Lawyers for suspended Auditor General Lara Taylor-Pearce challenge the legality of the inquiry

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 March 2022:

The Tribunal set up by President Bio to investigate allegations of professional misconduct against the suspended Auditor General, Mrs. Lara Taylor-Pearce and her Deputy – Mr Tamba Momoh, commenced sitting yesterday at the High Court Building in Freetown.

According to report from the Judiciary’s Communications unit and local reporters, the Chairperson of the Tribunal, Justice Nyawo Matturi-Jones opened yesterday’s session by outlining the mandate of the Tribunal, referencing Sections 137 & 119 of the Constitution.

The Auditor General-Lara Taylor Pearce was represented by Rowland Wright Esq. and the Deputy Auditor General-Tamba Momoh was represented by Mohamed Pa-Momoh Fofanah Esq. The Auditor General and the Deputy Auditor General were in attendance.

Rowland S.V. Wright Solicitor acting for Lara Taylor-Pearce said: “We are invited to appear without any published rules of procedure or rules of evidence and without any specific charges no witness statements”.

He submitted that “his client cannot submit to the jurisdiction of the tribunal. Certain papers were filed at Supreme Court which requires interpretation, and an application has been filed to stop these proceedings.

“We are questioning the jurisdiction of this panel. It is only the Supreme Court that is vested with the powers to interpret the constitution. So this matter has to be adjourned until the matter at the Supreme Court is determined by the Supreme Court,” Rowland Wright told the Tribunal.

Pa Momo Fofana lawyer for Tamba Momoh also raised objection based on section 3 of the Audit Service Act, saying: “it will be an action in futility if we proceed. we want to reinforce the jurisdictional objection with reference to the audit service Act section 3.”

Pa Momoh Fofanah Esq referenced Section 4 of the Audit Service Act of 2014, stating that the Deputy Auditor, “Tamba Momoh is not covered by the provision in the Constitution that set up this Tribunal.”

Court of Appeal Judge, Justice Ivan Sesay said the tribunal is not a social media inquiry but one for which, “we are mandated to conduct an inquiry for alleged misconduct.” He therefore encouraged the general public to allow due process or the right thing to be done.

“Help us to maintain justice and good practice. We have a purpose so please allow us to do justice. Please allow us to do our work as prescribed for by the Constitution applicable to this Tribunal,” said Justice Ivan Sesay.

He also said that the inquiry itself has not properly started to warrant the submissions of both lawyers. He reiterated that the Inquiry Team will establish Rules of Procedures to guide the entire process.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohamed Lamin Tarawally reassured of an impartial process, adding that “it is not a witch hunt.”

The Inquiry was adjourned to 7th April, 2022.

1 Comment

  1. This so called tribunal set up to investigate the AG & DAG is a total waste of time and resources. Serious governments would rather address the findings and opinions of auditors rather than blaming them for holding public sector institutions to account.
    The charge of professional misconduct is rather vague and will be difficult to prove given the circumstances. Right thinking Sierra Leoneans lost faith in this government in what amounts to an abuse of power. This paopa way of kangaroo courts and false accusations is to say the least a disgrace.
    We have let ourselves down as a nation in the type leaders we vote in to office.

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