High Court Overturns Injunction Ahead of Sierra Leone’s Polls

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The celebrated injunction signed yesterday by Justice Dworzak has been overturned today March 6, 2018 in support of the police restrictions of vehicular movement.

This means the Sierra Leone police would now go ahead with security protocols necessary to heighten security as higher authorities in the force earlier proclaimed security threats,  citing intelligent sources.

Sierra Leone’s Office of National Security (ONS) declared a level 2 security status, which provides for joint security operations and restrictions of certain liberties to ensure that the elections are free of violence.

On Monday the High Court of Sierra Leone granted a temporal injunction order against the Sierra Leone Police restricting vehicular movement on polling day March 7. Presiding Justice Dwarzak signed out the notice dated March 5th, 2018 for the attention of the general public.

The injunction lasts until March 6th, 9:00 am, when the court looked into the merit of the matter. Lawyer Charles Francis Margai and Lawyer Pa Momoh Fofanah filed an application to the High Court of Sierra Leone praying for the court to rule against the Sierra Leone police restriction of vehicular movement and people on polling day.

The Sierra Leone Police had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with more than ten registered political parties (excluding the Sierra Leone People’s Party and the National Grand Coalition) to abide by the Accra Principles of Electoral Justice; restriction of vehicular movement; Public Order Act of 1965 relating to procession; Political Parties-National Electoral Commission and the Political Parties Registration Commission to engage in a constructive dialogue to prevent and respond to elections related violence and complaints.

The restriction of movements on polling day has faced stiff criticism from the public, many describing it « infringement of citizens’ fundamental human rights. » The police leadership after a long drawn disagreement said their action to restrict movements of people and vehicles is legal and hinges on the peace and stability of the state. They further argued that the MOU have been amended and only vehicular movement will be restricted on polling day.

The Deputy Inspector General of Police-Dr. Al Sheik Kamara has this to say: « At a high level security meeting held yesterday in the office of the IGP, it was agreed that vehicles carrying the Aged (70 years & over) and people with disabilities be allowed through checkpoints as long as they can convince security that they are going to the voting centres.

Lawyers in the law court oval

Al Sheik said, “It was further agreed that registered motor tricycles known locally as Kekeh, be allowed to ply even without accreditation. »

Lawyer Pa Momo Fofana who associated with Lawyer Margai explained that: »The application was not made under the 1991 Constitution because we dealt with the Sections dealing with their operations and specified functions. »

He said the police are pushing too far by assuming powers that they do not have. “Such a blanket restriction tramples on the fundamental human rights of citizens and henceforth considered illegal and unconstitutional.”

Lawyer for the defendant-Lawyer Osman Khanu says the bench was not properly constituted and insisted that the matter would have best being heard by the Supreme Court.

Story By Au Bakarr S Tarawally, additional reporting by Elkaas Sannoh
 

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Abu Bakarr Tarawally is a Journalist based in Freetown. He works for the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation as a radio producer. He has once served as Editor for a few newspapers in Freetown, including Sierra Express Media, The Exclusive Newspaper and his own newspaper, the Daily Express Publications. He is a teacher trainer, and loves writing and reading a lot. Email: abstarawally@gmail.com. Call +232 88601277 or +2327661303.

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