Embattled Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh has taken the witness stand in his own defense at his impeachment trial, telling the Liberian Senate that he has committed no impeachable offense to warrant his removal from the Supreme Court Bench.
In his testimony Monday, 18 March in the Chambers of the Liberian Senate, Justice Ja’neh says the law states that to be held for an impeachable offense, he must be charged or convicted.
On the contrary, he testifies that no such charges have been brought against him, and he has never been called to any investigation.
Justice Ja’neh is standing impeachment trial at the Liberian Senate for alleged proved misconduct, abuse of public office, wanton abuse of judicial discretion, frauds, misuse of power and corruption.
One of the cases which triggered his impeachment trial relates to a land dispute involving the embattled Justice and a private citizen, 94 – year – old Madam Annie Yancy Constance.
Associate Justice Ja’neh has been accused by lawmakers of using his influence as Associate Justice to secure a ruling in his favor at the Supreme Court to take possession of a land being claimed by Madam Constance.
But he denies the charges brought against him.
The accused Justice narrates that when he heard that the House of Representatives was initiating impeachment against him to be removed him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, he sought the intervention of the Supreme Court, requesting the superior court to issue a writ of prohibition against the process.
“I failed to see how it can constitute impeachable offense,” he adds.
Apparently addressing a count against him on preventing government access to a road fund, Justice Ja’neh says when Srimex and two other oil and gas companies were seeking a writ of prohibition in August 2017, he was not the Justice in Chambers.
According to him, the Justice in Chambers called for conference among the parties and the Justice ordered the issuance of a writ to put a halt until the matter was resolved.
Justice Ja’neh continues that when he succeeded the Justice that was in chambers, he ordered that the matter be sent to the full bench of the Supreme Court in February 2018.
He explains that the Supreme Court, having taken charge of the matter had entertained arguments.According to Justice Ja’neh, all the parties were represented by their counsels.
As the case was pending at the Supreme Court, he explains that the parties and the Ministry of Justice decided to withdraw the matter.
The accused Justice tells the hearing that the present full bench of the Supreme Court approved the withdrawal.
In relations to the land issue with Madam Constance, Associate Justice Ja’neh recalls that in 1996 he bought a half lot of land worth US$3,600 from J. Nyema Constance, Jr.
According to Justice Ja’neh, Mr. Constance, Jr. obtained a decree of sale from the Montserrado Probate Court.
Justice Ja’neh indicates that at that time he was not a Justice, but an employee of the National Port Authority (NPA).Ten years after the land was bought, the accused says he became a Justice on the Supreme Court bench.
He testifies that an administrator deed was issued to him for the half lot of land on February 14, 1997. Having acquired the land, he says he instructed that the portion of the land that Madam Constance was on should not be evicted.
According to Justice Ja’neh, the land has been resold to another person who has already put a building on it.He reminds the Senators in his testimony that Madam Constance has testified in the impeachment trial that she is the biological mother of Mr. Constance, Jr.
But he wonders why the father Mr. Constance, Sr. should want to legitimize his son that he born out of wedlock.
Moving forward on the case with Mrs. Constance, Justice Ja’neh explains that he obtained a judgment from the Supreme Court of Liberia which was signed by four Justices excluding him (Ja’neh).
A counsel representing Justice Ja’neh argues that the entire charges levied against the accused are not impeachable charges, noting that they are looking up to the Liberian Senate to give Justice and a fair trial.
Meanwhile, retired Associate Justice Philip A. Z. Banks is expected to serve as an expert witness for Justice Ja’neh in the case.His testimony will be the explanation of the Constitution.
-Embattled Justice Ja’neh mounts defense
By Ethel A. Tweh –Edited by Winston W. Parley