Comments and Analysis by Attorney Mark Jenkins from Greenville, Sinoe County.
The former Associate Justice of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia, professor of law, at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia, and Imam in the Muslim Community, Cllr. Kabineh Muhammad Ja’neh, the first-ever impeached public official in the 21st century by the 54th Legislature of the Republic of Liberia, for the abuse of judicial powers and flagrant indiscretions, has accused the Liberian judiciary, of being an ‘extension’ of the executive branch of the Liberian Government.
Now, Counselor, Professor, Imam and former Associate Justice Ja’neh is seeking undue attention but beyond that, he is not neither a plaintiff counsel nor a defense counsel or a plaintiff or a defendant before any of the courts in Liberia, as he is now an ordinary lawyer like any certified legal practitioner in Liberia. His scathing attacks, whatever the legal basis, on the independence of the Liberian judiciary comes against the backdrops of a recent ECOWAS court’s judgment in his favor, awarding him a staggering sum of US$200,000.00 of taxpayers’ money for what the court termed: “his loss of integrity”, granted by court from wearing its “judicial spectacles” or that he should be reinstated to his previous post.
The timing of the statement has a purpose, of course a specific target—the composition of the current Supreme Court Bench, and it comes in the wake of a recent successful “National Judicial Conference” convened by the Liberian Judiciary under the theme: “Law, Public Policy and Economy”, during which a critical review of the myriads of social and economic problems facing the Liberian judiciary were deliberated upon, including issues of access to justice, timely adjudication and rendition of judgments and their subsequent enforcements, to engender public confidence, trust; the need for a comprehensive review of some of the laws, the proper regulation and control of law practice in Liberia in order to arrest legal malpractices and mediocrity, among others.
The participants left the conference warmly emboldened by what was resolved and achieved and what needs to be done and pledged to work together to encourage the three branches of the Liberian Government to uphold the principle of coordination, consistent with Article 3, of the 1986 Constitution. They also advanced legal and economic suggestions to positively impact public policy and advanced the idea of holding such an exercise annually not only to identify these problems but also to ensure that they are tackled and addressed for the good of the Liberian economy.
Also, we are deeply heartened by the fact at least from what we read and saw on television on the faces of lawyers it seems everyone who left the conference, held or is holding sacred these critical issues and looking forward to seeing them tackled and addressed for the good of the Liberian judiciary in order to win back public confidence, support the economy through the timely rendition and enforcements of judgments involving commercial matters, and save dwindling image of the Liberian judiciary from the abysmal paths of debauchery.
The reason for this, is that every counselor or professor of law including former Associate Justice Ja’neh is highly revered by the general public which is why a statement coming from him no matter how depraved and distorted his position might currently seem on the social ladder, should not be taken lightly or shrugged off.
Further, given the seemingly rigid standards set by the Liberian judiciary for the practice of law, anyone who purports to be a counselor at law, a judge or a justice of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia, is seen have enormous wisdom and knowledge of the law and so, much is expected of that person— he/she is highly venerated in the Liberian society for direction and guidance on critical national issues, or is looked upon for sound and professional comments transcending the bounds or frontiers of reproach and futility.
All cynicisms aside, Kabineh Muhammad Ja’neh is a counselor at law, a member of the Liberian Supreme Court Bar; a professor of law at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, teaching men and women, some of whom are grandparents, but who are somewhat gullible and legally frail and witless in understanding the negative ramifications of his statement, or he is an imam in the Muslim Community, leading a flock of ardent believers in Allah, and above that, was an Associate Justice of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia, until the Liberian Senate pulled the “rug” from under his feet for his dubious and self-seeking role in the “Road Fund Case.”
The truth is whether or not he is out of the ‘political climb’ or equation, Justice Ja’neh still carries an aura of a seemingly acclaimed judicial mind and stature in the Liberian society, and he knows or ought to know the gravity of such unfounded statement and negative consequences it tenders to engender against the Liberian judiciary, yet, and behaving like a mendacious ghoul, he chose to do what even a street vendor cannot do. There’s a popular saying amongst lawyers that says: “once an Associate Justice is always a justice”, and so whether for or against, those who are or will hear him talk expect a lot of sound reasoning in his comments, in his address of issues, including his own wellbeing, for God sake!
Though Article 15(b) of the 1986 Constitution gives every Liberian citizen the right to hold an opinion separate and distinct from others, on critical national issue, notwithstanding, it makes quite a pathetic hearing to see someone like Justice Ja’neh who was once revered as an Associate Justice of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia to suddenly ghettoize his attacks on the Liberian judiciary like the normal gossips in the streets.
