Monrovia - Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue, with support from 21 elected officials— new and old— on Friday, January 5th, declared his intention to contest for the position of Speaker in the ensuing speakership election expected shortly in order to fill the vacancy created in keeping with Article 49 of the Constitution.
Article 49 states: “The House of Representatives shall elect once every six years a Speaker who shall be the presiding officer of that body, a Deputy Speaker, and such other officers as shall ensure the proper functioning of the House.
The Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and other officers so elected may be removed from office for cause by resolution of a two-thirds majority of the members of the House.”
Deputy Speaker Barchue is second to Representative Bhofal Chambers of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), to publicly announce that they are interested in replacing outgoing Speaker James Emmanuel Nuquay.
Nuquay couldn’t retain his post as Speaker of the House as he contested in the past elections as the running mate to Unity Party Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, who contested the elections for the nation’s highest office—President.
Speaker Nuquay automatically forfeited the post whether the ticket he ran on had won or not.
He and Vice President Boakai’s ticket lost to Senators George M. Weah and Jewel Howard-Taylor’s Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) ticket, which won as President and Vice President-elects, respectively.
Both will be inaugurated on Monday, January 22, 2018, as Liberia’s new President and Vice President to head the state of affairs for six years.
Presently in the House of Representatives, Barchue does not only have Chambers alone to contend with.
He might also be challenging Representative-elects Fonati Koffa of Grand Kru County (Liberty Party) and Prince Moye of Bong County (Unity Party), who are yet to publicly disclose their intention to contest for the position if they do so in line with the Rules and Orders of the House of Representatives.
In 2014 Barchue was under pressure to defend allegations surrounding the misappropriation of US$100,000 corruption case in the House.
In the same year a din broke out in the Lower House, which led to the hasty reshuffle of various committees.
This was as a result of concerns from some lawmakers that the House’s leadership had illegally removed US$100,000 from US$1.2 million provided by the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) for lawmakers to hold nationwide consultation of the Draft Petroleum Law of 2013.
Then House Speaker Alex J. Tyler rejected report that he received US$1.2 million on behalf of the Lower House from NOCAL to affect the consultation process, describing the assertions by the concerned lawmakers as totally untrue.
However, investigation at that time proved that the money was received in full, and that the man Speaker Tyler appointed to oversee the disbursement of the funds, Deputy Speaker Barchue, distributed the money but failed to account for US$100,000.
According to our Legislative Reporter, who has adequately covered and reported on proceedings in the National Legislature for many years, investigations at that time showed that while presiding over the disbursement process, the Deputy Speaker at one point approached the House Procurement Director to prepare a fake disbursement voucher that would provide future justification for the way the money was expended.
Being cognizant of the consequence for such fraudulent act under the PPCC law, the Procurement Director declined to obey such order in the absence of the biding process for such huge amount.