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Court dismisses application by Liberia for review of judgement on removal of judge

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A panel of three Justices of the ECOWAS Court presided over by Hon. Justice Gberi-be Ouattara on Friday, 4th June, 2021 dismissed an application by the Republic of Liberia to set aside its judgment of 10th November 2020.

In the contested Judgment, the Court had found the Respondent, the Republic of Liberia in violation of Counsellor Kabineh Muhammad Ja’neh’s, the Applicant’s rights to a fair hearing and to work and awarded 200, 000 dollars as damages for his removal as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Liberia.

The Republic of Liberia had urged the Court to set aside its entire Judgment on the grounds that amongst others, it violates its legislative sovereignty and that the Court erred severally in its application of facts and law in the said Judgment.

Hon. Justice Dupe Atoki, the Judge Rapporteur for the case, delivered the decision of the Court.

Before its analysis of the Application for Review, the Court dismissed the Preliminary Objection of the Respondent wherein it requested an Order of the Court to recuse Hon Justice Edward Asante from presiding over the Application for Review and future cases before the Court in which the Respondent is a party.

But the Court held that the Respondent’s Preliminary Objection is not in conformity with any of the conditions for Preliminary Objection as provided in Article 88(1) of the Rules of Court, rather an extraneous matter of the recusal of a Judge is the subject matter and prayer of the Preliminary Objection.

Moreover, the Court also held that in the instant case, “the party who filed the Application for Review of the said Judgment is also the one who filed the Preliminary Objection which did not seek the discontinuation of the substantive suit as envisaged in the fundamentals of a Preliminary Objection.

“This is clearly an absurdity and incompatible with the oppositional nature of an objection in litigation. The totality of this Preliminary Objection both in its objective and character is strange to the Rules of the Court,” the Court noted.

The Court held that the allegation of bias by a judge and a relief of recusal of the judge is not a condition precedent to an application for Preliminary Objection as envisaged in Article 88(1) of its Rules of Procedure. It therefore held that the Preliminary Objection is incompetent same not tied to any deficiency in the Application for Review

In addressing the Application for Review, the Court after analyzing the grounds for the request, found that the facts in support of the Application for review of the said judgment are not in conformity with the provisions of Article 25 of the Protocol of the Court, regarding the discovery of new fact(s) of a nature as to be a decisive factor.

“In view of the above analysis, the Application of the Respondent for the review of Judgment No ECW/CCJ/JUD/20/20 Cllr. Kabineh Muhammad Ja’neh v Republic of Liberia having not disclosed a new fact of a nature as to be of a decisive factor in the decision, is declared inadmissible and the claims sought therein denied,” the Court said.

After dismissing the Application for Review, the Court concluded that the declarations and orders made in the judgment of 10th November 2020 remained valid and should be enforced forthwith without any further delay.

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