By Ethel A Tweh
The plenary of the Liberian Senate has brought down a guilty verdict for contempt against Agriculture Minister Madam Jeanine Cooper.
Minister Cooper will reappear on Thursday, 2 December 2021 to be sentenced in accordance with Article 44 of the Liberian Constitution.
Minister Cooper was found guilty of all the charges against her following an extensive hearing at the Liberian Senate.
It can be recalled that recently, the Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, headed by Jim Tonola of Margibi County, requested the approval of the plenary to summon the Agriculture boss.
The call to summon Minister Cooper came following an accusation by the committee over her noncompliance attitude toward its execution of oversight function.
The Minister appeared with her lawyer, former Senator Gloria Scott to answer the charges against her.
Responding to the charges, Minister Cooper said it has never been the intention of the Ministry of Agriculture and its officials to deliberately, willfully, and intentionally refuse to comply with requests from the relevant committees to appear.
She added that whenever duly cited, the Ministry of Agriculture was represented by her when she is in the country. In her absence, she said, the Acting Minister will appear along with relevant documents to answer queries.
“It was in this vein that I responded to the letter signed by the Secretary of the Liberian Senate, Honorable Nanborlor F. Saingbe, Sr., dated October 21, 2021, ordering myself and the Deputy Ministers to appear on Tuesday, October 26, 2021, at the hour of 11 AM,” Minister Cooper stated.
According to her, in submission to the citation, she respectfully informed the Senate in a letter dated 22 October 2021, that she was not in the country at the time of either of the citations.
She added that she worked with the Acting Minister and project teams to ensure that the Senate’s citations were properly addressed.
“I have done all within my power and personal abilities to reinforce and facilitate legislative oversight including by and through the provision of reports to the House of Representatives, to various committees in the Senate, including the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries,” said Madam Cooper.
“Briefings are being given as to the Senior Leadership of the House of Representatives, to cabinet colleagues, to the international community, and to the world at large,” she explained.
“I herewith respectfully inform you, I have not harbored any intention to disrespect you, nor the relevant Committee, nor this venerable Body. I refer to my letter of October 22, 2021,” she continued.
She indicated that the Ministry of Agriculture cannot and will not directly or indirectly, impede the duties and responsibilities or the legislative oversight of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.