Abu Shaw: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 February 2018:
Sierra Leone is so divided at present that observers fear the jittery APC government is woefully planting seeds of violence and chaos. The division of deep-seated hatred presently brewing in Sierra Leone and overseas is only likened to the dark era of the heinous 10-year-old civil war when Sierra Leone was plunged into a very bloody tribal, regional, political and ideological factions that left a trail of untold sufferings and destruction in the country.
Today, a month to the much unpredictable presidential elections on March 7, the cocky but jittery ruling APC government has stooped so low again to trigger the controversial Dual Citizenship clause in the Sierra Leone Constitution to disenfranchise their most feared opponent in Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella KKY, the leader of the National Grand Coalition NGC.
Observers believe, the APC party has taken the NGC leader to the Supreme Court simply because of fear of losing the March 7 presidential elections as Yumkella, the fastest growing popular presidential candidate in recent times, is leading in opinion polls to win the elections.
APC is now looking up to the Supreme Court judges to ban KKY from contesting elections on the flimsy Dual Citizenship excuse.
The persistent APC government’s petition against KKY had previously been turned down twice by the National Elections Commission NEC because the NEC did not see any constitutional reason why KKY should be banned from exercising his inalienable rights to vote and to be voted for as a born and bred Sierra Leonean. NEC therefore overruled the APC government’s baseless petition for lack of sufficient evidence against the defendant.
The enraged APC government, consisting of the most corrupt politicians ever assembled in Sierra Leone history, is becoming a laughing stock in the eyes of the international community for this dual citizenship issue.
And the APC’s shameful clampdown on Sierra Leone citizens who reside abroad is also making their presidential candidate Dr. Samura Kamara more unpopular. And unfortunately, this corrupt government is being propped up by some educated fools in the media who jealously labelled themselves as ‘Homebase’.
As a result, thousands of Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora are visibly angry that the APC government is targeting them for simply being Dual Citizens.
Many Sierra Leoneans have now concluded that this latest segregated stance by the APC against Diasporans is a divisive, disrespectful, provocative, unfair ploy that has all the hallmarks of the same causes that led to the 10-year-old civil war (1991-2002) in the country.
Regrettably, the corrupt APC has succeeded in breeding bad blood among Sierra Leoneans by dividing the country in to Homebase and Diaspora. Blind APC campaigners are hiding behind the Sierra Leone Constitution to ridiculously argue that the Homebase are more patriotic than the Diasporans.
Observers are succinctly worried that this ugly scenario created by the APC has the propensity to degenerate in chaos and violence if sane political and legal judgement could not be reached amicably. And very soon.
The APC government’s Plan-B to seek favourable jurisdiction at the Supreme Court is a direct challenge and retaliation to the outcome of the National Electoral Commission’s ruling that favours the NGC leader.
Jittery President Ernest Koroma and his corrupt cabal were overconfident of winning the petition initially filed by one of its APC losers in the person of Mr. Abu Bakarr Sankoh who contested against the NGC presidential candidate Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella for constituency 062 parliamentary seat in Kambia District.
Poor Abu Sankoh lost in the race as Dr. Yumkella was nominated to represent constituency 062 in Kambia. But the panicky APC immediately petitioned the results on the excuse that Dr. Yumkella is a dual citizenship holder and urged the NEC to automatically disqualify Dr. Yumkella from running for parliament thus making him unlawful to also run for president.
However, after thorough deliberations by the NEC on Wednesday January 24, 2018, the petition was thrown out on the grounds of insufficient evidence. When NEC’s final petition result was announced, there was wild jubilation on the streets in Kambia as hundreds of NGC supporters in and outside the country celebrated the positive outcome.
To nail the APC coffin, the NEC Chairman Mohamed Nfa Alie Conteh recently endorsed the NEC ruling which infuriated the APC thus prompting them to seek redress at the Supreme Court.
“What the APC government is failing to understand is the fact that any time they touch Yumkella, they are touching Diasporans and millions of Sierra Leoneans back home.
KKY is just one person, but he is the symbol of hope standing against the APC corruption and oppression,” according to viewpoints expressed by Sierra Leone electorates.
Nevertheless, the stone-hearted APC party could not succumb to reality despite efforts by prominent legal minds in Sierra Leone who continue to admonish them about the implications and difficulties in disenfranchising the NGC leader. Read their analyses below:
Two of Sierra Leone’s best legal minds Mr. Abu Bakarr Orkailkail Bangura and lawyer Francis Gabiddon have come to the defence of the National Grand Coalition NGC leader Dr. Kandeh Yumkella by warning the ruling APC government to back off for the party’s own good.
Lawyer Abu Bakarr Bangura dubbed the APC petition on Yumkella as a legal miscalculation. I am shocked to hear that the APC party has filed a petition against Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella’s candidacy.
I recently posted a commentary supporting the views expressed by Lawyer Francis Gabiddon on the dual citizenship issue. I stated that the constitution is the supreme law of the land and consequently, any law that is inconsistent with provisions of the constitution law is invalid to the extent of the inconsistency.
Since the 2006 Citizenship Act neither addressed nor contradict provisions of the constitution. Section 76(1) of the Constitution is still valid and will remain in force until amended. However, it would be a total miscalculation with far-reaching ramifications for the APC party to petition the candidacy of Kandeh Yumkella.
The APC party/government had over 50 dual citizens who served as MPs in the recently dissolved Parliament, and there are still people with dual citizenship and foreign nationals serving as Ministers in the current government in flagrant violation of section 76 of the Constitution.
The effect of this violation is that any law that was passed by a Sierra Leone Parliament with illegal MPs (foreign nationals or dual citizens) is void ab initio. The same also goes for all nominations approved or confirmed by the said Parliament.
