Hermin Mario Mans: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 March 2018:
Sierra Leoneans will head to the polls in two days to elect a new president, new parliament and local council executives. However, as they wait patiently to cast their vote, they are closely watching the actions of the Supreme Court as they decide two cases before them.
One of the cases seeks an interpretation of certain clauses in the Constitution, directed at the NGC presidential candidate, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella. The other, is an outright petition that states specifically why the selected APC presidential candidate, Samura Kamara, is in fact, not qualified to run for the office of the Presidency.
Given that the current lame-duck President, Ernest Bai Koroma, has a reputation for pressuring or corrupting the judiciary to carry out his wishes, the majority of Sierra Leoneans are worried that they see a re-occurrence or a return to the 70s – one party state.
During Koroma’s ten year rule, he has personally led efforts and succeeded in manipulating the country’s judicial system, interfering with judges’ right to dispense justice in a free, fair and transparent manner.
He has appointed judges who are solidly pro -All Peoples Congress (APC). (Photo: Samura Kamara).
Chief Justice Abdulai Charm, for instance, was a card carrying member of the ruling party, who in 2002 contested for an APC parliamentary seat. Justice Vivian Solomon’s strong affiliation to the APC is not even a secret.
It is also clear that President Koroma is personally involved in ensuring that Kandeh Yumkella, the NGC flag-bearer, is not on the ballot.
In fact, the Supreme Court has made extra efforts to get the wishes of President Koroma done, while they have deliberately delayed the case against Samura Kamara’s disqualification as a presidential candidate.
President Koroma’s machination go as far as bringing in Justice Nyawo Jones, who is retired to sit on the bench, even though there are substantive judges.
In a judicial system where partisan politics has become the order of the day, NGC lawyers have shown extraordinary courage to raise issues that have to a large extent been the elephant in the room.
They have pointed out the very obvious partisan affiliation of at least one judge and moved the Court for recusal of that judge. The Chief Justice is believed to have recused himself from the case.
Throughout this campaign, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella – NGC flag-bearer, has made it a point of duty to stress the importance of a free, fair and independent Judiciary.
This is a prerequisite for the development of our country. Kudos to the NGC lawyers who are working hard to ensure that our justice system is not only independent, but it is seen and perceived to be so.
The Supreme Court will sit again today – Monday, 5 March, after it was adjourned last Friday, to hear defense counsel’s appeal for recusal..