It appears that members of the Liberian Senate may not dance to the tone of the House of Representatives on the impeachment bill against embattled Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, passed by the House and subsequently forwarded to that body for hearing.
On Thursday, 30 August the chambers of the Liberian Senate was tense and politically charged when the deputy secretary of the senate, Madam Genève Massaquoi read cover letter that accompanied the impeachment bill in plenary.
But the reading of the letter could not sail easily as senators argued that there is no bill of impeachment before that august body.
Starting the debate in a form of amendment to a motion filed by Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence that the leadership of the senate takes charge of the bill and shall advise in subsequently time.
Rivergee County Senator Conmany Wesseh cites Article 43 of the Constitution of Liberia which states; “The power to prepare a bill of impeachment is vested solely in the House of Representatives, and the power to try all impeachments is vested solely in the Senate. When the President, Vice President or an Associate Justice is to be tried, the Chief Justice shall preside; when the Chief Justice or a judge of a subordinate court of record is to be tried, the President of the Senate shall preside. No person shall be impeached but by the concurrence of two-thirds of the total membership of the Senate. Judgments in such cases shall not extend beyond removal from office and disqualification to hold public office in the Republic; but the party may be tried at law for the same offense. The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law.”
The Rivergee County Senator explains the rules used by the House of Representatives to impeach Associate Justice Ja’neh should have been jointly done by both chambers, instead; only the House of Representatives drafted and adopted their rules for the impeachment, leaving the Senate out, something; he notes violates the rules and makes the entire exercise illegal.
He bitterly argues that the impeachment bill should be returned to the House for the proper channel to be followed.
Gbarpolu County Senator Daniel Naatehn says as far as the Senate is concerned, there is no impeachment bill before them and that plenary should not waste its precious time on something that is not before them.
Senator Naatehn invokes Rule 63 of the Liberian Senate on impeachment trials.Section (1) of the rule reads, “Whenever the Senate receives 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.”
Section (2) says “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 words: 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 against any person.”
Following the debate, Senate Pro Tempore Albert Chie took yea and nail vote in favor of the motion meaning, the senate leadership takes charge of the impeachment and report to plenary subsequently.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor –Editing by Jonathan Browne