Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper has branded the Liberian Senate as a useless place on planet earth, after his call for the Upper House to observe “normal legislative procedure” in ratifying a US$4.8m grant was downplayed by presiding officer Pro Tempore Armah Jallah.
Speaking with the NewDawn newspaper on Tuesday, 27 June, Sen. Cooper complained that he did “not hear well” the reading of the bill due to the spoiled Public Announcement system in the Senate Chambers, thus seeking to exercise his constitutional rights to demand clarity before ratification of the instrument.
The Senate became a scene of verbal attacks between presidential hopeful and Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper and Senate President Pro Tempore Armah Jallah when the bill seeking ratification for a grant agreement valued at US$4.8 million was read one time at the Senate’s Plenary and passed.
After the reading of the bill, a motion was made that the first reading constituted the first, second and third readings, instead of having it read three separate times before its ratification.
As such, the motion suggested that the instrument was ready for passage after being read one time. But Sen. Cooper deemed the action of his colleagues to be in clear violation of the Senate’s standing rules, which were quickly suspended by the endorsement of the motion.The Senate’s rules call for bill to be read three separate times before being passed to enable senators to have adequate time to understand the material they would be voting for.
But Senator Cooper did not allow his colleagues to go with impunity for the suspension of the rules, strongly objecting to the motion that sought to ignore the procedures.
The Margibi County Senator demanded that the bill should go through the normal legislative procedure.
But his observation was ignored by Presiding Jallah, on grounds that the rules were already suspended. Frustrated by the action of the Senate, Senator Cooper burst into flames and began describing the senate as useless place on planet earth.
His reaction created serious tension among senators, who requested Pro Tempore Jallah to demand for an apology for such description of the Upper House.
Pro Tempore Jallah immediately insisted that Cooper should apologize to his colleagues, though the furious Margibi County lawmaker would not listen to any such demand. The chambers remained noisy as Sen. Cooper stood his ground.
However, Pro Tempore Jallah ruled that Senator Cooper has two days to apologize or face the wrath of the Senate. The Senate’s punishment includes fines, suspension and expulsion.
Meanwhile, the plenary of the senate voted overwhelmingly for the passage of the grant agreement. This is the second time the Liberian Senate has come under attack by its members. Gbarpolu County Senator Daniel Naatehn had earlier branded heads of committee of the senate as ‘puppets’.
Senator Naatehn claimed that committees’ chairpersons at the Senate on several occasions failed to operate independently, alleging that they awaited the Pro Tempore to decide the final approach of their committee’s report.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Edited by Winston W. Parley