The areas around Cotton Tree, Law Court Building and OAU Drive in Central Freetown were last week Monday and Tuesday swarmed with members, supporters and sympathizers of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) that had gone to hear the outcome of the parliamentary election petition cases that had been filed in the High Court by 16 ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) applicants against 16 Western Area APC Members of Parliament.
The 16 petitioned Western Area APC MPs include Hon. Kemoh Conteh in Constituency 108, Hon. Kadie Davies in 110, Hon. Rugiatu Rasy Kanu in 113, Hon. Hariatu Ariana Bangura in 116, Hon. Isaac Tarawally in 116, Hon. Wurroh Timbo Jalloh in 119, Hon. Lihadi Alhadi in 123, Hon. Chernor Ramadan Maju Bah in 126, Hon. Siraji Rollings Kamara in 127, Hon. Abu Bakarr Sillah in 128, Hon. Emmanuel S. Conteh in 129, Hon. Osman A. Timbo in 130, Hon Sheriff in 131 and three others.
Among some of the grounds for the petitions were that some winners failed to resign from their positions a year to the 7th March, 2018 national elections as stipulated in the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone. Some of the MPs, it was alleged, continued to receive salaries from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, whilst others were accused of alleged election malpractices.
In the first set of cases, Justice Kamanda after perusing affidavits from counsels for seven SLPP applicants and seven APC defendants announced last week that the court had arrived at verdicts. However, he adjourned the court indefinitely, stating that at the next sitting, which would be communicated by the court registry to the counsels, he would deliver the verdicts.
Meanwhile, the nine other SLPP petitions against nine sitting Western Area APC MPs assigned to different High Court judges await trial.
Speaking to an APC official, he maintained that the election petitions against their MPs was a calculated ploy by the ruling SLPP to deplete both their numbers and the quality of their representation in Parliament, adding that the likes of Hon. Chernor Bah aka Chericoco and Hon. Osman Timbo are powerful opposition voices to contend with in Parliament.
The APC official however expressed confidence in the independence and impartiality of the courts, noting that the party was pleased with the verdict given by both the High Court in Makeni and the Appeals Court in Freetown on the five election petition cases that were brought against 5 APC North and North/West provinces by SLPP applicants that were thrown out of court because they lacked merit.