MONROVIA, Montserrado â€“ Two members of the House of Representatives have presented a petition to the general body seeking the impeachment of Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh from the bench of the Supreme Court.
Rep. Thomas Fallah of Montserrado’s fifth district, who also heads the Coalition for Democratic Change Legislative Caucus, and Rep. Acarous Gray of Montserradoâ€™s eighth district both presented the petition on Tuesday.
Fallah and Gray said the associate justice, unmindful of his judicial power and authority, committed â€œofficial misconductâ€ by engaging in â€œmalicious and purported judicial discretion.â€
â€œJaâ€™neh continues to behave as if he were a law unto himself, to the detriment of others,â€ the petition read.
The constitution provides that the chief justice, associate justices of the Supreme Court, and the judges of subordinate courts of record may be removed upon impeachment and conviction by the Legislature based on misconduct, gross breach of duty, and inability to perform the function of their respective offices.
The petitioners noted that the constitutional guarantee of immunity to judges and justices under Article 71 of the constitution did not apply under certain circumstances.
It said, â€œThe immunity of judges and justices becomes a subject of public scrutiny and debate or a ground for removal or impeachment if they engage in official misconduct or proved misconduct by engaging in the abuse of office, power, corruption, and other form of society and relations with people, and this august body of the honorable lawmakers are requested to take legislative notice of the role of the judges and justices in our society.â€
The two lawmakers placed emphasis on their authority as elected members of the legislature and representatives of Liberians on critical national issues.
â€œWe have the legal standing to raise any critical issues on the floor of the House of Representatives or in the public domain. We can openly demand prosecution, impeachment, removal, or dismissal of any elected or appointed public officials for misconduct, abuse of public offices, misuse of public power and corruption to safeguard the stability and sanctity of the Liberian state,â€ they noted.
They, meanwhile, encouraged lawmakers to give the petition serious consideration to clear the judicial system of what they say is fraudulent and disloyal activities, most of which they claimed are perpetrated by and credited to Jaâ€™neh. The lawmakers believe that the timely handling of the petition will arrest the deterioration of the credibility of the judicial system, protect unsuspecting victims who are constantly robbed and denied justice, and to ultimately save the judiciary from corruption and the misuse of public office.
Following a motion, House Speaker Bhofal Chambers received the petition and constituted an eight-member ad-hoc committee to review and investigate the petition and report its findings in three weeks.
Members of the committee include Rep. Kanio Wesso of Gbarpoluâ€™s second district, Rep. Isaac Roland of Marylandâ€™s third district, Rep. Rustonlyn Dennis of Montserradoâ€™s fourth district, Rep. Edward Karfiah of Bongâ€™s fifth district, Rep. Jeremiah Koung of Nimbaâ€™s first district, Rep. Clarence Gahr of Margibiâ€™s fifth district, and Rep. Dixon Seboe of Montserradoâ€™s 16th district.
Of the 39 lawmakers in session, Rep. Yekeh Kolubah, who represents Montserradoâ€™s 10th district was the only one opposing the petition.
Kolubah said as the country is currently facing a significant economic hardship, he wants his colleagues to redirect their attention to improving the lives of Liberians. He said if anyone should be impeached, it should be the president, who is finding excuses for the declining economy instead of fixing it. He said Liberians can only accept President George Weahâ€™s request to be patient amid a free-falling economy if he, too, stopped developing his properties while too many Liberians suffer.
â€œIf he wants us to be patient, let him stop building his houses. Until he can stop building his properties we will not be patient,â€ said.
Kolubah also claimed that the proceedings in the House of Representatives related to the petition was stage managed by the speaker, where he allowed only Coalition for Democratic Change lawmakers to speak.