Liberia: Senate Pro Temp Under Fire Ahead of Supreme Court Justice Impeachment Verdict
Monrovia – Moments before the handing down of the verdict in the impeachment proceedings of Associate Justice Kabineh J’aneh, accusations of bribery and last-minute tampering with the voting process is said to be dogging the President Pro-Temp of the Senate, Senator Albert Chie.
Senator Oscar Cooper (NPP, Margibi), during a call-in to the Henry Costa Morning Show Friday, became the latest lawmaker to brand the impeachment proceeding as unconstitutional. The whole process is unconstitutional and is a great injustice and Margibi Senator Oscar Cooper did not vote because there were too many irregularities and after sitting and listening to justice Philip Banks, we violated many provisions of the constitution.”
Senator Cooper said he could not sit and allow injustice to prevail. “It is not about Kabineh J’aneh, it is about the Republic of Liberia and the people of Liberia. You know when you render injustice to one person, you render injustice to all. And we swore to defend the constitution of the republic of Liberia. And we go there, Senators, allegedly they say they took money to bring down somebody and I Senator Oscar Cooper participated in such illegal business?”
Senator Oscar Cooper, NPP, Margibi
“When you do these kinds of things, the public loses confidence in the voting process. So, the ramifications of what the Senate is doing, has far-reaching ramifications on the credibility of elections because we are the direct oversight over the National Elections Commission. The Chief Justice who’s sitting there is the one you carry your trouble to when you’re not satisfied with them. Then you go and accept a bogus voting process? We really need to get serious in this country.”
The Margibi Senator accused the head of the Senate, Chie of changing the rules of the voting at the eleventh hour and failing to allow Senators to adequately review minutes from the recent proceedings. “It’s in the middle of the game, in the closing arguments yesterday, they said that all the minutes, all the proceedings, the secretary of the senate supposed to give it to the Senators to read through, all the so-called evidence, then your go and read it two, three days then your come deliberate among yourself to come and convince your colleagues to vote. No minutes given, your run in your room. Then you change in the middle of the ninth hour – the impeachment argument that Varney Sherman wrote which was wrong with the voting process.
The Senator said Section Three of the Senate rules on voting requires Senators to put their names on the ballot and sign but the Pro Temp had changed the rules to favor those pushing for Justice J’aneh’s impeachment. “They tell you how to vote – your name would be put on the ballot, you vote guilty or not guilty and your signature and your county name. At the end of the day they changed it and said no, some Senators don’t want to be identified because their constituents will know how they voted, so the names should be removed. This is a crucial impeachment proceeding, you change it at the end of the game,” the Senator asked.
Senator Cooper said under such circumstances it is impossible for the process to be fair and says he’s is looking to gauge and test the impartiality of Chief Justice Francis Korkpor. “I’m looking at the Chief Justice. I want to see the Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia presiding over a due process proceeding – and when there are challenges to the rules being change, the way we vote is changed? – I want to see when the lawyers bring that in front of him. I want to see how he will respond to that”
Senator Oscar Cooper, NPP, Margibi
I am totally upset with the way our country is going. If we continue like this, we will become ungovernable and the people in this country will not trust the people who are governing. When the people don’t trust you, chaos observed and we are going down a slippery slope too fast.”
The Margibi Senator lamented: “When you do these kinds of things, the public loses confidence in the voting process. So, the ramifications of what the Senate is doing, has far-reaching ramifications on the credibility of elections because we are the direct oversight over the National Elections Commission. The Chief Justice who’s sitting there is the one you carry your trouble to when you’re not satisfied with them. Then you go and accept a bogus voting process? We really need to get serious in this country.”
Venting his frustration, Senator Cooper says he is pondering leaving his seat due to the corrupt atmosphere haunting the legislative body. “I was about to go tell my constituents in Margibi to go from village to village that I have no purpose in that Senate anymore because you can’t find credible people in that Senate, so therefore, Senator Cooper cannot mix with them. This is what I will be going to tell my people because they put me there.”
Recalling some of the horrors of Liberia’s ugly past, Senator Cooper says it appears Liberians have not forgotten the pains endured during a bloody civil war. “There are just too many injustices and the country is going down – and it will continue. This country has seen sixteen years of turmoil. 1980, the coup – and they forget, 1980, they chanted “country woman born soldier, congau woman born rogue” – they grabbed the president, he was killed; they grabbed the speaker of the House, Richard Henries, he was killed, they grabbed the Pro Temp, Frank Tolbert, he was killed, they grabbed the Chief Justice James A.A. Pierre, he was killed, along with the ministers, have we learned? Liberian people, have we learned? President Doe was killed for injustice; Charles Ghankay Taylor is in prison in England for injustice. I am totally upset with the way our country is going. If we continue like this, we will become ungovernable and the people in this country will not trust the people who are governing. When the people don’t trust you, chaos observed and we are going down a slippery slope too fast.”
The Senator’s statements Friday comes a day after nine Senators expressed their opposition to the J’aneh impeachment process.
The nine Senators – Dr. Henrique Tokpah (Ind. Bong County), Oscar Cooper (Ind. Margibi County), Armah Jallah (NPP, Gbarpolu), Conmany Wesseh (UP, River Gee), Daniel Naathen (ANC, Gbarpolu), Steve Zargo (LP, Lofa) and Sando Johnson (NPP, Bomi) and Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence (LP, Grand Bassa) and Gbleh-Bo Brown(Independent, Maryland) all posed a united front in their quest to deny the impeachment.
In a joint statement Thursday, the Senators stated: “We the undersigned senators further not, with grave concern, that the position of the Senate on the Impeachment of Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh was essentially but negatively influenced by the chairman of the Senate committee on judiciary, human Rights, Claims and petitions.”
The nine senators stated in their position statement stated that it is now public knowledge that the Senate position in the matter is constitutionally faulty, flawed, ill-advised and a result of confidence betrayal and one that is appear to be designed to serve a selfish interest.
The senators are also demanding that Senator Varney Sherman who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee to do the “most honorable thing” by resigning from the chairmanship of the committee to save the senate further and future embarrassment.
In the lower house, the head of the Judiciary Committee, when queried by FrontPageAfrica to address speculations that he was disbursing funds to Senators to entice their votes to impeach Justice Ja’neh slammed what he termed unfortunate rumors. “I must take this time and occasion to categorically deny that I have met any senator or distributed any money to anyone in an attempt to influence the results of the ongoing impeachment process. This is an unfortunate rumor disseminated by truth FM for its own purpose. I would normally refrain from commenting on rumors but feel the need to set the record straight in this one,” the lawmaker said.