Chief Justice denies allegation of interfering in the Palo Conteh treason trial 

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 June 2020:

Sierra Leone’s social media rumour mill went into overdrive three days ago, when a post was circulated by an unknown author alleging that the country’s Chief Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards “tries to interfere with Palo Treason trial Jurors”. (Photo above: Chief Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards). 

But a statement has been issued by the media and public relations department of the Judiciary, denying the allegation and describing it as “a calculated ploy to run a campaign of calumny and to reduce public trust and confidence in the judiciary”.

Published as a breaking news story, the post alleging that the Chief Justice tried to interfere with the Palo treason trial case, reads:

“The Chief Justice of the Republic,  Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards in the morning of 8th June 2020,  just before the Jurors were summoned to Court made a surprise visit to their deliberation  room.

“Report reaching us indicates that the Chief Justice is concerned about the lack of evidence against Palo Conteh and the poor performance exhibited by state prosecutor in the ongoing Palo Treason trial.  He admonished the jurors that they should return a guilty verdict against Palo and others to save the blushes of the President.

“He said “if whona acquit Palo, whona go embarrass the president. Wetin whona for do is follow the direction of the judge.  The judge go gee whona direction for convict Palo.  After that President go pardon Palo en dat go gee President more status as a man wey want peace.  President tell me say e nor go kill Palo if whona convict am. So whona nor fraid for return a guilty verdict.

“This is not the first time The Chief Justice has been accused of ‘Nobbling with officers of the Court’.  He tries to influence each and every case that attracts interest from the ruling government. A Senior Supreme Court Judge notes that Chief Justice Babatunde Edwards is the most political Chief Justice that has darkened the walls and corridors of the Temple of Justice at Siaka Stevens Streets.”

This is a statement issued by the media and public relations department of the Judiciary in response:

15 Comments

  1. In my personal opinion, the defense team of the Insane former Defense and Interior Minister, who is also a retired professional Army Officer and a Barrister who understands the Laws of our country, has no defense unless MENTAL PROBLEMS OR INSANITY. They have unsuccessfully tried to question the qualifications of our “ STEEL LADY” Mrs Priscilla Schwartz who is the first woman in the history of our nation to serve as the Attorney General, and now they are also trying to destroy the Integrity and Credibility of our “NO NONSENSE” Hon. Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards.

    The APC party propaganda machine who I personally believe is behind this destructive propaganda will never give credit to this HONORABLE MAN. With regards to the Newspaper (the Organiser) that published the article, they are notorious and specialized APC propaganda machine that published lies dsuch as: “the Paolo Conteh trial has been moved to the SLPP strongholds in the South East” and “SN Brussels will not resume flight to Sierra Leone because President Bio named the APC party as terrorists”.

    Let’s continue to hope and pray that the the jury will give justice which the defense is trying to prevent by either convincing the Judge to throw out the case or to discredit the judgment of jurors before the deliberation because they know that what Paolo Conteh did is indefensible, and because of foolish pride they refused to plead INSANITY which will probably be better. Finally, The Late President Tejan Kabba who is a Alhaji did not pardon the people that attempted to Kill him so why should Retired Brigadier Maada Bio pardoned a Retired soldier if found guilty of planning to kill him? I believe that President Bio should follow the footsteps of the late President Kabba if he is serious about restoring laws and order, peace and stability in our country.

  2. Babatunde Edwards as he calls himself is out for revenge, says one of his so-called church members from New Life Ministries Ross Road. According to the Protocol Manager of Newlife Ministry Babatunde was once maltreated by the previous govt. Anyway your Chief Justice of Sierra Leone Babatunde Edwards is a registered member of the SLPP – so what do you expect.

  3. A nation that is rotten to it’s innermost core with corrupt tendencies and unethical, impermissible, underhanded practices, that’s who we really are. This shifty, shadowy Chief Justice Edwards is digging himself and the criminal SLPP, deeper and deeper into holes they will never be able to get out of by his suspicious, dubious, questionable interferences in the ongoing Paolo Conteh trial.

    Who cares if this corrupt and incompetent President becomes eventually disgraced, tarnished and humiliated by his lack of good judgement that has totally engulfed him like a raging fire out of control, as they embark on their quest for revenge and settling scores? Folks, might as well count these years of the SLPP being in power as wasted years; unfruitful, barren, unproductive years – for they are a crappy, lousy bunch of tribalistic good for nothings!

