Kabs Kanu: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 November 2022:
It was Edmund Burke who famously wrote these immortal words that “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing ” (Photo above: Joseph F. Kamara).
The Supreme Court action by learned icons of the law, Dr. Abdulai Conteh , Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara and others, designed to stop the latest African dictator on the continent, President Maada Bio, from changing the rules at the middle of the elections game in an effort to rig next year’s Presidential, parliamentary and local council elections in Sierra Leone, is a much welcomed and hailed move that elicits many talking points for those who want to see our nation move forward.
President Bio, whose dictatorial and junta-styled leadership and human rights abuses have not only riled the international community but put Sierra Leone on the edge to another war, is insane and needs good men and women to challenge his maniacal and megalomanic bid to return our country to the bad, old days of jungle politics.
As Maada Bio was literally lectured by another esteemed lawyer in the person of the opposition majority leader of Parliament , Mr. Chernor Bah ( Chericoco ), the conditions for the Proportional Representation and Block Voting systems the reckless law breaker President Bio wants to introduce for next year’s elections do not exist , with regards to the Sierra Leone constitution. He postulated that ” This is a serious constitutional breach that will significantly reverse the gains we have made in strengthening democracy in Sierra Leone.”
Chericoco rightly lectured Bio that when the idea of the PR system was initially introduced in Parliament during the debate on the Public Elections Bill ( 2002 ), it received bitter reviews and rejection not only by MPs , but the general public, the media and civil society, which led to it being withdrawn in favour of the more democratic Constituency Voting system. Why does President Bio want to bring back a rejected and despised system of voting ?
SLPP sycophants argue that the PR system is enshrined in the Sierra Leone constitution but they fail to note that even when the amended Act 201 , Section 38A of the 1991 Constitution states that the President could use his discretional powers to consult with the National Elections Commission and conduct elections based on the existing districts, Section 38 Subsection (4) of the same constitution directs that the such action should only at intervals of not less than 5 years and not more than 7 years .
Mr. Bah rightly explained that it is not 5 years yet since the present constituencies were established. And even if the time is appropriate, the same constitution states that even where the system switch of the voting system had been approved by Parliament, it would only come into force at the next dissolution of Parliament. This means that this Parliament cannot ratify what Bio is asking for. There is no doubt that due to the ignorance of the head of state himself and his legal advisers, President Bio has failed to follow the constitutional provisions for directing that the PR replace the constituency system.
Since he came to power, President Bio (Photo) has shown no respect for the constitution, the rule of law and legal provisions. He has ruled Sierra Leone like his father’s cassava farm, through his junta proclivities as a former junta leader in the 1990s .
Since Bio and his team are ignorant and care little about respecting the constitution, it is therefore very refreshing that eminent citizens like Dr. Abdulai Conteh and JFK, who are former Attorney Generals and ministers of Justice of Sierra Leone, have decided to challenge President Bio and have taken him to the Supreme Court . Such noble interventions by men of high intellectual and professional calibre give hope to Sierra Leoneans that all is not lost in their country.
I was so delighted to hear that Dr. Abdulai Conteh , especially , has decided to come to the redemption of our nation . The spirits of many Sierra Leone have also been lifted up and they now believe that there are still good men and women in Sierra Leone ( Unlike the sell-outs , fortune hunters and shameless mercenaries like Abass Bundu , Alpha Kanu, Victor Foh and others ) ready to do something to stop evil men like President Bio from abusing the constitution and criminalizing the state and triumphing over our hapless people.
It is even more encouraging the fact that the very Dr. Abdulai Conteh — the internationally celebrated legal luminary who even served as Chief Justice of the Caribbean nation of Belize- was one of the framers and writers of the 1991 Sierra Leone Constitution. Who else understands the original intent of the Sierra Leone 1991 Constitution than Abdulai O. Conteh, who was one of the framers and drafters ? Who else can interpret the constitution better than Abdulai Conteh , who even produced an educative book on it ? Who else would interpret the original intent of the framers and drafters of the constitution better than Abdulai Conteh ?
The concept of Original Intent encapsulates the notion that the judiciary should interpret the constitution ,including its amendments, in accordance with the understanding of its framers. James Madison , one of the drafters of the U.S. constitution, also averred that ” future interpretation of the document should not rest primarily on the intentions of the framers but on the intentions of the people, who, through their state representatives, ratified the constitution. ” (The First Amendment Encyclopaedia by Derek H. Davies .
Abdulai Conteh is also well schooled in the intent of the people, through their MPs. Very interesting times await the nation at the Supreme Court.
Maada Bio is a master of the spirit of impunity because nobody challenges his dictatorial governance style. Since he came to power, he has killed innocent people with impunity and engaged in egregious and flagrant anti -people criminal activities because he seems to be getting away with everything. Let us see whether he will do so this time.
It is time that President Maada Bio is shown that Sierra Leone is not his personal fiefdom where he can do things as he pleases and tinker with laws and the constitution to satiate his megalomanic character and designs.
Some people would say that the decision by Dr. Abdulai Conteh , JFK and others to go to the Supreme Court is fruitless because the Maada Bio SLPP government has compromised the Sierra Leone judiciary and the Supreme Court is under his control. But Sierra Leoneans should see this legal action not as a one-off enterprise . It is the beginning of a journey that might end up in the ECOWAS Court. Besides, legal actions like these are for the records and they set the agenda for more comprehensive action against a despotic and fascist government .
The case is clear that the conditions no longer exist for reversion to the PR system. At the time the constitution was amended, giving the then President, Ahmed Tejan Kabbah, the discretional powers Bio was to misuse , war was prevalent in Sierra Leone and it was impossible to establish constituencies .We are no longer at war . Why does want Bio to change the Constituency Voting system now? What is he afraid of?
Sierra Leone is sitting on a timebomb , thanks to President Bio’s divisive and lawless governance but like it often happens to bullies, Bio will meet his match and it will not be funny.