-Senators given a week to review expanded Judiciary C’ttee’s report
A motion by Bong County Senator Henry W. Yallah calling for the suspension of some Senate Standing Rules ahead of the proceedings for the impeachment trial of Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, backfired on September 13 with senators arguing that such contravenes Senate Rule 65.
The decision was announced before the Senate commenced this year’s “agriculture break” last week.
In his motion, Sen. Yallah said: “Today is a serious day in the history of our country, especially if my memory can serve me well, this is the first time that this senate is deliberating on such a matter called impeachment; so the beginning is rocky and it’s going to be difficult, but it will be done, because we have laws.”
Yallah said the issue, as contained in the Judiciary Committee’s report that calls for the suspension of certain Senate Rules, especially Rule 66, Section II, which calls for amendments to be able to silence the issue of two third (2/3) , must be addressed first.
“If I will have your permission, I move, if I can be seconded, that Rule 66, Section II of our Senate Standing Rule be suspended to relax that portion that calls for the 2/3 to permit this senate to proceed with the hearings,” he said.
Rule 66 calls for the circulation of the Rules to each senator within a week, which Sen. Yallah modified and which the senate was trying to amend. But as expected, his motion was vehemently protested against by majority of his colleagues, who accused him of using the wrong rule for his motion.
Senators Oscar Cooper, Armah Jallah, Thomas Grupee, and Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence argued that the Bong County lawmaker’s motion is in violation of the very Senate Rule that will be used for the trial.
Senator Grupee said: “We have a very important subject matter that deals with the impeachment of an Associate Justice, and in our world what is not legally done, is not done at all. Having listened to my colleagues reading our very Rules that ought to be followed, if we have to sit on this impeachment trial and make sure that due process is accorded the accused, I think this motion should be withdrawn, and I don’t think we need to take a vote on this motion, because it is in violation of our Rules.”
Senator Milton Teahjay: “With me presiding, we cannot, will not, or ought not to turn this senate into a Banana Republic where there are no laws and, if there are laws, where people don’t respect those laws. The Rules are clear on how and when we can suspend our Rules, and everybody here can read and write.”
Sen. Lawrence decried the suggestion for a suspension of some Senate Rules, saying such can only be done in the case of a state of emergency, like natural disaster and epidemic like the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak.
Maryland County Senator Gbleh-bo Brown wondered as to what the senate stands to gain if the Senate Rules are suspended, “because today we are closing for session, and even if we vote now to amend, what do we gain from it? so my appeal to the motion is that considering that we are almost closed, let us take these proposed amendments in line with our Rules, until we are recalled or until we return in January.”
And in a new motion that has temporarily halted further actions, Senator George Tengbeh requested that the “intensive report” be received and circulated among senators, to be reviewed for not less than a week, and that the Senate proceeds consistent with Senate Rule 66.
According to Senate Rule 65, which deals with the suspension of the Senate Rules, “None of the standing rules constituting the Senate Rules shall be suspended, except by 2/3 consent of the entire members of the Senate, and when the Senate has been convened on an emergency session.”