APC will not go to court  to seek redress and calls for the Chief Justice to resign

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 03 July 2023:

The announcement of rigged presidential, parliamentary and local council elections results by Sierra Leone’s electoral body – ECSL, has sent shockwaves that is now calling into question the legitimacy of President Bio and his government, as president Bio joins other West African leaders at an ECOWAS meeting in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau.

With the rigged results showing the country’s main opposition APC failing to win a single seat in the ruling SLPP party stronghold and President Bio in full control of parliament, APC party executives are not only refusing to accept the elections results but some are calling for fresh elections.

Writing on Twitter yesterday, presidential candidate and leader of the APC – Dr Samura Kamara said: “Democracy is participation and representation- the will of the people must be respected. The majority voice must be heard.

“We cannot accept fabricated figures. What is not in doubt, unlike the results announced by the Returning Officer Mr Mohamed K Konneh of ECSL is that – the West stands for democracy and Western Nations will stand up to protect democracy in Sierra Leone.

“All votes MUST be counted in a “transparent and accountable manner”. I continue to reject the result. It does not reflect the will of the people.

“On June 24 Sierra Leoneans came out and voted en-masse for change. Their democratic rights to choose and to be represented by a legitimate government must not only be respected but protected.

“I support our international partners – demanding transparency and accountability. God bless Sierra Leone.”

A statement published today by the APC National Secretary General Lansana Dumbuya reads as follows:

“The All People’s Congress (APC) hereby informs the general public that the Party shall not go to court over the disputed 24th June, 2023 polls because the APC has had a recurrent bad experience relating to the lack of impartiality and competence of the Sierra Leone Judiciary to provide redress for violations of electoral laws, processes and mandates.

The public would recall that All Peoples Congress (APC) categorically rejected the outcome of the June 24 elections owing to the blatant violations of the tallying, verification processes and the fact that the results are clearly inconsistent, irreconcilable and totally unacceptable.

Even a casual comparative analysis of what the ECSL announced and what the APC tallied shows widespread ballot stuffing and downright thieving of the APC votes.

In a normal society, the expectation would have been to seek redress in the court. Unfortunately, ours is a society where the president and his Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) have captured and dismantled the independence of the most critical national institutions to the extent that there is no chance of fairness and justice for the opposition.

Amongst other institutions, and as you have all witnessed during the course of the June 24 elections, the behaviour of the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL), the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) has confirmed this position.

Even more troubling, as in the above – mentioned institutions, the Judiciary of Sierra Leone (JSL) has demonstrated a relentless commitment to injustice borne out of an unbridle partisan loyalty. This lack of faith in the courts have also been raised by the wider public, several national and international observers and our development partners.

Such sad reality emanates, as will be listed below, from an aggregate of several facts and issues which have shown a deep lack of independence and fairness in the Judiciary of Sierra Leone.

Unassigned Cases

  1. Following the 2018 elections, the APC filed petitions at the Bo and Kenema High Court Registries, against 33 SLPP elected MPs on a number of issues ranging from dual citizens to election violence. The said matters were never heard. However, at that same time, the SLPP petitions against our MPs were heard by the same judiciary and a controversial ruling was made in favour of the SLPP – cancelling those elections.

Instead of ordering a rerun for the cancelled elections and the vacant seats, as provided by section 147 of the Public Elections Act 2012 and rule 45 sub-rule 3 of the Election Petition Rules 2007,(both provisions having now been repealed) the Court turned itself into a rogue electoral commission by replacing our ten APCs elected Parliamentarians with SLPP candidates who were a distance away runners-up in those elections.

In the case of the petition relating to Constituency 110 in the Western Area, where the runner up was a National Grand Coalition candidate, (not an SLPP candidate) the Court ordered a rerun in the hope that the SLPP will win the seat.

  1. In April 2018, the APC sought redress against malpractices in the presidential elections of that year. The chief Justice delayed assigning the case until three years later. Even with this administrative abuse of powers to assign, the Chief Justice assigned the case to himself, presided over same, wrote the judgement himself and disposed of the matter by throwing it out of court.