Hardly ever did we imagine that the impeachment would have a toll on his life, on his thinking, on his bearing and given whatever he had allegedly amassed but when he chose to badmouth the Liberian Judiciary in which he was once the “czar”, fomenting social and judicial terrors here and there to satisfy his personal ego at the detriment of the independence of the Liberian judiciary, something that is no longer possible, it is obvious why he has chosen to come out of his true shells in full glare of the public and subject himself to such public opprobrium by making these reckless and sweeping allegations that are not supported by any imperial evidence.
Justice Ja’neh’s latest attack is a pale reflection of his brazen lack of understanding of the elementary constitutional principle of coordination between and amongst the three branches of the government as provided for under Article 3 of the 1986 Constitution, and it further exposes his infantile misdemeanor for undue publicity carefully crafted on a transient altar of lies and sheer gossips to undermine the integrity, credibility and independence of the Liberian judiciary and thereby render it powerless in order to create the fake impression that his purported reinstatement demand, although unconstitutional, and totally chaotic, contemptible and unimaginable, is the surest way of protecting the judiciary and saving democracy in Liberia.
This is Justice Ja’neh, and this is what he is and has been but such rumbles and rambles whatever their intensity are but quite not just laughable, but also completely disgraceful, and we strongly contend that when the Liberian judiciary is hijacked or is under attack by recalcitrant and reactionary forces, from the likes of the Kabineh Ja’nehs, his associates and the benefactors, who remained defiant and unrepentant for the ugly past, despite the successful demobilization process, and whose impulsive rise onto the political landscape, is credited to sectarian politicking, terror and mayhem, it becomes the sacred duty of all lawyers, and not some or few lawyers—we mean all Liberian lawyers who are the “arms of courts”, especially the LNBA or members of the Bar to stand up and speak out; to protect and rescue the image of the Liberian judiciary from the clutches of absurdity and intellectual banditry.
Lest we forget, Justice Ja’neh is not alone; make no mistake about this. It is a well-orchestrated smear campaign cleverly designed and tailored by his benefactors both at the ECOWAS Court in Abuja and in Liberia to be unleashed against the Liberian judiciary in order to undermine its integrity, independence and credibility, and thereby make it to appear that Justice Ja’neh “too”, has integrity.
Of course, his benefactor-in-chief in this witless and nefarious gamble for prominence at the expense of the Liberian judiciary is none but Justice Edward Amoako-Asante, a Ghanaian celebrated imp, and an unrepentant ragtag ghetto lawyer handpicked from the streets of Accra for political considerations, who has gate-crashed onto the edifice of the venerated ECOWAS Court as a justice, and is using the court for his own selfish gains; and for this, has polluted what should have been a plain declaration of the court’s denial of Ja’neh application for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; instead, Justice Amoako-Asante invented his own legal jargons” loss of integrity” and politically awarded Justice Ja’neh’s purported integrity sum of US$200,000 of taxpayers’ money even though the same court had earlier said it found no judicial missteps or violation of the applicant’s rights in the entire impeachment proceeding conducted by the Honorable Liberian Senate but not until it ‘put on its “judicial spectacles”.
Interestingly, the judgment which former Associate Justice Ja’neh is now relying upon is not a judgment derived from a careful and comprehensive review of the issues presented by the both parties in their respective exchanges of pleadings, or from the disposition of law issues, rather, it is a judgment derived and delivered from Justice Edward Amoako-Asante’s “Judicial spectacles” and awarded for loss of integrity. It is this mock judgment about the value of his integrity at such huge price that is making Justice Ja’neh to run amok, with a clinging fist and using the Liberian media to propagate a parochial agenda, he has shamelessly presented himself or is presenting himself as the “new savior” — the only alternative to judicial independence and credibility in Liberia.
This sort of argument by Justice Ja’neh of making himself a ‘national hero’ hazily when in fact he is nothing but a disgraced impeached justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia is not only self-serving and groundless but it also unwittingly unmasks not just the quality but the character of an Associate Justice he was at the epic-center of our judiciary, and the reason is, whether or not he was illegally impeached, which is not the case anyway, the decision to appoint Kabineh Ja’neh as Associate Justice is constitutionally the prerogative of the President, and only the President alone can do it. Is Justice Ja’neh now saying by badmouthing the judiciary and trying to render it useless will entice or bait the President to reinstate him, assuming the government decides to accept the ‘spectacles judgment?’
