-House passes bill for impeachment, Senate set to extend session for the impeachment trial
The House of Representatives yesterday, August 28, 2018, during the 52nd day sitting of the 54th Legislature, controversially voted to pass a Bill of Impeachment against Associate Justice Kabineh Mohammed Ja’neh.
Chief Clerk Mildred Sayon has since, yesterday, submitted the approved Bill of Impeachment and the Rules and Procedures for all Impeachment of President, Vice President, members of the Supreme Court and Judges of Subordinate Courts to the Senate.
After more than 20 minutes of intense arguments, which resulted to a break-in over the incompletion of the sheets that contain the “Bill of Impeachment,” and the annulment of a “yea and nay voting,” but rather through head-count voting, 23 members of the House of Representatives finally voted for the passage of the Bill of Impeachment.
Representative Francis Nyumalin of Lofa County District #1 voted against, and his colleague Thomas Goshua of Grand Bassa County District #5 abstained, while members of the Nimba County Legislative Caucus walked out of Tuesday’s session.
Lofa County District #5 Representative Beyan Howard and Grand Bassa County District #4 Representative Vincent Willie, also walked out in solidarity with their Nimba County colleagues.
The motion for the passage of the Bill of Impeachment was proffered by River Gee County District #2 Representative Francis Dopoh.
Tuesday’s action of the House of Representatives has laid to rest the issue of the impeachment among members, but has increased the wrangling within the House of Representatives. The Constitution gives the House of Representatives the sole power to impeach an official, and the Senate to conduct impeachment trials. The power of impeachment is limited to removal from office.
“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,” Article 43 of the 1986 Constitution said.
It can be recalled that the petition to impeach Justice Ja’neh was filed before the House by Representatives Acarous Gray (Mont. County, District 8) and Thomas P. Fallah (Mont. County District 5). Both alleged that Justice Ja’neh “committed a serious official misconduct by engaging in a wanton and unsavory exercise of his judicial discretion far exceeding the bounds of elementary judicial interpretation of issues simply to satisfy his personal ego.”
The lawmakers also want Ja’neh impeached for what they termed as “proved misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform the functions of his office by allegedly allowing justice to be served where it belongs no matter the status of the party affected.”
On Monday, Associate Justice Ja’neh told reporters that he is prepared to go the full length of the law over what he believes is an unlawful procedure by the Legislature to impeach him from the Supreme Court Bench.
However, few minutes to the passage of the Bill of Impeachment by the House of Representatives, tens of citizens from Nimba County, under the umbrella Nimba Youth, petitioned the lawmakers to discontinue ongoing impeachment process against Associate Justice Ja’neh, who is their kinsman.
The Nimba Youth in a three-page petition, said Liberia is a country of laws, not of few powerful men, who will rule outside of the law.