The Liberian Senate at its 15th day sitting, voted 14 for, seven abstention and one against to cite the Minister of Youth & Sports Eugene Lenn Nagbe to appear before that body on Tuesday, March 3 to show cause why he should not be held in contempt for an alleged ‘inappropriate statement’ against a constituted Ad Hoc Committee.
The Minister is also encouraged to go along with his lawyer if he so desires.
The Senate’s decision was taken after hours of debate that resulted in the plenary voting at three different times, each time with new procedures.
Among those abstaining from citing the Minister for the contempt hearing were Senators Joseph Nagbe, (Sinoe), Varney Sherman, (Grand Cape Mount), Conmany B. Wesseh, (River Gee), Steven Zargo, (Lofa) and Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, (Bong), who filed a motion for reconsideration.
Recently, the Senate plenary constituted an Ad Hoc Committee, headed by former soccer legend now Senator, George Manneh Weah, with the mandate to investigate a communication from River Cess Senator Francis Paye, regarding news from the Ministry of Youth and Sport on its decision to conduct the annual National Sports Meet in March.
But in a report presented before the Senate yesterday, the committee noted that though he was officially written to, Minister Nagbe failed to appear before the Ad Hoc Committee, but rather Nagbe replied and informed the Senate committee that the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning had communicated with him through a transmittal that the Legislature did not make appropriation in Fiscal Year 2014/2015 national budget for the hosting of the 2014/2015 National Sports Meet; and that despite vigorous efforts, the MYS was unable to secure any sponsorship arrangement for the meet.
The George Weah-chaired committee quoted Minister Nagbe in its report thus: “It is therefore my advice that the committee refrains from proceeding with its hearing into the feasibility of an activity which is not budgeted for nor projected to be executed. I urge that the committee redirects its energy towards preparing for appropriation in the 2015/2016 National Budget so that the MYS can again organize and implement a National County Sports Meet with the grandeur deserving of such a national event.”
The committee that included five Senators then informed the plenary that the refusal of Minister Nagbe to attend the hearing was an obstruction to the work of the Senate, and the publishing of a letter and that of the Senate committee in the FrontPage Newspaper “as a serious affront to the Senate and wish to request the Senate’s intervention in this matter.”
Speaking in open plenary yesterday since his recent induction, Senator Varney Sherman cautioned his colleagues that in citing someone for contempt, “you are asking him to show cause why he shouldn’t be held in contempt; we didn’t conclude here that his conduct is contemptuous, and until we take ourselves in that frame of heart, we will be finding someone guilty before they appear. I think it is important that whatever motion is made, it should be that the person be cited to show cause why he should not be held in contempt.”
The Grand Cape Mount lawmaker’s suggestion was accepted and formed part of the wordings contained in the motion for contempt proffered by Bomi County Senator Sando Johnson.