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Working Around Article 42 of Liberian Constitution for Cordial Relationship

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On Wednesday, September 11, the Liberia National Police or LNP, through its Director, Colonel Chris Massaquoi, sternly warned that attempts by motorists to deliberately run over officers executing their duties in the streets will result to the full weight of the full no matter the status of violators. The police vowed that such attempts/violations by motorists to include appointed and elected officials of the Liberian Government would be vehemently resisted, and police officers will not succumb to threats and intimidations from the public.

Director Chris Massaquoi also expressed the police’s preparedness to go after violators, who deliberately knack down police officers on duty in the streets, a strongly worded statement issued by the LNP Wednesday further warned. The warning was issued against the backdrop of the incident which occurred on Tuesday, September 10 between Deputy Police Director Abraham Kromah and Gbarpolu County Senator Theodore Mombo, while the senator was reportedly on his way to the Capitol. Senator Mombo’s vehicle (without an official idenntiity) was reportedly parked for intruding a police convoy-something the Senator and others considered as “obstruction of Legislative functions” for which he (Col. Kromah) was cited by Plenary the same Tuesday.

However, an apology was immediately issued by the Deputy Police Director during his appearance before the Senate, followed by a demand for him to publish such apology in a number of local dailies.  But a day after the incident, as well as hours following the issuance of the strongly worded statement by the Director of Police, the issue of WHO IS MORE POWERFUL has now been placed at the core of the relationship between the Liberian Senate and Liberia national Police. Determined to show that it is more powerful than the LNP, probably by Constitutional implication, the  Director of Police has been ‘summoned’ by the Liberian Senate to show cause “why he shouldn’t be held in contempt, after issuing such a stern warning threatening to go after motorists, including appointed and elected officials of the Liberian Government”.

While we may somehow, share the concern of the Liberian Senate, in view of the foregoing, the action and warning issued by the Liberia National Police may have also been a result of the recklessness of motorists, especially government and NGO drivers in the traffic on a daily basis. Such bad driving most often result to avoidable accidents. And in ensuring public safety, the Liberia National Police is under obligation to execute the laws.

We do believe that this is not about power politics as it relates to the operation of the police-it is about enforcing the laws passed by the very Senators and Representatives without fear or favor. Officials of the Liberian Government, including Members of the Liberian Legislature must also be guided by the very laws they passed, especially as they relate to traffic regulations as they rely on Article 42, which states that: “No member of the Senate or House of Representatives shall be arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried as a result of opinions expressed or votes cast in the exercise of the functions of his office. Members shall be privileged from arrest while attending, going to or returning from sessions of the Legislature, except for treason, felony or breach of the peace. All official acts done or performed and all statement made in the Chambers of the Legislature shall be privileged, and no Legislator shall be held accountable or punished thereof”.

While the Legislators are privileged under the foregoing Constitutional provision, they are also not above the law; they can equally set examples for others to follow and not see themselves as violators of the same laws they pass on Capitol Hill.

Again, it must be admitted that the statement emanating from the Liberia National police, through its Director Col. Chris Massaquoi, was too strong a statement, regarding its reference to “those appointed and elected government officials, including Members of the Liberian Legislature”- some degree of flexibility would have been exercised in  its wording. We can only hope that the LNP can take into consider and work around Article 42 of the Constitution in its relationship with the Liberian Legislature.

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