Liberia: Former Ruling Unity Party Suspends all Its Senators for Voting to Remove Justice Ja’neh from the Bench
MONROVIA – Twenty executive committee members of the former ruling Unity Party Tuesday voted unanimously to suspend eight of its Senators who went against the party’s mandate not to impeach Supreme Court Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh.
Report by Alline Dunbar, [email protected]
y executive committee members of the former ruling Unity Party Tuesday voted unanimously to suspend eight of its Senators who went against the party’s mandate not to impeach Supreme Court Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh.
The party came up with the decision after nearly five hours of closed-door deliberation of a one item agenda at the party’s Congo Town headquarters.
Those suspended pending further investigation are: Cllr. Varney H. Sherman – Cape Mount, Sen. Edward B. Dagoseh – Cape Mount, Sen. Morris Saytumah – Bomi, Sen. George Tengbeh – Lofa, Sen. Thomas Grupee – Nimba, Sen. Alphonso Gaye – Grand Gedeh, Sen. Matthew Jaye – Reivergee and Sen. Milton Teahjay – Sinoe.
The United Party said in a statement after the meeting, “Members of the UP’s NEC expressed grave concerns and disappointment over last Thursday’s wrongful and politically motivated action to impeach Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh of the Supreme Court. The party is worried about the fate of calls for electoral reforms in the wake of interference with the independence of the Judiciary.”
“The party is aware of the concerns of members and Liberians about the deteriorating governance situation, which has been exacerbated by the compromise of the Judiciary Branch of government as witnessed last week.”
“The party’s executive committee members voted unanimously to suspend all eight Senators of the unity party in the senate pending investigation,” Mo Ali, National Assistant Secretary General for Press, Publicity and Outreach told FrontPageAfrica after the meeting at the party’s headquarters.
He said the suspended Senators will be investigated and the investigation will determine further actions the party will take. He, however, could not tell when and how the investigation would be conducted.
Ali added that the Unity Party believes that the decision by the Senate to impeach Justice Ja’neh undermines the country’s democracy.
“We see it as an attempt by the executive to impose control over the Judiciary branch of government and we also see this is an attempt to rig elections in the future, where by there will be no independent Judiciary system”.
He stressed that the entire impeachment process was politically motivated and unconstitutional and after having series of consultations with Senators of the Unity Party that they should vote against such impeachment proceedings, they refused and voted for the impeachment.
“So, part of the investigation will focus on why they deliberately disobeyed the party,” he said.
Nimba County Senator Grupee who was present at the party’s headquarters when the decision was made declined to comment.
Sen. Grupee, however, according to Senator Prince Y. Johnson also of Nimba County, did not vote to remove Justice Ja’neh from the Bench. Sen. Johnson believes the votes were tampered with.
Senator Johnson said Senator Grupee met with him in his office. “We met in his office and we discussed the way we should vote and that no matter what happened, blood is thicker than water. Mandingo people from Nimba, they stood with us and they told us clearly when it comes to voting they stand by us so we did the same, so that’s what we did.”
Pressed as to why he and Senator Grupee did not support the nine Senators who issued a statement prior to the vote, disassociating themselves from the process which needed just 10 votes to save Justice Ja’neh’s job, Senator Johnson argued that he spoke out against the illegal process which he had declared unconstitutional. “I like for people to listen when we are trying to set the proper basis for our people for our people to understand this when the matter got to the Liberian Senate. I gave my statement and I gave my position, that it was unconstitutional.”
It can be recalled that Mr. Abraham Darius Dillon, the chair of political affairs in the opposition Liberty threatened to leave his party if authorities in the hierarchy fail to expel Senator Jonathan Kaipay one of several senators who voted in favor of the impeachment Justice Ja’neh.
Speaking on his Facebook Live segment hours after the court came down with a ruling to impeach Justice Ja’neh last Friday, Mr. Dillon said Senator Kaipay brought shame and disgrace to the party by going against its position in the saga which prompted him to throw out a challenge to his party.
“I am challenging my Party, Liberty Party to expel Sen. Jonathan Kaipay for voting in favor of the politically-driven impeachment against Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh. Kaipay is a deviant from institutional decision. The Party must act or I will suspend my membership with the Party. We cannot institutionally condemn a process as being wrong and unconstitutional, but then have a Senator of our Party vote otherwise, especially after he was cited along with other Senators of the Party during which the Party’s position was clearly expressed and made known. Worse off is that Kaipay promised on record during said meeting he would respect the Party’s decision and act accordingly.”
Mr. Dillon said for Sen. Kaipay to have done otherwise is a betrayal for which he must be shown the door. “We may be better off not having a Senator than have one that always completely ignores the Party’s decisions and thoughtful directions. This politically-driven impeachment of Justice Ja’neh is a danger to our democracy and the same undermines the independence and credibility of our Judiciary. Liberty Party and none of her Senators and Representatives should even bear the guilt of playing a role in killing our Judiciary.”
Sen. Kaipee was subsequently suspended from the Liberty Party.
A letter signed by the party’s national chairman, Sen. Steve Zargo, accused the Grand Bassa lawmaker of violating his oath of office and the party’s constitution by aligning with other senators who chose to violate the constitution. The party said Kaipay’s action was also in blatant deviation from his commitment to the country and the party.