How can someone like Justice Ja’neh who purports to be a “professor of law” and former Associate Justice of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia behaves as if the 1986 Constitution does not give the President the exclusive powers to appoint judges and justices, and proceed with such clueless argument like a headless chicken?
The nation is again watching, and unlike the LNBA or lawyers whose livelihoods depend on the independence of the Liberian judiciary to attract clients and earn their daily bread can come out and challenge this outrageous and utterly depraved allegation that lacks both wit, substance and simple logic, the courts are doomed—they will face a cascade of negative public perception of being “controlled” by the executive branch and this could have far reaching consequences because in most major civil cases, the Government of Liberia is always the party defendant for alleged breach of contracts.
Sadly, and as always, there’s conspicuous silence in the horizon— it’s not me or my brother; there’s no leadership in our ranks and files to take the center stage and call a spade a spade; hence, it has become a grotesque battle where no solemn voice can be found to confront such blusters and intellectual nuisance—Justice Ja’neh will surely get away with this because as always, those who are being targeted and unduly attacked; those who have been accused of reducing the Liberian judiciary to the ‘apron’ of the executive branch, are after all, not “us” but “them”, replaying the usual inanity of “ it is us versus them”.
We must add that by these unsavory comments, attacking the independence and integrity of the Liberian judiciary as a separate, distinct but coordinate branch to the other two branches of the Liberian government, Justice Ja’neh has demonstrated all too well that he has lost his head, his balance, and is found wanting in voice, and audience so much that he is now a sectarian legal practitioner always looking very angry, bitter with a sardonic smile ready to charge at anyone who does not share his medieval views.
It is therefore difficult if not impossible to clearly decipher or delineate whatever is left of his reasoning power, his ability to critically debate issues void of invectives and reckless tantrums and exercise tolerance where there are disagreements, which is why we are now left with the notion that indeed “Professor and Imam” Kabineh Ja’neh was actually the problem at the Supreme Court—the bull weevil in the system that could market justice at whatever price perhaps to the highest bidders, and was bent on eating every shreds of sanity geared at building the principles of coordination between and amongst the other two branches of the Liberian government for self-aggrandizement.
We demanded that Justice Ja’neh must go, when he was caught pants down, and indeed he went, but this is or has not been the end of his ranting, of his inflammatory attacks, or of his seemingly tragic attempt to drag the Liberian judiciary into the mud and go down with it in a fashion reminiscent of a ‘suicide bomber’ to appease his personal ego of ‘no Justice Ja’neh, no Liberian Judiciary’. This sort of bastardized and ill-fated belief is not a joke, because Justice Ja’neh in his own words said the only “option” available on the table is reinstatement, and this is well rooted in his being, apparently after “smelling the rat” that the judgment that he is relying upon is unenforceable because it is not supported by any law, but from the “judicial spectacles” of Justice Amoako-Asante.
In all fairness, the ECOWAS Court’s judgment breeds contempt, and from a careful judicial review and reasoning, one can easily deduce that it lacks precedence both in character and juridical tradition, which is why it is but a product of ‘fishing expedition’ only carved out of the “judicial spectacles” of Justice Edward Amoako-Asante to satisfy a sectarian legal practitioner whose games of blackmail and extortion as was contained in the House’s impeachment bill were absolutely anathema to judicial independence and integrity.
With no official position yet, from the government on the denial of its application for judgment review, although the court is yet to release the ruling despite persistent efforts made by the Government of Liberia through the office of the Solicitor-General, is it that Justice Ja’neh is aware that the judgment is a legal nullity and unenforceable for which he has decided not to wait for the court but to “reinstate” himself as the ‘savior-associate justice’ of the Supreme Court? What moral lesson can we draw or learn from a former Associate Justice, professor of law, and an imam of his stature, when without provocation, he shamelessly, without any evidence, he decided to attack the judiciary in this type of debasing fashion?
And unless, we speak out and nip in the bud what seems a blatant attempt to wreak havoc on the Liberian judiciary and destabilize whatever repair works have been done since the departure of former Associate Justice Ja’neh, the credibility of the judiciary is doomed.
Now, Therefore, we call on the Liberian National Bar Association and the judiciary to garner the courage to call in former Associate Justice Ja’neh to answer question and provide the evidence that makes the Liberian judiciary become an “apron” of the executive, or else, his inciting comments are likely to become the ‘new normal’ in assessing the quality and independence of the Liberian judiciary.. This is a serious challenge that we must not shy away from.