Representatives Acarous Moses Gray and Thomas Fallah of Montserrado County Districts No. 8 and No. 5 respectively, have formally submitted a bill of impeachment against justice Kabineh Ja’neh of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia to the full body of the House of Representatives for consideration.
The bill which include allegations of misconduct, gross breach of duty, and inability to perform the functions of the office was jointly sponsored by both representatives Gray and Fallah. In the bill, the representatives cited two cases as evidence of Justice Ja’neh inability to continue as a Justice of the Supreme Court, beginning with the late Austin Clark vs ECOBANK Liberia, Ltd. In the Clark vs Ecobank case, the representatives alleged that Justice Ja’neh misused and abused his power when he illegally entertained a writ of review for lawyers representing Ecobank, after Judge Boima Kontoe had ruled for the enforcement of a judgment that awarded Mr. Austin Clark US$1million in the case against Ecobank. Ecobank initially sued Mr. Austin Clark for money owed them, but after Clark provided evidence that he paid the said amount, and the case was dropped, he then sued Ecobank for defamation for which Judge Boima Kontoe awarded him the just stated amount. Ecobank lawyers had ten days to file and process an appeal which they didn’t do until the time elapsed, thereby leaving Judge Kontoe with no choice but to enforce the judgment. The lawyers representing Ecobank then went to the Supreme Court and Justice Ja’neh who was in chambers at the time granted them a writ of review. Representatives Gray and Fallah point of contention is, by law, there was even no case as long as the 10(ten) days appeal period for Ecobank lawyers to field their appeal elapsed without them processing an appeal.
In addition to the Clark vs Ecobank case, the bill also include another case known as Constance vs Yancy where both lawmakers charge Justice Ja’neh with conniving with a subject named J. Nyema Constance, Jr., “to illegally acquire a piece of property located in Sinkor, Monrovia, which is owned by Madame Annie Yancy, surviving wife of the late J. Nyema Constance, Sr. The discrepancies cited in this case by both representatives states that J. Nyema Constance, Jr., presented a fraudulent Letter of Administration dated May 1960 and given under the gavel of Judge Jehu Striker, as being the Administrator of J. Nyema Constance, Sr., intestate estate. Both men stated that J. Constance Nyema, Jr., who was born in 1956 could not have been made Administrator of an intestate estate at the age of four years old in 1960 with a Letter of Administration signed by Judge. The property in question was bought by Justice Ja’neh from Constance Jr, and Honorables Gray and Fallah in their bill of impeachment cited abuse of power by Justice Ja’neh to forcibly acquire the property of an ordinary citizen. They also said that Justice Ja’neh action has brought his office to mockery and public ridicule and is a demonstration of justice being in favor of those in power or position of authority.
Below, is the full recommendation by Representatives Fallah and Gray to the full body of the House of Representatives:
WHEREFORE, it is the prayer of the petitioners as follows:
1. That this Honourable august body will order an immediate investigation into the activities stated inter alia of Justice Kabineh M. Ja’neh consistent with the evidence provided, cause a full hearing of the matter to afford him due process and thereafter seek the appropriate motion, and order the casting of the necessary votes to have Justice Ja’neh duly ousted, ejected and impeached as in keeping with the rules and procedures of impeachment;
2.That this august body will adopt the appropriate rules and procedures if not already in existence, deal with what has become a slur on the image of our court system due to the horrific conduct of Justice Ja’neh;
3.That the entire transaction regarding the acquisition of Madame Yancy’s property be declared null and void as if it has never happened before;
4.That this august body will communicate with the full bench of the Honourable Supreme Court of Liberia to issue the appropriate orders consistent with its finality powers under Article 65 of the 1986 Constitution by ensuring that the court below carry out its orders based on the judgment rendered in the case against ECOBANK; and
5. That this august body will grant unto petitioners all and any further relief that this body may deem just and appropriate as in keeping with the rules and procedures of impeachment.
The proposed impeachment of Justice Ja’neh by Representatives Gray and Fallah has been met with mixed reactions. Members of the opposition contend that this is a witch hunt and retaliation against Justice Ja’neh for his role during the elections. It can be recalled, Justice Ja’neh issued an injunction against the runoff election after the Liberty Party filed a bill of injunction which subsequently led to over a month delay of the runoff. However, supporters of Gray and Fallah as well as people that have been affected by some of Justice Ja’neh rulings and actions see it as a victory for Liberia democracy and the country justice system. In the meantime, it is important to note that both Gray and Fallah are acting within the confines of the law and as sitting representatives have the authority to initiate impeachment proceedings against a sitting Justice as long as they can prove their allegations against that justice. Nevertheless, it is left with the full body of the House of Representatives to decide whether the representatives have convincing evidence to impeach Justice Ja’neh or acquit him of all allegations. Whatever way it goes, it is simply democracy at work.
The Liberian Billboard will bring you all the latest developments about this proceeding as they unfold.