Impeachment Bill Passed, Ja’neh on Edge

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Associate Justice Ja'neh is on edge, but said he's prepared to go the full length of the law over his impeachment.

-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.

7 COMMENTS

  1. I suspect many do not even understand exactly what impeachment is. This may be the reason why they want to reject it without even going through the process.

    Impeachment Definition by Wikipedia:
    “Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body formally levels charges against a high official of government. Impeachment does not necessarily mean removal from office; it is only a formal statement of charges, akin to an indictment in criminal law, and is thus only the first step towards removal. Once an individual is impeached, he or she must then face the possibility of conviction via legislative vote, which then entails the removal of the individual from office.”

  2. “When the President, Vice President or an Associate Justice is to be tried, the Chief Justice shall preside…” Is the House aware of this provision of the Liberian Constitution?

    • Why is it bad precedent? It’s not. I think it’s good for democracy because hopefully this process will set a higher bar for official conduct in government. It is unacceptable that government officials can violate the law with impunity while ordinary citizens are punished. No democracy can survive very long with that kind of “we are above the law” attitude by officials of government. We need to govern ourselves like civilized people who respect the rule of law.

      • Can someone cite the specific instances when the Chief Justice violated the laws that have raised this situation?

  3. Why isn’t Justice Janeh or his backers saying that it is untrue that he abused the office of a Supreme Court Justice by fraudulently taking land from a 92 yrs. great-grandmother?
    Normally, it is the reflex reaction of most innocent persons, not the niceties of whatever consequent constitutional or legal procedure, which inevitably comes after the initial shock of being mistakenly, unfairly, or deliberately maligned.

    (Incidentally, that’s how I responded when few highly-placed members of a fifth column in government convinced SKD in 1986 I should be audited on some ludicrous accusation; and not the point that procedurally an Intelligence Service like NSA can’t carte blanc be audited. Not surprisingly, they wanted me out while they unwittingly and wittingly went about aiding plots to get rid of him. Although he brought me back to government as Minister of National Security five months prior to the December 1989 invasion, he was again persuaded by a very senior aide in his own office that info our Ministry provided that an invasion via Ivory Coast would be launched soon was false. That’s the kind of mindlessness that prevented proper military preparedness and the resulting mind-boggling deaths of a quarter million people: A reason I can’t shut up when fools are grasping at any excuse for crisis, confusion, and chaos).

    As for the selling point of Justice Janeh’s partisan backers that the Lower House’s real reason for impeaching him was his lone dissenting voice on the run-off presidential election, that argument pales besides Supreme Court best practices. CDC lawyers knew that a dissenting voice for a 4 – 1 rather than a 5 – 0 unanimous decision could’v been a collective agreement of the five Supreme Court justices so as not to shortchanged themselves should evidence emerge later that there was massive electoral fraud they weren’t privy to. In other words, Justice Janeh’s dissenting voice wasn’t out of personal animus for Candidate Weah or CDC, therefore, isn’t motive for the impeachment proceedings even though he might want to wrap himself around it.

    Well, while, we’re at it, a real example of suspicion of authoritarian overreach is taking place in Nairobi. That the Supreme Court annulled President Kenyatta’s first electoral victory after which he promised “to fix things” there was public knowledge. Now, according to the Associated Press, Lady Philomena Mwilu Kenya’s Deputy Chief Justice was arrested in her office at the Supreme Court for allegedly “abuse of office, tax evasion, and taking bribes”, and was released on a $50, 000 bail bond: Arrested in her office, that ‘s malicious!

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