Says Judge Kaba
Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge Yussif Kaba yesterday told judges, justices, lawyers and judicial employees that the move to impeach three of the five Supreme Court justices by the Legislature will undermine the country’s judicial system. Judge Yussif Kaba’s assertion comes a day after majority of the House of Representatives and few members of the Senate resolved to pursue the impeachment of Associate Justices Kabineh Ja’neh, Jamesetta Howard-Wolokollie, and Philip A. Z. Banks, III, because of the expiration of the 10-day ultimatum issued by the lawmakers for the justices to say whether or not they were in violation of any act, which expired yesterday.
The lawmakers alleged that their action is due to the justices’ violation of their oath of office by engaging in misconduct and the inability to perform their functions, which they said is based on the justices’ judgment (ruling) that reversed the National Elections Commission’s rejection of two vice presidential candidates, Harrison Karnwea of the Liberty Party and Jeremiah C. Sulunteh of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), from contesting the upcoming elections for violating the Code of Conduct. The two did not resign two years prior to their intention to contest the elections.
But Judge Kaba said at the opening of the Criminal Courts A, B, C, D and E at the Temple of Justice, which was attended by Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor and Associate Justice Banks, that “It is clear that the Legislature through the Senate has the right, power, authority and opportunity to prevent the confirmation of anyone appointed to a judicial office, including the justices.” He added that if members of the Legislature do not like the current officials of the Judiciary, they should accept their share of responsibility for the presence of the officers in the Judiciary.
Kaba said the attempt to violate the security of the tenure of justices is not provided for by the Constitution; and therefore, when they (Legislature) disagree with their opinion, it will lead to the erosion of the confidence of the people in the judicial structure. Kaba said: “We cannot afford this during the very fragile situation of our nation, and this period of transformation.”
Article 73 of the 1986 Constitution provides that, “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 opinion rendered or expressed, judicial statement 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 or act done by such officials on the course of a judicial proceedings, shall be privilege and subject to the above qualification, no such statement made or acts done shall be admissible into evidence against the at any proceedings.”
However, the criminal court judge believes that in the absence of the commission of the exceptionally offenses enumerated in that article, “any attempt to question a judge in the performance of his or her duty within the scope of the constitution and statutory authority conferred upon them by any of the branches of government constitutes a desecration of and an onslaught on the clear provision of the Constitution.” Kaba argued that it is an independent and impartial judiciary that can effectively guarantee the process of preserving and protecting the fundamental rights and liberty of the people. “Without independence and protection, the judicial system will be a mockery because it will be susceptible to manipulation by other powerful institutions of government,” the criminal court judge told his audience.
“This is truer, considering that the judicial institution relies upon the other branches of government for the purpose of facilitating its operations, and for the enforcement of its determination,” he said. “It is because of this that the framer of the Constitution took away from the other branches of government the definition of the scope of the judicial power, thereby precluding any acts on the part of the other branches to interfere therewith.”
He explained that “it must have also been for the concern of the framer of the Constitution that a provision was provided in the Constitution to preserve the independence of the sacred institution, and to ensure the protection of its officers.”