Says Sen. Senator Massaley;
…Sen. Nyenpan: Senate Willn’t Accept “’Interference’”
With Grand Cape Mount County Senator Abel Massaley pointing at error by the Supreme Court in its mandate instructing the reinstatement of the suspended Senate Pro-tempore, another member of the Majority bloc also, Sinoe County Senator Mabutu Nyenpan says the Senate will not accept any decision that amounts to interference with its function.
The two Senators chatted with this writer on Thursday at the Capitol Building, when the seat of the Senate became a controversial ground of focus in the wake of reports that the Senate would declare the Seat of the President Pro-Tempore vacant on that September 25th day, following news of the Supreme Court’s issuance of a Writ of Prohibition containing a mandate calling for the restoration of the Isaac Nyenabo leadership of the Senate.
Mr. Nyenabo was suspended on Tuesday, August 5, 2008 as a result of a Resolution signed by 20 senators of the Senate and submitted to the Plenary, charging the Protempore with administrative ineptitude and other mal-practices, but the Grand Gedeh County Senator suspended from the senate Pro-Tempore’s and replaced with Bomi County Senator Lahai Lansana took the Senate to the Supreme Court and petitioned the high court for a writ of prohibition alleging that his suspension was not only unconstitutional, but was also violating the Senate Standing rules and lack due process.
Although the mandate from the Justice in Chamber instructs the Senate to reinstate suspended President Pro-Tempore Nyenabo before the body can face the full Johnny Lewis Bench of the high court on October 24, 2008, the Plenary - the highest decision making body of the Senate - gave the Supreme Court mandate cold-shoulder on Thursday when the Senate was closing for its Agricultural break. It did not make discussion of the high court mandate part of the agenda item for discussion on that day, but instead stated that the senate receive the mandate late
Meanwhile, there are reports that the Senate would issue a statement on the Supreme Court mandate this Monday, September 29, 2008. Although no one is précised on what the statement would contain, it is believed that it will be a statement ordering the reinstatement of Senator Nyenabo to the seat of the President Protempore of the Senate.
Meanwhile, three senators that were approached by this writer already reacted to the Mandate on Thursday. They are Grand Cape County Senator Abel Massaley, Senators Mabutu Nyenpan and Jewel Howard Taylor who separately reacted to the mandate.
‘Supreme Court has erred’
Senator Massaley who is the chairman on the Foreign Relation Committee said the Supreme Court has erred when it singled out nine senators “and others acting under their command to reinstate Senator Nyenabo.” Massaley furthered said the nine senators pointed out in the Supreme Court’s mandate have no jurisdiction over any of the members of the Senate. Senator Massaley argued further that all Senator are equal in Plenary and that no senator is acting under the command of another as erroneously said in the Supreme Court mandate.
He told this writer that it is untrue of the claim that Senator Nyenabo was not given due process, in debunking the claim narrated a summary of a detail earlier given by Sinoe County Senator Mabutu Nyenpan, the Chairman of the Sinoe County Legislative Caucus, who said the processes that led to Senator Nyenabo’s suspension grew out of a resolution signed by 20 senators.
In its mandate, the Justice in Chamber of the Supreme Court, Cllr. Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie, has instructed the high court’s marshal to instructed Grand Cape Mount County Senator Abel Massaley, Bomi County Senator Lahai Lansana, Bong County Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, Grand Bassa County Senator Gbezohngar Finley, Nimba County Senators Prince Johnson and Adolphus Dolo, Sinoe County Senator Mabutu Nyenpan and Senator Daniel Neetahn and others “acting under their command” to restore Grand Gedeh County Senator Isaac W. Nyenabo to his position as Senate President Pro-Tempore prior to the Upper House’s appearance before the full bench of the Supreme Court on October 24, 2008.
‘Senate will accept no interference’
But Sinoe County Nyenpan, saying he would not flout the laws by disobeying ruling from the Supreme Court, added that if the Supreme Court says something that amounts to interference with Senate function, we - as a body- will not accept it.
Senator Nyenpan explained that Senator Nyenabo was confronted with his offenses against the Senate. He said the President Pro-Tempore then took responsibility and openly apologized to the Senate. He narrated that it was on the basis of the apology the Senate thought they should reduce his punishment to suspension instead of removal from office.
“But we had differences on how long the suspension should last. Some suggested one month, some three months and some six month months. With Vice President Joseph Boakai presiding over the meeting during which Senator Nyenabo was confronted with his offences when he apologized, 13 persons voted for and the remaining 11 that were against voted for one month and three months respectively. Nyenabo himself voted for one month suspension against him,” Senator Nyenpan explained.
