Impeachment on ‘Round table’, House Majority Leader Reveals

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House Majority Bloc Chairman, Rep. Numene Bartekwa

But Judiciary claims ‘immunity’

Rep. Numene Bartekwa, chairman of the majority bloc of the House of Representatives, has revealed that the Bill of Impeachment for the three Associate Justices of the Supreme Court is on the “round table” because of the intervention of religious, traditional and other civil society groups.

Speaking on a popular radio talk show, as well as in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer yesterday, Bartekwa said the Ministry of Justice, the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), the National Traditional Council of Liberia (NTCL) and some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are in a round table discussion with the House of Representatives to halt the impeachment proceedings.

A round table discussion is a form of dialogue involving concerned parties and others seeking the resolution of a pertinent issue of national interest.

Rep. Bartekwa is one of the five lawmakers who petitioned the House of Representatives to impeach Justices Kabineh Ja’neh, Jamesetta Howard-Wolokollie, and Philip A. Z. Banks, III, growing out of their unanimous opinion that allowed Jeremiah Sulunteh and Harrison Karnwea to contest the October 10 presidential and legislative elections.

Other petitioners included Sen. Dan Morais, Maryland County; Sen. Peter Coleman, Grand Kru; Sen. Jim Tornola, Margibi; and Rep. George S. Mulbah, Bong County District # 3.

“There are discussions ongoing. There are interventions from the religious, traditional and other civil society groups. We, the leaders of the land, are in discussions with them. But, in spite of the discussions we are still holding up to the petition of impeachment and we hope that the conclusion of the round table will end on a good note. Let me say, as lawmakers and leaders of the land, the elections will not be undermined by our actions. It’s our hope that the elections will be fair, peaceful and transparent,” Rep. Bartekwa said.

President’s Idea

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The round table discussion against the impeachment crisis was prompted when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf expressed grave concern, pointing out that the process in the House of Representatives “tends to undermine the peace, threatens the election process currently underway, and creates confusion and chaos in Liberia’s fledgling democracy.” In an Executive Mansion statement, the President argued that the action of some members of the House of Representatives to initiate the impeachment proceeding against the majority members of the Supreme Court “is in violation of Article 73 of the Constitution of Liberia.”

Justices Did Not Appear
However, the Justices did not respond yesterday to the invitation by the House Judiciary Committee to answer to the petition of impeachment as authorized by a majority vote of the Plenary of the House of Representatives. According to the recommendation from the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Atty. Worlea Dunah on August 3, the absence of the Justices could be considered as “default” and the Bill of Impeachment would be drafted and submitted to the Liberian Senate for appropriate legal action. The Liberian Constitution provides that 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 in the Liberian Senate (Article 43).

Justices, Judicial Officials “Immune”
In the corridors of the Supreme Court, counselors-at-law are arguing that Justices and other judicial officials are “immune” from impeachment and prosecution, according to Article 73 of the 1986 Constitution, which states, “No judicial official shall be summoned, arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried civilly or criminally by or at the instance of any person or authority on account of judicial opinions rendered or expressed, judicial statements made and judicial acts done in the course of a trial in open court or in chambers, except for treason or other felonies, misdemeanor or breach of the peace.

Statements made and acts done by such officials in the course of judicial proceedings shall be privileged, and, subject to the above qualification, no such statement made or acts done shall be admissible into evidence against them at any trial or proceeding.”

12 COMMENTS

  1. An anonymous philosopher once said, “The science of legislation is like that of medicine in one respect; viz.: that it is far more easy to point out what will do harm, than what will do good.”

    This piece of legislation called the “CODE OF CONDUCT” was drawn up with the intention of doing harm to certain political candidates. These would-be-banned candidates under the (COC) have the potential of being too competitive in this crucial election. This (COC) law was unjust and very controversial.

    The “Code of Conduct Law” reminds me of what big corporations do when they are very protective of their trade secrets. They come up with a “non-compete clause” or make employees sign a “covenant not to compete”. Such “non-compete” law prevents employees, who have valuable knowledge of the company, from entering into, or starting a similar profession, or trade that poses competition against their former employer.

    Our government fails to realize that the Liberian government is not a private entity that can restrict or ban employees for 2 to 3 years from exercising their constructional rights in our political process.
    The government may ask individuals, who are aspiring to run for political office, to resign but not to ban them from working for the government for 2 to 3 years. Even in the great U.S.A, which Liberia modeled its constitution after, will declare such COC Law unconstitutional.

    The COC was indeed an infringement on the Liberian people freedom and liberty to exercise their constitutional rights in the political process. The ulterior motive of the COC was not solely to serve as a deterrent to prevent government officials who were running for political office from misusing government properties to their advantage.

    The COC was enacted for unscrupulous reasons: to prevent political competitors from holding government positions while declaring their candidacy. Banning government appointees for two to three years from government positions who desire to run for political office was cruel and unjust punishment.

    These lawmakers who are calling for the impeachment of the three Associates Justices because the lawmakers are dissatisfied with the judges’ opinions in interpreting COC law are setting a bad precedence for future judicial opinions of the Supreme Courts.

