The Senate yesterday purged Minister of Youth and Sports Eugene Lenn Nagbe of contempt charges after he wrote that body and apologized for his failure to appear before the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Sports on February 18, for a hearing concerning the hosting of the 2015 National Sports Meet.
In his communication dated March 17 and read minutes before his appearance, Minister Nagbe said his failure to appear was not designed to obstruct the work of the committee and the Senate in general.
“By writing a letter which addressed the concerns of the committee relating to the Ministry of Youth and Sports’ inability to host the 2015 National County Sports Meet due to lack of funding had deterred me that there will be no further need for the hearing; I request that the Honorable Senate purge me of contempt charges…,” he wrote.
But responding to a barrage of questions, Minister Nagbe maintained that he did not intend to impede the work of the committee, headed by his former Congress for Democratic Change party standard bearer, now Senator George Manneh Weah.
“My assumption was that the letter I had written to the committee addressed the concerns that the committee itself was raising, and therefore, there was no need for us to continue with a public hearing,” he explained.
On the second count that he published a letter addressed to the committee in a local daily and on a social network, Nagbe said the letter inviting him to the hearing was received and a reply was sent to Senator Weah’s office the same day. But he denied knowledge of the same letter being published in the newspaper and on a social network. “Perhaps that requires a totally separate investigation to determine how that happened.”
The main bone of contention for which the Senate earlier voted to tread the path of contempt charges was contained in the last paragraph of Minister Nagbe’s reply to the committee in which among other things, he urged the committee to direct its attention to making the appropriate budgetary allocation in the 2015/2016 national budget for the successful hosting of the 2016 County Sports Meet.
But in his defense Mr. Nagbe maintained that the 2015 Meet was not feasible, and that his statement was not in any way intended to belittle the lawmakers, especially as he put it, “he will still have to come to them for a budget that will enable his ministry to host the Meet with the grandeur it deserves.”
After unanimously debating that indeed the Minister was in the wrong, the Senate decided to temper justice with mercy, and voted that instead of a contempt charge hearing the Minister be advised to write a letter of apology to the committee, publish the letter in the local newspapers and on the internet for a week and present a copy to the Ad Hoc Committee. He was also instructed to still meet with the committee as earlier requested.