Liberia: Impeachment Hangs over Supreme Court Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh
Monrovia – Representative Moses Acarous Gray has disclosed that his colleagues in the 54th Legislature are soliciting signatures for an impeachment bill against Supreme Court Justice Kabineh Ja’neh.
Report by Henry Karmo, [email protected]
Rep. Gray, a staunch member of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and who is representing Montserrado County District 8 for the second time in the Legislature, refused to state any reason(s) that could lead to the House of Representatives’ action. He, however, promised to release the details in the coming days.
“I will not get involved into the details but I and other members of the House of Representatives will be submitting a Bill of Impeachment against one of the Justices of the Supreme Court Bench in person of Cllr. Kabineh Ja’neh.”
Even though the CDC lawmaker, who promised not to disclose details of the impeachment proceedings, however, hinted that there have been series of complains against Justice Ja’neh which in his mind constitutes impeachment.
According to him, he and those plotting the removal of Justice Ja’neh have had “series of consultative meetings leading to them beginning their impeachment proceedings.
“I am optimistic we will succeed. People are concerned about the type of Judiciary system we have in Liberia not only its independence and integrity but the type of people we have,” Rep. Gray said.
Since the lawmaker isn’t yet very clear on why they are conspiring to remove the Associate Justice, here is what the Liberian Constitution says in Article 71: “The Chief Justice and Associates Justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of subordinate courts of record shall hold office during good behavior. They may be removed upon impeachment and conviction by the Legislature based on proved misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform the functions of their office, or conviction in a court of law for treason, bribery or other infamous crimes.”
Touching on other matters emanating from the Legislature, Rev. Gray termed as selfish the bill recently passed by the Senate intended to restrict sitting lawmaker from contesting in by-election before ending their tenure.
According to him, the law if it is only intended for the upcoming 2023 election to prevent people in the House from contesting is selfish and he and others will work tirelessly to ensure it doesn’t receive the necessary concurrence vote from the House of Representatives.
The bill, which was sponsored by Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County, received majority vote even though there were some lawmakers, who had reservations on how its wordings were been coined. The motion that facilitated the bill was filed by Senator Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County.
The law will also call for sitting lawmakers to resign their positions in the Senate or House of Representatives if they desire to contest for a vacant position in by-elections.
The idea behind his bill, according to Senator Sherman, is that it will save the government some money that it should have spent on unnecessary by-elections. He believed the act by some lawmakers, who have tenure positions and want to contest in by-elections, is too much of economic burden on the government that is struggling to achieve its challenge of obtaining a huge wage bill and carries out social and infrastructure development.
LACC Not A Political Institution
Also during the interview Gray cautioned the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to remain apolitical and professional. He promised that officials of the Executive and Legislature will make asset declaration before the deadline.
UP Reacts To Impeachment News
The former ruling party, Unity Party (UP), has reacted to the revelation coming from ruling party lawmaker that some members of the House of Representatives are preparing an impeachment bill against Associate Kabineh Ja’neh.
“The Unity Party is very seriously troubled by calls emanating from within the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) for the impeachment and subsequent removal of Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh. In his statement on Okay FM calling for the impeachment of Associate Justice Ja’neh, CDC Representative Acarous M. Gray did not give or suggest any reason(s) but would rather vaguely tell the journalist that the call for impeachment is based on integrity issue,” UP said through its National Assistant Secretary General for Press, Publicity and Outreach, Mr. Mohammed Ali.
Ali and the UP blame President George Manneh Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor of being behind the plot, too; adding: “If this impeachment and removal were to ever be done, it will put the entire Supreme Court Bench at the mercy of the Executive and would mean a total collapse of our democracy as the independence of the Judiciary will be inevitably compromised. This will be at the taste and satisfaction of the President.”
“Second, the call is made because Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh was the only one on the Supreme Court Bench that voted for the nullification of the October 10, 2017 Presidential Election,” Ali also emphasized.
It can be recalled that the Liberty Party and the Unity Party filed a case with the Supreme Court asking for the nullification of the October 10, 2017 presidential election because of massive frauds and violations of the election laws by the National Elections Commission. In the Supreme Court’s ruling on that case, all but Justice Kabineh Ja’neh voted to uphold the motions filed by the two political parties.
So to the UP, “In the mind of the CDC hierarchy, Justice Ja’neh’s stance cast a dark shadow on their victory and they (CDC) must do anything get at the experienced Justice Ja’neh.”
Meanwhile, UP is calling on all members of the Legislature to not only vote against any such call but to also stand against any attempt to what they termed as “reverse the democratic gains we have made in this country. We also call on other well-meaning representatives and senators to join the call in trashing this impeachment call as Justice Ja’neh has not violated any provision in the Constitution that would warrant his removal.”
According to the UP, call to impeach Associate Justice Ja’neh is nothing but a complete witch hunt.