    Our lawmakers are being selective when it comes to summoning the three Associates Justices. Why leave out the Chief Justice who was also a signatory in the decision rendered in the Karnwea eligibility case. Also, where were the lawmakers when one of their peers, Edwin Snowe, a sitting representative from Monsterrado County, who is concurrently running for a representative post in Bomi County?

    I would advise these lawmakers who are calling for the impeachment of these three associate justices to study these controversial cases in the USA. As much as these cases created some controversies, the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court were respected.

    That’s why appointment and confirmation of Supreme Court judges play a vital role in the political system. Lawmakers just don’t ask for the impeachment of Supreme Court Judges whenever the Supreme Court opinions are not in line with the Lawmakers’ interpretation of the law.

    Here are few highly controversial but respected cases of U.S. Supreme Court for our lawmakers to study:

    1. Brown v. Board of Education
    2. Roe v. Wade
    3. Miranda v. Arizona
    4. District of Columbia V. Heller
    5. Plessy v. Ferguson
    6. Dred Scott v. Sanford
    7. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
    8. Bush v. Gore
    9. Marbury v. Madison
    10. Lawrence v. Texas

    Remember Lawmakers who are calling for these judges impeachment; we have three branches of government for a reason: The Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch. They are all protected under certain provisions of the Constitution just as well as ordinary citizens of Liberia.

    Therefore, these three branches of government have to be rested! They have to co-exist for our Democratic system to function! God Bless The Republic of Liberia!

  2. That immunity is WAVED and stripped off judicial officials when their MISCONDUCT is a wrongful, improper, or unlawful conduct motivated by premeditated or intentional purpose or by obstinate indifference to the consequences of a judicial official,s action or actions. The 52nd word “EXCEPT” within the first clause of article 73 makes this manifestly evident and constitutionally prudent to impeach Philip Banks, Kabineh Janeh, and Jamesetta Wolokolie, for their misconduct as defined in law!

  3. Grand Kru County must get rid of Numene Bartekwa and Peter Coleman. The County is being misrepresented by them. Instead of pushing the development agenda of the County, they are harassing the Supreme Court because the Court made a ruling that they don’t agree with. They are pushing V.P. Bokai’s agenda and running after their personal businesses. Self-served Politicians and power mongers. Bartekwa calls himself ” LEADER OF THE LAND” over the radio. Mr. Bartekwa, you are a Legislature and not the Leader of the land. President Sirleaf is the Leader of the land. The other Legislatures you and Peter Coleman are following, including Sen. Dan Morais, Maryland County; Sen. Jim Tornola, Margibi; and Rep. George S. Mulbah, Bong County District # 3, have paved roads from Monrovia to their Counties. Dan Maorias have a University in his County, electricity in Harper and the Harper to Fishtown paved road is almost completed. George Mulbah can drive from Monrovia to Gbanga on a paved road in less than 3 and a half (3-1/2) hours. The Justice Hub is in Gbanga and their streets are being paved. There have been several Government retreats held in Gbanga over the years. Tornola’s Margibi have paved roads, schools, hotels, and resorts. What can Peter Coleman and Bartekwa boast off in Grand Kru that they have pushed for in the House and Senate? Tourists paradise Grand Kru is just laying there with nothing going on. When members of the Legislatures are discussing and appropriating money for infrastructure developments, they, Peter and Bartekwa just sit there and don’t say anything about Grand Kru. The only discussions they take part in is how to divide the County development and the Social development funds given to Grand Kru by the Malaysian Oil company and the National Government. For your information, you guys have no case with the Supreme Court. Your case is dead on arrival (DOA). If you think the Liberian people are not aware of what you people are trying to do before the election, you are mistaken. If you think the Liberian people don’t know about how you guys are planning on challenging the results of the election if Boikai doesn’t win, just sit there. If you think the Liberian people are not aware of your plans to bring about CREDIBILITY issue with the Supreme Court after the election, just sit down there.

  4. Citizens threaten to boycott elections in Maryland: THE NEW DAWN

    15 August 2017
    Over 700 residents of Maryland County, specifically Yuokudi community, along the Liberian-Ivorian border are threatening to boycott the October elections and stop politicians from going to them to campaign due to the failure of local leaders to electrify their area.

    Speaking in an interview with the New Dawn over the weekend, the chairman of the community, Mr. Wah Dickson, explains that their decision to boycott the elections is due to the failure of the county authorities to enable them to benefit from electricity being provided by the West African Power Poll.

    Try getting in touch with Dan Morias, he might help if he’s not too busy trying to impeach members of the Supreme Court.

  5. It’s just sad this is happening in Liberia. You want to impeach Associate Justices in the land simply because you feel their ruling isn’t what you expected? I don’t blame you people, the supreme court don’t know how to deal with this nonsense.
    If you guys has nothing to offer our country, do not make suggestions to those who do, Sit down!!!

  6. Alpha, you seem to be “stabbing in the dark for the truth”; and worst of all proferring “advises” at the same time! That is, your simplicit “arguement” that in order not to “set a bad precedence for future judicial opinions of the Supreme Courts” both the public and the Legislature should keep quiet, AMID THE TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE AND OR THE MOCKERY OF OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM BY THESE JUSTICES, is too poor and very weak , to say the least.

