Liberia: Ministry of Justice Seeks to Represent House of Reps in Justice Ja’neh’s Impeachment Proceeding

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Monrovia – Justices of the Supreme Court has entertained arguments on the petition for the Writ of Prohibition and a motion objecting to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to represent the House of Representatives (HOR) in the proceeding to impeach Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh.

Report by Bettie K. Johnson-Mbayo, [email protected]

The Ministry of Justice had offered to represent the House of Representatives before the Court.

One of the lawyers of Justice Ja’neh, Cllr. Johnny Momoh objected to the Ministry of Justice’s request to represent the House of Representatives on ground that the Supreme Court had asked the Justice Ministry to give an opinion on the case at bar, not to be a legal representative to any of the parties involved. 

Cllr. Momoh contended that there are no grounds that the Ministry of Justice can represent the House on ground that both the House and the Ministry are agencies of government. Therefore, it would be illegal for the Court to allow the Ministry be a legal representative, he said.

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Cllr. Arthur Johnson, also representing Justice Ja’neh argued that the Justice Ministry appearance and request to represent the lawmakers was in contradiction to the instruction given to them by law and the Supreme Court.

“The MoJ cannot represent the HOR because it violates the tripartite system of Government, the House has been clear in their returns to this honorable court, as far we are concern, the response of the House is the communication sent from the clerk of the HOR,” he said.

Cllr. Johnson said the reason the MOJ was involved was that the court sees it as a friend of the court.

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In a counter-argument, Cllr. Daku Mulbah, Solicitor General told the court that the request is supported by law.

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He said, “When we filed the first brief, there was no objection, why is it now, what we request is in conformity of the mandate. The executive law says the MOJ should represent officials of government when they are taking the rule.”

Strangely, the Bench did not rule on whether or not the Ministry of Justice has the legal audacity to represent the first branch of government against a Supreme Court Justice. However, the Court entertained argument on the Writ of Prohibition to be issued to the House to stop all proceedings leading to the impeachment of Justice Ja’neh. The Ministry of Justice argued on behalf of the House.

Cllr. Johnson requested the court to accept the writ prayed for so that lawmakers will not dictate to the Supreme Court on issues.

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“Please take judicial notice of the letter sent here by the clerk of HOR, the Court cannot ignore the fact that the lawmakers wrote their returns in a letter,” he said. 

The Solicitor General argued that the writ prayed for by Justice Ja’neh’s lawyers was premature, but according to Cllr. Johnson, the House proceeded with the impeachment proceeding outside the legal framework.

He stressed that the HOR was in error because there were no rules to guide the proceeding.

Cllr. Mulbah insisted that there are no standing rules on impeachment but since the petition was filed by Jan’eh lawyers, the HOR declined on crafting rules for impeachment.

The Court reserved ruling in the matter pending notice of assignment.

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