The security details of embattled House Speaker Alex Tyler have been ordered removed by majority members of the House of Representatives seeking his removal.
The group voted overwhelmingly on Thursday August 18, during their separate sitting requesting the heads of the elite security guards and the Liberian National Police to effect such moves.
The anti-Tyler group which continues to hold session in the William Richard Tolbert Joint Chambers also voted requesting the General Services Agency to take hold of all government’s property in the possession of Speaker Tyler that relates to the office of the Speaker.
The majority bloc which number has risen from 39 to 45, with more defection from the pro-Tyler camp also instructed the Presiding Officer Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue to mandate all senior staffs including the Sgt at Arms, Chief Clark, Director of the Public Affairs and support staffs that are responsible for the smooth operation of the House to be present at its next sitting on Tuesday, August 23 or faced the wrath of plenary.
Their votes and mandates came as a letter from the Office of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was read on the floor of the joint chambers , acknowledging receipt of their letter informing her of their resolution, which voted the Houses’ Deputy Speaker to preside over their sessions.
Excerpts of President Sirleaf letter read: “I present compliments to you and herewith acknowledge receipt of your letter dated August 11, 2016 with attached resolution taken by the majority of the House of Representatives leading to your installment as presiding officer. Please be assured that every lawful and constitutional act of the House of Representatives will be honored and respected by the executive branch of the government.
“I wish to bring to the attention of your august body that programs under our agenda for transformation, including several long standing draft legislations critical to or development, have been stalled by the activities of the legislature over the last few weeks. This has also led to little progress on the 2016/17 annual budget. It is my sincere hope that a constitutionally organized majority will properly and swiftly attend to these matters. The executive stands ready to cooperate,” the letters concluded.
Following the reading of the communication, Information, Culture and Tourism Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe appeared before the Plenary of majority bloc in the William Richard Tolbert Joint Chambers to give reasons why two radio stations have been shut down by the government.
The appearance of the minister indicates the Executive Branch has rather chosen to do business with the majority bloc based on their resolution accompanied by a letter addressed to the Office the President.
Meanwhile, during his appearance, Minister Nagbe explained that the closure of the two FM stations Voice and LIB 24 were based on separate court actions and that the government has already won one of the cases, while the remaining one is still before the Sixth Circuit Court at the Temple of Justice.
However, despite the majority’s session, embattled Speaker Tyler held a parallel section recording 34 members including absentees. It is not clear whether some of those absentees have been numbered with the majority because the House has only 73 members.
The move to remove Speaker Tyler come on the back of an indictment based on a Global Witness report. The report released months ago alleges that several government officials including past and present received bribes to change a mining law in favor of a British firm Sable Mining.
The report alleged that Tyler received US$75,000 as ‘consulting fees’ out of the US$950,000 paid by the company to several government officials. The Speaker has since been indicted and is facing legal proceedings along with other indictees. He has since denied the allegation.
He was ordered arrested by Criminal Court “C” based on request by the Special Presidential taskforce constituted by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to immediately investigate the Sable Mining bribery allegation.
The majority bloc has requested his recusal from presiding over proceedings until his trial is over, but Tyler has remained defiant. This is not the first time Speaker Tyler has been named in an alleged corruption scandal.
Tyler was allegedly named in a US$25,000 bribery from the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) in 2015. The allegation stirred up a serious controversy. The matter was under investigation by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC). This almost ousted him.
When the LACC announced the launch of an investigation into the US$25,000 scandal linking Speaker Tyler and Representative Adolf Lawrence, the Capitol Building became very uneasy for Speaker Tyler particularly upon hearing news of a plot to remove him.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor -Edited by Othello B. Garblah