Contrary to Article 73 of the Liberian Constitution, twenty-two Senators voted for impeachment of Associate Justice, Justice Kabineh M. Jan’eh removing the Justice from the Supreme Court bench on ground that he is Guilty for the Road Fund Act; but the impeachment of Justice Jan’eh has sparked negative public reactions as criticisms have continued to mount against senators who have voted ‘Yes’ for the removal of the justice from the office.
Associate Justice Ja’neh was impeached Friday by the Legislature for performing a judicial function when he granted a Writ of Prohibition petitioned by petroleum dealers in the country to stop the government from collecting levy/taxes of US$0.30 (road fund) imposed on the pump price of petroleum products.
Article 73 of the Liberian Constitution states 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 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 a judicial proceeding 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.
In view of Article 73 of the Constitution, Justice Jan’eh’s impeachment was greeted with negative public reactions against the Liberian Senate which voted to remove a high court judge from the bench.
Views sampled from various Liberian observers and political analysts and commentators on social media flagged angry sentiments being directed against the 22 senators from various political parties and administrative districts who voted to remove Supreme Court Justice Ja’neh from the country’s highest court.
Anger is especially being trained on Senators of the former ruling Unity Party (UP); especially Grand Cape Mount County Senator Counselor Varney Sherman who is being referred to as a “betrayer”. Counselor Sherman, as head of the Senate’s Judiciary subcommittee, was prominent in prosecuting the impeachment case and voted for removal of Justice Ja’neh.
Also supporting the impeachment of Justice Jan’eh was the President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Grand Kru County Senator Albert Chie who voted “yes”. Additionally, Senator Jonathan L. Kaipay of Grand Bassa County ignored his Liberty Party’s position and voted with the “guilty” bloc to remove the Supreme Court justice. Another senator, amongst others, who voted “Yes” to remove Justice Ja’neh include Sinoe County Senator Milton Teahjay.
Some citizens say they will canvas to vote out the Senators who voted to remove Justice Ja’neh as a way to hold them accountable for their “unpopular decision”. Unconfirmed reports say money was exchanged to “buy” the “yes” votes of some of the Senators. No proof is available for this allegation up to press time.
Critics of the Government and the impeachment trial have condemned the process as a “political hit-job” against the independence of the Judiciary. Justice Ja’neh is vowing to appeal his removal to the High Court.
The matter is already devolving into an ethnic dimension with Mandingo kinsmen of the Associate Justice charging that the impeachment exercise was calculated by the Weah Administration to remove the highest serving Mandingo jurist from the corridor of judicial power, some media reports have said.
A senior member of the opposition Liberty Party (LP) in Liberia says he will fight to expel a Senator from his party who voted to impeach and remove High Court Justice Ja’neh from the Supreme Court.
In his regular social media video presentation, dubbed “Let’s Chat” on Friday evening, seen by over 1,100 persons in and out of Liberia, Mr. Abraham Darius Dillon said beginning Monday he will begin his advocacy to expel Senator Jonathan Kaipay from the Liberty Party (LP).
“That deviant Jonathan Lambort Kaipay will have to go or I will have to step back; suspend my membership. Something has to start from somewhere,” Dillon vowed strongly.
He praised his party leader in the Legislature Senator Steve Zargo including Madam Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence and others including Senators Commany Wesseh of River Gee, Sando Johnson of Bomi and Daniel Naatehn of Gbarpolu Counties for taking a principled stand against the impeachment and removal proceedings.
Dillon explained that the Executive Committee of the LP summoned Senators of the party to an emergency meeting prior to the vote and advised them of the Party’s position against the impeachment and added that he could not countenance the decision of Senator Kaipay to go against the party wishes.
Dillon said he had proof that Senator Kaipay voted to remove the Associate Justice because he, Kaipay, refused to sign an LP Resolution to vote against the impeachment and removal.
“It’s better that we don’t have people in the Legislature than have people who side with undemocratic actions,” Dillon said.
The popular LP operative Dillon, who serves as his party’s Political Officer, challenged his party’s Senator Kaipay to display a copy of his “No” vote.
Meanwhile, the Political Leader of the Alternative National Congress, Alexander Cummings says the ANC will put up candidates against Senators who voted for the removal of Kabineh Ja’neh from the Supreme Court Bench in the 2020 Senatorial Election.
Cummings who was speaking minutes after Chief Justice Francis Korkpor announced the impeachment verdict, said the removal of Justice Ja’neh is a shame for members of the Liberian Senate.
The ANC Political Leader urged citizens to be cognizant of the impeachment process and take decision against Senators who have brought disgrace to the Country’s legal system in the 2020 midterm election.
Speaking Friday when two members of the House of Representatives joined the Alternative National Congress, Cummings said Liberia deserves better than what the Country is currently experiencing.
The former Coca Cola Executive who lost the 2017 presidential election, noted that, to regain the lost image of Liberia, there is a need to elect new set of politicians and shift away from the traditional politicians who had failed the Country over the years.
In the meantime, two members of the Independent Legislative Caucus at the House of Representatives have joined the Alternative National Congress (ANC). The Chairman of the Caucus, Nimba County Representative, Larry Younquoi and Lofa County Lawmaker, Beyan Howard said, their decision to cross over to the ANC was due to the leadership ability of its political leader, Alexander Cummings.
The Nimba County District-eight Representative said, he is making the decision at a time the Country is going through political and economic uncertainty, adding that his move will in no way affect the opposition community. Representative Younquoi who also announced his resignation from the Unity Party, noted that the ANC provides him the best option to contribute to the democratization of the Liberian society.