After over four hours of closed-door activities by Senators that lasted up to 1:00 p.m., and followed by almost two hours of proceedings, the Senate yesterday granted an appeal for continuance to Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Amara Konneh, to enable him to have proper representation by his lawyer who, he told the lawmakers, was out of the country.
Following an hour of heated arguments over the legality of Konneh’s plea, majority of the Senators agreed that in order for the witness (Konneh) to have his day before plenary with proper representation, it was legally imperative that sufficient time was given him to be adequately prepared through his lawyer for his reappearance.
In his plea for continuance, Konneh stated thus: “Honorable Senators, I will like to respectfully inform the Senate that my choice of counsel is not in town, and I will prefer to appeal that you grant me continuance in this matter if at all my presence is needed today, thank you.”
Asserting that every citizen of the country is entitled to legal counsel, Maryland County Senator J. Gbleh-Bo Brown, who proffered the motion for continuance, declared: “I will move that my fellow colleagues [consent] that the request by the Minister be granted, and that this Senate reconvene next Tuesday for the reappearance of the Minister along with his lawyer. And in the event he appears here without his lawyer, this body should take recourse to provide him the legal representation as required by the law.”
Several Senators, as expected, among them the Chairman of Senate Committee on Judiciary, Varney G. Sherman, all requested an extended time of at least two weeks be granted to the witness for his lawyer to go through whatever paperwork he may need to do.
In the vote that followed, however, 15 Senators agreed on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 for Minister Konneh and his lawyer to appear. There were five against, and two abstained.
Konneh is facing contempt hearings before the Senate after that body took offense to the language of the content in a communication authored by Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs of Finance and Development Planning Ministry, Dr. James F. Kollie.
Minister Konneh, who appeared before that body last Tuesday, agreed to take responsibility for the language of the letter, but refused to apologize for what the lawmakers described as “Constitutional Violation” in the Minister’s attempt to usurp their Legislative function.