Lawmakers Change Gear over Broh's arrest saga

The House of Representatives has rescinded its decision not to honor any petition for a writ of prohibition emanating from the Supreme Court that has to do with either suspended Monrovia acting City Mayor, Mary T. Broh or embattled and suspended Montserrado County Superintendent Grace Tee. Kpaan.

The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of Justice in the country. The House of Representatives via Deputy Speaker Hans M. Barchue had earlier vowed not to honor any petition for a writ of prohibition from the Supreme Court until the two suspended officials were punished by the House. The House rescinded its decision on Thursday, February 28, 2013 when plenary agreed to appear before the full bench of the Supreme Court on March 9, 2013 at 9:00 PM for a conference.  

The plenary is the highest decision making body of the House of Representatives. The House latest decision follows the issuance of a petition for a writ of prohibition by the High Court. The petition for a writ of prohibition was filed before the High Court by Madam Broh, one of the suspended officials. The High Court wants the House to give reason why the petitioner’s petition as prayed for should not be granted.   

In her petition for a writ of prohibition, Madam Broh through her lawyers among other things argue that the arrest and imprisonment of her (petitioner) without due of law is unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has instructed the House represented by its Speaker J Alex Tyler, Deputy Speaker Hans M. Barchu and others (Respondents) to file their Returns to this Writ in the Office of the Clerk of the High Court on or before the said 9th of March 2013 and stay all further proceedings in the matter pending the hearing of the petition.

The High Court also cited to the conference    Co-Respondents-Justice Minister, Cllr. Christiana Tah and all other law enforcement officers acting under the direction and of the Justice Minister; and Brigadier-General  Martin T. Johnson, Sergeant-At-Arms of the House of Representatives. It can be recalled that last Friday, February 22, 2013, the House of Representatives ordered the arrest and imprisonment of the two suspended government officials for a period of thirty (30) days each.

Both Broh and Kpaan were suspended by  President Ellen  Johnson-Sirleaf after the President was informed by the Vice President of the incidents involving the two officials and the House of Representatives. The House took the action at a special session held at the Capitol Building in Monrovia.

The Capitol Building is the seat of the Legislature. The lawmakers unanimously resolved to have the two suspended officials incarcerated at the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP) based upon the incident that occurred on Thursday, February 21, 2013 at the prison compound.

On Thursday, February 21, 2013, several plain clothes security officers, including the personal security to Madam Broh and some women reportedly prevented the imprisonment of Madam Kpaan at the Monrovia Central Prison (MPC). According to reports, the plain clothes security officers and women forcefully pulled away Madam Kpaan from the hands of the Sergeant-At-Arms, Brigadier-General Martin Johnson. The Plenary had earlier ordered the imprisonment of the suspended Montserrado Superintendent at the MCP for 72 hours.

The plenary said its action against Madam Kpaan was due to her alleged failure to implement its mandate after she earlier appeared before it. The plenary had mandated the suspended superintendent to pay the  scholarship fees of  some students of the county, re-transfer over US$400,000 that was deposited in a separate account, reinstate the Project Management Committee Chairman, Mr. Patrick Moore and restitute the amount of over US$50,000 that was “expended” without the consent of the County’s Council.

During the emergency session, the House of Representatives referred to the suspended officials as “non-governmental materials.”  In the emotionally charged session, a motion for the arrest and detention of Broh and Kpaan was raised by Bong County Representative George Mulbah. Upon taking the decision, the House wrote President Johnson-Sirleaf on the matter. The House complained the two officials to the Liberian leader and called for their immediate dismissal from government.
In the communication, the House notified the President about Madam Broh’s alleged action of obstructing justice at the prison compound and Madam Kpaan’s defiant posture and disrespect to the House of Representatives.