    MY FRIEND, GIVING CREDENCE TO SUCH MOCKERY OF THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM IS PRECISELY THAT WHICH “SETS A BAD PRECEDENCE FOR FUTURE JUDICIAL OPINIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT”. HENCE, INSTEAD OF GIVING “ADVISE” ON A SUBJECT MATTER OR ISSUE OF WHICH YOU LACK KNOWLEGE AND UNDERSTANDING, YOU SHOULD BE APPLAUDING THE LEGISLATURE OR AT LEAST, KEEP QUIET!

    Now, listen-up: THE “lawmakers ARE NOT calling for the impeachment of the three Associates Justices because the lawmakers are dissatisfied with the judges’ opinions in interpreting COC law.”

    Rather, THE “lawmakers ARE calling for the impeachment of the three Associates Justices because the three Associates Justices or three judicial officials wrongful improper, and unlawful conduct in ” causing the Supreme Court to usurp the power and functions of the Legislature to make laws.” PERIOD!

    Secondly, it is simply wrong and jurisprudentially misleading and anathema to the discipline of law, criminal justice, or the judicial process in toto, to compare or equate those cases you listed within the U.S. jurisdiction, with the Karnwea, Jones, and Sulonteh case when:

    (1) UNLIKE those cases whose constitutional interpretation were based on particularly historical considerations of Congress and moral and political values, and previous judicial decisions or precedents, the CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION viz case on Karnwea, Sulonteh, and Jones vs the NEC:

    (2) BEARS NO SUCH CHARACTERISTICS, BUT WHOSE INTERPRETATION OF THE CONSTITUTION DEPENDED SOLEY ON WHAT WOULD BE PLEASING TO THE PERSONAL INTERESTS OF PHILIP BANKS, ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF, AMOS SAWYER ON BEHALF OF THEIR RESPECTIVE CRONIES AND THEIR ASPIRANTS.

    We are supremely confident you have never read the facts, issues, holdings and reasoning, of any of those cases, or even the ruling within the opinion delivered, and this is why you have not taken into account the fact that when it comes to legal controversies it is not simply about such as your simplicit “arguement” that in order not to “set a bad precedence for future judicial opinions of the Supreme Courts” both the public and the Legislature should keep quiet, AMID THE TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE AND OR THE MOCKERY OF OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM BY THESE JUSTICES, DOES NOT TALLY WITH THE JUDICIAL PROCESS NOR THE INTELLECTUAL MARKETPLACE OF IDEAS!

    MY FRIEND, GIVING CREDENCE TO SUCH MOCKERY OF THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM IS PRECISELY THAT WHICH SETS A BAD PRECEDENCE FOR FUTURE JUDICIAL OPINIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT.

  7. Mr. Dortu- Siboe Doe, Didn’t you read my comment yesterday? Here is it for you to read. It appears that it must have been read, that’s why they are taking my suggestion into consideration by putting a halt to this impeachment process. This is what I wrote yesterday: There should be no hearing on this impeachment issue until after the election and all winning candidates have been installed in office. This I believe can be done by the Chief Justice of the supreme court pursuant to ARTICLE 43 OF THE CONSTITUTION. I personally want and hope for the Chief Justice to sit on this impeachment case until after the election.

    According to ARTICLE 43 OF THE CONSTITUTION, 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.
    Now, since the Chief Justice was also a signatory to this RULING that Bartekwa and his Cronies are all upset about, he is also part of this case. On the other hand, the President of the Senate cannot preside over the impeachment process of the Chief Justice because he is running for Office as Vice President and it is in his interest that this impeachment case was brought forward. Why do I say so, HE WAS ENDORSED BY THEM a few weeks ago. As long they fail to include the other two Justices, this case is DEAD ON ARRIVAL.
    Reply

  8. Kubah, how does Amb. Boakai benefit from the impeachment of these three justices? I do not understand how Amb. Boakai’s presidential ambition has been undermined by the Supreme Court’s “controversial” verdict? I will appreciate your opinion on these doubts of mine, because I have not been able connect the present bad blood between these two branches of Gov’t .with Amb. Boakai. As far as I am concerned, this is a constitutional crisis, therefore every well-meaning Liberian should be concern.

  9. Kubah, how does Amb. Boakai benefit from the impeachment of these three justices? I do not understand how Amb. Boakai’s presidential ambition has been undermined by the Supreme Court’s “controversial” verdict? I will appreciate your opinion on these doubts of mine, because I have not been able to connect the present bad blood between these two branches of Gov’t with Amb. Boakai. As far as I am concerned, this is a constitutional crisis, therefore every well-meaning Liberian should be concern.

  10. Kubah, your reasoning does not add up. While you are arguing that the VP has interest, you did not mention that the Chief Justice also has interest by virtue of his signature to the ruling.

    Please balance your argument if you want to be considered logical or reasonable. From your argument, I believe you are not a lawyer neither do I.

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