Monrovia, Liberia- The House of Representatives of the Liberian Legislature has cast a “Vote of No Confidence” against Deputy Information Minister Eugene Fahngon, and has ordered him jailed for 48hrs.
How it went down:
Both Ministers Fahngon and Nagbe was invited to appear with their lawyers before plenary on Tuesday, but due to mixed communication among staff members, both men missed the Tuesday appearance.
After appearing at 11:00am, on Wednesday, lawmakers begun arriving around 1:00pm and after about 40 lawmakers were seated, the seesion was called to order and a resolution adopted. Appearing before the lawmakers first, was Minister Eugene Nagbe who apologized for not appearing on Tuesday, and when asked why he didn’t appear with his lawyer, he told plenary that he didn’t see it necessary.
When called to the stand, Deputy Minister Fahngon told plenary that he could not speak to the allegations levied against him by Representatives Snowe and Gray because his lawyer had left due to lawmakers late arrival. This statement by Mr. Fahngon infuriated lawmakers who then responded angrily. According to our reporter at the scene, Minister Nagbe didn’t look pleased with Minister Eugene Fahngon defense and was seen at intervals telling him to appeal to lawmakers.
After series of angry statements from lawmakers, they went into committee room to decide the fate of Fahngon. The lawmakers reappeared out of committee room after over two hours of deliberations, and Rep. Dixon Sebo filed a motion that Mr. Fahngon is given 30mins to call his lawyer. After calling his lawyer Cllr. Frances Johnson Morris-Allison, he informed plenary that she was on her way to the legislature. When Cllr. Morris-Allison arrived, she was given three minutes to consult with Mr. Fahngon, and after consultations, he was brought back on the stand. Rep. Samuel Korgar of Nimba County then filed a motion for both recordings of the incidents to be played. The playing of the recording irritated lawmakers to a larger degree and when Minister Fahngon was ordered to speak to the recording, he insisted that he speak through his lawyer, referring to Article 21C of the Liberian constitution.
The Speaker refused Minister Fahngon’s request to speak through his lawyer, reminding him that lawyers don’t speak in a hearing at the legislature. Speaker Chambers then asked the Deputy MICAT boss to read Article 21C of the constitution, which he refused to do after several instructions. The Judiciary Committe was then asked to advise plenary on the next course of action, and Cllr. Fonati Koffa told the body that they can’t force Mr. Fahngon to speak, but the house can take any decision against him after listening to the audio of the recordings. It was after Cllr. Koffa’s recommendation that Rep. Clarence Massaquoi filed a motion for Mr. Fahngon to be considered a non-governmental material. The lawmakers then took an overwhelming “Vote Of no Confidence” against Minister Fahngon. Rep. Larry Nyanqoui then filed another motion to amend the the resolution for the Minister to be jailed for 48hrs, which was unanimously agreed upon.
The House will now communicate to the Senate about their decision, as well as send an official communication to the President, informing him about their decision.
In the meantime, the decision by the House is not binding on the President to act. The President has the option of keeping Minister Fahngon at his post, however, the House will not recognize him in the capacity of a Deputy Minister. This means, he can’t appear for any function in an official capacity at the Legislature. This include budget and any other committee hearings.
Many observers from across Liberia political spectrum have hailed the decision of the legislature and said, the constant disorderly conduct of Mr. Fahngon was embarrassing the government and the Presidency. A few who spoke to The Liberian Billboard after the hearing called for his immediate dismissal. They said, the President needs to set an example, beginning with Minister Fahngon, and this will not only serve as a deterrence for other officials in terms of moral behavior, but it will also scare them from engaging in corrupt practices.
Mr. Fahngon has been detained at the National Police Headquarters, and will be transported to the Monrovia Central Prison on tomorrow, where he will stay until his release by 12 midday on Friday.
The Liberian Billboard will keep you updated as more information come in.