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Senate Contempt Hooks Minister Cooper

By Alex Yomah
In compliance with Article 44 of the Liberian Constitution, members of the Senate yesterday found Agriculture Minister, Jeanie Cooper culpable following a contempt hearing held at plenary of the Liberian Senate.
Ten (10) senators voted for, to find the Minister guilty; five (5) Senators abstained while two senators voted against the decision to find her culpable during the trials.
Each member of the Senate in separate remarks expressed resentments stating; “ If the Senate does have teeth to bite, it must have borrowed false teeth to bite Jeanie Cooper due to what many of the Senators termed as “Gross Disrespect to that august body”.
Following plenary’s decision, Bong County Senator, Prince Moye filed a motion that is apparently approved by the leadership of the Senate to allow Minister Cooper return to her office under oath and to return to the Senate this Thursday by 11:30 a.m. to get Senate’s verdict in line with Article 44 of the Constitution of Liberia.
Article 44 states: “Contempt of the Legislature shall consist of actions which obstruct legislative functions or impede members or officers of the legislature in the discharge of their legislative duties and may be punished by the House concerned by reasonable sanctions after a hearing consistent with due process of law. No sanctions shall extend beyond the session of the legislature wherein it is imposed, and any sanctions imposed shall conform to the provisions of the fundamental rights laid down in the constitution”.
The Senate’s decision followed a complained fled by its Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries in which she complained that Minister Cooper and her Deputy have consistently showed noncompliance posture whenever she is invited to address the committee.
However, Madam Cooper who was summoned last week Tuesday for the Contempt hearing, could not apologize but boisterously said, “I responded to the committee adequately contrary to the senators’ claim against her, and as such; pleaded for postponement of the contempt hearing by then so that she could have appeared yesterday with her lawyer to defend whatever issues they [Senators] had with her.
Meanwhile Minister Cooper openly apologized to members of the Senate stating that her Deputy Robert Kerkula Fagans misled her.
According to her; Deputy Fagans lied to her that he represented the Ministry at the Committee and delivered the response they requested for, something she said led to her harsh response to the Senate but unfortunately, she than realized that Deputy Minister who was acting actually lied.
The Minister however, rendered an open apology for action against the Senate; “I appeared before this august Body sitting in Plenary in compliance with a decision to re-schedule the matter of my “appearance to show reasons why I should not be held in contempt” for alleged non-compliance and non-compliant attitude towards the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries,” she said.
Adding, “Distinguished and Honorable Senators, I herewith respectfully inform you, I have not harbored any intent to disrespect you, nor the relevant Committee, nor this venerable Body. I refer to my letter of October 22, 2021, and humbly stand here today to state, confirm and affirm that the Ministry of Agriculture through myself, the Minister and its Deputy Ministers cannot and will not whether directly or indirectly, impede the duties and responsibilities or the legislative oversight of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries,” Minister Cooper regretted her action.
Adding, “Distinguished Senators I would like to work to reset our relationship with the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Plenary of the Honorable Senate to build the same rapport that we have with other legislative bodies and other Legislators,” she concluded.

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