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“Rebel lawmakers”

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Ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Rep. Moses Acarus Gray says lawmakers who detached themselves from House Speaker Bhofal Chambers’ refusal to avail the Legislature to the alleged missing $15.5 billion Liberian Dollars investigation are “rebel lawmakers.”

“… Yekeh Kolubah called …[on the talk show], that’s one of the rebel lawmakers that I’m talking about. Oh definitely he’s a rebel lawmaker in the context of legislative politics. You know I’m a veteran in the Legislature,” Rep. Gray told local broadcaster OK FM Friday, 19 October.

Following a backlash against Speaker Chambers and his legislative supporters’ decision last week, the Legislature on Friday made sudden clarity that it was not going to shield anyone involved in the scandal, but it would require that the proper authority be written if documents or lawmakers are needed from the Legislature.

Speaker Chambers had announced on Thursday, 18 October that the Legislature cannot be invited by any institution [for inquiry], a day after U.S. investigative experts charged to probe Liberia’s alleged missing $15.5 billion met him and other key persons at the Capitol last Wednesday.

“This Legislature cannot be invited by any institution. This Legislature brings checks and balances. This Legislature is under constitutional obligation to call anybody for questioning,” Speaker Chambers said on Thursday.

But several lawmakers including Montserrado County Rep. Yekeh Kolubah, Margibi County Rep. Ivar Jones, and Nimba County Rep. Larry Younquoi disagreed with him on Friday, 19 October.In his reaction, Rep. Gray specifically attacks Reps. Kolubah and Jones who were the first to air their disagreements on radio, saying one or two of his colleagues had their own issues with the Speaker … and will want to manipulate a political statement to suit and satisfy their own desire.

According to him, an official statement had been issued by the Legislature in furtherance of clarification on the Speaker’s statement.Gray claims that anybody who is involved into this money issue, the Speaker is not going to shield them, but he is demanding that proper authority be written for whoever that is needed.

“…Because it’s clear that anybody who is involved into this money issue, the Speaker is not going to shield you, he is very clear about that. He’s only saying look, write … the proper authority, which the LACC [Liberia Anti – Corruption Commission] has agreed to do,” says Rep. Gray.
He says they are not talking about the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) [in terms of not availing themselves to probe], adding if documents are needed from the Legislature, the proper authority must be written.

“If they need a lawmaker to appear before them through the plenary, they will submit that lawmaker to the investigation team and there will be nothing to hide. Absolutely nothing to hide, Gray concludes.
Earlier on Friday, Rep. Kolubah said he was not consulted [on the decision to put the Legislature above the investigation], saying Speaker Chambers spoke on his own.

“…But this money issue should be investigated, we’ll appear there when the people need us,” Kolubah says.He argues that [if] somebody has personal problem with the FBI and don’t want to face the U.S. investigators in Liberia, they will handle that problem when they reach America.“Because we were not consulted, if he ask us for our view we will tell him say we want [to] appear there,” Kolubah states, and adds that he wants this money issue to be laid to rest.

“So he can’t just get on radio because he’s Speaker, we elected him. And I told him before the confidence that I reposed in him he no more enjoys it,” Kolubah asserts.Also adding his voice, Rep. Ivar Jones says Speaker Chambers spoke as an individual and not for the body.

Basing his argument on Article 1 of the Constitution of Liberia, Rep. Jones says all power is inherent in the people, and the people have petitioned the government and the international community to look into a matter of an alleged missing billions dollars.

He thinks as direct representatives of the people, it’s just prudent that the matter under discussion is fully handled to the satisfaction of the people.

In spite of providing clarity on what “rebel lawmaker” meant, Gray received lashes from numerous callers for labelling his colleagues as rebels because they distanced themselves from Speaker Chambers’ defiance against the alleged $15.5 billion dollars probe.

Later appearing on OK FM on Friday, Nimba County Rep. Larry Nyonquoi said he wished that Rep. Gray had not labelled his colleagues as rebels.Rep. Nyonquoi also says he disagrees with Speaker Chambers’ statement defying the probe, and he is happy that it was clarified on Friday morning, 19 October that nobody involved would be shielded.

“There are certain things that are better not said under certain condition,” Rep. Younquoi says, adding: “the money business in this country is so explosive” and lawmakers cannot afford to leave any ambiguity in this matter.

Rep. Younquoi fears that this money issue is almost making Liberia to lose its sovereignty like the Charles D.B. King scenario and the Fernado Po situation where the country lost it’s currency and be placed under trusteeship.

He says the Speaker’s statement is unfortunate, informing Liberians that if there is anyone stopping the Legislature from being cited he is “not one of those.”Rep. Younquoi argues that you can’t have a situation where members of the Legislature are accused of using money during the campaign and yet you say they cannot be cited.

Opposed to Chambers’ claim that the Legislature cannot be cited, Rep. Younquoi says he knows of many occasions when the Supreme Court of Liberia has cited the Legislature, like in former Speakers Alex Tyler and Edwin Snowe’s cases during which the Legislature appeared before the Supreme Court.

He wonders how Speaker Chambers reached the conclusion that the Legislature cannot be cited.Citing Article 42 of the Constitution, Rep. Younquoi says they cannot be cited when they are in session, but right now he says they are on break.The Nimba County lawmaker indicates that it’s a grave situation when it is being alleged here that the Legislature ordered the printing of money or when someone else is alleged to have taken upon themselves lawmakers’ responsibility and printed $10.5 billion dollars.

Given the gravity of this case at hand, Rep. Younquoi says he signed a resolution ever since for lawmakers “to be invited to come.”

-Rep. Gray describes colleagues who oppose Speaker’s anti – probe sentiments
By Winston W. Parley

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