The leadership of the National Muslim Council of Liberia (NMCOL), the nation’s highest Islamic body, yesterday, September 5, called on the legislature to abandon its current impeachment proceeding against Associate Justice Kabineh Mohammed Ja’neh.
In a press statement issued yesterday, the NMCOL said it is particularly concerned about the deep division that the current impeachment saga is creating among Liberians and, in particular, the three branches of government.
The group warned the three branches of government, namely: the legislature, executive and the judiciary to disengage from what it calls ‘application of arbitrary state power’ by one branch of government against any of the other branches of the government.
Both the legislature and the judiciary have been embroiled in a legal rigmarole (lengthy, complicated procedure) over the impeachment of Associate Justice Ja’neh in recent weeks.
It can be recalled that a group of lawmakers accused the embattled Justice of breaching his status as a sitting judge on the country’s Supreme Court Bench as well as levying charges against him (Ja’neh), including misuse of power, proven misconduct, theft of property, and theft of records.
Justice Ja’neh, through his legal team, has since filed a formal complaint to the Supreme Court, claiming procedural error by the House of Representatives in the preparation of an impeachment bill meant to boot him from the Supreme Court Bench.
The Supreme Court wrote the House of Representatives for a conference on the issue, but the House has since rejected the High Court’s injunction orders, instead warning the nation’s final arbiter of justice to vacate the matter or be made to face an unprecedented embarrassment.
The House has also passed a resolution calling for the impeachment of Justice Ja’neh, forwarding said instrument to the senate for action.
Meanwhile, after initial review of the House’s impeachment resolution by the senate, the proposed impeachment resolution has now been sent to the senate’s judicial committee for review and recommendation.
Last Thursday’s (August 29) debate by the senate on the resolution saw many senators angrily speaking on the “improper manner” in which the impeachment resolution was presented to the senate, which prompted the leadership of the senate to take hold of the matter.
As Liberians await the senate’s decision on the matter, there are concerns in some quarters of the country that the current constitutional brouhaha (fracas, row), which has seen a war of words taking place between members of the House of Representatives and Justice Ja’neh’s legal team, may bring further disunity in the country, paralyzing major government functionaries, a view firmly held by the leadership of NMCOL, the nation’s number one Muslim organization.
“The National Muslim Council of Liberia (NMCOL) has keenly followed the impeachment scenario of Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh of the Supreme Court by the Lower House of the 54th Legislature from its inception up to the level at which it is now.
“As a legal and political matter, the entire episode has polarized the nation at all quarters and has the propensity to undermine the hard-won national peace and tranquility consolidated over the years through the intervention of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
“One would like to think that Liberians could endeavor to preserve the legacy of peace left behind by UNMIL barely a year ago for Liberia to rebuild its damaged infrastructure and economy; one would also think that the transition supported by Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, former President of the Unity Party-led Government that ushered in the CDC-led Government of President George Manneh Weah was, no doubt, the best formula for national peace and reconciliation to raise the hope for national development, peaceful co-existence and harmony in the new socio-political dispensation.
“The NMCOL is therefore afraid that the impeachment of any individual from the three branches of the CDC-led Government would inevitably create, sooner or later, a vicious cycle that could overtly or covertly sow seeds of discord and distrust in the Liberian soil, leaving individuals of the three branches of government vulnerable.
“By the same token, the impeachment today of any high profile individual will serve as a clear eye opener and a strong driving force for future investigation and prosecution of past government officials for justice and good governance irrespective of political, religious, and economic background.
“It is high time to rethink and be more sober, and so save the nation from another round of state collapse and failure. The ongoing saga of disunity between the Honorable House of Legislature and the judiciary on the issue of impeachment does not augur well for our country’s legal system.
“NMCOL, therefore, humbly admonishes the Honorable lawmakers to abandon the impeachment course of action at this point in time as it will further divide the nation.
“In conclusion, NMCOL, would like to speak out about the truth of power, and call on Liberians in general and the three branches of government, in particular the legislature, the judiciary and the executive, to avoid the promotion of any act that has the semblance of discrimination and arbitrary application of state power against any particular individual or group of individuals of the Liberian citizenry,” NMCOL’s press statement reads.”
In view of the above expressed concerns, the NMCOL has also written the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, ECOWAS Mission to Liberia, and other major partners to get involved, in order to bring the matter to an amicable resolution. A similar communication has also been sent to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Bhofal Chambers, Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, and President George M. Weah on the council’s latest concerns.