-Legislature Swims In ‘Errors’ Over Impeachment Saga
By Jackson C. Clay, Jr.
Lawmakers in the country are reportedly disregarding the constitutional provisions that talk about the impeachment of President, Vice President or Justices of the Supreme Court in the country.
The Constitution of Liberia states in Article 43 that “the Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law,” something many Liberian believe was ignored by the legislature, particularly the House of Representatives which the process of impeachment initiates.
This portion of Article 43 of the Liberian Constitution is being interpreted by those pushing for the impeachment of Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh as saying that both Houses of the legislature do not have to do such thing together, but to rather use their separate rules to carry out the impeachment process.
Even though Article 29 of the constitution clearly states that “The legislative power of the Republic shall be vested in the Legislature of Liberia which shall consist of two separate houses: A Senate and a House of Representatives, both of which must pass on all legislation.”
However, it is alleged that processes leading to the submission of the impeachment Bill by the House of Representatives to the Liberian Senate was not properly followed as enshrined within the Senate own standing rules.
Rule 63 of the Liberian Senate states that ‘Whenever the Senate receive notice from the House of Representatives that managers are appointed on their part to conduct an impeachment against any person and are directed to carry Articles of impeachment to the Senate, the Secretary of the Senate shall immediately inform the House of Representatives that the Senate is ready to receive the Managers for the purpose of exhibiting such Articles of impeachment agreeable to such notice.”
Rule 63 further in section 2 that “When the managers of an impeachment shall be introduced at the Senate and shall signify that they are ready to exhibit articles of impeachment against any person, the Presiding Officer of the Senate shall direct the Sergeant-at-Arms to make proclamation, who shall after making proclamation, repeat the following word: “All persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of impeachment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the Republic of Liberia, Articles of impeachment.
But according to our legislative reporter, particularly assigned at the Liberian Senate, nothing of such was carried out during the time the House of Representatives submitted the Bill of impeachment to the Liberian Senate before that body turned over said document to its committee on judiciary for perusal to further advice the plenary of the Senate on further action on the document.
Our reporter continued that this led to a heated argument among senators which lasted for two session days, at which time the Pro-Tempore of the Senate, Albert Chie took an unpopular Yea and Nai votes on the matter to be sent to its committee on judiciary.
Meanwhile, the Senate committee on judiciary has been given a one-week period by the plenary of the Senate to report to full plenary through the leadership of the Liberian Senate for further action with several recommendations to include: preparing a mixture of activities for the trial of the impeachment and review any rule of the Liberian Senate on impeachment and related matter.