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Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh’s Attacks on the Liberian Judiciary and the Challenge We Must All Face

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.

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