Several prominent figures of Nimba County, comprising of elders and youths, have called on President George Weah to forestall a purported impeachment plan to have Associate Supreme Court Justice Kabineh Ja’neh removed from the Supreme Court Bench.
“We specifically appeal to the President, who is the head of State and Coordinator of the three branches of our government to use his good office to persuade members of the House of Representatives to stop the process of impeachment of this illustrious son of Nimba,” the group said in a press statement on Thursday, August 23, 2018, in Monrovia.
They pointed out that Justice Ja’neh’s threatened impeachment is clearly distracting the country from the path of nation-building under the George Weah’s Pro-poor agenda. The concerned citizens called on President Weah to reflect on the nation’s recent history of tribalism, sectionalism, hatred, political confusion, and lawlessness, which culminated into the civil unrest marked by mass killings, and untold suffering brought on the people of the country.
“Recall how the human and natural resources of Nimba have contributed immensely and continue to have significant impact on the political and socioeconomic development of the country,” the statement signed by 15 elders, including Cllrs. Tiawan Gongloe, Roland F. Dahn, Drs. Wildred Sei Boayue, Afred A. Kulah and David P. Kialain said.
Others are Harry T. Yuan, Sr., Mesdames Christiana Dagadu, Alice Endee Baysah, Margaret Korto and Estella Wehyee.
They said it is about time for the House of Representatives, and all other persons seeking the removal of Ja’neh to recognize that Liberia is a country still in “political and socioeconomic transition.”
According to the group, as citizens, every Liberian is obligated to reconcile, build peace, unite, integrate and promote social cohesion among all tribes, sections and groupings of the country to sustain the nascent democratic status of the nation.
“We are deeply troubled, and profoundly saddened by actions of some members of the House of Representatives, who are sowing seeds of political confusion, and national disunity by maneuvering to impeach Associate Justice Kabinah Ja’neh, a prominent son of Nimba County, whose invaluable services on the Bench of the Supreme Court has helped usher in peaceful political democratic transition,” the concerned Nimbaians further said.
According to them, there is a need for the Judiciary, as it is in the case of the Executive and Legislative branches of government, to have its own independence to safeguard the democracy for which many have lost their lives in attempts to institutionalize it.
They called on House Speaker Bhofal Chambers to appeal to the conscious minds of the Lawmakers seeking Ja’neh’s removal to reconsider their decision in the interest of the country.
It can be recalled that two members of the House of Representatives, in July this year, presented a petition to the plenary of the House seeking the impeachment of Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh from the bench of the Supreme Court.
Representatives Thomas Fallah of Montserrado County Electoral District 5, who also heads the Coalition for Democratic Change’s Legislative Caucus, and Acarous Gray of Montserrado County Electoral District 8 both presented the petition to their colleagues.
Fallah and Gray said the Associate Justice, unmindful of his judicial power and authority, committed “official misconduct” by engaging in “malicious and purported judicial discretion.”
“Ja’neh continues to behave as if he were a law unto himself to the detriment of others,” the petition read.
The Constitution provides that the Chief justice, Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, and the judges of subordinate courts of record may be removed upon impeachment and conviction by the Legislature based on misconduct, gross breach of duty, and inability to perform the function of their respective offices.
The petitioners said that the constitutional guarantee of immunity to judges and justices under Article 71 of the constitution did not apply under certain circumstances.
It said, “The immunity of judges and justices becomes a subject of public scrutiny and debate or a ground for removal or impeachment if they engage in official misconduct or proved misconduct by engaging in the abuse of office, power, corruption, and other form of society and relations with people, and this august body of the honorable lawmakers are requested to take legislative notice of the role of the judges and justices in our society.”
The two lawmakers placed emphasis on their authority as elected members of the legislature and representatives of Liberians on critical national issues.
“We have the legal standing to raise any critical issues on the floor of the House of Representatives or in the public domain. We can openly demand prosecution, impeachment, removal, or dismissal of any elected or appointed public officials for misconduct, abuse of public offices, misuse of public power and corruption to safeguard the stability and sanctity of the Liberian state,” they said.