.... The Minister has been summoned to state why he should not be held in contempt by the Senate for his failure to appear before that body after several citations.
A furious Senate seemed to have had enough of the apparent “noncompliant attitude” of Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah.
The Senate yesterday resolved to order the Sergeant-At-Arms to present the living body of the Minister before them on November 24, at noon. The Senate’s decision comes under a contempt charge -- accusing the minister of obstructing legislative function.
The Minister has been summoned to state why he should not be held in contempt by the Senate for his failure to appear before that body after several citations.
The Minister was invited on more than three occasions to appear before the Senate to explain how the US$ 11 million that was allotted in the current budget as a subsidy for the importation of rice was used. The invitations, the Minister never honored.
Under his contempt appearance, Tweah will address the issue of delay in salary disbursement of public defenders, prosecutors, judges as well as civil servants across the country.
The decision was reached based on a concern raised by River Gee County Senator, Johnathan Boycharles Sogbie, asking his colleagues to probe speedily into matters relating to a statement made by the Chairman of the National Association of Prosecutors, regarding strike and neglect of Court duties by public defenders based on the delay of their salaries and other benefits.
Sogbie explained that actions taken by prosecutors are worrisome and could lead to overcrowding in prisons. Most of the detainees on pretrial detention, he said, will be further delayed and, as such, care needs to be taken. He expressed regrets about the situation at hand and called on plenary to take meaningful action in saving the state.
During an unusually highly charged debate, some Senators blamed themselves for the latitude given Minister Tweah over a long period for failure to appear before them whenever cited. “Once more, let me emphatically state here that we don’t have the political will to take the necessary action against Minister Tweah because we don’t have the guts to slap him with a stringent penalty,” said Senator Abraham Darius Dillon.
At the same time, Grand Cape Mount County Senator H. Varney G. Sherman lamented the Senate’s lukewarm attitude over their indecision to promulgate a law that will dictate a legal framework that will strengthen the punishment for contempt charges.
Meanwhile, Tweah is expected to appear with his lawyer when he faces an already angry Senate that is going through a backlog of two months of salary delay and months of unpaid benefits.