That there is a Liberian Pandora Box (an ancient Greek Mythology) or a social-cultural and political Can of worms which, when opened, will shock all law-abiding, morally-attuned Liberians to their roots and render Liberia’s name and image damaged irreparably at the international community of the comity of nations. This was the apparent prediction from the outburst of Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, the illegal Chairman of Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC).
The Counselor-at-Law was appointed Chairman of the NEC by former President Sirleaf although she knew, very well, that the Counselor was, and is, not qualified under law, for the position. Brought before the Supreme Court on charges of being citizen of a foreign country, a statutory & Constitutional Law on Elections, Cllr. Korkoya, who did not admit nor deny the charges, told the High Court that “those making the claim (charges against him) are opening a Pandora Box . . . why come after me . . . take the issue up with the Executive government (represented by the President) that appointed me (Front Page Africa, June 20, 2017)”.
Indeed, the Impeachment trial of His Honor Kabineh M. Ja’Neh, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia will, in fact, open Liberia’s Pandora Box of the Judiciary Branch of (the-now monopolized) international Vice – graft/greed or Corruption of confidence artists, liars, thieves, bandits, public dishonesty, moral decadence, etc. – if handled properly, carefully and lawfully.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is head of the Judiciary branch of government with the Supreme Court dominated by lawyers – judges of all lower courts, prosecuting/defense lawyers (powerful counselors and attorneys-at-law) and the Ministry of State for Justice as members of the Liberia National Bar Association, the Police and Security Forces for law enforcement.
Indeed, the Judiciary is the only and major fulcrum for interpretation, decision and punishment for law violations, and the investigation and enforcement, for defense, protection and preservation of law for Liberia’s democracy.
The October 10, 2017 Electoral Campaign
We were deeply-concerned and troubled by the quality of some candidates-for-President of our nation before and come October 10, 2017 general elections, qualities such as crooks, liars, thieves, dishonesty, profound moral decadence, war-mongers/warlords, rebels, corrupt practices and above all, dual citizens, disloyalty and lack of patriotism to the Republic, particularly, the practice of law, of poli-tricks, selective obedience-disobedience to law and the entire spectrum of the Judicial Process in our country, in the following pages.
Law and Lawyers
Lawyers, historically, are academics and intellectuals – the men and women of letters, of knowledge and in the law. Lawyers of Supreme or Constitutional courts interpret bodies of law – rules, regulations of Constitutions that guide, protect and secure human activities and vital interest of society. Law is an honorable vocation, a profession treated with high degree of respect and honor. European and other old world countries trained and awarded the post-graduate, terminal degrees of JD or juris doctor.
Liberian Law Practice
But in Liberia, Law Practice has been reduced, degenerated to tricks, lies, deceit, double-cross, conflicts of interest and get-rich-quick schemes of rampant dishonesty and corrupt practices since founding in 1847, by some lawyers. Lawyers of this tradition polluted, continue to pollute professional practice and the democratic, political and economic processes, the foundation of Liberia’s social, cultural life and moral behavior. They were, and are prominent, and notable lawyers who served as government attorneys, but were, and are, simultaneously, legal counsels to giant corporations doing business with government – cases of conflict of interests.
But there had been, and are, also, some prominent, notable lawyers who served as government attorneys only, honorably with dedication, professionalism, honesty and patriotism.
However, today in 2017, more than a century and half, significant number of Liberian lawyers promote and continue the Liberian “tradition” of legal practice of “politically-connected lawyers” who sell political influence rather than legal knowledge and counsel.
Cases in point have been and are the block-busting, on-going historic trials of prominent attorneys and counselors of government for allegedly demanding and accepting millions of US dollars in bribes to amend/repeal, illegally, Liberian law that is in force and effect, in favor of the Sable Mining Company, a bribery-prone, multi-national, foreign-owned corporation. This scheme was exposed by Global Witness, an international watchdog organization.
