The House of Representatives had convened in its 1st day of the 1st extraordinary session on Monday, April 13, 2020, following the Declaration of State of Emergency (SOE), with a roll call of 41 lawmakers in the Joint Chamber, in accordance of Article 87 (a) of the Constitution.
“…Where the Legislature is not in session, it must be convened immediately in special session and remain in session during the entire period of the state of emergency,” Article 87(a) says.
The House of Representatives is convening in the Joint Chamber to observe social distance, between and among lawmakers. This is the 1st extraordinary session in the 3rd sitting of the 54th Legislature.
Monday’s session was climaxed into Executive (secret) session, after which, pockets of lawmakers in the corridors, and in the yards of the Capitol Building, were seen and heard frowning as to whether the Monrovia City Police, Motorbike Union and Boy Scouts are part of the Joint Security architecture.
One of the agitated lawmakers, arguing for modifications in the SOE, told her colleagues that the National Security Reform and Intelligence Act of 2011, Section 2 sub section B, does not mention the Monrovia City Police or any City Police, Motorbike Union or BoyScouts as a member of the Joint Security or the National Security Architecture.
“The law states in section 2, sub section B, that these following institutions shall be considered part of the National Security Architecture or Joint Security: LNP, NSA, EPS, AFL, DEA, LIS, Fire Service,” she scowled.
Another lawmaker said: “The fact that President George M. Weah named MCC as an essential entity to remain open, does not mean its officers should exercise power that they do not have.”
He added: “The naming of MCC was for two essential purposes — to clean the streets and secondly to man the City of Monrovia during non-curfew or lockdown hours, between 7 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.”
Meanwhile, the Senate failed to hold its outset session, but rather had a Leadership Meeting in the Conference Room of President Pro Tempore Albert Chie, to set the stage of their reconvening, as issued in the Sunday press statement issued by Director of Press, Jarlawah A. Tonpo.
The Lower House is expected to continue its extraordinary session Tuesday in the Joint Chamber, while the Upper House will hold its 1st extraordinary session in the 3rd sitting of the 54th Legislature in the Rotunda today, to also observe for social distance.
Both Houses are expected to include in their respective agendas, the Proclamation of the State of Emergency, if received from President George M. Weah.
The President is expected, not later than seven days to submit before the Legislature, the facts and circumstances leading to the declaration, or be revoked through a Joint Resolution in consonance with Article 88 of the 1986 Constitution.
“The President shall, immediately upon the declaration of a state of emergency, but not later than seven days thereafter, lay before the Legislature at its regular session or at a specially convened session, the facts and circumstances leading to such declaration…,” Article 88 states.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, April 8, the President has declared a State of Emergency throughout the country, of which he announced was done in consultation of House Speaker Dr. Bhofal Chambers and Senate President Pro Tempore Albert Chie in accordance with Article 86 of the Constitution.
“The President may, in consultation with the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, proclaim and declare and the existence of a state of emergency in the Republic or any part thereof,” Article 86 reads. “Acting pursuant thereto, the President may suspend or affect certain rights, freedoms and guarantees contained in this Constitution and exercise such other emergency powers as may be necessary and appropriate to take care of the emergency, subject, however, to the limitations contained in this Chapter.”
The President has also issued stringent measure by ordering residents in four counties, namely, Montserrado, Margibi, Nimba and Grand Kru, to stay at home, while the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) have been deployed to man the regulations.