Ja’neh Targets Reinstatement More than Reparation -Says Judicial Independence at Lowest Ebb

The Economic Community of West African States on June 4, 2021 ruled against the Liberian government’s appeal, ordering the George Weah-led government to pay Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh $200,000 as reparation for “moral prejudice” and reinstate him in violation of his rights. This latest news has Liberians wagging their tongues; but the man at the center of the legal conundrum has told the Voice of America that he is not bothered much about the money, but that he will ensure by law that the Government of Liberia reinstates him.

Impeached in March 2019 for granting a writ of prohibition petition brought by petroleum dealers in Liberia to stop the government in collecting a US$0.25 road tax, Ja’neh’s rights were restored last November by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice, which ordered the Liberian government to reinstate him and pay $200,000 as reparation for “moral prejudice” cited in violation of Justice Ja’neh’s rights. The Liberian Government appealed but the court again rejected the appeal. Now, Justice J’aneh says he will not rest until President Weah fully complies with the ECOWAS Court rulings.

Describing the independence of the country’s judicial system as a filth at its lowest ebb, Justice Kabinneh J’anneh told VOA that there has to be a cleansing in order to rekindle public confidence in the system. He said the Liberian Supreme Court as it is today, is an extension of both the executive and legislative branches of government.

“I have always taken the position that the government of Liberia has no discussion in this matter. I’ve been given the option whether to retire and get all the benefits appertaining thereto, or to be reinstated,” Ja’neh stated.

“This for me is a matter that has to do with full compliance of the Court. I have no choice in this matter but to work along with my lawyers that the Weah government fully complies with the ruling of the Court; which means that I be reinstated in my position as Associate Justice as directed by that Court. Nothing less! The issue is not the money. This is about ensuring that we must understand that there is a country called Liberia which is governed by law, and those laws must be complied with. Not a dime we will take until these orders by the Court that call for reinstatement are fully complied,” said Ja’neh.

If Gov’t Doesn’t Comply, what next?

Janeh says if the government doesn’t comply he will revert to court to invoke whatever applications are available for non-compliance with the Court’s judgment.

Legal Resonance

Former Legislator Amb. Rufus D. Neufville is the Executive Director of the People Action Network (PAN-Liberia), a good governance pressure group based in the Liberian capital. Neufville was totally against Ja’neh’s sacking at the time, and openly condemned what he saw as a politically-induced tirade.

“Now, let us take a brief look at the legislative history of the petitioners and their petition. Representatives Ascarious Gray and Thomas Fallah are executive members of the ruling party, Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). Both men have no history of raising any issue in the Legislature without the direct approval of President George M. Weah. Both men have shown no interest in resolving land matters in the country. The petitioners are not on record for showing any concern for activities at the Supreme Court until now. More interestingly, the legal team defending the bill of impeachment is the exact same legal team for the ruling CDC. Do we still need to unmask the hidden face?” Neufville averred at the time, citing the inconsistencies of the impeachment petitioners’ appeal that ranged from Ja’neh’s alleged illegal involvement in a land case, to accusations that he granted a writ of prohibition filed by petroleum dealers to stop the government collecting road funds.

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