PALIKIR, POHNPEI. September 28, 2023.The Twenty-Third Congress of the Federated States of Micronesia today adopted the Credential Report of the two Senators-elect and recommended that only Fabian S. Nimea be seated. Accordingly, the Oath of Office will be administered to Nimea tomorrow, Friday – September 29, 2023.
A Special National Election was held on July 4, 2023, to fill the two vacated seats in the 23rd Congress when the at-large senators from Chuuk and Kosrae moved to the Executive Branch of the National Government. Along with the vacant congressional seats, the special election was also for the proposed Amendments for the Fourth FSM Constitutional Referendum. Certain results from both of these civic activities where contested and through the proper court proceeding resulted in court rulings that enabled the completion and adoption of the Congress Credential Report.
On Day 17 of the Second Regular Session, the 23rd Congress adopted the Credential Report on the Special Election of July 4, 2023, which summarized the committee’s findings and recommendations on the Chuuk State Senator-elect, Fabian Sitan Nimea and the Kosrae State Senator-elect Yoslyn G. Sigrah.
In review of the qualifications of the Senators-elect, the report noted that both Nimea and Sigrah meet the qualifications in Article 9, section 9 of the FSM Constitution: minimum of 30 years old, FSM citizen, resident of state elected to, and no felony convictions. The report continued that Article 9, Section 17 of the FSM Constitution, reaffirmed the Congress authority that “the Congress shall be the sole judge of the elections and qualifications of its members, and may discipline a member, and, by 2/3 vote, may suspend or expel a member.”
The report reaffirmed the exclusive authority of the Congress as the sole judge of the election and the qualification of its members and as sole judge, the Congress must ascertain the character and fitness of members-elect to serve in Congress and uphold their obligations to abide by the law and oath of office. Further, the report noted that the oath of office “bestows a serious responsibility that must be upheld in the utmost regard as the legislative branch of the national government which write the laws of the Nation.”
In accordance with its responsibilities, the Credential Committee conducted careful and in-depth background and criminal checks from the institutions of law and justice at the states and national government. The Committee reported that both Senators-elect have no felony convictions at the state or national courts. However, upon the committee’s request to the Nation’s courts for a criminal background check, the courts reported the following on Sigrah:
- Kosrae State: the Kosrae State Court suspended Sigrah’s license for 1 year for violation of Civil Rules of Procedures 11 by “ghostwriting” legal briefs for other attorneys to sign and file in court, but this decision was overruled by the FSM Supreme Court;
- Pohnpei State: Sigrah was subpoenaed by the Pohnpei Court in 2016 for an alleged assault for biting a police officer, and she has a criminal record for misdemeanor offense for Malicious Mischief in 2021; and
- FSM Supreme Court (FSMSC): the Court issued a public admonishment and censure in 2015 against Sigrah when she falsely purported documents submitted to the FSMSC that a draft legislation calling for temporary moratorium on mortgage foreclosures was an actual adopted congressional resolution when it was not adopted; in April 2021 Sigrah was suspended from practicing law before the FSM Court.
In light of the findings, the Committee reported that Sigrah - in her professional capacity as an attorney and sworn under oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and laws of the FSM, had “engaged in fraudulent filings with the FSM Supreme Court and serious ethical misconducts in violation of the FSM Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys.” This had resulted in the FSM Supreme Court disbarring Sigrah with sanctions and public admonishment for her conduct as an attorney.
The report further stated, “the fact that Yoslyn Sigrah engaged in conduct, including but not limited to filing misleading and false documents with the FSM Supreme Court, willfully violating an FSM Supreme Court order, and biting a police officer in her professional capacity as an attorney…draws into question her capacity to abide by the oath of office and responsibilities as a member of the Congress.”
The report concluded that Sigrah is not qualified to be seated as a Member of the Congress and “the Committee does not recommend the credentials of Senator-elect Yoslyn Sigrah be accepted and the Senator-elect is not permitted to take the Oath of Office.”
According to the report, the Committee is in full accord with the credentials of Senator-elect Fabian S. Nimea and recommend he be permitted to take the Oath of Office. Therefore, Nimea is scheduled to take his Oath of Office tomorrow, Friday - September 29, 2023 at 10am in the Congress Chamber in Palikir.
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