26 November 2014
When the judiciary, vested with the authority to interpret the law and to administer justice, is itself embroiled in controversy involving no other but the chief Justice, it tells a story of how corrupt and injudicious our country’s judicial system has become.
Much was made by President Koroma and his supporters, following the appointment of Chief Justice Umu Tejan Jalloh to head the Supreme Court.
And in his euphoria, the President himself did not fail to remind us that he is the only President in the country’s history to elevate women to positions of power.
Also in the midst of this chest thumping, the President did not fail to remind us of other notable women, like the then ministers of Energy and Health respectively – all rumoured to be his girlfriends.
At the time, very little was known about Chief Justice Umu Tejan Jalloh. And for some of us who were not familiar with her pedigree, we expected members of the judiciary to ask some though provoking questions. But did they?
No one, not even our so-called eminent lawyers at the time, stopped to question her qualification, and the polarizing effect this appointment will have on our judicial system.
Many thought wrongly, as we have come to realize, that having a woman heading the Supreme Court will somehow usher change and bring in the much needed reforms that will improve our judicial system.
After all, being a woman does not preclude the holder of public office from the temptations of impropriety and breach of standards in public life. The ability of the holder of public office, must be judged by the contents of their character and competence – not by their gender or tribe.
However, under the leadership of Chief Justice Umu Tejan Jalloh, I will submit that our court system has not fared any better.
In fact, I think it has become more corrupt because of her lack of moral and constitutional leadership.
Under her tenure, the Supreme Court has become more beholden to the executive arm.
Cases involving government and party officials have invariably been thrown out – based on so called ‘technicality’, while others still pending, will never see the insides of the court room.
Even after the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and Bar Association have made submissions in an effort to clear this debacle, her ladyship under the patronage of his Excellency, has not seen it fit to step down from her position.
This disgraceful conduct by no less a person, who is expected to know the law, is capable of destroying the tenet of our constitution and by extension the rule of law.
Every day we hear stories of malfeasance involving the abuse of power by this President.
And what is frustrating, is that our Members of Parliament have abdicated their role and function, which is to ensure good and accountable governance in the country.
His silence will only serve to strengthen the rumour, that he is willing to do anything to cling on to power.
It appears he is more concerned about his image, than upholding the constitution which, he swore to protect.
But the day of reckoning will come, if he chooses to violate the country’s constitution or go against the will of the people, as it was with his friend – Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso.