Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh’s lawyer Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson says his client will not honor any impeachment trial before the Legislature, if the House of Representatives fails to rescind its disrespect of the Supreme Court and honors the Court’s stay order.
“But how will I go under an illegal action? First and foremost the Supreme Court has said status quo ante … but if the Supreme Court has issued the writ and says that, look, stop and come to court and you say you are proceeding, you are proceeding politically,” Cllr. Johnson said Monday, 27 August in Monrovia.
The House is processing an impeachment against Justice Ja’neh based on claims of alleged proved misconduct, corruption and abuse of power by two representatives of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Acarus Gray and Thomas Fallah.
Justice Ja’neh’s lawyer petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition against his impeachment.
But members of the House of Representatives have refused to honor a stay order issued by Justice in Chambers Sie-A- Nyeneh Yuoh, and further refused to appear before the court to show cause why prohibition should not lie.
They have rather termed the Court’s intervention as violation of the separation of power clause.
With the current non – cooperation posture exhibited by the House, if it finally submits a bill of impeachment to the Liberian Senate, Justice Ja’neh would then be required to face impeachment trial.
But his lawyer Cllr. Johnson appears to be adamant. At a press conference held at his law firm on Center Street in Monrovia on Monday, he says any such trial will be illegal and his client will not honor it because the Supreme Court’s stay order still stands.
“The Court has already sanctioned that whatever action you [take] in the face of this writ that still stands, your action is illegal,” he argues.
Cllr. Johnson urges members of the House of Representatives to rescind their disrespect of the Supreme Court, honor the writ issued and appear to save and protect the integrity of the Court.
According to Cllr. Johnson, when you question a court’s authority and accuse it of being involved into a political matter, under the laws of Liberia you are required to appear before the court to raise such issues.
He notes that the court is also governed by rules to examine its own authority and jurisdiction into the matter and to dismiss the action if the examination establishes that the court lacks jurisdiction.
“That is what the Honorable House of Representatives should have done, not to stay away and question the authority of the Court and disrespect the court and wrote a letter to the Honorable Supreme Court that is so demeaning,” Cllr. Johnson adds.
If the lawmakers fail to do so, Cllr. Johnson urges that all lawyers including judges who believe in the rule of law should boycott all courts across Liberia from 3 to 5 September until the House can respect the order of the Supreme Court.
He fears that if the House fails to respect the Supreme Court and such action goes unattended, it means that there is no court here.
“Because it means that even investors and international actors in this country will be scare to participate into the investment climate of Liberia,” he warns further.
He argues that when investors come into a country, they first seek assurance if they would be protected under the law when their interest and investment are being questioned.
He announced sending messages on Sunday, 26 August to not less than 250 lawyers, asking them to boycott all courts across Liberia for three days until the lawmakers rescind their action and honor the Supreme Court writ.
“And many of them have responded to me and they said yes, they are with me,” he says.
He says impeachment proceedings are legal proceedings defined by the Constitution at the level of the Senate that must be consistent with due process of law.
But in the case with Justice Ja’neh and the House of Representatives, Cllr. Johnson insists that there is no rule for the impeachment.
He says this has created a room for a prohibition requested against the lawmakers’ action to stop the illegal process.
According to him, Justice Ja’neh’s petition is not questioning the authority of the lawmakers on impeachment, but he says it intends to ensure that such impeachment proceedings are done within the ambit of the law.
Cllr. Johnson sees the action of the lawmakers as an affront to the Supreme Court and a serious aggression to the rule of law here.
He reminds lawmakers here that one of the major reasons behind Liberia’s 14 years of civil war was disrespect for the rule of law, warning that “we don’t want history to repeat itself.”
He says he was here and witnessed what happened during the war years, unlike many of those who were just juvenile and are now pushing the country to the past.
He reminds lawmakers that history doesn’t die, and what they are doing today will be read on the pages of history 50 or 100 years from now.
He states that the Representatives’ action “has the tendency to undermine all that have been done to put Liberia on the path of its course in transparent democracy.”
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah