It appears that the ruling party, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), has launched an unprecedented bid to remove Associate Justice Kabineh Mohammed Ja’neh over what the party has allegedly described as “proven misconduct, abuse of public office, wanton abuse of judicial discretion, fraud, misuse of power and corruption.”
The acting chairman of the CDC in the House of Representatives, Rep. Thomas P. Fallah, and Representative Acarous Gray, a staunch member of the CDC, have finally submitted a Bill of Impeachment Petition based on what they believe is a litany of factual and legal reasons.
On Tuesday, July 17, during the 46th Day Sitting, upon receipt of the Impeachment Petition and in accordance with a motion proffered by Grand Kru County District #1 Representative Nathaniel Barway, which was voted in favor of, House Speaker Bhofal Chambers accordingly set up an 8-man Ad-Hoc Committee to review and investigate the Impeachment Petition as well as write-out of the proceedings.
The Committee was given three weeks, as of Tuesday, July 17, to begin work and report to Plenary.
Rep. Karnie Wesso, co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is chairman and Rep. Edward Karfiah is the co-chairman. Members are Rep. Dickson Seboe, Rep. Jeremiah Koung, Rep. Dr. Isaac Roland, Rep. Clarence Gahr and Rep. Rustonlyn S. Dennis.
Rep. Yekeh Kolubah of Montserrado County District #10 was the only person who openly voiced his concerns against the impeachment. Last week, Bomi County District #1 Representative Edwin M. Snowe and Nimba County District #5 Representative Samuel Kogar also voiced out their disagreements, which resulted in the trading of invectives (sarcasm, insults) between them and Representative Gray respectively.
In the communication to House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, the duo and the sponsors of the Impeachment Petition argued that Ja’neh should be impeached, ousted and removed from the Supreme Court of Liberia.
“It is our hope and prayer that this Honorable Body will give this petition its utmost consideration in order to rid our judicial system of some of the most treacherous and fraudulent activities, most of which are perpetrated by, and credited to the likes of his Honor Justice Kabineh Mohammed Ja’neh,” the communication said.
It added: “Finally we trust that your timely action in this matter will arrest the deterioration of the credibility of your judicial system, protect unsuspecting victims who have been constantly robbed and denied justice, and ultimately save the Liberian judiciary from massive corruption, misuse of public office and the abuse of power and discretion.”
In the Impeachment Petition, the petitioners gave 12 counts, to support their arguments that Associate Justice Ja’neh is allegedly involved in misconduct, abuse of public office, wanton abuse of judicial discretion, fraud, misuse of power and corruption.
Article 43 of the 1986 Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power to prepare a bill of impeachment.
“The power to prepare a bill of impeachment is vested solely in the House of Representatives, and the power to try all impeachments is vested solely in the Senate. When the President, Vice President or an Associate Justice is to be tried, the Chief Justice shall preside; when the Chief Justice or a judge of a subordinate court of record is to be tried, the President of the Senate shall preside. No person shall be impeached but by the concurrence of two-thirds of the total membership of the Senate. Judgements in such cases shall not extend beyond removal from office and disqualification to hold public office in the Republic; but the party may be tried at law for the same offense. The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings, which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law,” the Article said.
Sources say the impeachment move may run into hurdles, given that the CDC could likely not muster the required two-thirds majority vote for impeachment. The CDC currently has a total of 25 representatives and needs to secure at least 49 votes in order to successfully impeach Justice Ja’neh.
The move by executive members of the CDC to impeach Associate Justice Ja’neh comes just months after the Associate Justice gave a dissenting opinion on the election dispute involving the Liberty Party and collaborating parties. Justice Ja’neh, in his dissenting opinion, maintained that fraud reportedly committed during the elections was of sufficient magnitude to warrant a rerun of the elections, unlike his colleagues whose majority opinion stated otherwise.