MONROVIA, Montserrado â€“ A group of women claiming to be residents of Montserradoâ€™s 17th district stormed the grounds of the Capitol Building on Thursday to petition the House of Representatives to investigate a rape allegation against their lawmaker, Rep. Hanson Kiazolu.
The women arrived at the Capitol Building in buses and were led by the assistant minister of transport for administration and insurance, Nuwoe Scott. Upon their arrival, the women did not have any placards or written statement or petition. It was Montserradoâ€™s ninth district lawmaker, Munah Pelham Youngblood, and Rep. Moima Briggs Mensah of Bongâ€™s sixth district who advised them to print placards and draft a formal petition statement.
Most of the women in the group appeared to have no knowledge of the purpose for which they gathered at the Capitol Building. One of them told The Bush Chicken that they were promised cash.
Some also claimed they were informed by some women leaders that President George Weah had called them to discuss important issues about the domestic law.
â€œThatâ€™s how they brought buses and put us inside and brought us here,â€ added one of the women, who did not disclose her name.
However, eventually, the women chanted anti-rape slogans and accused Kiazolu of being a rapist, while calling for his investigation by members of the House.
Nathalyne Princess Seato read the formal petition statement on behalf of the group.
The petition ceremony later became chaotic when individuals believed to be students of the University of Liberia, mostly wearing outfits with inscriptions of the student group, the Student Unification Party, invaded the gathering, joined by Rep. Kiazolu and chanting slogans in support of the lawmaker.
Some of the women began throwing stones after they claimed that the lawmaker verbally attacked them. Some of them who tried to escape the scene sustained minor injuries. Some individuals identified as instigators of the violence were later arrested by the police who arrived on the scene after the violence had subsided.
Montserradoâ€™s fourth district representative, Rustolyn Dennis, received the petition on behalf of the House Committee on Claims and Petitions, and later presented it on the floor of the House plenary. A heated debate sparked when Speaker Bhofal Chambers decided to appoint a special committee to investigate the allegation.
Some lawmakers, including Rep. Youngblood argued that the Committee on Claims and Petition must be given the responsibility to investigate the allegation and advice the general body on its action on the findings. However, others said the issue should be set aside for another session because it was not on the agenda already adopted for the dayâ€™s discussions. Following the arguments, the House voted to send the petition to the Committee on Judiciary to report to the representatives in one week.
Rep. Kiazolu has been outspoken against President Weahâ€™s administration. He recently openly vowed gather support for a bill of impeachment against the president after Mulbah Morlu, the chairman of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change made several revelations in a series of leaked audio recordings suggesting that the president was having affairs with female officials of his government and using state resources to develop his private properties.
The revelations were made amid public criticisms against the president for acquiring a significant amount of private properties in less than two years of his administration while the countryâ€™s economy is at the verge of collapse.
Kiazolu claimed that the rape allegation is a â€œpolitically motivatedâ€ claim, orchestrated by officials of the CDC to denigrate his hard-earned reputation.
According to him, the allegation is intended to distract him from pursuing an investigation into the leaked audios, linking the president to corruption and abuse of the office. But he vowed to continue his advocacy and not be distracted from doing the work of the Liberian people.
He claimed that the lady he is being accused of raping lived with him but was thrown out by his wife because of a misunderstanding that ensued between the both of them. He also threatened to file a suit against those making the accusation. However, the petition statement presented to the House of Representatives was not signed by anyone.
â€œSome of my opponents, out of a sudden, posted the lady and I photos on Facebook saying i attempted raping her. I took the issue to court, but lawyers and judges told me to waive it since there was no evidence to link me to the case,â€ he said.
â€œBut I will consult my legal counsel again to take action. I just want them to come forward to be identified then we can start the process.â€
The victim of the allege rape, Massa Princess Kiazolu, also arrived at the Capitol minutes after the violence had subsided to debunk the womenâ€™s claim that she was raped.
The supposed victim Kiazolu told reporters covering the legislature that the rape allegation against the lawmaker is a political make-up.
â€œKiazolu is a kind-hearted person. I lived with him [since] I was age zero and I am now 23-years-old,â€ she said.
â€œI can even take an oath that this is a lie. I have no issue with Kiazolu and will never ever have. It’s a big lie.â€
She has vowed to file a suit against individuals who are claiming that she was raped. According to her, she is now married and currently staying with her husband.
Featured photo by Ida Reeves