    • Who cares if it was was a propaganda, all we know there’s nothing called justice system in our mother land anymore. Bio should set Paolo free period.

  4. I often wonder how we Sierra Leoneans, are easily led to believe in things that never existed. We seemed to be cocooned in an island telling ourselves all is well. The problem is the others. Throughout the history of political trials or any trial for that matter, our judiciary has never been independent. I challenge anyone to name me one. Indeed, Foday Sankoh was implicated in one of the manufactured coups of the 1970 against the then APC government of Pa. Siaka, in which people were tried and executed. Foday Sankoh, got away lightly with a long prison sentence. That feeling of injustice made him feel the need for revenge against the state.

    If we have a robust judicial system, the chief justice would not need to put out a press release, that the rumours will undermine public confidence. We never had confidence in the system in the first place. So there is nothing to worry about Mr Chief Justice. Instead of saying it undermined public confidence, he should be saying it reinforces our beliefs that the judiciary is rotten to the core. The challenge for him now as the chief justice, is to ask himself how do I restore public confidence? So when Jo average in the street feels he has been wronged, by a minister and brings his case against that minister or powerful politicians, he should be confident the judiciary would deliver the correct verdict.

    In the vast majority of cases, it never happens. The ordinary man and woman are always left nursing a double whammy of injustice. So he or she is left asking, what was the point of going to court? This case against Paolo Conteh is like a game of brinkmanship. Who blinks first. If there is ever a case to restore public confidence in our judiciary, this is it. The Paolo Conteh case is a classic example. The judges should go with the evidence before them and if he is guilty, so be it. But if he is innocent, they should acquit him. Then at least we will say the system works. It should never be the case where a trial opens and the majority of the population thinks it is a forgone conclusion, that the individuals accused are guilty. We have to suspend our beliefs till the end.

    • Boys you’ve it all. God bless. The last independent Judiciary we had in sierra Leone was the 67/68 bench. Late during Tejan Kabbah’s reign, a semblance of that independence was about to repeat itself when Desmond Luke was made chief Justice. Unfortunately for Tejan, Desmond was not one of those pushovers and was immediately thrown. out.
      We’ve never really experienced anything call independent judiciary, so there is nothing strange to us about Babatunde’s advances and gestures. Like the police, the judiciary is directed and used by the executive. The phrase, “Orders from above” is what both entities uses to silence sierra Leoneans. How could you arrest as suspect in a misdemeanour offence even before obtaining any corroborating witness statement- yah that happens in Freetown every day.

  5. Fellow Sierra Leoneans, do we really think that the Chief Justice will be distracted by any social media publication of rumours and not execute his mandate justifiably? When it comes to Paolo Conteh’s treason trial, the prosecution has the burden to prove that their allegations against the accused is brought before the court. As long as that is done, it is now left with the defense team to argue otherwise, in the best interest of their client. As far as the trial is going, the public is informed and as it is, there is no way the Chief Justice is going to influence the outcome. Meanwhile, the public is now awaiting the defense team to prove whether or not the prosecution, based on the evidences by the 13 witnesses so far against Paolo is enough.

    • “ Fellow Sierra Leoneans, do we really think that the Chief Justice will be distracted by any social media publication of rumours and not execute his mandate justifiably? ”

      Mr. Koroma, if that is not the case, why the press release? Also, if you indeed believe we have independent judiciary in our nation, just name one chief justice or particular instance we as a nation have observed such. Awaiting your answers.

    • Terrible stuff! With all due respect Mr Morris S Koroma, the public is not waiting for anything other than the video evidence. Why for heaven’s sake has the prosecution refused to make the video evidence public? Releasing the video evidence will allow the public, the world and the more than 26000 readers of this globally respected online Newspaper daily, decide who is right or who is wrong. We are now living in a world, where video evidences are solving judicial matters that would have otherwise been one sided. By the way, the defense team asked for it a long time ago, but received bogus excuses.
      Even when people see the colour white, they say it’s black. That has to stop to save our country from chaos and anarchy. Again, let them make the video evidence public or release the gallant Rtd Major Paolo Conteh and Ms Isata Saccoh forthwith.

