-Vent emotions, anger over “appalling security degeneration”
Following three hours of debate characterized by strong-worded exchanges over the “degenerating and appalling” security shortcomings in the country, especially Montserrado County, the plenary of the senate on Tuesday, August 20, 2019, ordered its secretariat to cite all heads of national security apparatus, including the National Security Agency (NSA), to appear before Plenary on Thursday, August 22, 2019.
Those specifically mentioned in the citation include the Minister of Justice, Inspector General of Police and Deputies, and other paramilitary heads.
Their failure to appear before the Senate at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday will be regarded contemptuous, according to the motion proffered by Grand Kru County Senator Peter Coleman.
The Senate decision comes as result of a communication from Grand Bassa County Senator, and political leader of the opposition Liberty Party, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, and backed by Senators Conmany B. Wesseh of River Gee county and Abe Darius Dillion of Montserrado County. The joint communications reminded the senators about the current electoral violence, especially the one that almost cost the life of Ms. Telia Urey, candidate of Collaborating Political Parties, and her supporters in the District #15 by-election.
In her August 15, 2019 communication to the Senate plenary, Senator Lawrence requested the intervention of her colleagues in what she described as “the gravity of recent incidents of pre and post-election violence that characterized the combined Senatorial and Representatives by-election for Montserrado and electoral District #15… Due to our past history of chaos and conflict, it is an alarming situation to have an electoral system being repeatedly marred by violence. I wish to request that the Senate plenary intervene in this matter.
The Senators in their full participatory debate argued that the security, especially officers of the National Police, have been found wanting in all of the electoral violence crises of late, although they were always present.
Senator Tornolah: “Colleagues, this is very vital and nowadays, with such a growing alarm of violence in our country which we have had a part of, it is creeping in and, as leaders, it is foremost important to bring to our attention and to nail it. The leaders that are responsible for our security should be brought here and let them speak to us as leaders of the people; there are no arrests or prosecutions, this tells us that little by little Liberia is getting to be chaotic.”
Senator Wesseh recounted incidents of electoral violence since November 2018, when the first occurrence in District #13, to the incident on last Saturday, August 17, 2019 in Logan Town, and further recalled that the war that started on December 24, 1989 has its history of cases of violence after the 1985 elections… with the President at the time used the national security as regime security, and were no longer representing the people of Liberia.
“Some people started to take into their own hands their own security and the consequences were that 250,000 of our population got killed; in our own life time. Are we going to sit down and allow that to creep in? This is dangerous; they must not be a regime security. Don’t push people to look for their own security, because the consequences can be grave.”
He continued by saying that the seriousness of the matter is such that all those responsible for the national security apparatus must be brought to the Senate, so they can understand that they have a duty to protect this country. We cannot pay our taxes to pay them for them to want to be regime security; absolutely not, we will not allow it we will stand up and we will be damned the consequences.”
Quoting Article 34b of the 1986 Constitution, Senator Dillon said that the economy of Liberia will never be good if, “we continue to experience and allow lawlessness, violence and chaos in our country, seemingly backed by the Executive. Nobody is going to bring their money here, because good money is afraid of bad environment. This environment is bad, polarized and is being led by the national leadership of our country. Where the police is supposed to intervene when there is violence, they stand by.”
He, too, called for the appearance of the Minister of Justice and the Inspector General of Police. Senator Dillon then reminded his colleagues of Martin Luther King Jr’s statement: “Any society that cannot protect the many that are poor, cannot find security for the few that are rich.”
Other Senators, including Oscar Cooper, Prince Y. Johnson and Sando D. Johnson, all agreed to cite members of the security apparatuses, and regretted that the country is gradually slipping into the darkness of chaos, while others suggested that President George Weah needs to be invited to pay another visit to the senate to discuss the state of the security.