Lawyers of the Renaissance Movement who are also registered members of the Sierra Leone Bar Association (SLBA) have lambasted the current SLBA executive for issuing a « misguided and a politically motivated press release in support of the ruling All People’s Congress Party. »
It could be recalled that the executive of the SLBA issued a press statement dated 30th March 2018 calling on the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to fully comply with the High Court ruling handed down by Justice A.R Mansaray in a matter brought against the NEC by a member of the ruling APC party (Ibrahim Sorie Koroma) through his lawyer-Lansana Dumbuya, who is also a staunch APC member.
The press release according to information, was influenced by the husband of the SLBA President (Mr. Nuni) who works with Sierra Leone’s First Lady-Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma. The information further indicates that a large number of the SLBA executive are card carriers of the ruling APC.
In their rebuttal, the Renaissance Movement dissociated itself from such « clandestine and unpatriotic public statement » that undermines the core values of the SLBA and the legal profession.
« We wish to clarify that at no time did the Bar Association as a body adopt the position in that Presss Release and it does not reflect the overall sentiments of the Bar as purported, » the Renaissance Movement press statement affirmed.
« We deem it as nothing but a political statement of few members of the Executive attempting to misrepresent and usurp the voice of the membership of the Bar. »
According to the lawyers of the Renaissance Movement, « that Section 32 (11) of the Constitution gives functional independence to the National Electoral Comission. Therefore, any attempt to undermine it through even an order of Court inconsistent with such independence is unconstitutional and an irregularity, except of course where the results are challenged by way of petition after the election. Admitted that by Section 170(1) of the Constitution, an order of Court is law, but it is subordinate in terms of the hierarchy of laws to the Sacrosanct constitutional provision stipulated in Section 32 of the Constitution and cannot therefore trump it. »
The release added that, « We find the position of the Executive of the Bar to be a misapplication, if not a wilful misunderstanding, of the relationship between the hierarchy of laws as set out in the Constitution and known to properly trained lawyers. »
As Renaissance lawyers, we join the majority of lawyers who categorically do not share in the interpretation of the law and its application contained in the said Press Release by few executive members who are patently being used as tools by some political agenda.
« Also the degree to which various institutions of the State have subjected the NEC, we consider such uncalled for attacks on the independence and integrity of the electoral institution and a sustained harassment in the performance of its functions, » the release states, adding « We frown upon such lawlessness and will join the voice of the masses to condemn such actions irrespective of who they emanate from. »
The Renaissance Movement calls on the police, the military, the political parties, the various election stakeholders, and the citizenry to allow patriotism and national interest to prevail above all else while we peacefully cast our votes and await NEC to announce the winner of the March 31 Run-off Polls.
They insisted that « any attempt to disrupt the peaceful exercise of the citizens’ franchise will be resisted by all lawful means. »
Many lawyers including Harvard University graduate-Lawyer Pa Momo Fofana who is also head of Edrina Chambers have dismissed the position of the SLBA.
Some prominent Sierra Leonean lawyers have condemned the ruling/orders of Justice A.R Mansaray, calling it as « irregular. » The empaneled Judges of the Supreme Court-Justice Browne Marke and four other Justices frowned at the ruling and stated that it was wrong for such ruling/Orders to be handed down when the case was not argued.
The Editorial Management called SLBA President-Mrs. Rhoda Kargbo-Nuni but she refuses to comment because, « I am busy observing the election so kindly call me later. »
By AAT Kabbah