The Speaker Tyler Saga: When the Law is Simply not Enough

weed The Speaker (or former Speaker) of the Liberian National Legislature (Parliament), Honorable Alex J. Tyler, Representative-Bomi, a man known for smooth-sailing turbulent political waters, is now fighting for his dear political life. His less-than-friendly break-up with the ruling Unity Party has left some unfinished political scores that must be settled.

Honorable Tyler has gone to seek the aide of the law – much like the case of former House Speaker Edwin M. Snowe before him – citing procedural faux-pas, illegitimacy and unconstitutionality. As I see it, Honorable Tyler is both right and wrong – legally right but politically wrong. It’s a dilemma, and in this piece, I shall delve into the Tyler’s dilemma.

The Legal Scenario

I am happy that Honorable Tyler is now a staunch advocate of the law – insofar as it pertains to his personal interests. But the Liberian people did not get the benefit of the honorable man’s legal expertise, when, under Tyler’s “Speakership” (Tyler Incorporated), sixty-six (66) out of the sixty-eight (68) concession licenses/permits granted were in violation of Liberian laws (re: Moore Stephens Audit, 2013). I bet those bogus concessions were fully-compliant with Tyler Incorporated personal interests.

Imagine seeking the Liberian people’s interests a mere 3% of the time (2 out of 68)! That’s how bad Tyler’s knowledge of the law is when it comes to seeking the interests of the Liberian people. But out of fairness to Honorable Tyler, I will posit that the he [Tyler] knows and understands the law. And the law, so far, is on his side.

First off is the presumption of innocence and due process requirements of the Liberian constitution – article 20 and 21. The Speaker, though indicted, is innocent until proven guilty. That’s the law! Moreover, his refusal to appear before the Koffa’s Committee is understandable and actually founded in law.

In order for one to investigate and/or prosecute any offense, one must, first and foremost, have the competent authority to do so. After all, even I would have hesitated to submit to a Committee that “indicts” first before flying off to England and South Africa to “gather” evidence. Poor Liberia – a lot of strange things happen here! Competent authority in legal matters is not obtained by fiat or by some executive command, but by a lengthy legal process involving a compromise between the executive and the legislature.

Armed with related legal logic pertinent to his “removal”, Honorable Tyler now seeks a Writ of Prohibition – “prohibiting, enjoining and restraining the respondents (his opponents) from pursuing [their] illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and irregular procedure, method and process to remove him from the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives”.

This reinvigorated lawman also cites the absence of provision in the House’s Rules for “recusal” as one of the reasons for his recourse to the law. So far so good, I shall, herein, decline the “invitation” to speculate on the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The Political Question

However, as I see it, the question now facing Honorable Tyler, without the slightest doubt, is a political question. The contract between the governor and the governed, has and will forever be, a social contract.

It has never been a legal contract and never will be. This [social] contract predates the formation of law and operates in a sphere over and above the law. Before there was a constitution or statute or the House rules, the social contract theory operated, and, without it, there can be no law or civilized society for that matter.

The fundamental concept of this theory is that the governor can only govern insofar as there is consent by the governed. This is Tyler’s albatross. This is the bleak reality that Honorable Tyler has decided not to face. So the honorable man has decided to answer the House of Representative’s political question with a legal answer.

While this answer may be correct, it is still wrong [contextually speaking], because it is not the answer for the question he’s being asked. So far as the numbers go, Tyler is now leading the minority. Honorable Tyler has lost legitimacy because the people he once led have decided that he has got not an iota of moral scruples left and, as a consequence thereof, they don’t want him as their leader.

In this scenario, neither the Supreme Court, nor the House’s rules, nor those powerful “Karmons” from Bomi, or those holy-ghost-fire pastors can help him. Honorable Tyler must do the honorable thing and resign. Acknowledging this reality is simple common sense.

If Tyler really wants advice, he should (leave his Dwazorn mansion) and pay a visit to the Snowe’s ELWA mansion and [there] he is certain to get some tips on what not to do when the people you lead say they no longer want you. Oh never mind the many mansions in poor Liberia. It’s the SAD reality in Ellen’s Liberia. That’s why I vow never to study economics at Harvard University!

Tyler’s Best Bet

We have seen this clip, played over and again, around the world. We have seen leaders with constitutional legitimacy being swept from power because the people had had enough. Constitutional tenure is totally and absolutely irrelevant when the people speak with one voice and they are all shouting get out. There is no shortage of cases to illustrate the point.

We can cite, most recently, the Arab spring that swept away constitutionally-elected presidents like Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. Or we can go a little back in time to the people’s revolution (of 1986), when the people of the Philippines demanded that (constitution or not) Ferdinand Marcos must go.

In the Tyler case, the Court of Public Opinion of Liberia has long since convicted Tyler. Each and every day Liberians drive along the RIA highway at Boys Town junction, and they see Jandy’s Little Paradise, they are reminded of the extent to which Tyler stole from their country. But in Ellen’s Liberia, the corrupt don’t get justice, they get applause.

So let it be with Tyler – at least for now. For now, Tyler is not in the Court of Public Opinion. He is at the Supreme Court of Liberia. Honorable Tyler is betting that the Supreme Court will legally answer his political question.

I have my doubts on this score. But let’s suppose that the Court does answer Tyler’s dilemma favorably; how much longer can Tyler survive? His political obituary has been written, signed and sealed. Come what may, the Honorable man from Bomi will, sooner, rather than later, come to the conclusion (as I have), that there are times when the law is simply not enough!

Written By: Wonderr Koryenen Freeman,
Attorney-at-Law
Monrovia, Liberia

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About Cholo Brooks 5288 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists.