Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been working out plans to impeach Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh since July this year under the administration of President George Manneh Weah.
They claim Justice Ja’neh committed proved misconduct, abuse of public office, wanton abuse of judicial discretion, frauds, misuse of power and corruption. Two lawmakers from the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Representatives Moses Acarous Gray and Thomas Fallah in July this year submitted an impeachment bill against Associate Justice Ja’neh in the House.
However, based on Justice Ja’neh’s petition for a writ of prohibition against the proceedings at the House, the Supreme Court of Liberia issued a Stay Order and cited the lawmakers to address issues raised by Ja’neh’s legal team.
But members of the House of Representatives flatly refused. Instead, they drafted, passed and submitted to the Liberian Senate, the impeachment bill so that Justice Ja’neh can now face trial for the charges levied against him.
Our attention has been drawn to the drama on Capitol Hill firstly because of the public outcry from some quarters that the lawmakers are proceeding outside of Article 43 of the Constitution of Liberia that says, “The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law.”
We also take note of counterargument by some of the lawmakers, especially Senators who think it is okay to just go ahead with the instrument submitted by the House of Representatives to try Justice Ja’neh, because the Liberian Senate has amended Rule 63 of its standing rule that addresses impeachment proceedings.
We caution the Senate, which the Constitution solely gives the power to try all impeachment proceedings to respect the rule of law by following the stipulated steps as enshrined in the organic law. The point is, this landmark case should lead the Legislature here to set bad precedent that others might want to rely upon tomorrow to continue to violate the Constitution.
Already, there seems to be splint in the Senate, with one group of senators warning that to proceed “unconstitutionally would cause chaos”, while other senators think that this warning is nothing but mere scare tactics, stressing the need to proceed with because they have already amended Rule 63 of the Senate’s standing rules on impeachment.
We think it would be fair enough that wherever the law may have been ignored, as some senators are flagging, it is not late to peruse and respect the right procedures to the letter before even commencing an impeachment trial.
We like to remind that those who wrote our laws prior to the election and seating of some of those on Capitol Hill today were not wrong when they enshrined in Article 43 of Our Constitution that “The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law.” As has been argued by some senators, if the meaning of the “Legislature” is the combination of the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate, then we hold that this definition should be upheld in this case.