23 August 2017

Liberia: House Drops Impeachment Against Justices

Photo: The Herald
(File photo).

The House of Representatives has withdrawn its impeachment resolution against Associate Justices Kabineh Ja'neh, Jamesetta Howard-Wolokollie, and Philip A. Z. Banks, III. The decision was made on Tuesday, August 22, during its 56th day sitting. Members of the House, 39 out of the 73 representatives, voted to drop the impeachment procedure, because of a joint resolution from the Christian Council of Liberia, the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia and the National Council of Chiefs and Elders. Religious and traditional groups were asked to intervene in the matter by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Yesterday's motion was made by Lofa County District #1 Representative Francis S. Nyumalin, Sr., and the votes against the impeachment were prompted after an executive session.

It may be recalled that a majority of the members of the House of Representatives, alongside some members of the Senate, stated that they would pursue impeachment against the aforementioned justices for exercising the mandate of the Legislature under the 1986 Constitution. On Tuesday, August 8 - in the 52nd day sitting, members of the House of Representatives endorsed a Draft Resolution setting out the rules for the impeachment proceedings, based on a recommendation from its Committee on Judiciary, chaired by Atty. Worlea Saywah Dunah of Nimba County District # 7. Rep. Dunah told Plenary that a writ of summons was issued to each of the three Associate Justices.

According to his report, the law gives ten (10) days for answers or returns to be filed in civil cases, which indicates that the Associate Justices had up to August 14 to file their return. The report indicated that the Draft Resolution set out the rules to govern the impeachment of Justices Kabineh Ja'neh, Jamesetta Howard-Wolokollie, and Philip A. Z. Banks, III, and it stated that failure on their part to file their returns within ten (10) days will necessitate the declaration of default to be rendered against them.

The Legislature's action grew out of a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in the Harrison Karnwea vs National Elections Commission case, in which the court ruled that Mr. Karnwea's failure to resign his post as managing director of the Forestry Development Authority two years prior to the October 2017 elections was not egregious in nature as he was in substantial compliance with the Code of Conduct because he had resigned after the court had ruled the Code of Conduct constitutional in the case of Selena Mappy-Polson vs the Government of Liberia.

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