Thursday, 10 September 2015



Dr Abdulai Conteh and Pa Peter Tucker are eminent gentlemen with verse external overseas experiences. They have both played very large roles in Sierra Leone Politics within the last 50 years. However, both gentlemen and others who assisted the Constitutional committee which Dr Peter Tucker headed as commissioned by President Joseph Saidu Momoh to get the country back to a multiparty democracy via the 1991constitution left unforeseeable gaps in this brilliantly crafted constitution. No one foresaw this scenario which has just been displayed in our time! All good will was directed to make the constitution watertight (and remember, both men came from opposite camps, (SLPP and APC). No one thought of a situation whereby the Vice President would "abandon" his post, albeit for a short while, and "run for cover" in a foreign embassy, technically removing himself from office. None of these two clever gentlemen and their assistants in that constitutional project thought of the difficulties or "mischief" that would emerge between Section 40 and Section 41 and the implications and effect of Sec 55 on Sec 54(5). As it is said, " to err is human": and this is a gigantic shortfall on the Peter Tucker Constitutional Committee of 1991 however brilliant, genuine, clever and honest the drafters/ framers/ proof readers whatever, were.
The Supreme Court has now made a JUDGEMENT, the country must now accept that judgement and move on. The brilliant opinions of learners and experts have been widely played out but the only EFFECTIVE DECISION is the one by the Supreme Court Judges  and that has now been pronounced by the Acting Chief Justice, Valesius Thomas - SO LET IT BE!
Former Vice President Samuel Sam Sumana must now TAKE A BOW" and look for greener pastures.



THE SUPREME COURT RULED IN FAVOR OF THE PRESIDENT. This shows that our country has made progress where the courts has interpreted that a constitution should not be solidly rigid. It should relate to current political, social and economic circumstances. For example how can we argue that a president should not be able to take action when a VP does something significant to jeopardize the peace and integrity of a government. 

I have always said the APC of President Koroma is an emotionally stable entity, and can settle things amicably through the required process existing in our country rather than through bloodshed. Recently President Koroma's government afforded accused coup plotters/mutineers the opportunity to get justice, and for the first time in our country's history soldiers got their cases redressed through actual court processes. Today every none employed Sierra Leanean may benefit from Legal Aid support, and be represented In court for free. 

Ever since the sacking of former VP Sam Sumana the opposition went wild condemning the actions of the president. Fake nude photos of our current sitting VP circulated by members of the opposition in social media. Their aspiring leaders Ali Kabah, Yumkela group and their families insulted president Koroma in Washington. 

The APC had always respected court proceses and believed the actions of the president to dismiss Sam was constitutional. Well today the Supreme Court, the highest court of the land ruled in favor of our president. That is how the APC work, peacefully, consistently, persistence, resilience, patience, positive temperament, tolerance, and a craving for staying focus on the established mission to change Sierra Leone so that good may overcome evil.

The Sierra Leone Supreme Court has  ruled that President Ernest Koroma had powers to remove former Vice-President Sam Sumana and that Section 41 that a Vice-President must belong to a political party to hold office  is a continuous requirement . The President’s powers to remove the VP are enshrined in Section 40 of the constitution.
Acting Chief Justice Valesius Thomas ruled that the president has powers to remove Sam sumana under section 40 since the requirement on section 41 is continuous”.
Quoting Sections 40 and 41 of the constitution, the judge  noted, among other things, that the president is mandated to relieve the Vice President of his post in a situation in which the latter ceases to meet the requirements to hold the office of Vice President. The references here implied to the dismissal of the VP from the ruling party, and which thus, prevented him from meeting the requirement of being a member of a political party. He said that the President has powers to relieve the VP when he has lost the continuous requirements.
According to Acting Chief Justice Valesius Thomas,   Mr Sam-Sumana`s loss of membership of a political party created a vacancy in the office of the VP.
He also said that  the Supreme Executive Authority’ clause, which President Koroma banked on for his decision, did give the President power to remove the VP wherein Constitutional provisions were not expressly applicable.
The president’s decision therefore in sacking his VP and appointing Victor Foh stands.
The judge also ruled that  the provisions in Sec.  55 are by implication modified by the provisions in Sec 54 (5)
Justice Thomas also ruled that  the Sierra Leone Supreme  Court is not obliged to follow the decision in the Atiku case without reference to the issues before the court and that  the issue in the Atiku case is not the same as the issue before this court.

