Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 March 2015
They have been let down by the behaviour of bad politicians, who have no business in governance.
But tonight they will be going to bed with much bitterness, having been robbed by the country’s judiciary of their prime freedom and liberty – the right to free speech, as the Supreme Court issues a ban on the media discussing the current constitutional crisis.
For those citizens that had a glimmer of hope and confidence in the Supreme Court to deliver justice in the case involving president Koroma and the sacked vice president, this ‘fatwa’ issued by the Judiciary, has put a nail on the coffin of hope, truth and justice.
A press statement signed and issued today by the Acting Master and Registrar of Courts – Stephen Yaya Mansaray, says that:
“The Sierra Leone Judiciary wishes to inform the general public that documents have been filed in the Supreme Court in an action entitled: S.C.4/2015, in the matter between Alhaji Samuel Sam Sumana (Plaintiff) and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice (1st Defendant) and Victor Bockarie Foh (2nd Defendant).
“Since this matter is now subjudice, the media generally – both print and electronic are advised to desist from all discussions and expressions of opinions on the matter until the Supreme Court has determined the issue.”
This decision is nothing short of crass stupidity, akin to the behaviour of communist government commissars and dictators.
Any rational thinking person could have reminded the Judiciary of the fact that, this is a public matter that has in the past few weeks positively engaged the public – and rightly so.
It has been analysed, scrutinised, discussed, torn-apart, and preached upon, by almost everyone in Sierra Leone and abroad – including the media.
So what is there to hide that has not been said?
If the Judiciary is afraid that media discussions are capable and powerful enough to influence the thoughts and legal opinions of the Judges that will be sitting at the Supreme Court, then the Judiciary has got a serious problem with respect to professionalism.
If the president lacks confidence in the country’s Judiciary to adjudicate upon such a serious constitutional matter, without being influenced by media analysis, then he needs to seriously consider resigning his position as president, rather than asking the Registrar of Courts to issue such immature statement.
It seems that Sierra Leone’s Judiciary has been reduced to nothing but a village court barray.
What has happened to the learned Justices that the people of Sierra Leone were once proud of? Learned men and women who were confident about their knowledge of the law and conviction to uphold the truth.
Where are the learned Justices who cared less about public opinion, in the full conviction that they are capable of delivering justice freely and fairly, irrespective of what the public or media thinks or says?
In countries where justice is taken seriously, Jurors are protected in the most serious of criminal cases by ensuring that they do not listen, read or watch the media. Not the other way round, where the media is banned from discussing the matter.
Why is the government of Sierra Leone continuing to take this destructive path towards fascism and anarchy?
Everyone and anyone that has an interest or is interested in this constitutional crisis, has already made up their minds as to whether president Koroma behaved unconstitutionally or not. So why the media blackout?
Why couldn’t the Judiciary arrange for the Supreme Court to meet in closed doors – excluding the media during its deliberations of the matter?
This will certainly stop discussion and speculation about the proceedings prior to the arrival of judgement by the Judges.
To try to break a nut with a sledge hammer, is not only counter-intuitive, but dangerous, as you could end up losing a finger.
And it seems the Judiciary could end up with a much more chaotic and tense nation, after the Supreme Court deliberations, by whipping up so much hysteria.
The debates around the rights and wrongs of the president’s decision to sack the vice president, has been good for the development of the country’s liberal democracy and maturing of its civil liberty, which this government is working so desperately to destroy.
And what this immature and stupid statement from the Registrar has done, is to put the nail on the coffin of TRUTH and JUSTICE.
Sierra Leoneans by nature are among the most highly opinionated of nations in the world, and to curtail their right to free speech in this manner, only serves to raise the pressure and temperature, which could backfire on those sitting on the lid.
The Sierra Leone Telegraph calls upon the Supreme Court Judges to rescind this backward facing and primitive statement, and show the people of Sierra Leone that in this 21st Century they are capable of adjudicating without being influenced by a noisy and chatty media.
Where are the Justices Berthan Macauleys, C.O.E.Coles, Brights, and several other highly acclaimed Justices of integrity in Sierra Leone today?
As former Chief Justice Ade Renner Thomas said in 2005: The “Judiciary has come under very intense scrutiny from members of the public at large, as they cry out for justice in our new democratic dispensation.” He went on to say that the public’s perception of the judiciary is that it is “one of the most corrupt institutions in the country, unable to perform its constitutional role . . . because of lack of credibility and professionalism”.
Sadly, it seems not much, if at all, has changed after ten years – a serious indictment of the justice system indeed.
But the people of Sierra Leone are waiting for the Supreme Court to give its verdict. And then, it will be the Judiciary that will certainly be on trial – if they allow themselves to be bought by the president.