This means the entire country has been operating illegally for the past ten years. To put the extent of this illegality into perspective I will give just a few examples.
THE SUPREME COURT
All or most of the judges in the current Supreme Court of Sierra Leone were confirmed by the last two parliament which had illegal MPs. This means that the confirmation of such judges is illegal, and consequently those judges are illegally serving in the Supreme Court. This makes it very complicating for an illegal Supreme Court whose Judges were confirmed in violation of Section 76 of the Constitution to hear a petition against the nomination of a candidate alleged to be in violation of the same Section 76. Also, since all or most judges of lower courts were also approved by the Sierra Leone Parliament in the last ten years, it would be apt to say that all judgments/decisions given by the Sierra Leone courts in the past ten years are illegal.
Since all Cabinet Ministers, except the Attorney General have to be approved by Parliament, it is obvious that all ministers who have served in the past ten years have done so illegally by virtue of them being approved by an illegal Parliament. All Contracts/Agreements (mining, debts, international agreements) entered into by the government in the last 10 years are illegal. Again, all actions of National Electoral Commission NEC approved by an illegal parliament including the registration of voters are illegal. The list goes on.
These are just some of the implications of a petition against Dr. Yumkella. It would be like opening a Pandora’s box. According to the famous equitable maxim, he who comes to equity must come with cleans hands.
The APC does not have clean hands because APC has violated Section 76 in the past 10 years and the violation continues with dual citizens/foreign national currently serving as ministers.
The APC lawyers that, suddenly have become moral guarantors of the constitution should hold their heads in shame as Section 76 has always been alive. YOU CANNOT FILE A PETITION FOR A VIOLATION OF A LAW THAY YOU HAVE CONSISTENTLY VIOLATED AND STILL VIOLATING. You cannot complain about the snow in your neighbour’s house while your doorstep is unclean.
PRESIDENT KABBAH SUPPORTED YUMKELLA’S CANDIDACY FOR UNIDO
When it was Africa’s turn to choose the Director General of UNIDO, Dr. Yumkella was one of Africa’s candidates who met the Criteria to declare for the position. As a Sierra Leone, his government had to recommend him to the African Union.
It was the late SLPP government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, of blessed memory, who recommended Dr. Yumkella’s bid as President of Sierra Leone not Ernest Bai Koroma of the APC.
Even President Kabbah recommended Dr. Yumkella after the President of the African Union, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria then, had presented Yumkella to the African Union (AU) as Africa’s choice out of 6 other candidates for the UNIDO job. That was April of 2005 and Dr. Yumkella became Director General of UNIDO in December of 2005. He also won it for the second term with the blessing of his motherland Sierra Leone.
My advice to the APC government/party and the judiciary is that let sleeping dogs lie and let Section 76 be applied henceforth and not retrospectively.
Courtesy: Abu Bakarr Orkailkail Bangura – BA, LLB (UNDA), GDLP, LLM (USYD), LLM (UNSW), PhD in Law Cand. (UNSW)
How Lawyer Gabiddon Vindicated Yumkella on the Ridiculous APC Petition
Prominent Sierra Leone lawyer Francis Gabiddon, who raised the constitutionality of dual citizens, has an excellent advice for the APC government. He writes:
Fellow citizens, my attention has been drawn to an objection raised by a fine Sierra Leonean, Mr. Abu Bakarr Sankoh (the APC candidate), with regards to the legality of Dr. Kandeh Yumkella’s voter registration.
I must state at the outset that Mr. Sankoh’s reason and underlying legal argument is simply untenable and, or frivolous. His reliance on section 76(1) of the 1991 constitution as the sole basis of his objection, is misguided and ill informed. Section 76(1) does not in any way relate to a citizen’s right to become a registered voter. Rather, it deals with a citizen’s eligibility for election into parliament. The right to be voted for.
Assuming arguendo, that Mr. Sankoh’s objection was intended to challenge Dr. Yumkella’s eligibility for registration as an elector, how about reference to sections 4 and 7(a) of the Electoral Laws Act of 2002? Perhaps more germane to this subject is section 7 (a)of the Act. It stipulates, in essence, that “No person shall be registered as an elector or, having been registered as such, shall be entitled to vote at any election if he is-a non citizen.”
Now, turning to the pivotal question of citizenship, which regrettably, Mr. Sankoh did not raise in his objection. The Citizenship Act of 1973 (as amended) is quite explicit in its definition of the phrase ‘citizen of Sierra Leone ‘. Section 2 of that Act provides as follows : “Every person who having been born in Sierra Leone before the 19th day of April 1971 …shall be deemed a citizen of Sierra Leone by birth – Provided that his father or grandfather was born in Sierra Leone; and he is a person of negro African descent…”
Reading section 2 of the 1973 Act, in tandem with the Dual Citizenship Act of 2006, should be enough to convince all and sundry that no further elucidation is required . The new Section 19(A) of the Dual Citizenship Act unmistakably allows any citizen of Sierra Leone to resume his citizenship status, in the event he/she has acquired the citizenship of a foreign country by any voluntary or formal act. Consequently Dr. Yumkella, and all dual citizens who are registered as electors for the forthcoming election, can and may vote. No law prohibits them from doing so.
Finally, let me reiterate that attempts to apply the law in a discriminatory and disparate fashion will, as a matter of public policy, not serve our country well. We fought for and gained peace at a very heavy price.
This is time for all Sierra Leoneans to coalesce as a nation and endeavour to forge a more perfect union. We must continue to build our democracy, understanding that we are one nation under God, indivisible. TOGETHER AS ONE.Humbly submitted. Courtesy: Lawyer Francis Gabidon
About the author
Abu Shaw is the publisher of www.theorganiser.net online newspaper.