    • Brother Morris thank you so much without hate speech. My own personal opinion about this treason trial against Paolo Conteh process will come to an end with everyone’s satisfaction. The question is, why he decided to carry a hidden loaded weapon in his bag pack to the president’s conference room, after he was invited? You know why, we are prolonging this trial today because of the democracy. As someone was comparing Bio’s administration to North Korea last week, I wish if these accusations were in North Korea today. Let’s give this man some credit, hand over power to an elected civilian without one blood drop, and exit the country to USA for Kabba to run the country easily.

      Here is my other personal opinion, the APC party leadership and supporters trying to tanish Bio’s image to the whole world as he was already black mailed as a murderer, but thank God he’s a man of peace and his enemies will ever be unhappy. Another secret is this, APC wanted to get rid of Paolo Conteh any how. The day he was arrested he requested saying “I wanted to make a phone call” and he did call two prominent high profiles in the party, but both of them rejected his calls.

      H.E. former president Ernest B. Koroma gave a big promise to run this country as a business concern. Where is the victory, taking his family abroad, purchasing secret houses? Is this the business concern he promised the country?

  6. Because our gallant and one of the greatest decorated military officers ever – Rtd Major Paolo Conteh has done nothing wrong. Their new strategy is to find ways of incriminating and sentencing him with bogus evidence, paving the way for a bogus pardon and finally portraying themselves as the hypocrite champions of peace. That strategy won’t fly, because the whole world knows what happened. Again, make the video evidence of the incident public or release our gallant Rtd Major Paolo Conteh and Ms Isata Saccoh forthwith. God bless, help and protect Rtd Major Paolo Conteh and Ms Isata Saccoh. Unconditional release of the gallant Rtd Major Paolo Conteh and Ms Isata Saccoh, is the only way out of this excellent cooked treason plot, botched up judiciary masquerade, human rights violations and a nightmare political mess for the Bio SLPP.

  7. The judiciary writer who authors the press release ignorantly thinks the citizens of Sierra Leone are morons. In our nation’s contemporary history, when did we actually have a chief justice that serves the nation independently and administers justice accordingly, without favors or political considerations? Please my fellow Sierra Leoneans, just name me one chief justice in recent history that can stand tall and proclaim that, he/she administers justices especially in political cases with no influence from the executive branch.

    The fact remains, just as chief justice Abdulai charm was following orders from former president Koroma, current chief justice Desmond Edwards has been no different with his open record of refusing to list any case petitioned by the opposition in the last 2 years. So please Mr/Ms author, stop fooling yourself because the people of Sierra Leone are not idiots.

    • I read almost all the comments and I thank you Mr Sesay and Mr Matturi for your thought out comments. I pray that ALL countries will adhere to the FREEDOM of a non-violent FREE SPEECH. How important it is NOW than ever. Mr Sesay, I am glad you acknowledged to the WORLD the democratic qualities of President Bio. After the coup, he gave the power to an elected civilian president to rule without any BLOODSHED, I think that speaks volumes of his leadership – PEACEFUL which was the right thing to do.

      Nothing wrong per se with those policies, but you want to STRATEGIZE your policy to get the OPTIMUM EFFECTIVENESS IN BOTH THE LONG AND SHORT TERMS. That said, you forgot to also mention when he lost the flagbearership to Belewa (I wish I had known at that time, he was opting for it he would have be better choice for his party). He did NOT leave the party or undermine it, so I also believe he will let TRUE JUSTICE be served in Mr Conteh’s case. To Mr Matturi, I agree with you about the tape of the incident to be made public, which can really help to shed light on this case. However, remember it was taken in a secured environment. so there may be some restrictions in delivering or showing it to the public. But I believe Mr Conteh’s defence team which I am made to understand is a “TOUGH” team, will ask for the tape to be seen.

      No matter that some people do not like or agree with president Bio, do not forget that he did NOT bring this case on Mr Conteh. It was either Mr Conteh’s own forgetfulness, carelessness or recklessness. He brought the gun to State House which he knows was wrong. He was a former defense minister; when he declared it and the guards on duty told him it was ok to take it with him, he knew it was NOT ok at all. Why he did not INSIST on leaving it at the first security desk where he declared it? I would not want anything to happen to him since the whole situation seems “murky” to me and we live in a murky world today. About the Chief Justice, I do not know him, but the comment sounds like a made up story EXCEPT if I am wrong.

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