Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 August 2021:
At the High Court yesterday in Freetown, Justice Adrian J. Fisher who is presiding in the case involving Sierra Leone’s main opposition APC party strongman – Alfred Peter Conteh as plaintiff, and the defendants – Chairman and Leader of the APC party – Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and three others, acceded to the request of the defendants for more time to convene the party’s national emergency delegates conference.
According to Judge Fisher’s ruling, the convention must now be held on 17th to 19th September 2021 in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Court Order.
The Plaintiff – Peter Conteh, had applied for an interim injunction restraining Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma (1st defendant) Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh (2nd defendant) APC Party (3rd defendant) from holding any conference, convention or meetings geared towards selecting or electing delegates or candidates into the party executive for the day to day running of the APC Party.
Yesterday’s ruling follows the noncompliance by the defendants with the Court’s Orders dated the 19th day of April 2021, made upon an application by the defendants, specifically the 3rd defendant for a variation of the injunction granted on the 26th day of February 2021.
The defendants’ being dissatisfied with the ruling, sought leave to appeal against it to the Court of Appeal.
Counsel for the Plaintiff, Jesse M. Jengo, filed an affidavit in opposition sworn to on the 3rd day of August 2021.
On the 28th May 2021, Justice Fisher refused the application on the basis that he was satisfied that having reviewed the proposed grounds of appeal, there was “no arguable merits, principally on account of the fact that it was the defendants themselves who sought the variation of the injunction.” (Photo: Justice Fisher)
Upon the realization that the defendants were in breach of the orders of the court dated 19th April 2021, Justice Fisher noted that he did not accept the explanations provided by the 2nd defendant (APC National Secretary General) of the 3rd defendant as the evidence given on oath was inconsistent with his earlier sworn testimony in his affidavit and is therefore unreliable and not credible.
“I am satisfied that the real reason for breaching the orders of the 19th April 2021, was simply because the 2nd defendant and others were dissatisfied with the ruling and felt there was no need to comply as they believed they had good grounds of appeal and would be successful on appeal,” Justice Fisher stated.
He added that despite their noncompliance with his orders, he didn’t consider that the 3rd defendant should be punished for the conduct of the 2nd defendant for which he deemed it necessary to extend the time sought by the defendants.
Justice Fisher said, “I consider it appropriate to grant the extension of time sought by the defendants but upon the understanding that future breaches of the orders of the court would not be tolerated and where evidence of breaches of the orders are discovered of any orders I propose to make, I will not hesitate to apply the provisions of section 120(5) of the 1991 Constitution.”
Delivering his ruling, Justice Fisher ordered that, “there shall be an emergency delegates conference Technical Planning Committee, consisting of 21 members, whose sole function shall be to undertake the planning and preparation leading up to the emergency national delegates conference.”
In his directions on the composition of the said committee, the Justice Fisher ordered that the 3rd defendant shall nominate nine (9) representatives, plus the Chairman, who shall not be a member of the current executive, but an elderly and respected member of the 3rd defendant, making a total of ten members.
He stressed that the nominated representatives shall not include the 2nd defendant.
The judge further ordered the plaintiff to nominate four representatives, one of whom shall be the secretary to the Committee; that Diaspora membership of the party shall be entitled to nominate three representatives to serve on the committee; and the NRM who previously commenced litigation on this issue shall be entitled to nominate two members to serve on the committee.
Justice Fisher added that the 2nd and 3rd defendants shall ensure that the elections for the 20 delegates for the Women’s Congress, the 20 delegates for the Youth League and the five delegates from each constituency shall be concluded no later than Tuesday 31st August 2021 across the country.
Key among the additional Orders were for the 2nd defendant to publish the final delegates’ list on Wednesday 8th September 2021, and that the 2nd and 3rd defendant must convene an emergency national delegates conference commencing on the 17th September 2021 and ending on the 19th September 2021.