The Supreme Court's (hereinafter referred to as SC) Ruling of Wednesday September 10th 2015 will remain d most historic of our legal time. But it should send a strong message to the Committee working on d new constitution. The fact that our national Constitution makes room for a number of catastrophic lacunas should not be overemphasized.

The SC unanimously held that the President has right using his Supreme Executive Authority and Executive Power to dismiss his own Vice President both of whom were elected on one and thee same ticket.

The Plaintiff's counsel brought the Action pursuant to sections 124 & 127(1) of Constitution. The former provides for invoking the original jurisdiction of the SC for the Interpretation of the Constitution. I agree with the SC's argument that s.127(1) of the Constitution was wrongly invoked by the Plaintiff's counsel as the Public Notice which formed the subject matter of the Plaintiff's case could not be considered an "enactment".

I also agree with the SC that the Plaintiff's counsel however were right on the other hand in invoking the the original jurisdiction of the SC as in the the said Public Notice the President purported to have sacked and/or relieved his elected VP pursuant to his "Supreme Executive Powers" undefined in s.40(1) of the Constitution. This clearly was a constitutional issue in which only the SC has jurisdiction to interprete.

Two questions were posed to the SC for determination and consequently for a declaration. 
I am sanguine to state that the first question posed by the Plaintiff in his Originating Notice of Motion (which was answered by the SC in the affirmative) was incorrectly asked. To ask whether the President has any right to sack and/ or relieve his Vice under the 1991 Constitution other than the provisions set out in sections 50 & 51 is to say that these two sections in fact give the President power to sack his VP out of office, which is NOT the case. These two sections do not in anyway give the President power to sack his Vice. Instead the said sections 50 & 51 empower the people's representatives i. e. Parliament to follow stipulated procedure therein in setting aside from office the President/the Vice President where there is evidence of gross misconduct/abuse of the Constitution and mental incapability to discharge his functions. I will therefore state that the incorrectness of the question posed was a matter of syntax and semantics in context, a big blunder by counsel for the Plaintiff, a mistake which the arbiters never pardoned rightly so!

It is my considered opinion however that the second question was properly put to the SC for interpretation/determination. Does the Supreme Executive Power (undefined in the Constitution) include the power of the President to sack and/or relieve the VP of his duties? In my opinion, a BIG NO! This is where I depart from the SC. The argument of the SC is on two folds, to wit; that the qualifications set out in s.41 are continuous requirements if an elected President or VP should continue to remain in power. Second, that s.40(1) and 53(1) of the Constitution conferring supreme executive authority and executive power on the President mean that the President can use those powers to sack the VP. 

Let me start off with the argument in favour of "continuous requirement". Permit me to reproduce section 41 of the Constitution. "No person shall be qualified for election as President unless he-
a) is a citizen of Sierra Leone;
b) is a member of a political party;
c) has attained the age of forty years;
d) is otherwise qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament.
Please note that these requirements also hold for a person running for the office of VP.
It was the argument of the Defendants' counsel that all of these requirements should be considered jointly and not severally so that once the VP lost his membership from the APC Party he automatically lost his post as the Vice President of the nation. They argued that if this is not the case, it's possible for a President or VP after election to cease to be a Sierra Leonean by renouncing his citizenship. So true! However renouncing one's citizenship is a matter of volution/willingness. But this explanation CANNOT be said to hold with membership to a political party. With this, one's membership can be REVOKED against his will. If this is the case with the Plaintiff (expelled from his party against his will) the Purposive Test which the SC so relied on should be applied here. The Continuous Requirements Test" SHOULD NOT APPLY here. I submit that it should only apply had the VP himself renounced his membership from his party just as one would voluntarily do in renouncing his citizenship. It is my considered opinion that NO vacancy existed in the office of the VP. Besides, the VP still had time to appeal against the decision of his party  before he was sacked from office. As a matter of fact vacancy can only exist in sections 50, 51 & 55.
S. 55 clearly states instances were vacancy shall deem to exist in the office of the VP; on the expiration of his term of office, where he dies retires or resigns or where he assumes the office of the President or where he is removed by the procedures set out in sections 50 & 51.
 Bearing s.55 in mind, we should be reminded that express provisions of law as those stated in s.55 supersede any implied provisions. I thought the SC would have considered that!

