Embattled House Speaker J. Alex Tyler facing mounting pressure here from some of his colleagues to recuse himself from office after his criminal indictment by the State has vowed never to step down, challenging the legality of such call.
Hosting a news conference late Tuesday at the Capitol Building, the Speaker said Anti-Tyler Lawmakers calling for his removal and holding separate session are acting illegally. Tuesday’s news conference followed a meeting between Speaker Tyler and officials at the United States Embassy near Monrovia.
He had earlier sought an injunction from the Supreme Court to halt group of lawmakers headed by Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue from conducting separate session at the Capitol. Tyler is indicted along with several others on multiple charges, including economic sabotage and criminal facilitation, among others after a Global Witness linked them to receiving US$950 million bribe from Sable Mining Limited of Britain to amend Liberian concession law in its favor to enable the company win a mining concession here.
Meanwhile, the grounds of the Capitol Building became very tense Tuesday as Anti-Tyler Lawmakers convened for the second time in the Joint Chambers of the House with Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue presiding amidst the presence of protestors, who were restricted outside the grounds of the Capitol by armed police. The protestors had gone in support of Speaker Tyler. According to head count carried by the acting Chief Clark, a total of 36 lawmakers were present in the session held by the Anti-Tyler bloc while three were absent.
Those absent include; Lofa County Representative Eugene Fallah Kparkar, currently on sick leave; Montserrado County Representative Thomas Fallah, who is in the United States on official mission and Getrude Lamine of Gbarpolu County.
On the other hand, the Chambers of the lower House presided over by the embattled Speaker, the record showed that 32 members from the Pro-Tyler bloc were present, four distant and two sick.
Both sessions registered a total of 77 Lawmakers instead of the official 73 as required by law. The stenographers failed to name the distant and sick lawmakers, which seems to indicate the figures were being manipulated for political gain.
The Anti-Tyler bloc proceeded session with a communication from Montserrado County Representative Henry B. Fahnbulleh, seeking plenary to investigate Tyler for claiming that some of his colleagues took bribes from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to have him removed, describing them as surrogates to the Presidency.
According to a communication dated August 15, in July Speaker Tyler publicly accused members of the plenary, who have repeatedly expressed opposition to his alleged dictatorial and undemocratic tendencies, of receiving bribes to remove him as Speaker and that on August 9, he reportedly ordered ‘thugs’ to invade Joint Chambers and boo members of the chambers, who had intended to assemble to conduct regular legislative duties.
Rep. Fahnbulleh said in his letter, bribery under the law is a felonious crime, which also amounts to official corruption. “The fact that the indicted and recused Speaker who, holding everything constant, is the third in the order of presidential succession would make a wide allegation without presenting an iota of evidence, is despicable”, Fahnbulleh said.
The letter noted that part of the oath of the office taken by the indicted Speaker is to protect colleagues who have openly expressed dissent which the Constitution of Liberia protects.
Based on the communication and following intense debate among lawmakers, the Anti- Tyler bloc constituted a committee headed a former allay to Speaker Tyler, Grand Bassa County Representative Byron Brown, Nimba County’s Saywah Worlea Dunah, Montserrado’s Richmond Anderson and Bong’s George Mulbah to report to plenary within one week.
Meanwhile, the plenary of the Anti-Tyler bloc has instructed that account of the House of Representatives be frozen until otherwise and both the Chief Clark, Madam Mildred Siryon and staffs and Sgt at Arms, General Martin Johnson and his team report under their gavel tomorrow, Thursday or face the wrath of that body.
At the same time, the Liberian Senate in an executive session yesterday, reached a decision to play a mediatory role in resolving the ongoing saga which has engulfed the House of Representatives, stalling smooth legislative functions. The Senate has constituted a six-man mediatory committee headed by Senate President Pro-Tempore Armah Zolu Jallah and Senator Geraldine Doe Sherif, among others to constructively engage both parties in finding an amicable settlement. Editing by Jonathan Browne