By Elkass Sannoh
Section 76(1) Paragraph ‘B’ of the Sierra Leone Constitution, Act No. 6 states that, “no person shall be qualified for election as a Member of Parliament:
- if he is a member of any Commission established under this Constitution, or a member of the Armed Forces of the Republic, or a public officer, or an employee of a Public Corporation established by an Act of Parliament, or has been such a member, officer or employee within twelve months prior to the date on which he seeks to be elected to Parliament.”
The law is not a respecter of any Court of Public Opinion or Political Propaganda but of statutory instruments or Judicial Precedents.
Section 76 (1) had been prominently quoted by the former APC Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara (JFK) in the presence of former President Ernest Bai Koroma when explaining the qualifications and disqualifications for the position of Member of Parliament. In fact, I became more familiar with this section when Alhaji Alpha Khan, former Information and Communications Minister was speaking on radio Democracy, FM 98.1 justifying the decision by the High Court to remove the MP-seat from the SLPP’s MP, Lawyer Ansu B. Lansana.
At that time, we were told that due processes were followed and the Judiciary was independent. Years later that language suddenly disappeared into thin air.
The truth is, President Julius Maada Bio was not among those drafters of our national constitution nor the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) supervised the review of the 1991 constitution. The law is the law and all judicial precedents automatically become a ‘Law’ until being reviewed by the Supreme Court or Judicial Review.
The 16 APC Members of Parliament were brought before the High Court on different allegations ranging from violation of Section 76(1) B, electoral fraud, ballot stuffing to electoral violence.
For instance, Hon. Chernor RM Bah, current leader of the APC in Parliament, won against Charlie Bio who petitioned. Others like my brother, Hon. Sirajin Rollings Kamara didn’t win. In as much as they didn’t win, they are at liberty to appeal the decision at the Appellate or Supreme Court. This is one of the tenets of democratic good governance.
No lawyer will tell me that the Friday High Court rulings are sacrosanct and unchangeable by the apex court. It happened in 2001 and APC later won the matter after appealing the High Court decision because there was enough evidence to appeal.
Charles Francis Margai petitioned Solomon Ekuma Berewa, then former Attorney General and Minister of Justice but Margai lost the case and the Court ruled that President, Vice President and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice were exception to the said constitutional provision/s. That ruling automatically becomes a law which was also used as JFK’s defence when he contested to become the APC standard-bearer. That ruling is a Locos Classicos for any Judge in Sierra Leone except being changed.
Regarding the landmark rulings on Friday, 31st May 2019, the ratio decidendi is not far away from the landmark ruling against Lawyer Ansu B. Lansana of Constituency 005 who polled 11,300 votes but lost his seat and the Court awarded the seat to Regina Marah Songa who polled 1,500 votes. This ruling becomes another Locos Classicos and it was the best ruling at the time.
My question is, what happened to SLPP candidate, retired Captain Afiju Kanja? His seat was removed from him. I am not justifying wrongs but due processes were strictly followed and that is democracy rather than attacking the police or attempting to undermine the national peace and security.
My question is, did SLPP supporters fight the police?
“The APC supporters are still being rebellious,” said journalist Samuel Wise Bangura of AYV media empire. Whilst on a live Television coverage on the riotous conduct of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) members and some supporters at their National Party headquarters, old Railway Line in Freetown, Samuel Wise said, “they are still throwing missiles.” He also questioned, “where are we headed?”
Aside from Friday’s landmark High Court ruling which ignited the open confrontation between the APC and personnel of the Operational Support Division (OSD), the APC has not still recovered from the 2018 devastating political tsunami.
Truth be told, there can never be two Presidents of Sierra Leone under the current constitution. It is true that we have got two Vice Presidents under APC but our current constitution doesn’t make provision for such.
Regarding the rebellious conduct of the APC supporters, the many boycotts are testament to the fact that APC is bent on undermining the New Direction administration by fermenting trouble. Let it be known that Sierra Leone is not ready for war and those who are against peace and national cohesion will be forced to accept. Some people are dying on daily basis because they swore that Julius Maada Bio can never become President of Sierra Leone. Some said they prefer to leave for Guinea than allow to be ruled by President Bio. And God told them that they are just humans and not destiny changers. They are still in pain and refusing to bow in shame.
Among the many lawyers, no one commended the Court on the re-run of constituency 110 where Kadijatu Davies was representing.
There is sheer hypocrisy among our lawyers having in mind that the law will always be put to test as long as humans exist. If those lawyers who are quoting Section 146 of the Public Elections Act, 2012 are convinced of their defence, the Supreme Court is open and readily available to hear your appeal.
I have enormous respect for lawyers Pa Momo Fofana and Charles Margai. They have challenged certain rulings or decisions of the Government even when they didn’t win but they sought redress.
I don’t respect Social Media lawyers who are satisfying their saliva. Go to Court and test our democratic credentials. Let Thy Law Prevail Even When Heavens May Fall