After two months of heated debates among members of the Senate, which resulted sometimes into comedy and standoff, 21 senators have finally affixed their signatures to a resolution as a testament of their endorsement to amend Rule 63 of the Standing Rules of the Senate to conduct an impeachment against any official.
The approval of the amended Rule 63 of the Senate’s Standing Rules created a “usable set rule” and further set a stage for all impeachment proceedings or trials for Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh and any other person, including the President, Vice President, Chief Justice and Judges.
On Tuesday, November 6, which marked the 3rd day sitting of the extraordinary session of the Senate of the 54th Legislature, the acting secretary of Senate, Mrs. Jannavi Verdier-Massaquoi, announced that 21 senators had affixed their signatures, while five senators (in session) did not sign.
She said two senators, Geraldine Doe-Sherif and Edward B. Dagoseh, are on “sickness leave,” while Senator J. Milton Teahjay is away in Sinoe County for the up-coming November 20 Senatorial by-election.
The five senators who were in session but did not sign the resolution were Nyonblee K. Lawrence, Oscar Cooper, Conmany Wesseh, Armah Z. Jallah and Daniel Naatehn.
Section 12 of the amended Rule 63 of the Senate’s rules states that on the day appointed for the commencement of the trial of an impeachment, the Legislative and Executive business of the Senate shall be suspended and, prior to that, on the order of the President Pro Tempore or the Presiding Officer of the Senate, whichever is applicable, the secretary of the Senate shall give notice to the House of Representatives that the Senate shall commence the impeachment of the person named in the articles/resolutions of impeachment in the Chambers of the Joint Session, which shall be prepared for the accommodation of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
As for witnesses in the impeachment trials, Section 17 says, witnesses shall be examined by one person or his/her legal counsel on behalf of the party producing them, and then cross examined by one person or his/her lawyer from the other side. The right is reserved to each senator sitting as a jury to pose question directly or examine a witness.
“A senator shall not volunteer or be called as a witness in an impeachment trial,” Section 18 says. This means the President, Vice President, the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives can be called as witnesses.
It added, “If a senator wishes a question to be put to a witness or to offer a motion or order, except a motion to adjourn, it shall be reduced to writing and put by the Presiding Officer of the trial to the witness.”
Meanwhile, senators Conmany Wesseh and Oscar Cooper have promised to sue the Senate over the passage of the amended Rule 63 of the Standing Rules, arguing that the amendment to Rule 63 was in direct conflict with the Constitution.
Sen. Wesseh said Gbarpolu County Sen. Naatehn openly told his colleagues that with the approval of the amendment, they have “brain problems,” because the rule is uncomfortable, indecent and violates the constitution.
Regardless of the approval of the amendment of Rule 63 to set the stage of all impeachment proceedings, there is yet no indication as to whether the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Justice Kabineh Ja’neh will come up during the one-month extraordinary session of the Legislature.
But with the appointment of Judge J. Boima Kontoe as Ad-hoc Justice to sit for the hearing and determination of a Writ of Prohibition in the matter brought on behalf of Justice Ja’neh – “Petitioner” versus the House of Representatives of the Legislature by and through its Speaker Bhofal Chambers – “Respondents”, it is likely that the impeachment of Justice Ja’neh might start within the extraordinary session.
“In all impeachment proceedings, the verdict of the Senate shall be final, binding and enforceable without any right of appeal therefrom to any forum or person,” Section 26 states.