The impeachment imbroglio: Missing the real issue

Supreme Court of Liberia Associate Justice Kabinah Ja’neh, is at the center of an impeachment battle between the House and the High Court.

Two lawmakers of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change, Representatives Acarous Gray of Montserrado County District#8 and Thomas Fallah of Montserrado County District#5 both filed a petition before Plenary, seeking the impeachment of Justice Ja’neh.

According to them, 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.”

These are very grave allegations against a sitting Associate Justice of the Supreme Court bench. The merits and demerits of the charges are not being debated in public or in court, but all we hear is the House remains resolute in effecting the impeachment, while the Supreme Court is determined to thwart the process.

Justice in Chamber Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh, on 18 August issued a stay order against lawmakers seeking Ja’neh’s impeachment, including Speaker Bhofal Chambers, to desist from any proceedings about impeachment, pending outcome of Justice Ja’neh’s complaint of constitutional violation by the Full Bench of the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Francis Korkpor last week called a conference with members of the House headed by Speaker Chambers, but the House did not show up. Instead, it wrote the High Court to “vacate the purported stay order and avoid embarrassment.”

Amid the impasse, some followers of Justice Ja’neh, including members of his Mandingo ethnic group and other kinsmen from Nimba are tribalizing the entire issue. They insinuate that Ja’neh is being targeted because of his tribe. Prominent citizens of Nimba, Ja’neh’s birth place are calling on President George Manneh Weah to spearhead the promotion of inclusive political participation of all Liberians regardless of ethnicity, political affiliation or religious belief.

In a statement last week, they remind that Liberia’s “recent history of tribalism, sectionalism, hatred, political confusion and lawlessness culminated in the civil war marked by genocide and untold human suffering” and admonished Speaker Bhofal Chambers, and member of the House involved with the impeachment process to refrain from the action, warning that it does not promote the peace, reconciliation, unity and solidarity Liberians desperately need to re-reconstruct and develop the country.

We think rather than misinforming and confusing the public by twisting the real issue, the law should take its course in this rigmarole, and if Justice Ja’neh is innocent, be left alone or if found guilty, be made to face the law rather than flagging tribal sentiments in what is purely a matter of law.

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