10 August 2017

Liberia's Legislative Snafu - an Ill-Advised Impeachment Play

editorial

THE LOWER HOUSE of Liberia's National Legislature has commenced impeachment proceedings against three justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia.

THIS COMES on the eve of what is inarguably the most important elections in Liberia's history.

THE DECISION FOLLOWS the submission of the preliminary report to the body of the Committee on Judiciary on the petition for the impeachment of his Honor Kabineh Ja' Neh, Her Honor Jamesetta Howard-Wollo-Kollie and his Honor Philips A.Z Banks all three being associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia.

THE COMMITTEE CONCLUDED that in the absence of any rules governing impeachment proceedings and given that there is no precedence for it, the Judiciary committee has drafted a resolution which sets out the rules for the impeachment of the three Associate Justices, giving them due process and the right to legal representation in keeping with the dictates of constitution.

GIVING THE LIMITED time that is left before the legislature takes its constitutional break, the committee wants the Plenary to suspend its rules, discuss and vote on Tuesday, August 18, 2017. The committee believes if the two actions can be expeditiously completed, they will have set rules for the governance of impeachment of the three Associate Justices.

WE FIND it a bit troubling that those elected by their constituents to craft legislations and ensure that Liberia remains on a positive trajectory toward completing its transition from war to peace, are the very ones looking to start chaos in Liberia.

ANY ATTEMPT now to tamper with the high court would mean that many of the election-related cases before the body will not be heard.

IT IS HIGHLY POSSIBLE that under such glaring concerns, Liberia could plunge itself into chaos and unnecessary uncertainty regarding this year's elections.

THIS COULD ALSO mean that the political environment under which the elections are due to be held will become consumed and swarmed by a controversial impeachment proceeding, that could throw Liberia back into one big uproar.

ARTICLE 73 OF THE constitution is clear in stating that no judge shall be subject to summons for civil or criminal process or of any person or authority on account of the decision they render in a ruling in court or in chambers. However, legal experts say the lawmakers seem to ignore the constitution and are bent on proceeding with a saga that would take years to unravel.

LIBERIA HAS COME so far in 170 years that it is becoming a regular routine for lawmakers to take matters in their own hands, particularly if it involves something that has nothing to do with their constituencies.

AS LIBERIA HEAD to elections, one would think that many of those up for re-election would instead be focussing their attention to matters of the heart and the bread and butter issues that voters are likely to pounce on when faced with the tough decision of deciding who to support.

ALL THIS COINCIDES with the arrival of Cllr. Varney Sherman from the United States of America. Cllr. Sherman was forced to leave Liberia after he fell out while at the Capital Building.

CLLR. SHERMAN WAS LUCKY to have fallen ill in a public gathering and thus was fortunate to get the attention of bystanders who later took him to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center.

THERE WERE NO ambulances on the ground of the capital building. So, had it not been due to the quick thinking of bystanders, today would have been a different story.

THIS IS A CASE of misguided interests and clearly a matter of enormous implications on Liberia's immediate political future.

THE HIGH COURT has ruled on a very controversial matter that remains a precedent for future cases. Although their interpretation is often times, subject to mounting criticisms.

WHAT WE DO KNOW for sure is that no member of the national legislature should be trumpeting or advocating for impeachment proceeding during this crucial period in our local history.

ALL THIS WILL do is to create a lot of noise for a few days. But this should not be the case. Liberians depend on their lawmakers to craft laws, not to create confusion, particularly in the dying moments of these elections.

CONSTITUENTS WANT to hear about plans to rebuild, not to destroy, plans to increase civil servants salaries and not break the backs of those struggling to make ends meet.

OUR LEADERS must be willing and ready to stand and be counted and stand to deliver in hard times as well as in good times. But sadly, what is unfolding before our eyes right now is a spectacle of enormous political maneuverings by a bunch of elected officials who obviously have a little too much time on their hands.

THEIR DECISION is misguided, ill-advised and totally unacceptable. Liberians from all walks of life must condemn this spectacle of shame that will do more harm than good for Liberia in the long term. But in the short term, we must rebuke them, we must shame them and we must cast a wide eye of suspicion on the lower legislative body to keep them from leading Liberia down a spiral slope that could take years to undo.

Liberia

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