Saying that the records are there with the Senate’s Secretary, the senator expressed surprise that Senator Nyenabo went to the Supreme Court and claimed that he was not given due process.
“Nyenabo was given due Process”- Mabutu
On the resolution, he said it was signed by 20 senators that have declared a ‘vote of no confidence’ in the ability of Senator Nyenabo to lead the senate. According to him, he heard that two of the female senators withdrew their signatures, “but it was not officially to the knowledge of the Senate. Under our rules when the Plenary possessed a signed document, signatories cannot withdraw their signatures.”
“The resolution was presented to the Senate Plenary which is the highest decision-making body of the Senate, and a meeting of the Plenary was called; Vice President Joseph Boakai presided over the meeting. The Vice President on that Tuesday, August 5th, asked each senator including Senator Nyenabo who was confronted with the allegations in the Resolution, what was the senators input and everyone gave his or her opinion; senator Nyenabo took responsibility and apologized to the Senate,” Senator Nyenpan emphasized.
“The next thing we heard again was that the suspended President Pro-Tempore ran to the Supreme Court and alleged that he was not given due process. He also alleged the Senate violated the Constitution and its own rule,” the Senator explained.
But Senator Nyenpan said his colleague from Grand Gedeh has misled the Supreme Court. “Due process, as far as the Legislature is concerned, is to acquaint and confront one with his offences and give him the chance to respond; this was done,” Senator Nyenpan said. On the question of violation claims, he said both the Constitution and the Senate’s Standing Rule are silent on the suspension of the Pro-Tempore.
According to him, this silence gives the law making body the option to put into vote the precedence that would undo the silence. “Why will one say we have the power to employ and we do not have the power to suspend? As long as the decision is by the Plenary and it does not openly or in any way violate either the Constitution or the Standing Rules of the Senate, it stands and it is binding,” Senator Mabutu Nyenpan said.
Senator Nyenpan explained that thereafter, he heard that the both Senate’s lawyers and those of Senator Nyenabo were told to come and settle the matter, but this, he added was not fully communicated by the Justice in Chamber at the Supreme Court.
He argued that he is convinced as a senator that Senator Nyenabo, by his participation in the decision that has suspended him, was given due process and that that by the silence of the Constitution and the Senate rules on suspension of the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, “The Senate has not violated the Constitution or the law. But tell me, Bill, how possible it that one can employ but cannot suspend?”
‘Nyenabo Can’t Preside over Chairs’
In her own reaction, Senator Jewel Howard said coercing the Senate to reinstate senator Nyenabo means spoiling the Liberian people’s business. “What will happen if we accept to reinstate Senator Nyenabo and we the same people refused to sit under his gavel? Will the Supreme Court force us or will the people’s business be done? Will Nyenabo preside over the chairs with just very few senators that wouldn’t form a chorum?” Senator Taylor was quizzical when he chatted with this reporter at the Capitol Building.
Recently, Associate Justice Wolokollie notified the Senators, in an order to the Marshal of the Supreme Court, “You are hereby commanded to instruct the respondents to restore the petitioner, Isaac W. Nyenabo, Senate Pro-Tempore to his position as of the date of the issuance of this writ and pending the hearing and determination of this matter by the Supreme Court.” Justice Wolokollie named nine senators “and others acting under their command to restore Senator Nyenabo” as President Pro-Tempore of the Senate.
Justice Wolokollie has also earlier cited the respondents to appear before the full Bench of the Supreme Court to show reason why the high court should not grant petitioners’ petition prayed for to the court. Senator Nyenabo and his party, the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) through its Acting Chairman Hodo Merriam took the Senate to Court and petition the Supreme Court for a Writ of Prohibition intended to stall his suspension. He has a three (3) count pleadings. He said he was not given due process of law; he said the Senate violated the standing rules because the rules did not provide for suspension and he said the Senate violated the Constitution because the Constitution did not provide for Suspension.
But the Senate on Thursday brushed the mandate of the Supreme Court on the side and added that it was received too late to for discussion. During Thursday session of the Senate, senator Nyenabo made a dramatic appearance at the Senate Chamber since his suspension and started to shake hands with his fellow senators at which time Vice President Boakai was presiding, but he made quick exit after acting President Pro-Tempore Lahai Lansana took over the Senate’s plenary as presiding officer.