It appears that the mission to dethrone Cllr. Kabineh M. Ja’neh as an Associate Justice of the Republic of Liberia has been accomplished.
Members of the Liberian Senate voted overwhelmingly to effect his impeachment on Friday March 29, a move which has ended months of political and legal battles initiated in 2018 by the House of Representatives over numerous charges.
The Senate voted Friday, 29 March to impeach Justice Ja’neh on account of a decision taken to grant a writ of prohibition that prevented government from collecting a road funds taxed against oil and gas companies because it had not been imposed through legislative act.
Following his impeachment Friday, one of Ja’neh’s lawyers Cllr. LavalaSupuwood noted his client’s exception to the decision, announcing that they will take an appeal at the Supreme Court.
Impeached Justice Ja’neh’s lawyers arguments are that the decision he took in chambers while performing his constitutional duties was further validated by all five justices of the Supreme Court, including the presiding officer of the impeachment trial Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr.
He stood trial at the Liberian Senate for alleged proved misconduct, abuse of public office, wanton abuse of judicial discretion, frauds, misuse of power and corruption.
In late 2018, Justice Ja’neh was impeached by the House of Representatives on four counts, pending the Senate’s decision before his removal finally from the Supreme Court bench.
The Senate did not convict impeached Justice Ja’neh for the rest of the charges including allegedly using his influence to win favorable ruling from the Supreme Court to take possession of a disputed land being claimed by 94 – year – old private citizen Madam Annie Yancy Constance.
He is held for granting a petition for a Writ of Prohibition filed by two petroleum companies to halt the government of Liberia from collecting taxes of US$0.25 intended for road funds imposed on the pump price of petroleum products.
Former Associate Justice Ja’neh’s lawyer Cllr. Supuwood prays Chief Justice Korkpor not to [make] all the verdict form part of the Senate’s records, alleging that the voting process was marred by flaws and irregularities.
However the guilty verdict was admitted into the Senate’s record after 22 Senators voted to remove him.
Out of nine Senators that announced their support for Justice Ja’neh hours to the crucial decision, only four voted against the impeachment and three others abstained from the process.
The remaining two Senators appear to have crossed over to join forces with the pro impeachment Senators to convict the accused justice.
Hours before votes were cast, pro impeachment lawyers representing the House of Representatives expressed fears that if the defendant was acquitted, there would have been two warring factions on the Supreme Court bench on grounds that Ja’neh and the Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor who presided over the impeachment would have had strained relations.
A summary of the decision taken by the Senate which was read by Bong County Sen. Henry Yallah reveals that the Senate acquitted Justice Ja’neh of charges including official misconduct and gross breach of duty in the theft of records of the House of Representatives; the much publicized Annie Constance Land case; and the impeachment prohibition field to the Supreme Court, respectively.
The charge of impeachment prohibition was voted down by 14 Senators against 12 that voted for while three abstained.
On the charge of theft of records of the House of Representatives, 14 Senators voted guilty, while 12 voted not guilty, and three abstained from the process.
Additionally in the land case with Madam Constance, 18 Senators voted guilty, eight voted not guilty, and three abstained from the process.
Meanwhile Justice Ja’neh’s lawyers say the Senate Pro – Tempore Albert Chie failed to follow amended Senate Rule 63, with regards to the procedure for voting.
The protesting lawyers requested Chief Justice Korkpor to dismiss the verdict against their client.
The lawyers’ protest prompted Chief Justice Korkpor to make inquiry with Pro-Tempore Chie to establish if the documents presented by the respondent lawyers were new rules crafted to be used for the voting process.
But Pro-Tempore Chie denied the argument, noting that what was used was a “mere procedure for voting and not a new rule as claimed.”
In presenting the verdict, Chief Justice Korkpor urges that there must be a real issue in order to set aside and order a revote.
“There has been no substantive complaint brought before me to rule out the verdict from the jurors. On the one relating to the road fund case, 22 Senators found him guilty and four not guilty and three absences. Therefore and in keeping with Article 43 of the Liberian Constitution, the accused has been found guilty,” says Chief Justice Korkpor.
By Ethel A. Tweh –Edited by Winston W. Parley