Members of the Liberian Senate, during their statutory sitting on Tuesday at the Capitol Building, were engaged in serious debate and hot exchanges over the TRC Report after being read by the Secretary of the Senate, Nanbolor Singbeh.
The TRC Report was recently sent to the Senate by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Under the watchful eyes of Montserrado County Senator Geraldine Doe Sheriff – the Presiding, the report was declared opened for suggestions.
Sinoe County Senator Joseph Nagbe initially indicated that since the report contained about 200 plus recommendations, it would be expedient and rewarding for the senate to set up a committee to probe the entire findings and recommendations available for senators to debate in the near future.
But he was absolutely opposed by Grand Gedeh County Senator G. Alphonso Gaye described the report as an important public document that Senators should have taken time off to read, adding that to set up a Special Committee for expert opinions was a diversionary tactics introduced by the Sinoe County Lawmaker to further cause delays.
Senator Gaye, who formerly shared county with slain former President Samuel Kanyon Doe, noted that it would be a disservice and dishonourable to Liberians who suffered greatest pains of the protracted civil conflict, for the report to be down-played or delayed under the canopy of using the ‘expert opinions’ factor as a means to stall workings of the TRC recommendations.
According to him, there was no Senator or a Liberian specialized in the TRC Report, saying the Senate must be able to effect serious actions on the TRC recommendations for the protection of Liberia’s democracy, peace and stability.
Currently in the chambers of the Liberian Senate, Senators Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba County and Oscar Cooper of Margibi Counties are indicted for crimes against humanity in the Report. Senator Johnson – seen in chambers in total discomfort, emotionally stated that the senate is divided into two groups, with one group arguing on the basis of sentiments, hate, and not speaking to the reality of the day’s happenings.
Johnson – leader of the disbanded Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia or INPFL described the TRC Report as a material that grossly violated the rights of people who dedicated their time to appear before the TRC to give their sides of the story.
The former standard bearer of the National Union for Democratic Progress or NUDP in the 2011 Presidential and Legislative Elections also intimated during the debate that the TRC also violated the Liberian Constitution, the Comprehensive Peace Accord or CPA, and the very act that established it (the TRC).
He noted that of the nine commissioners of the commission, four declined to sign the final report, suggesting that the TRC’s work was not done in good fate. He also described the report as political weapon used against people in society, especially by Liberians who don’t want peace and stability here. The Nimba County Lawmaker warned that up to present, there were some people who believe in trouble, and that they are reportedly using simple things to create a mess here.
J. Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County intervened with a strong counter-argument against Sen. Johnson, emphasizing that both Liberians and the international community were very interested in how the Senate would handle the matter.
Teahjay – former Superintendent of Sinoe County and former Deputy Information Minister in administration of former President Charles G. Taylor, said many Liberians were wantonly crying for justice, and that path of justice was created for them through the establishment of a War Crime Court where alleged perpetrators would prove their innocence.
Senator Teahjay pointed out that people should be getting prepared to give account of their various roles played in the Liberian crisis, insisting that the discussion of the report should commence immediately.
Meanwhile, Senator Nagbe made the motion that the report be sent to a special committee for the conduct of public hearings, following which findings would be presented to Plenary.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor -Edited by George Barpeen