The former chairman of opposition Liberty Party, now House Committee Chair on Judiciary Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Koffa says the Plenary of the House of Representatives currently has no rule that should guide the process of impeachment against Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh of the Supreme Court of Liberia.
Two lawmakers from ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Moses Acarous Gray and Thomas P. Fallah are accusing Justice Ja’neh of alleged proved misconduct, abuse of public office and wanton abuse of judicial discretion among others, and have submited an impeachment petition to the House.
Cllr. Koffa, a representative from Grand Kru County told this paper in an interview Wednesday, 18 July at his office on Capitol Hill that the plenary should adopt rules and standards that will be used to impeach in compliance with the house’s rules regarding impeachment.
He suggests further that the impeachment bill should be heard and worked on by the house’s committee on Judiciary. According to Cllr. Koffa, if the bill is about investigation, the House’s committee on Claims and Petition should investigate.
To the contrary of Cllr. Koffa’s suggestions, House Speaker Bhofal Chambers formed a special committee headed by Cllr. Kanie Wesso of Gbarpolu County to probe the allegation against Associate Justice Ja’neh upon reading of the petition submitted by Rep. Gray and Rep. Fallah.
Speaker Chambers has mandated his committee to report to plenary within three weeks.On Tuesday, 17 July, Rep. Gray and Rep. Fallah submitted the impeachment bill against Justice Ja’neh, accusing him frauds, misuse of power and corruption.
The two lawmakers have requested an immediate investigation of Justice Ja’neh and his subsequent removal from the Supreme Court Bench for allegedly committing a serious official misconduct by engaging in the wanton and unsavory exercise of his purported judicial discretion.
However, Cllr. Koffa says he has not seen nor read the bill of impeachment, thus putting him in a difficult position to debate or give informed opinion.The Grand Kru County Representative calls on his colleagues to slow down the impeachment proceeding against Justice Ja’neh, suggesting that the process requires much time and many legal battles.
Article 71 of the Liberian Constitution of 1986 states that the Chief Justice and Associates Justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of subordinate courts of record shall hold office during good behavior.
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.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Edited by Winston W. Parley