Other high profile political cases which the Chief Justice refused to assign to judges include:

  1. On the 3rd January 2019, the Sierra Leone Bar Association (SLBA), filed an application to the Supreme Court challenging the processes and procedures relating to the establishment of the Commissions of Inquiries (COI), the application was never listed for hearing;
  2. On 21st May 2019, Hon. Osman Abdulai Timbo and others filed a Supreme Court Application on section 78(2), and various other provisions of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone on the timeline within which parliamentary elections petitions could be heard and determined in the High Court. This matter was never assigned.
  3. In May 2019, Alhaji Kemoh Sesay and others v. Attorney General and others was filed under the supervisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court challenging the commencement of the COI by the Commissioners without Rules having been established according to section 150 of the Sierra Leone Constitution.
  4. On 21st day of February 2020, another Supreme Court application relating to section 78(4) and various provisions of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone on the timeline within which Parliamentary Elections petitions appeal could be heard and determined in the Court of Appeal. This matter was never assigned.
  5. On 7 June 2023, APC and Lansana Dumbuya filed a case against the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) and The Chief Electoral Commissioner, seeking the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone to produce the disaggregated voter register and to comply with provisions of the Public Elections Act 2022. This matter has not yet been assigned.
  6. On 12 June 2023, Mr Patrick John and the PMDC Party filed an application on the qualification of Mohamed Konneh to serve as the Chief Electoral Commissioner, it was never assigned.

It should be also noted that owing to its monumental failure to dispense justice fairly, the Judiciary is endeavouring to hoodwink the public and the International Community by claiming that they have listed more APC cases than any other party. We would like to highlight the fact that these cases being referred to relate to those involving APC members only. When it comes to disputes involving the APC and the SLPP, the rules are different.

We would not have ended up in this unpleasant chapter of the country’s democratic decline, particularly this electoral tragedy, if, for example, the Chief Justice had assigned to impartial judges the case relating to the conduct of ECSL and qualification of the Chief Electoral Commissioner.

The Chief Justice only assigns cases involving the APC to ‘special judges’ that are in cahoots with him to deliver ‘captured judgements. A captured judiciary can’t deliver a fair judgement.

Therefore, going to court for redress for the June 24 electoral violations will only result in a captured judgement. We will not legitimise the unlawfully proclaimed government by going to a judicial system headed by a captured chief Justice.

The APC has the evidence to prosecute a strong case against the ECSL and its thieving proclamation of candidate Maada Bio as winner. But the only way its faith could be restored in the judicial system is for the current Chief Justice to resign and for an uncaptured and independent panel of judges from Commonwealth countries who understand the common law and have no political affiliation to this Country to preside.

Other than that, as with the present set up, and the sad experience the APC has had so far with the Judiciary, we cannot go to that court. We shall stand on our decision of NOT recognizing the presidency of Julius Maada Bio and that we shall NOT participate in any level of governance until this unprecedented daylight electoral toppling of the people’s mandate is amicably and satisfactorily addressed.

Democracy and the rule of law have been dethroned in Sierra Leone as in Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Sudan. The threats are looming large in other countries in West Africa and across Africa.

If the world decides to look away and moves on, the APC shall continue to fight our battle but it should be noted that when democracy is left at the mercy of brute force, the outcome is autocracy and instability.

ONCE AGAIN, WE URGE ALL CHAMPIONS AND DEFENDERS OF DEMOCRACY AND THE RULE OF LAW TO RISE UP TO THE OCCASION to halt the dangerous usurpation of the will of the electorates.” End of statement.

As President Bio sets off for ECOWAS conference yesterday, the question of legitimacy after rigged polls show that he won the elections, must be  preoccupying his mind.

Former mayor of Freetown – Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr does not accept the rigged results either. Speaking on VOA Good Morning Africa Programme, this is what she said:

1 Comment

  1. The call of the opposition is litrally legitimate, for the international community to form a body of legal entity, presided by a foreign judge, for the release of the manipulated data.The right of the people to know that their democracy is not a smoke screen, but it’s the practical actuality of the truth matter of democracy process. Anything short of that, is null and void.

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