Liberian Senate Fines Agriculture Minister LD$4,999 for Obstructing Legislative Functions
The Plenary of the Liberian Senate today fined Agriculture Minister Jeanine M. Cooper Four Thousand nine Hundred and ninety-nine Liberian Dollars (L$ 4,999) for Obstructing Legislative functions.
The Minister was found “guilty” on Tuesday, November 30, 2021, based on counts of “noncompliance and gross disrespect” to the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.
The Senate decision to fine minister Cooper was taken during the 12th day sitting of the Special Session on Thursday, December 2, 2021, based on a motion proffered by Montserrado County Senator, Abraham Darius Dillon.
The Agriculture Minister was mandated by Plenary to pay into government revenue the L$ 4,999( Four Thousand nine Hundred and ninety-nine Liberian Dollars) with a receipt presented to the Secretary of the Senate on or before the next sitting of the Senate on Tuesday.
The Minister is also mandated by Plenary to resubmit herself to the committee to have the unresolved issues discussed and possibly resolved.
As a means of providing Minister Cooper due process, she appeared with her Lawyer, Former Senator of Maryland County Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott on November 30 during the contempt hearing.
Following an extensive contempt hearing and with a guilty verdict, Plenary mandated that the Minister remained under oath and reappear Today December 2, 2021, at 11:30 A.M. to be sentenced in accordance with Article 44 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
Article 44 states: “Contempt of the Legislature shall consist of actions which obstruct the legislative functions or which obstruct or impede members or officers of the Legislature in the discharge of legislative duties and may be punished by the House concerned by reasonable sanctions after a hearing consistent with due process of law. No sanction shall extend beyond the session of the Legislature wherein it is imposed, and any sanction imposed shall conform to the provisions on Fundamental Rights laid down in this Constitution. Disputes between legislators and non-members which are properly cognizable in the courts shall not be entertained or heard in the Legislature”.
In her testimony, Minister Cooper informed the Plenary of the Liberian Senate that she was misled by her Deputy Minister for Technical Services, Robert Kerkulah Fagans, who was acting as Minister while she was aboard on an official trip.
According to Senate Press release, the Minister of Agriculture subsequently offered an apology for the second time to the Plenary and took the responsibility of every action leading to noncompliance posture to the Committee, and at the same time promised to open a new chapter of cordial working relationship with the Committee and the Legislature as a whole.
In reply to the Minister’s testimony, the Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, Margibi County Senator Jim Tornonlah told the Plenary of the Senate that the Committee made countless efforts to cite the Minister or her Deputies before the Committee to brief on happenings in the agriculture sector for possible interventions but all efforts were fruitless, thereby impeding the work of the Committee.
It can be recalled that the Agriculture Minister was once brought before the August Body for the non-cooperative attitude exhibited, for which she apologized and pleaded for mercy.
Courtesy: Liberian Senate Press bureau