After several failed attempts to have his motion for reconsideration to the ratification amending the agreement between the Republic of Liberia (through the Liberia Maritime Authority) and the Liberia Shipping Corporate Registry (LISCR) read before plenary, Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper yesterday announced that his cup was full and he is now heading to the Supreme Court for redress.
Sen. Cooper’s decision was announced after the Senate plenary voted 10 against his motion, three (3) in favor and one abstention which according to Senate proceedings has now put to rest further deliberations on that matter.
Sen. Cooper’s point of contention is that the amendment between GOL and LISCR extends the prior agreement by ten (10) years commencing from the effective date of amendment. The unexpired period of the agreement meanwhile, is approximately five (5) years. “There appears to be insufficient justification for extending the agreement for an additional ten (10) years,” Sen. Cooper said.
Prior to yesterday’s vote, Sen. Cooper’s letter citing several violations of the Senate Rules was read, but his attempt to have his motion brought before plenary and debated was brushed aside in favor of Sen. Milton Teahjay’s motion calling for a vote to decide whether or not to grant Sen. Cooper’s motion.
However, the Margibi lawmaker argued and wondered why the plenary presided over by Montserrado County ranking Senator Geraldine Doe-Sherif (who Chairs the Committee on Executive) would decide to take action on a motion that was never allowed to be presented to that body.
After briefly putting on a display of frustration and anger, Sen. Cooper gathered his belongings and strolled out of the Chamber with Legislative reporters in his wake.
In his first floor office, Sen. Cooper continued to vent his anger and there and then announced that his next “recourse is to go to the Supreme Court, where it will be determined whether I have Constitutional reason to go there. I am taking the ratification to the court because it is not binding…”
He further informed reporters that his action was in the public interest. “This is an agreement and it is in the interest of the government, whether the Executive or Legislature, to seek the better part of an agreement for the people of the country. I don’t expect LISCR to write an agreement in the government’s favor, but I expect the Senators to analyze that agreement and make sure that it leaves here in the interest of the Liberian people.”
Meanwhile, with respect to his letter read before the plenary yesterday, Sen. Cooper expressed hope and belief that as members of the Senate, they are and will continue to be judged “by the manner in which our actions reflect and uphold the dignity, integrity and the Rules of the Senate.”
Referring to the Senate’s decision to ratify the LISCR/GOL amended agreement on March 31, 2015, Sen. Cooper recalled that the entire membership of the Senate consisted of 29 Senators duly seated. Two-thirds of 29 is a minimum of 19 Senators, “but only 17 voted in favor of the ratification. 17 Senators is not two-thirds of the Senators duly seated,” he contended.
Sen. Cooper asserted that the Rules of the Senate expressly require that prior to passage, bills and resolutions shall receive three readings on three different days unless the Rule is suspended by a vote of two-thirds of the members of the Senate. “The journal of activity on the floor of the Senate on March 31, 2015 does not show that two-thirds of the entire membership voted in favor of suspending the Rules,” he maintained.
Rule 34 subsections (1) and (2), Rule 38 subsections (2) and (3) and Rule 65 of the Standing Rules of the Senate, according to Sen. Cooper, were breached and therefore “the ratification could not be and is not approved in accordance with the Rules and as such, the ratification is not binding.”
The Margibi Senator, who is a Unity Party member, stated that “Consequently, in light of the non-compliance with Rule 34, Rule 38 and Rule 65 by the Senate, the instrument entitled “Senate Endorsement to House’s Engrossed Bill N0. 4,” being totally incorrect must be disregarded as though it does not exist, and the Motion to Reconsider together with the Motion to Request, currently in the possession of Honorable President Pro Tempore, ought to be called to the floor to be considered and disposed of, at this time, in accordance with the Rules.”