Allegations by Sinoe County Senator Jojlu Milton Teahjay that Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe campaigned for Cllr. Augustine Chea of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), winner of November 20, 2018, Senatorial By-election in Sinoe County, are indeed serious, according to observers, and could provide grounds for impeachment if Senator Teahjay can prove beyond reasonable doubt, that Justice Nagbe did engage in active politics, which is prohibited both by law and by Judicial Canons.
However, questions abound whether Senator Teahjay can establish the veracity of his claims and, if he does, whether Chief Justice Korkpor will muster the courage to preside over impeachment proceedings of a colleague, not being intimidated by the fact that Nagbe is said to bear close ties to President Weah dating from their boyhood days in Sasstown, Grnad Kru, County. The other question is whether, amidst all this rigmarole and the political pressures to which observers say it is being subjected, can the Supreme Court Bench emerge from this imbroglio with its credibility intact.
Judicial Canon 39 under the caption Penalty for Violation states that “The penalty for violation of any provision of the Judicial Canon shall be a fine, suspension, impeachment and/or prosecution in a court of law according to the gravity of the violation.”
Also, Cannon 37 under the caption “Partisan Politics”, states that, “While a judge is entitled to entertain his personal view of political questions, and while it is not required to surrender his rights or opinion as a citizen, it is inevitable that suspicion of being warped by political bias will attach to a judge who becomes an active member of a political party and a promoter of its interest as against another especially those of our judges of the highest courts who by constitutional command, are empowered to review and determine electoral issues under the multi-party system introduced by the 1986 Constitution.”
It continues: “A judge should not appear at political meetings and indicate support of candidates for political office (nor should he permit his wife or her husband to give political teas.).
Recently, Senator Teahjay, speaking as Chief Fund Raiser and Installer of elected officials of the Juarzon United Citizens Association (JUCA), alleged that he saw Justice Nagbe campaigning for CDC ‘s senatorial candidate, Chea. Senator Teahjay, however, did not provide proof of his allegations against Justice Nagbe. Further, it remains unclear if Justice Nagbe did engage in political campaigning prior to or after his nomination to the Supreme Court Bench.
But Senator Teahjay, who appeared irate, declared: “How can a judge who was seen campaigning for a political candidate preside over electoral matters at the Supreme Court level? But let it be known, we will end it up at ECOWAS Court in Abuja, Nigeria.”
Teahjay’s assertion came in the wake of announcements by defeated candidate Othello Nagbe, challenging the results of the elections which he said was marred by fraud and irregularities although the NEC had yet to establish the facts.
Othello Nagbe’s challenge to the election’s result was subsequently announced by the chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Cllr. Jerome Korkoya.
He said the decision of the NEC Board of Commissioners (BOC) to declare Augustine S. Chea winner, who obtained the highest votes of 5,839 out of the total of 16,598 votes cast, was based on the results in keeping with Section 2.9 (g) of the New Elections Law of Liberia but declared however, that winner Chea will only be certificated after the disposition of the complaint filed by the CLP which is currently under investigation.
According to the Chairman Korkoya, the Coalition for Liberia Progress (CLP) filed a 13-count complaint of electoral fraud and irregularities.