Serious tension erupted in the chambers of the House of Representatives on Thursday, 12 July when Montserrado County Rep. Acarous Moses Gray and Bomi County Rep. Edwin Melvin Snowe clashed over an impeachment bill being worked out by Rep. Gray and some lawmakers against Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh.
It all started following the reading of the draft agenda of the House Thursday when Rep. Snowe accused Rep. Gray of attempting to intimidate the Judiciary Branch of Government with cheap impeachment proceedings.
Rep. Snowe who appeared to be very annoyed by the action of his colleague, intimated that such bill has no basis but only intended to scare Associate Justices from performing their statutory duties.
The Bomi lawmaker warns Rep. Gray to stop that form of intimidation or it would create bad image of the Liberian Legislature. Rep. Snowe then expresses disappointment in Rep. Gray for bringing himself low, saying Justice Ja’neh has violated no law as claimed by Rep. Gray.
He insists that Rep. Gray’s action is meaningless and only intended to put fear in the members of the Judiciary. Adding his voice to the argument, Nimba County Rep. Samuel Kogar, a kinsman to Justice Ja’neh, terms the pending impeachment action as ‘nonsense.’
Rep. Kogar says the impeachment plot has no weight to be placed on a draft agenda of the House. But in response, the mastermind of the impeachment plot against Justice Ja’neh, Montserrado County District #8 Rep. Acarous Moses Gray says Justice Ja’neh reportedly violated laws of the land.
He argues that the only penalty for allegedly violating the laws here is to remove Justice Ja’neh from the bench so that he does not “contaminate” other justices.
Rep. Gray adds that there is nothing that will stop him and his colleagues from launching the impeachment proceedings against Justice Ja’neh. According to Gray, Rep. Snowe is creating scene because he has invested interest in the Supreme Court.
Rep. Snowe’s wife is a member of the Supreme Court Bench. Earlier on Friday, 6 July Rep. Gray told a news conference that Justice Ja’neh would face the House of Representatives for his impeachment within a couple of days.
Article 71 of the Liberian Constitution says the Chief Justice and Associates Justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of subordinate courts of record shall hold office during good behavior.
But it says 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.
Rep. Gray is yet to say why he wants Justice Ja’neh impeached, claiming he would state the reason in the pending bill of impeachment. Justice Ja’neh and two of his colleagues on the Supreme Court Bench were last threatened with impeachment by some Senators following the Court’s decision during the 2017 political season on the Code of Conduct.
It nearly put the two branches of government into a political turmoil, but a successful intervention by UN peacekeeping mission UNMIL prevented such situation here.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor--Edited by Winston W. Parley