Scramble Over Committees – Deputy Speaker Faces Declaratory Judgment
Monrovia – Even though Speaker Alex J. Tyler has recused himself from presiding over the plenary of the House of Representatives, it appears the crisis is far from over as there is ongoing wrangling over the chairmanship of statutory committees, with the latest on who becomes the new chairman for the Committee on Ways, Means and Finance.
Report by Alpha Daffa Senkpeni – [email protected]
Representative Moses Kollie, who was appointed by Speaker Tyler as Chairman of the House Ways, Means and Finance Committee, was removed by majority lawmakers under the gavel of Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue during the parallel session in the Joint chambers and constituted themselves into a committee to conduct hearing on the 2016/2017 draft budget.
Rule 54.1 of the House’s standing rules on vacancies on committees states that: “All committee chairpersons and members shall serve for the years but only the chairperson and co-chairperson are subject to removal by 2/3 majority vote of the members of the House of Representatives.”
Rule 54.2 further states that should the chairperson of any committee for any cause cease to serve it shall be the duty of the Speaker to appoint a new chairperson in collaboration with the leadership of the House.
In August the plenary under the gavel of Deputy Speaker Barchue through a motion from Representative Edward Forh constituted themselves into a committee to discharge the bill (2016/2017 Budget) from Representative Kollie’s committee.
According to them they were taking advantage of Rule 39 of the House, which spells discharge petition. In rule 39 “if a bill has been before a standing committee for 30 days; any member of the House may issue a notification to discharge it.”
On Friday September 8, a writ of summons was served Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue. The writ, issued by Yussif Kaba, Resident Sixth Judicial Circuit Judge, mandated the clerk of the court to summon the Grand Bassa County lawmaker to appear before the court, Civil law court.
“You are further commended to notify said, defendant(s)/Respondent(s) to file his/her/their formal appearance and /or answer in my office on/or before the 19th day of September, A.D 2016,” the writ stated.
In his petition, Rep Kollie, among many things, stated that under Rule 54 of the House all committee chairpersons and members shall serve for three years but only the chairperson and co-chairpersons and members are subject to removal by two thirds majority vote of the membership of the House for cause.
He also complaint of committee members being replace of the statutory committee members, whereas he served for only one year.
In a petition for declaratory Judgment the Rep Kollie’s lawyer prayed the court to request the both parties (he and the Deputy Speaker) to personally appear before the court.