives and that of the public spheres.
Most of the Speaker’s colleagues have repeatedly expressed disappointment over his leadership style, citing his inability to preside and his lack of knowledge over legislative proceedings.
Addressing a press conference recently, the Executive Director of the Institute Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), Harold Aidoo expressed fear that the pattern of Separation of Power in the governance system of Liberia seems to be threatened by the Speaker’s close relationship with the Executive.
Aidoo claimed that the Speaker has ‘gone to bed’ with the Executive.
It can be recalled that following his election as Speaker, Rep. Chambers, in his first speech thanked President Weah for fulfilling his promise by making him the first among equals of the 54th Legislature, particularly the House of Representatives. Speaker Chambers in 2018 also traveled with the President abroad and was part of negotiations of several bilateral talks and concession agreements.