Image Credit: Supreme Court

Claim: President Weah wants Judge Gbeisay impeach

A Facebook user, Laso Kromah took to his social media page and posted that Liberian President, George M Weah wants to impeach Associate Supreme Court Justice Yamie Gbeisay.

TSM reached out to him to get from the social media user the source of his information. In response, he only replied, “ Time will tell.”When TSM asked further, “Is there a link to support the claim?” Kromah agan didn’t answer.

The post was shared multiple times and it has thus far gotten eleven reactions and seventeen comments.

Gbeisay was appointed in September 2022 and was commissioned in January 2023; he is now the fifth justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia.

Is there precedent case?

In Liberia, a sitting Assistant Supreme Court justice, Kabinah Ja’neh was impeached by members of the LiberianLegislature.

The request for impeachment originated from Montserrado County District #8 lawmaker,  Acarous Moses Gray who chairs the Houses Committee on Executive and from the Ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).

The process of impeachment went on for weeks and a final ruling was made,but it was questioned by Liberians and some of the very lawmakers from the Liberian Senate who publicly showed their opposition.

On the other hand, the man who was impeached, Kabinah Ja’neh, did not accept the ruling from the Supreme Court of Liberia.

He spoke of irregularities during his impeachment process. Ja’neh then took an appeal to the ECOWAS Court for redress, a request which was granted him by that regional Court.

The ECOWAS Court mandated the government of Liberia to pay the sum of Two-Hundred Thousand (200,000.00) United States Dollars to former Associate Justice, Kabinet Ja’neh for what it called “wrongfully” impeaching him; said money and the mandate from that ECOWAS Court are yet to be obeyed by the Liberian Government.

Verification:Article 42 of Liberia’s 1986 Constitution titled impeachment states that, “The power to prepare a bill of impeachment is vested solely in the house of representative and the power to try all impeachments is vested solely in the senate.

“When the president, vice president or an associate justice of the supreme court is to be tried, the chief justice shall preside; when the chief justice or judge of a subordinate court of record is to be tried, the president of the senate shall preside. No person shall be impeached, but by the concurrence of two-thirds of the total membership of the senate.!

“Judgment in such cases, shall not extend beyond removal from office or disqualification  to hold public office in the republic, but the party may be tried at law for the same offense. The legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law.”

Interpreting this provision of the law, Cllr. Amara Sheriff, a Liberian Lawyer said the president has no such power to impeach a justice or judge of a court of records even though he appoints them.

“It is not near possible for a president to take such a decision; by the time you appoint the person it will be finished. You cannot appoint a justice or judge because he or she does not support you and you say you want to impeach them. The whole issue with impeachment is done by the house (legislature) based upon substantial evidence or proof as in the case of Judge Richards Klah, former Commercial Court Judge.

Judge Klah resigned while the legislature was in the process of impeaching him for ethical misconduct. The house of Representative can begin an impeachment proceeding of a Judge or Justice for a cause that runs contrary to his or her duty, while the house of senate preside over the trial as jurors of the fact where both accused and accuser will face each other.

Sheriff added: “Impeachment is premised upon proven  misconduct, but not based on President Weah’s wish to impeach a  judge or justice.”

Conclusion: No, the power to impeach a Judge or Justice does not lie with the president, rather the Liberian Legislature. It begins with the House of Representatives and ends with the Senate. Therefore, the claim by Laso Kromah that President Weah wants to impeach the judge of the Supreme Court bench is Incorrect.

This story was produced with the Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) support


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