The plenary of the Liberian Senate decides today, Monday, 05 November whether or not, to invite embattled Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh before full plenary for his impeachment. The impeachment trial is expected to be presided over by His Honor, Chief Justice Francis Korpkor.
Members of the Senate on Friday, November 02, debated amendment of their rule. Rule 63, which calls for jurors in impeachment proceedings, is not totally in conformity with Article 43 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution, which also talks about impeachment of senior officials of government.
Rule 63; Section (4) states: When the President of the Republic of Liberia, upon whom the power and duties of the office of President shall have devolved, shall be impeached, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia shall preside; and in a case requiring the said Chief Justice to preside, notice shall be given to him by the Presiding Officer of the Senate of the time and place fixed for the consideration of the articles of impeachment, as aforesaid, with a request to attend; and the said Chief Justice shall preside over the Senate during the consideration of the said articles and upon the trial of the person impeached therein.
Section (5) of the same rule also states, “The Senate shall have power to compel the attendance of witnesses, enforce obedience to its order, mandates, writs and precepts authorized by these rules or by the Senate, and to make and enforce such other regulations and order in the premise at the Senate, and to make enforce such other regulations and order in the premise as the Senate may authorize or provide.
Article 43 of the Constitution of Liberia says, “The power to prepare a bill of impeachment is vested solely in the House of Representatives, and the power to try all impeachments is vested solely in the Senate. When the President, Vice President or an Associate Justice is to be tried, the Chief Justice shall preside; when the Chief Justice or a judge of a subordinate court of record is to be tried, the President of the Senate shall preside. No person shall be impeached but by the concurrence of two-thirds of the total membership of the Senate. Judgments in such cases shall not extend beyond removal from office and disqualification to hold public office in the Republic; but the party may be tried at law for the same offense. The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law.”
The Senate Chairman on Judiciary, Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County had since sought an endorsement from the senate’s floor that a senator can serve as witness and waive his or her right as juror. Juror in the case of the impeachment proceedings are senators who will participate in the hearings of the impeachment against Justice Ja’neh.
The amendment says if senator is requested by plenary to serve as witness, said senator still has the statutory power to serve as juror but if a senator volunteers himself or herself to testify, that senator relinquishes his or her right to serve as juror.
But River Gee County Senator Conmany Wesseh and Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper respectively argued that the approach by some senators is unconstitutional and the senate should be given ample time to debate the proceedings. However, Senate President Pro-Tempore Albert Chie resisted the two from debating.
Due to what appears to be ‘the unconventional legislative’ approach of Pro-Tempore Chie, Senator Cooper stormed out of session, while Senator Wesseh was restricted by presiding officer Chie from speaking on the matter.
However, Bong County Senator Henry Yallah made a motion that date for the appearance of embattled Associate Justice Ja’neh should be decided today, Monday, and the impeachment shall commenced immediately. The motion was overwhelmingly voted for with Senator Wesseh abstaining from the exercise.
On July 17, a petition seeking the immediate impeachment of Justice Kabineh M. Ja’Neh, was submitted to the House Plenary by Montserrado County Representatives Thomas Fallah of District #5 and Acarous M. Gray of District #8, respectively.
They, among others, charge that Justice Ja’neh “committed a serious official misconduct by engaging in a wanton and unsavory exercise of his judicial discretion, far exceeding the bounds of elementary judicial interpretation of issues simply to satisfy his personal ego.”
They also want him impeached for “Proved misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform the functions of his office by allowing justice to be served where it belongs no matter the status of the party affected.” But the embattled Associate Justice challenges his impeachment process as unconstitutional.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne