Liberia: Liberty Party Condemns Rep. Gray’s Call to Impeach Justice Kabineh Ja’neh

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Monrovia – Representative Moses Acarous Gray is still holding his decision to initiate an impeachment preceding against Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh close to his chest, yet the decision has met stiff resistance and condemnation.

The Montserrado County District 8 Representative disclosed over the weekend that he has begun soliciting signatures to oust the Supreme Court justice. According to him, details on the impeachment would be outlined in the bill to impeachment him.

The opposition Liberty Party has reacted to the lawmaker’s intent by describing the plan as “witch hunt tactic”.

“It is without any doubt that Justice Ja’neh stands out as a man of integrity, not only as a member of the Supreme Court Bench, where he has distinguished himself but also as a Liberian citizen, a man of great honor. So, it does not take a smart person to realize that the real reason why the Weah-led government would want to remove Justice Ja’neh from the Supreme Court is because of the role he played in the case, Liberty Party & Unity Party vs. NEC, during which the results of 2017 Presidential Elections were challenged because of fraud and gross irregularities. Justice Ja’neh dissented, disagreeing with the other four justices of the Korkpor Bench,” the opposition party stated in a press statement.

The Liberty Party insinuated that presence of Justice Ja’neh on the Bench reminds the CDC government that had the Supreme Court followed its own precedent, established elections laws, and legal reasoning, there would not have been a CDC government today. “Justice Ja’neh’s presence on the Bench also keeps the hope and aspiration of many Liberians for a strong and independent judiciary alive,” the release noted.

It can be recalled that Justice Ja’neh was the only member of the bench who gave a dissenting opinion in the electoral impasse case and called for the nullification of the October 10, 2017 presidential election results. He called for the cleanup of the voters roll and the rerun of the process.

The Liberty Party recalled that during the 2014 mid-term election its candidate Senator Stephen J.H. Zargo, now chairman of the party was declared winner of the elections. The APD candidate, Cllr. Joseph K. Jallah, appealed to the Supreme Court, alleging irregularity in the electoral process. Coincidentally, Justice Philip Banks, who wrote the Liberty Party & Unity Party opinion for the majority of the Bench, also wrote the ADP opinion for a unanimous Bench, which was decided against the Liberty Party candidate; Justice Ja’neh did not dissent. In the ADP Opinion, Justice Banks, speaking on behalf of the Court said, among other things,

“Indeed, one would believe that the Commission, faced with any accusations of misconduct of any of its electoral officials, would not so much require the complainant to produce evidence of the misconduct as would take it upon itself to investigate the incident and the officials accused of the misconduct to ascertain whether in fact such conduct was exhibited by the accused official. That, we believe, is what the framers intended. To require otherwise would mean that in every election, one would have to bring along a video camera, tape record or other electronic devices as would openly catch the officials engaging in the misconduct.”

“We must emphasize, however, that if the process is flawed, no matter how good the Commission’s intention may have been, especially if it departs from the prescribed manner or mandate of the law, it could have the propensity to impact negatively and severely, not just a single individual but, as in the instant case, an entire county wherein resides almost one-fifth of the nation’s population. This is the underlining theme and mandate of the Constitution, that the Commission must not only ensure that the manner in which the elections are conducted is fair and transparent but also that the results must represent the true votes of the electorate. Thus a party feeling aggrieved may challenge not only the manner in which the elections were conducted but also the results of the elections.”

“The Commissions should always be mindful of the fact that the credibility of an election result is determined by the transparency and lawfulness of the electoral process, which is why “this Court has recognized and espoused that the overriding objective of what the Elections Law seeks to accomplish in all electoral competitions is a secure, transparent and accurate determination of the results.” NPP v. NEC et al., decided January 6, 2012. This was the spirit intended by the framers of the Constitution, and in turn, the drafters of the Elections Law.”

The Liberty Party noted that the same principles were not applied by the Supreme Court in the Liberty Party & Unity Party vs. The National Elections Commission Case.

Liberty Party: “Instead, Justice Banks, speaking on behalf of the majority of the Court, held that Liberty Party did not present sufficient incidents of fraud to warrant a reversal of the NEC’s ruling. But even more importantly, Justice Banks disregarded Article 11(c), which provides for equal protection under the law—
all persons are equal before the law and are therefore entitled to the equal protection of the law. Justice Banks, on behalf of the majority, determined that irregularities occurred during the first round of the elections. The irregularities were substantial enough to warrant an order from the Court to the NEC to the effect that the irregularities had to be corrected before the run-off would be held. But the Liberty Party, which was also affected by the irregularities, as complained was not accorded its constitutional equal protection right.”

“Justice Ja’neh was right to dissent and committed no impeachable offense,” the release noted.

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