House of Representatives Elects Nuquay as Speaker

MONROVIA, Montserrado – Margibi County Fifth District Representative, James Emmanuel Nuquay has been elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. Nuquay was elected unopposed by his colleagues on Wednesday. 60 lawmakers participated in the exercise.

His election followed a decision by the Supreme Court to trash two petitions before it filed by Former Speaker Alex Tyler and Rep. Adolph Lawrence of Montserrado’s fifteenth district.

Tyler claimed that the committee asked by plenary to investigate him did not grant him due process and that his removal was illegal. For Lawrence, he claimed that the holding of the election for a new speaker was illegal, giving the clause of ascendancy. He said Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue should have automatically ascended to the position of speaker.

The court ruled that the requests of the two lawmakers could not be granted because they did not have merits. The court had earlier placed an injunction of the holding of the election on Tuesday until its rulings on Wednesday.

Barchue did not turn up for the speakership election. He also failed to appear before a committee that was asked by the plenary to investigate him for “grossly disrespecting” the body by the adjourning session of the House on Tuesday.

The committee was headed by Rep. Josephine Francis of Montserrado’s first district. Francis, who is the chair on the House’s Committee on Executive, also presided over the election for the new speaker.

Barchue had argued that it was illegal for the House to continue conducting normal business after five days following the senate’s adjournment. The lawmakers however also argued that the five days does not include non-working days.

He has presided over the House of Representative since the recusal and subsequent removal of Tyler.

Tyler was removed on Tuesday, September 27 by a vote of 49 lawmakers, constituting the thirds of house’s membership of 73 representatives in keeping with article 49 of the constitution. Tyler is currently out of the country on medical leave.

Some lawmakers who had earlier supported Tyler’s speakership voted against him, including Solomon George, Morias Waylee, Saah Joseph, Samuel Worleh and Garriason Yealue were also among the 49 lawmakers.

The decision followed recommendations of a report from the committee on Rules, Order and Administration of the House of Representatives which was investigating the Speaker for allegations of bribery and other criminal acts while serving the position.

The committee’s investigation was prompted by a complaint from Henry Fahnbulleh and Samuel Korgar of Montserrado and Nimba.

Nuquay is now the third lawmaker to become speaker under the presidency of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He is a founding and current member of the People Unification Party and a former member of the ruling Unity Party.

Rep. Edwin Melvin Snowe of Montserrado’s sixth district was also removed in 2008.

The senate adjourned on Thursday, September 29 for the fifth sitting of the 53rd National Legislature. The legislature will reassemble on the second working Monday in January next year for its sixth regular session.

Featured photo by David Stanley

Gbatemah Senah

Senah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. Between 2017 and 2019, he won six excellent reporting awards from the Press Union of Liberia. They include a three-time Land Rights Reporter of the Year, one time Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Human Rights Reporter of the Year.

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