It appears like the ghost from the National Oil Company of Liberia or NOCAL oil money has begun hunting the House Speaker Alex Tyler. at least since his name was mentioned in an anti-corruption report last year involving some US25000.
This was glaring on Tuesday when plenary- the highest decision-making body of the House was disrupted as the direct result of disorderliness and disgruntlement when some members of that august body physically resisted Speaker Alex Tyler from presiding on grounds that he should clear his name at the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission or LACC before being seen fit to preside.
‘Disgruntled members’ of the House attributed their attitude to ‘credibility crisis’, they said, which currently hangs over the Speaker and entire House of Representatives by extension.
Aggrieved representatives- led by Representatives Edwin Snowe, Henry B. Fahnbulleh and Julius Berrien of Montserrado County, Nimba County Representative Samuel Kogar, Margibi County Represidentative Emmanuel Nuquoi, as well as some low profile members, stormed the chambers of the House in demand of a communication sent to Speaker Tyler, through the Chief Clark, seeking the endorsement of plenary that Speaker Tyler should no longer preside over the affairs of the august body until he (Tyler) clears his name from the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC.
When Speaker Tyler, in his wisdom, reportedly refused to place the communication on the agenda for discussion by Plenary, the aggrieved Lawmakers became disgruntled, creating a scene violent conflict by tearing the agenda prepared by the Speaker, on grounds that as long their communication was not on the agenda, the possibility of holding session was far from succeeding.
Speaker Tyler, as usual sitting in his presiding chair, ordered the Sergeant-At-Arms to call the session to order, and as he did for the commencement of the session, the aggrieved Representatives became tearing and throwing copies of the agenda at the House’s Chief Clark, while others shouted in their loudest voices against the possibility of holding session, following which the entire plenary went amok.
Speaker Tyler sat mutely in his chair- apparently wondering from where to start or how, as Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue persistently steered at the “grown-up men and women” of such honourable branch of government.
About three hours into the uncontrollably unstable situation in plenary, the Speaker unwillingly announced that the session of the day had ended.
According to the letter from the aggrieved members of the House of Representatives, during the course of their last session, Speaker Tyler was being investigated by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC for violating the Public Procurement Concession Commission or PPPCC Act for his alleged involvement in the US$25,000 legal service payment to two local lawyers by the National Oil Company of Liberia or NOCAL.
The three page-communication, addressed to the plenary, indicated: “this issue indeed exposes this august body to much public scrutiny, especially given the fact that the entire nation-wide consultations were financed by NOCAL to the tone of US$1.2 million, from which the Liberian Senate was given US$200,000,while US$1 million was left exclusively for the House. Our records also indicate that all services regarding the nation-wide consultations were fully financed from this amount,” the letter said.
“It is a common cause that the legal fees as part of the payment from NOCAL, was based on a budget from the body, and accordingly, it is totally strange to have gone back to NOCAL for new payment on behalf of the body,” the communication indicated.
The aggrieved members, in the communication, recommend that a special select committee be constituted to delve into the matter and report to Plenary within a month; and that Speaker Tyler, who is involved in the saga, cooperate fully with the committee. The letter also suggested that the speaker immediately and unconditionally divorces himself from presiding until the matter is resolved, urging Plenary to see this as a matter of ethics.
They pointed out that it was their duty as Lawmakers to maintain the integrity of the body in the execution of their constitutional mandate to govern themselves.
It can be recalled that Speaker Tyler admitted to his involvement in the US$25,000 payment from NOCAL, promising to cooperate fully when asked.
While the disgruntled members of the House went amok in Plenary on Tuesday, another group of Lawmakers pledged their unflinching support to Speaker Tyler, emphasizing that the Speaker was elected for six years in accordance with article 49 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution. In furtherance of this Constitutional provision, according to them, he still enjoys the collective confidence as first among equals.
The Speaker had earlier removed Representative Snowe as Chairman on Rules, Orders and Administration for alleged mal-financial practices and Representative Nuquoi as Chairman on Ways, Means and Finance Committees for reported breach of ethics.