I am exceedingly worried about the stability of our President given this SC judgment. Leave Chief Sumana out of this. I cannot support a man of his calibre. You all know the different scandals he allegedly involved in, from timbergate to other "gates". But the office he occupied supersedes him and any subsequent VP. I am writing in that regard. My fear for our President Dr. Earnest Bai Koroma is simple. What happens if APC's national conference that which expelled Samsumana wake up on the wrong side of their bed one morning and considered that the President has wielded enormous powers so much that the dictates of the party in their opinion are not followed by him and as such they expel him from the party? Going by the SC's Ruling the President will thus cease to be the President of the country because at the material time he would not be considered a member of a political party! The Vice President will climb up to assume the office of the President and guess what? The military may be tempted to come in and put an end to that madness as it would appear that a palace coup was effected just as it appeared in the case of the booted elected VP. 
We have to be careful and think beyond the walls of our homes and places of work when we make national decisions!

That brings me to the appointed VP, his Excellency Victor Foh. Assuming without conceding that a vacancy was legally created when Mr Foh was appointed to take over as VP, these questions will readily come to mind; was Mr Foh the right person to have appointed? Did he meet the necessary constitutional provision for him to be appointed? Here again, a BIG NO! I support my NO with s.54 (5) which provides thus; "Where the office of the VP is vacant (see s.55 supra) or the VP dies, resigns, retires, or is removed from office (see 50&51 supra), the President shall shall appoint a PERSON QUALIFIED TO BE ELECTED AS A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT (emphasis mine) to the office of the VP with effect of from the date of such vacancy, death, resignation, retirement or removal. The records reflect that Mr Foh was an ambassador at the time he was appointed as VP. Thus he was not qualified to be elected as an MP nor to be appointed as a VP, yet the SC Ruling says he was legally qualified. Lawyers will say that's the beauty of the law. It's susceptible to different interpretations.

I would only appeal to the CRC to ensure that this time round little or no lacuna is made room for in the constitution and the enormous powers of a President in the constitution are lifted/limited so that people stop working to satisfy the President and or subsequent Presidents at the detriment of the people.

Sam Sumana Loses Again As Supreme Court Throws Out SLPP/PMDC Petition

Sierra Leone’s former Vice-President Alhaji Sam Sumana is one of  the losers once again at the Supreme Court as the highest court in the land threw out the joint petition  of alleged  constitutional breaches brought jointly  by the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party ( SLPP ) and the People’s Movement For Democratic Change ( PMDC )  against the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and seven others .



The justices of the Supreme Court ruled in Freetown yesterday that  the originating notice of motion filed for the SLPP and PMDC lacked  jurisdiction and  that the manner the matter had been  presented cannot be maintained. Also, the Supreme Court struck the case out because  in the originating notice of motion filed before the Court by the two parties ,  the Plaintiffs before the court are not natural persons or juristic persons.

It must be recalled that on May 12, 2015  the SLPP and the PMDC, represented by attorneys  Charles Francis Margai, Dr. Bu- BuakeiJabbie, Roberts B Kowa and Suliaman Banja TejanSie. had prayed the Supreme Court to look into what they alleged were constitutional breaches committed by the decision to relieve Sam Sumana of his duties and the appointments of Victor Bockarie Foh as the new Vice President ;  Mr. Arrow John Bockarie as deputy Minister of Justice ;  the appointments of Speaker and deputy Speaker of Parliament and  the appointments of Northern Region Electoral Commissioner, Macksood GibrilSesay and Augusta Bockarie as the Electoral Commissioner South.

In the matter involving the VP, Hon . Samuel Sam Sumana,  a  Sierra Leone Government press release on Tuesday March 17, 2015 stated that the then VP  had been relieved of his post  by President Ernest Koroma because he lost a continuous requirement to serve as  VP as provided for in Section 41 (b) of the constitution of Sierra Leone , Act No. 6 of 1991.  The same statement said that on Saturday March 15, 2015, the then VP sought asylum from a foreign embassy , demonstrating a willingness to abandon  his duties and office as Vice-President of Sierra Leone.

On July 17, 2015 , lawyers representing the Attorney General and others, led by Mr. Berthan Macaulay  jr  had submitted that  in the originating notice of motion filed before the Court by the SLPP and the PMDC  the Plaintiffs mentioned in the matter before the court are not natural persons or juristic persons and as such, the case should be struck out. Mr. Macauley argued  that the SLPP and PMDC are non-existing Plaintiffs to enter an  appearance with the court in contravention of the statutory provisions and general laws  and thus submitted that the Supreme Court should not look into  the merits and demerits of the matter.

During yesterday’s ruling, Supreme Court Justices , Judges Nicholas  Brown-Mark , Eku Roberts and Patrick O. Hamilton,  upheld the motion by Mr. Bertan Macauley jr , which had been supported by Lawyer Ajibola Manley-Spaine, one of the lawyers representing  the Government  .



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