Most of the indicted defendants are, of course, “politically-connected lawyers”. The central figure who, allegedly, dished out the bribes as legal counsel to the Sable Mining Company was the Chairman of the ruling political party and confidante of the nation’s President who, also, is Flag Bearer of the same political party. It is alleged that this lawyer-chairman “secured” a contribution of US 200k, illegally, to the ruling part from his foreign client. He is now Liberian senator.
Some Lawyers had been, and are, legal counsels to and in collusion with foreign-owned banks, insurance companies with questionable bail-bond services, and major corporations such as five-star hotels and the only two cellphone companies in cases concerned, mainly, with taxable incomes and questionable payments.
Lawyers are legal counsels to illegal encroachers on private land nationwide including the long-standing Cooper Beach Estate Case already decided by the nation’s Supreme Court. The illegal encroachers depend on “politically-connected lawyers”, some of which are court judges, to evade eviction. This issue is potential for deadly violence.
Moreover, Lawyers are mainly responsible for thousands being held in detention for long periods without speedy trial because of unreasonable postponements and baffling. No wonder that an overwhelming majority of the nation’s population, refer to lawyers as “liars, crooks, deceits and money ‘eaters from both sides’ of the parties-litigant”.
Lawyers, Lawmakers as Major “Lawbreakers”
Liberian Lawyers and Lawmakers craft, debate and pass the laws that guide and direct the activities to protect society, but with loop-holes consciously intended for selective obedience-disobedience to law. They (Lawyers and Lawmakers) actively disregard, ignore, dishonor and disobey the laws that they crafted into law. Some Examples:
a) The on-going, celebrated case of demand and acceptance of bribery in disobedience to the law against bribery, exposed by Global Witness;
b) Recent Press-Media exposure of the Upper House of the National Legislature, the Senate, ignored, disregarded and flagrantly violated the Public Procurement & Concession Commission (PPCC) Act by purchasing 30 vehicles, one for each of the 30 senators, at total cost of more than one million US dollars without public bidding and the involvement of the PPCC as required by law. It is important to note that the Senate is the Legal arm of the Legislature, while the House of Representatives is the Political arm. Selection of the vender-contractor was “sole-sourced” for apparent kickbacks, a crime against law.
According to the New Democrat (New Democrat, December 18, 2013) “the Supreme Court (of the nation), determined to create public (national & international) confidence in the Judicial System . . . appointed several prominent members of . . . civil society organizations to two of its (Judiciary) bodies to help raid the Judiciary of acts of impropriety of judges and lawyers”.
But, the Liberia National Bar Association balked and rejected the reform action.
Theophilus Gould, Counselor-at-Law & President of the Liberia National Bar Association said that “. . . matters involving lawyers was normally legal. With negative perceptions being harbored against lawyers by the public . . . involving non-lawyers on the committees of the Supreme Court would tarnish the reputation of lawyers. Already there is a public conception with respect to what they (non-lawyers) think a lawyer is . . .”
It is precisely because the average Liberian, an overwhelming majority of the nation’s population “harbor negative perception against lawyers” that the Supreme Court proposal was introduced. Therefore, any reasonable person, particularly, the Lawyer, would welcome and accept the reform action in the effort to educate the non-lawyer and to eradicate his (non-lawyer’s) negative thinking of what “a lawyer is”. But, unfortunately, for reasons known only to the Bar Association of lawyers, apparently, only for reasons not favorable but inimical to the “public”, the Bar Association of lawyers rejected the reform proposal.
For, it is only the Lawyers and the Judicial Process that bear responsibility for the reform action proposed to be implemented (hopefully) by the Honorable, Supreme Court. For example, the public believes that and, in fact, the lawyers are the major cause for delays, delays and delays of persons accused held in detention for months and years without speedy trial.
Recent case in point was that several prisoners broke out of jail and took to the bush in Voinjama, Lofa County because they have been held in jail without trial, adequate food, etc. for years, according to press reports. Contacted, the Superintendent of the County said that he was awaiting reports from the County Attorney, a lawyer.
