The chambers of the Liberian Senate Tuesday, May 22, came under scorching tensions when unfavorable verbal exchanges took center stage between Grand Cape Mount Senator Varney Sherman and Maryland Senator H. Dan Morais with both senators nearly entering a fistfight.
It all started when Senator Sherman had made presentation on the aliens and nationality law, seeking amendments in the existing law as contains in the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
Article 28 (a) of the Constitution says: Any person, at least one of whose parents was a citizen of Liberia at the time of the Person’s birth, shall be a citizen of Liberia; provided that any such person shall upon reaching maturity renounce any other citizenship acquired by virtue of one parent being a citizen of another country. No citizen of the Republic shall be deprived of citizenship or nationality except as provided by law; and no person shall be denied the right to change citizenship or nationality.
The draft act states that children with Liberian father has the right to decide their nationality at maturity age, meaning 18 years and above but the amended version done by Cllr. Sherman and others, included mother and not father only. Debating the draft act, Sen. Morais accused the committee headed by Sherman of plagiarism.
Senator Morais, a former Internal Affairs Minister during the power sharing government of the late Charles G. Bryant intimates that the intellectual work of the committee was creatively done instead a ‘plagiarism’ and the plenary of the senate should not take the report serious.
Sherman, a man noted for being emotional when discussing issues on the floor of the senate chambers, felt insulted and humiliated by the statement of his colleague.
He flew from his seat with an echoing voice, demanding that the word ‘plagiarism’ be retracted unconditionally. Morais, another senator very hard to bow to demand, insists that he should given time to detail his points.
Sherman argues that he had never been involved in academic theft and that work is amendments to existing status, and it has no academic thievery. With the exchanges, the chambers became very hot and tense, with the presiding officer, Pro Tempore Albert Chie finding it challenging to calm the emotional flare between the two senators.
Earlier, Senator J. Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County had argued that the Alien and nationality draft act should not be hastily done as though, the country may lose if there were a delay.Sherman laments that since his days at the Capitol, he had never insulted anyone before and he does not deserve such characterization.
It took Senators Morris Saytumah of Bomi, Dr. Peter Coleman of Grand Kru, and Milton Teahjay of Sinoe Counties with consultation from Pro-Tempore Chie to calm the storm.
However, Morais was made to apologize for his hash comment and the apology was accepted by Sherman. With the heated and uncontrollable tension, Pro Tempore Chie adjourned the session hastily.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne