Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 April 2018:
Last Sunday, both the newly elected president Julius Maada Bio and the defeated APC candidate – Dr Samura Kamara who had threatened to challenge the presidential runoff result, attended mass at their local catholic church.
It is said that, it is by divine intervention that the pastor of the church brought both Bio and Samura together to shake hands and bury the hatchet, with Samura agreeing to accept the presidential election result and Maada Bio as the winner.
But when questioned by the BBC Umaru Fofana during an interview whether his Supreme Court petition challenging the election results has been dropped, Samura said it’s a matter for the APC party to decide.
Last week, senior executives of the APC party, along with Dr Samura Kamara and the party’s Secretary General – Yansaneh, visited president Julius Maada Bio at his residence, where they congratulated Bio on winning the presidential election.
It is now almost a week since the presidential result was announced and Julius Maada Bio declared president. Today, a member of the now opposition APC party – Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, who was sacked by president Koroma from his cabinet as minister of social welfare, has decided to take the matter to the Supreme Court herself.
This is what she says:
Sierra Leone Constitution (Act No. 6 of 1991) under Section 48.(4) says “While any person holds or performs the functions of the office of President, no civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against him in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by him either in his official or private capacity.”
As a prominent Student Activist back then in 1991, I had supported such an inclusion as we need a sitting President to be well focused away from distractions of Court Cases. However, it was also made clear back then that such clause does not mean an elected President cannot be joined in suit when the recent Elections which brought him to office, are being petitioned to be overturned.
This was one of the several fatal mistakes done by current president H.E. Julius Maada bio when himself and two others petitioned the Election of Ernest Bai Koroma as president in November 2012.
They included the APC party, along with the National Electoral Commission (NEC), but they erroneously did not include President Koroma as a Respondent to their lawsuit.
The error was quickly picked up by Lawyer Berthan Macauley, who was representing the APC. Citing that and other reasons like late filing, late payment of judicial fees, no security deposit, Berthan Macauley Esq. asked the Supreme Court to throw out Maada Bio’s petition as the primary beneficiary (President Koroma) of what was being petitioned, had not been joined in suit as a Respondent.
The Court agreed with many of the arguments and threw out Bio’s petition for sake of the fatal mistakes.
You may ask if the situation is not in conflict with itself, since NOT including the sitting President in the court case makes the proceedings to be fatal whilst including the sitting President makes the proceedings to appear to be against Section 48.(4) of our Constitution.
Actually, it is just an appearance. A closer reading of Section 48.(4) shows that a sitting President can indeed be included as a Respondent in a petition of an election which happened whilst he was not yet President.
Furthermore, I believe the answer to this conundrum has already been answered by the Supreme Court itself via its actions of sixteen years ago in APRIL 2002, when the Supreme Court fully accepted a case against 2002 Elections eligibility of a sitting President (H.E. DR. AHMAD TEJAN KABBAH) and went on to sit on the matter.
That happened when one citizen by the name of DANIEL SANKOH on 11th April 2002, dragged the then President of Sierra Leone – H.E. ALHAJI DR. AHMAD TEJAN KABBAH to the Supreme Court.
That matter against President Kabbah was accepted for hearing by the Supreme Court and deliberated upon without any restraint on Supreme Court from Section 48.(4) of the Sierra Leone Constitution.
Legal luminary Dr. Ade Renner-Thomas had defended President Kabbah at the Supreme Court back then in 2002. Dr. Renner Thomas, one of our most brilliant legal minds, successfully argued on behalf of President Kabbah.
Subsequent to winning the case for President Kabbah at the Supreme Court, Dr. Renner Thomas was later appointed to be Chief Justice by President Kabbah. The main point here is that a sitting President in April 2002, was sued at Supreme Court and had to find a very good lawyer to defend himself over an Elections eligibility matter.
So, it is against the precedent of the Elections matter of DANIEL SANKOH versus PRESIDENT AHMAD TEJAN KABBAH that His Excellency President Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio has been made a Respondent party to answer to my Elections Petition filed yesterday, Monday April 9th 2018 at the Supreme Court of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Yes, I can confirm that in my capacity as a citizen of Sierra Leone who voted in the Presidential Elections, I have yesterday Monday April 9th 2018, filed a STRONG challenge of the election of Julius Maada Bio as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
I filed a 38-paragraphed Petition alongside other needful paperwork as well as Affidavits, and paid the required legal Cash Deposits for Securities as per Law established. I have also ensured I paid all needful filing fees on time, so as to avoid my Petition being thrown out of Court for lateness as happened to the 2012 petition of Julius Maada Bio against Ernest Bai Koroma.
I had to do the Petition all on my own because all lawyers, approached by me so far, have shied away from being associated with the matter.
One of them bluntly told me this morning that if Honourable senior judges of the Judiciary were being treated in the jungle manner in which one judge was treated last evening by supporters of President Julius Maada Bio, then what will happen to ordinary lawyers who decide to associate themselves with such a Petition against the Election of someone like President Maada Bio?
I am however not afraid. I want to believe President Bio’s regime will even make extra efforts to ensure no harm comes my way, as I carry out this democratic exercise. After all, no-one harmed him or his lawyers when they petitioned the election of Ernest Koroma in 2012.
I do know that I have taken a very strong case to the Supreme Court yesterday. I do believe the case I have built is even stronger than the one taken to the Kenyan Supreme Court that caused the Kenyan presidential elections to be overturned.
However, I recognize the Honourable Judges of the Supreme Court will have the final say. I will humbly accept whatever their findings may turn out to be.
Meanwhile, I am continuing to reach out to various lawyers, especially amongst the APC ranks, in the hope I may find a lawyer who is brave enough to help me make the legal arguments at the Supreme Court. I will keep you all informed on that aspect.
Fortunately, the rules of Supreme Court allow for ordinary citizens without lawyers, to file in person. So, I have singlehandedly used my late grandfather Prof. Solomon A.J. Pratt’s law books to read and research on how to approach the Supreme Court on my own without any lawyer helping me.
I am very proud to announce that I have successfully done so yesterday and this afternoon, the final paperwork were concluded.
With immediate effect, the judiciary’s process servers are now set to serve the Petition on all concerned including on H.E. President Julius Maada Bio (Photo: Bio being sworn as the newly elected president), who is one of the four (4) Respondents in my humble Petition to overturn the declaration of Nfa Alie Conteh that Julius Maada Bio was duly elected as President.
Whilst I fully recognise H.E. Julius Maada Bio as my President under the Law, I firmly believe that H.E. Julius Maada Bio was NOT duly elected as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
So, I have gone to the Supreme Court to ask them to nullify the outcome of the Election, order fresh elections within 90 days of their Order and in the interim 90 days, appoint the Speaker of Parliament as the new Head of State, until fresh elections are held.
The full details of my 38-paragraphed Petition against the Declaration of NEC’s Mohamed Nfa Alie Conteh that Julius Maada Bio was duly elected, will be published shortly.
I remain Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, OOR.