The House of Representatives on Capitol Hill, last Thursday, voted overwhelmingly to suspend three of its members for acts not compatible with its rules.
The decision for the suspension of Representatives Roland Cooper of Matgibi County, Henry B. Fahbilleh of Montserrado County and Samuel Kogar of Nimba County for three months and one month respectively was against the backdrop of their physical disorderliness and gansterism they exhibited in mid January this year, which did not only disrupt sessions, but disrepute the House’s already damaged image in the eyes of the public.
Accompanying their suspensions (three months for Roland Cooper and a month each for Fahnbulleh and Kogar) are additional punitive actions denying them their salaries, allowances and benefits. Furthermore, they are to exercise any right attached to a lawmaker while serving their respective suspensions.
Complementing Plenary decision last Thursday is the warning for the Representatives to stay away from all activities of the House of Representatives to include sessions, committee meetings, public meetings, as well as acting in the capacity of their respective offices until the lifting of their suspensions.
Even thousand the precedence set by Members of the House of Representatives may be considered worth-wide and well-meaning, it must also go beyond what transpired last January. Same must also be applied whenever any Lawmaker is in the wrong against person(s) not a member of the House of Representative.
It is an open secret that on numerous occasions since the 52nd and 53rd Legislature of the Government of Liberia, Lawmakers, especially those in the House, have been in the constant habit of hiding behind “contempt powers” to violate the rights of other officials and individual Liberian citizens. Besides, they, at times, heavily rely on support within the House to misbehave to other citizens to no avail.
But we can only hope that with the adage ‘everything has time’, this latest action by the House of Representatives against three of its members will be the beginning of making that august body a ‘true housie of elders’.
As we commend the leadership and Plenary of the House for the first major realistic decision against a few of their members for acts incompatible with their own rules, we also challenge them to go beyond last Thursday’s decision and ensure that same is done for the public, especially when such Lawmakers are in the wrong against any member of the public, instead of shielding them.