“Kangaroo Removal” …-Sen. Dillon Describes Removal of Former Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh As Senate Justifies Its Action; Says the Action Has Embarrassed Liberia  

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Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon has described the removal of former Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh as a ‘kangaroo removal’ by the Liberian Senate because the justifications are weak.

Senator Dillon is a member of the Liberian Senate, but maintains that the removal of Cllr. Ja’neh was ‘unconstitutional’ alleging that the former Associate Justice was never given due process during his removal proceeding by the National Legislature.

It can be recalled a total of 23 senators voted to remove Justice Kabineh Ja’neh from office having been impeached earlier by the House of Representatives.

According to the Legislature, he was found guilty on the Road Fund Charge, while there were not enough constitutionally required votes to convict him on the theft of documents, obstructing the impeachment process and the Constance Land charges.

Counselor Ja’neh was also found guilty of “Misconduct” and “Gross Breach of Duty”, which the legislature said are two (2) of the grounds provided by Article 43 of the Constitution.

Senator Dillon was among five senators that voted against the removal of Cllr. Ja’neh from office. Appearing on OkayFM Tuesday November 17, 2020, Senator Dillon who cited Article 73 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution maintained that Cllr. Ja’neh deserves all his benefits since his ‘kangaroo removal’

Article 73 of the Liberian Constitution states “No judicial official shall be summoned, arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried civilly or criminally by or at the instance of any person or authority on account of judicial opinions rendered or expressed, judicial statements made and judicial acts done in the course of a trial in open court or in chambers, except for treason or other felonies, misdemeanor or breach of the peace. Statements made and acts done by such officials in the course of a judicial proceeding shall be privileged, and, subject to the above qualification, no such statement.”

According to Senator Dillon, the removal of Cllr. Ja’neh was meant for what he calls ‘political gain’ and as such, they have ‘embarrassed’ the country.   

Following his removal, former Justice Ja’neh took an appeal to the ECOWAS Court of Justice for redress.  The court after careful scrutiny immediately ordered the Republic of Liberia to pay Counselor Ja’neh, the sum  of US$200, 000 as reparation for moral prejudice suffered for the violation of his rights.

Delivering judgment on Tuesday, 10th November 2020 in a case filed by the Judge, the Court also ordered the Republic of Liberia, to restore, calculate and pay to the Applicant all his withheld entitlements, including salaries, allowances and pensions benefits as from the date of his impeachment to the date of notification of this judgment.

The court has also ordered his reinstatement as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court or in the alternative, to grant him the right to retire from service on the date of notification of judgment with full pension’s benefits as if he had retired at the normal retirement age for justices of the Supreme Court

In the judgment, a panel of three judges of the Court led by   Justice Edward Amoako Asante  said the Court found the  matter admissible and within its Jurisdiction contrary to the argument of the government, stating that it has clearly established violation of the Applicant`s right to fair hearing and right to work.

Meanwhile, the Liberian Senate Tuesday November 17, 2020 issued a statement justifying its action against former Justice Ja’neh, saying it has violated no law and the rights of the removed Associate Justice.

In a statement, the Liberian Senate said “The Liberian Senate wishes to state unequivocally that it would have reacted by now to the verdict of the ECOWAS Court in the Ja’neh Impeachment Case. Unfortunately, due to the activities of the pending 2020 Senatorial Elections scheduled shortly, the Leadership of the Senate is unable to meet with the required quorum to review the matter and act accordingly.  In due course, the Leadership of the Senate and House will meet and issue an advisory to the Executive Branch on the verdict of the ECOWAS Court.”

“The trial of former Associate Justice Cllr. Kabineh Ja’neh was conducted in a very fair and transparent manner as prescribed by the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, the relevant laws of our country and the Standing Rules of the Liberian Senate. He was fully accorded Due Process as required by these laws and other legal instruments and his fundamental rights were respected during the entire process of his trial at the Senate,” the Senate said.

The Senate also said the trial of former Justice Ja’neh proceeded in accordance with due process of law.

“The trial took place in the Chambers of the Senate with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding. The Revised Criminal Procedure Law of Liberia, Chapter 2.2 states: “In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to be represented by legal counsel at every stage of the proceedings from the time of arrest or where no arrest has been made, from the initial appearance and submission of the accused to the jurisdiction of the court”.  Cllr Ja’neh was present throughout the trial with his attorneys. He was adequately represented by his legal counsels from the initial stage of trial till the time of judgment. Attorneys representing the House of Representatives along with its Managers on Impeachment were also present throughout the trial. The Senate sat as “jurors” at the trial. According to the Liberian Constitution, the accused shall have fair, speedy, public and impartial trial. All of these elements stated herein were met during the trial.”

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