Lawyers in Sierra Leone split over sacking of Anti-Corruption Commissioner

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 25 June 2018:

Lawyers in Sierra Leone are today in a quandary, as to how best to respond to the sacking of the country’s head of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) – Mr Ady Macauley by the president.

Those opposed to his sacking say that the president’s decision is unlawful and that the decision to terminate his appointment is not the sole prerogative of the president, but parliament; while those in support of the severance of his contract, argue that the president is the Supreme Authority in the country and therefore has and can use executive powers to hire and fire public officials.

But as in so many other controversial political and constitutional issues that have faced Sierra Leoneans, those looking for legal and constitutional guidance are once again left confused by the deep divisions that have now opened in the legal profession, led by the Sierra Leone Bar Association.

Yesterday, there was a flurry of published public notices and open letters, reflecting the diverse responses and positions within the legal profession, on the controversial sacking of the ACC chief and the way forward.

In its official response, the country’s body representing Barristers – the Sierra Leone Bar Association, published a notice inviting its members to a meeting to discuss the sacking, only to then quickly retract the notice amidst confusion about its legality to hold such a meeting. The meeting scheduled for today, Monday 25th June 2018, has therefore been cancelled. This is what it says:

“The Executive hereby notes the objection put forward by several members of the Association with respect to the Extra-ordinary General Meeting (EGM) slated for Monday 25th June 2018.

“We acknowledge that the statutory requirement in respect of the Notice period for the calling of an Extra-ordinary General Meeting is 21 days in accordance with Section 189 (1) of the Companies Act of 2009.

“However,  we have as an Association in the past held several such EGMs where notice given for same fell short of this period on the tacit general understanding that it was so done in accordance with the provisions of S.189 (2) (b) which provides as follows:

“(2) A general meeting of a company shall, notwithstanding that it is called by a shorter notice than that specified in subsection (1)be deemed to have been duly called if it so agreed in the case of –
(a) ….
(b)any other general meeting, by a majority in number of the members having a right to attend and vote at the meeting being a majority together holding not less than 95 percent in nominal value of the shares giving a right to attend and vote at the meeting or, in the case of a company not having a share capital, together representing not less than 95 percent of the total voting rights at that meeting of all the members.”

“In light of the several objections raised it is apparent that the usual unanimous mandate to proceed with such meetings in accordance with Section 189 (2)(b) of the Companies Act of 2009 is absent in the present case.

“In consequence of the above, the meeting slated for Monday 25th June 2018 is cancelled until further notice.

“Dated 24th Day of June 2018. Signed: Ashmia Fofanah (Ms) – GENERAL SECRETARY.”

The Sierra Leone Telegraph has learnt that about a dozen Barristers in the country are publicly opposed to the position of the Bar Association on this controversial subject, and have described the Association’s decision to call a meeting to discuss the issue as an “illegal Emergency General Meeting” scheduled for Monday 25th June at the High Court No. 2, Law Courts building on Siaka Stevens Street, Freetown. (Photo: Lawyer Lloyd Jusu – one of those opposed to the Bar Association action).

A letter signed by lawyers opposed to the Bar Association’s position stated that the scheduled meeting contravenes the 2009 Companies Act.

Lawyer Francis Ben Kaifala, the man now appointed by president Bio to take over from Ady Macauley as head of the ACC, subject to the approval of members of parliament, also wrote a letter yesterday to the Bar Association, calling their action illegal.

This is what Lawyer Francis Ben Kaifala said:

“ TO:          The Secretary-General, Sierra Leone Bar Association

“FROM:       Francis Ben Kaifala, Member, Sierra Leone Bar Association

“SUBJECT:    Notice of Objection to the Holding of an Extraordinary General Meeting

“WHEREAS the Sierra Leone Bar Association is a Company Limited by Guarantee duly registered under the Companies Act (2009) of Sierra Leone (Which includes its predecessor laws);

“WHEREAS by Notice dated 23rd Day of June, 2018, Notice was received by members of the Sierra Leone Bar Association (via WhatsApp) of the convening of an Extra-ordinary General Meeting by the Secretary-General for the deliberation by members of the issues outlined in the said Notice;

“AND WHEREAS the said Notice fails to comply with the Provisions of Section 187 (7) and 189 (1) and (3) of the Companies Act 2009 which mandates that Extraordinary General Meetings be held after the receipt of 21 Days’ Notice by Members prior to the date of the said meeting.

“NOTICE of my objection to the holding of the proposed meeting scheduled for Monday, 25th June, 2018 is hereby given on the grounds that the NOTICE falls short of giving 21 Days’ Notice to Members with counting beginning from the date the Notice was sent to all members  as required by Section 189 of the Companies Act 2009 which binds the Sierra Leone Bar Association – a Company Limited by Guarantee.

“It is therefore requested that proper 21 days’ notice be given to all members; failing which, any meeting held as an extra-ordinary general meeting or any special resolution emanating therefrom will be illegal and in contravention of the aforesaid mandatory provisions of the company laws of Sierra Leone.

