Vamba Kanneh Finally Succumbs To NTLA
...Body Charges Him with Contempt
By: C. Winnie Saywah
Posted July 1, 2004
Transport Minister Vamba Kanneh has been charged with legislative contempt by the National Legislative Assembly following his persistent refusal to appear before that august body.
Min. Kanneh who had earlier told the public that any attempt by anyone to forcibly arrest him would lead to a counter reaction was yesterday escorted into the assembly’s joint chambers by Justice Minister Kabineh Jan’eh.
Though he was given the chance before plenary to give some explanation for his action towards the NTLA, Min. Kanneh told the lawmakers that he never refused to appear before the assembly, rather he had refused to come and divulge the information requested by the body.
Mr. Kanneh standing before the assemblymen said, he is not rude therefore he will no day choose to disrespect the NTLA, stressing“no one can prove that I refused to appear. I can challenge them.”
In one of his communications to the NTLA, Min. Kanneh said, he was under executive protection to remain silent unless the NTGL Chairman instructed him to give the information he termed “privilege”, but before plenary the Transport Minister who was accompanied by several individuals to the Capitol, said he was prepared to disclose the required information though according to him, his presence before plenary was based upon his own volition and advice from Chairman Bryant.
The assemblymen for their part, cross-examined Minister Kanneh on his action which they considered a disrespect to the entire first branch of government and an affront meant to impede their work and put them at logger-head with the citizens in terms of the issue of transportation.
After many views had been expressed, Rep. Joseph Nagbe told plenary that Min. Kanneh has insulted the NTLA and is still showing the body disrespect, therefore he motioned that the Transport Minister be held in contempt for his action, something which was endorsed.
Minutes later, Rep. Stanley Kparkillen took the floor and in clarifying the “legislative contempt” motion said, Mr. Kanneh be fined the sum of L$4,99.99, and made to apologize to the assembly by writing a letter of apology to the body which should be published in four local dailies and radio stations. After which, he would have to report to the NTLA standing committee on Transport headed by Rep. Julius Parker to clarify the issue about the 25 buses promised to ease the transportation problem.
It can be recalled that the issue of the Transport Minister and the NTLA began exactly two months ago, April 29th as that body met stiff resistance from Minister Kanneh who blatantly refused to submit to the assembly because, according to him, he is only answerable to the NTGL Chairman.
Min. Kanneh even told the body over a local radio that his arrest order would never be carried out by Justice Minister Ja’neh because, “if the NTLA is ignorant of the laws, the Justice Minister was not ignorant”, and that he (Kanneh) has both political and military constituency therefore any attempt to arrest him unwillingly would lead to a stiff resistance.
Meanwhile, the joint assembly hall was crowded by observers upon the appearance of Minister Kanneh, most of whom described the NTLA’s ruling on the issue of the Transport Minister as soft and bias.
According to observers, the NTLA has set a bad precedence by only fining the Transport Minister who had in fact insulted the assembly while the Environmental Health Director from the MOH had to be thrown in jail for seven days without being given the chance to give reasons for failing to appear before plenary and no contempt charge was levied against him as in the case of Min. Kanneh.