At the peak of the much-talk-about impeachment of Justice Kabina Ja’neh, when lawyers across the aisle had rested their arguments, leaving the jurors—the senators—to cast their verdict votes, nine senators have hung up their participation in the final determinative process. It is not known what the effect of this action would be upon the verdict process, but there are reports of intense lobbying taking place to conclude the impeachment saga that has divided opinions in the public space. As the public remains flustered, not knowing what the outcome would be, pundits say the verdict could come anytime soon, as The Analyst reports.
Shortly when defense and prosecution lawyers ended their final arguments and cautioning of the senators who are serving as jurors in the impeachment brought against Associate Justice Kabina Ja’neh, nine of the jurors have taken their flight to what appear to be a protest or boycott of the process.
The senators include Oscar A. copper, Margibi County; Nyonbloee K. Lawerence, Grand Bassa county; Conmany B. Wesseh, River Gee County; Armah Zolu Jallah, Gbarpolu county, and Sando D. Johnson of Bomi County.
Others include Henrique Tokpa, Bong County; Daniel F. Naatehn, Sr. – Gbarpolu County; Stephen J. H. Zargo, Lofa county and J. Gbleblo Brown of Maryland County.
In a position statement issued Thursday afternoon, the nine senators spreading over various regions of Liberia said, “We the undersigned Senators of the 54th Legislature of the republic of Liberia have decide and resolved that we cannot, shall not and do not support the impeachment trial now underway at the Senate which aimed at a possible removal from office of His Honor Kabinaeh M. Ja’neh , Associate justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia because the said trial is being held in gross violation of the Liberian constitution.”
They stated further: “We the undersigned senators further note, with grave concern, that the position of the Senate on the impeachment of Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh was essentially but negatively influenced by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petitions. As it is now public knowledge that the Senate position in this matter is constitutionally faulty, flawed, ill-advised and a result of confidence betrayed and appears to be designed to serve a selfish interest, we demand that Senator Cllr. H. Varney G. Sherman should do the most honorable thing by resigning from the chairmanship of the committee to save the Senate further from future embarrassment.”
The senators had contended with such assertions during the duration of the impeachment proceedings, which they are repeating and using to justify their boycott.
According to them, some relevant articles of the constitution were being violated, and they included Article 29, which defines the Legislature as the branch of the Liberian government consisting of two house-the Senate and the House of Representatives, both of which must pass on all legislation.
They also went back to the refrain of Article 43, which provides that “The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law.”
“It is uncontrovertibly established that the Legislature as defined in article 29 has not prescribed any such ‘procedure for impeachment proceedings’ against the President, Vice President, Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the Subordinate Courts of Records. Justice Kabineh Ja’neh Impeachment Trial being held without the prescribed procedure as envisaged in the constitution is hereby declared unconstitutional and without legal effect.”
The nine senators also repeated Article 71, which provides: “the Chief justice and associate Justices of the supreme Court and Judges of the subordinate courts of records shall office during good behavior. They may be removed upon impeachment and conviction by the Legislature based on proved misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform the functions of their office, or conviction in a court of law for treason, bribery or other infamous crimes.
The contended in a statement issued yesterday that “None of these is proven against Justice Ja’neh.”
Said the nine senators: “Article 73, which provides: “No judicial official shall be summoned, arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried civilly or criminally by or at least at the instance of any person or authority on accounts of judicial opinions rendered or expressed, judicial statements made and judicial acts done in the course of a trial in opened court or in chambers, except for treason or other felonies, misdemeanors of breach of the peace. Statements made and acts done by such official in the course of a judicial proceeding shall be privileged, and, subject to the above qualification, no such statements made or acts done shall be admissible into evidence against them at any trial or proceeding.”
According to them, Article 21 (a) forbids the Legislature from enacting any bill of attainder or ex-post facto law.