DATED THE 24th DAY OF JUNE, 2018

SIGNED: Francis Ben Kaifala – Member, Sierra Leone Bar Association

“CC: The Executive Secretary/CEO, Corporate Affairs Commission” (End)

The Sierra Leone Telegraph notes that, as this controversial political development rages on, the people of Sierra Leone are looking for clear direction and a peaceful resolution to which all sides must abide by the rule of law.

Those calling for an uprising against the elected government, no matter how badly flawed the government’s decision-making process, must refrain from inciting anarchy.

And those who feel aggrieved by the government’s decision to relieve them of their employment contracts can and should resort to the courts for redress.

Those calling for civil uprising must seriously search their conscience and question themselves as to whether by justifying their action on the basis that the president has failed to follow due process, they are dangerously failing to uphold and maintain a higher standard of responsibility in upholding the rule of law and maintaining the fragile peace and stability of the nation.

Most Sierra Leoneans will agree that by calling for a public uprising against an elected government, they are woefully failing in their duty as citizens to uphold and maintain the rule of law.

There is a clear difference between civil disobedience and civil uprising. To call for civil disobedience is one thing. But to call for civil uprising is something else that must be frowned upon by all peace loving members of society. Let common sense prevail.

5 Comments

  1. Any Anti-Corruption Commissioner whose primary loyalties are not to the best interests of our nation as he/she sees fit; and, not to The elected President as The President dictates will be replaced.
    I will only be impressed by this new ACC Commissioner if and when he starts investigating financial/fraudulent etc. improprieties by individuals and organizations from the topmost downwards, otherwise Sierra Leone will not realise its full developmental potential.

  2. !. Today, Sierra Leone continues to be a lawless country.
    2. Sierra Leone’s latest Auditor-General’s Annual Report continues to be inaccessible to the public; previous ones are ignored.
    3. It is alleged that the current President (-USD $18 Million etc. misappropriated from SL Treasury, etc.)
    4. Our current President, Speaker, and Leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament are alleged to be reputed national fraudsters.
    5. Appointed National Institution Leaders are coerced into supporting the President and not Sierra Leone’s National Interests.
    6. The current President has not yet accorded and declared practising and implementing TRANSPARENT ACCOUNTABILITY OF PUBLIC FINANCES – top most priority – with no amnesty. Practising implementation and sustenance of public hygiene and cleanliness comes a very close second.
    7. Restricting most public appointments to particularly sycophantic Mendes demonstrate weakness about ETHICS – detrimental to Sierra Leone’s best interests. It continues to fail to exploit the strengths in our diversity; e.g. it continues with marginalization of the Krios, etc.
    One solution worth considering includes non-sycophantic persons and individuals who think and/or feel marginalised to set up organisations safely in The Diaspora for optimising Sierra Leone’s Interests for combatting such victimisation – registration, bank account, website, full contact details, etc.

    • So useless Addy Macauley should have been kept because he is Krio? You are one unserious fellow. You are a disgrace. #

      You pretend as if you patriotic, but you belong to the most dangerous group of Sierra Leoneans. The Auditor General’s report is for the year 2016. Was Bio president in 2016, Mr. Lielondo and no regard for the truth?

  3. Again, this is a clear testimony that political parties are more important than Salone. People, no matter how educated are more likely to support their party’s position even if it’s very clear that the already weak institutions are further weakened. What is the need to have a parliament when the laws made by parliamentarians will at any point be overridden by the president?

    Why are we paying all those huge sums of monies to parliamentarians when the laws they are making are insignificant in the eyes of the very powerful president?

    When former president Koroma sacked the elected vice president of the country, there were many lawyers who tried to quote sections of ‘the constitution’ in support of his decision even though it was indefensible. The same has been all around the place due to the illegal sackings by president Bio and very few people are thinking about the need for stronger institution for us to prosper.

    We will not progress if institutions are not strengthened; and remember if the APC were to make a come back in 2023, all of these will be repealed and mass sackings will follow. Where are we heading as a nation with this clear disregard for the laws of the land?

    Justice is the most clear tool to move forward, but this unshakable party loyalty is not good for development. Most of us admire the US and other western countries and want to leave Salone to go and settle there, even though our country is far richer in resources. The most important thing that they have are strong institutions which are respected and protected by all governments.

    When will these lawyers be independent and begin to interpret laws as they are, without thinking about parties? They are supposed to represent the interest of the poor and hungry, but are so far only prepared to protect the rich and influential.

    In the US, there is very strong party loyalty but the laws are always interpreted as they should; and that is the main reason why they will continue to move forward. On the contrary, Sierra Leoneans are too partisan to the extent that a lawyer born in Koindu is most likely to support the SLPP’s stance on any issue against the interest of Salone and vice versa to a lawyer born in Binkolo.

    We have to come to the realisation that if the laws made are respected by all, this issue of endemic corruption will be minimised. The stronger our institutions, the faster the pace of development will be. We have to be loyal to Salone at all cost to get to where we know we are supposed to be. But if this trend continues, there will be sabotage all along the way and the very president who wants to succeed will unfortunately not achieve that.

    Remember the 48% that did not vote for him; and that any unconstitutional sacking has hundreds if not thousands of saboteurs to hamper the development process.

    Thanks once again

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