No doubt, the lawyers of the Bar Association are aware of the historical fight or confrontation/competition for prosecutorial “turf” between lawyers of the same Executive branch of government – LAAC and the Ministry of Justice – with profound, negative impact on non-lawyers accused and held in detention for years, here in Monrovia, and no doubt, also, that the lawyers of the Bar Association are aware of the adage that “justice delayed is justice denied”.
Land Disputes throughout Liberia
Then there is this Big One. There are confusions, conflicts and disputes by and between farmers, individuals, Communities (of their traditional Community Land Rights), Counties and Civil war powerful-Encroachers, Nationwide. The case of the Cooper Beach Landowners and illegal encroachers/squatters is typical example right here in the nation’s capital suburb of Paynesville.
Encroacher/squatters invaded and built on land that they do own simply because they depend on lawyers, their apparent business partners and members of their ethnicity, who are, apparently, “politically-connected lawyers” some of which are court judges who baffle, delay and obtained continuance for years to the point that rightful owners are tired out with court expense, allowing the illegal encroachers/squatters to evade eviction.
In this case, the Supreme Court rendered a definitive decision in favor of the Cooper Land Owners but they have not, yet, been able to have or take possession of the land from the illegal encroacher/squatters, because the Ministry of Justice with Supreme Judgement and instructions to evict the illegal encroachers/squatters will has not intervene. The lawful owners are still waiting for ministry of Justice for years!! These are some of the issues, the issue is potential for violence.
The Reported Critical Issues of the Trial
Impeachment Prosecutors presented their case against Cllr. KainehJa’Neh, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, for “official misconduct,” mainly, “Abuse of judicial power, misuse of public office, the Annie Constance Land Case, the Road Fund Case” and among many others of eight charges against the Associate Justice.
The Prosecuting Lawyers argued that the Road Fund issue is based upon contractual agreement by and between the Government of Liberia and the following Petroleum importers – Srimex of Musa Bility, Connvex of Adallah Sheriff, Aminata& Sons of SiakaToure, Kailondo Petroleum of George Kailondo, MOTC, Nexium Petroleum, West Oil Investment, NP Liberia, Mayoubah& Sons, Inc., and Petro Trade – who collected US $0.25 per gallon of gas from the public to be paid to the Government of Liberia for national Road construction, etc. but failed and refused. Of the US $31 million raised during the budget year of 2017-2018 that should have been paid to the government, US $11 million is owned by Srimex of Musa Bility and Connvex of Abdallah Sheriff.
The Prosecuting Lawyers claimed that rather pay the money already collected from the public to the government, the two companies ran to their business partner, his Honor KabinehJa’ Neh, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, the in Chambers who advised them to file a writ to the Supreme Court requesting a Stay Order to stop them from paying the government’s due and payable Road funds; that Associate Justice Ja’Neh received kick-backs from the two businessmen, Musa Bility and Abdallah Sheriff; that Associate Justice Ja ‘Neh continues to receive kickbacks and related payments, while the businessmen continue to collect and keep the government Road funds illegally; and that the Prosecution says that it will present evidence to prove all allegations.
In His Defense
On the witness stand in his defense and on cross examination, for almost more than an hour, the leaned counselor-at-law and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Cllr. KabinehJa ‘Neh was unable to answer/explain or dislodge deeply-penetrating questions regarding Prohibition that he allegedly issued as Chamber Justice in favor of his alleged business partners; Road Funds withheld illegally from the government of Liberia and continue to be withheld by the business partners; and kickbacks and related illegal payments received and being received by the Associate Justice, all regarding the Road Fund Case.
The Associate Justice muddled through about other issues, disregarding the Road Fund Case. This approach caused legal analysts and observers to conclude that the Associate Justice is highly likely to be “booked” on this one – the Road Fund Case.
Lastly, regarding the Judiciary Function, Liberia is still in the woods held hostage by Public Policy Paralysis and graft/geed – due to Liberia corruption, Inc. deeply-rooted in lies, thievery, banditry, poli-trics and criminals.