Sam Sumana and the ECOWAS Court ruling – I break my silence

Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden (OOR): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 January 2020:

I am breaking my silence on this issue. At the time the ECOWAS judgment was issued some two years ago on 27th November 2017,  I had been unfairly and painfully sacked as Cabinet Minister just 4 days earlier.

Not even my highly commended role of few weeks earlier, in singularly taking lead to stem Ajisafe/Mufti Menk saga that would have proven to be our country’s biggest religious challenge was to count, as I got dumped like a canine who lacked any value worth retaining.

It was a watershed moment that left me with no energy to discuss ECOWAS Court judgment. I have since forgiven all who hurt me. I am merely explaining the reason for my silence over a critical national issue that I would normally have commented on back in November 2017.

Today, I have decided to break my silence in defence of my party, the All Peoples Congress (APC) and in further defence of Former President Koroma, the outgoing Chairman & Leader of the APC. It is time to set the records straight and end the pernicious twisting of our country’s narrative on those issues.

First of all, I, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, a trustworthy compatriot and Officer of the Order of the Rokel of the Republic of Sierra Leone, want to be on record to state very clearly that the ECOWAS Court never indicted the All Peoples Congress (APC) in its judgment on the Sam Sumana case. That never happened! (Photo: Dr Sylvia Blyden).

Secondly, contrary to false claims spurn mostly by SLPP elements to score political points and make APC unpopular enough to be voted out of governance, the raw truth is that the ECOWAS Court actually upheld decisions taken by the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone in process of interpreting the constitutionality of the Sam-Sumana matter.

Under our national constitution, a man cannot be without a party membership and yet continue to serve as our Vice-President of Sierra Leone. Simple!

The power of President Koroma to remove Sam-Sumana and appoint Victor Foh was fully recognised by ECOWAS Court. People need to read and understand that ECOWAS judgement.

Every single one of the ECOWAS judges in that case stated their signed endorsement that President Koroma had the full constitutional power and fullest authority to remove his Vice-President if the VP was no longer a member of a political party.

Please pay attention to what the ECOWAS Judges wrote on Pages 16 to 17 of their 25 page judgement. They said and I quote:

“The constitutionality or otherwise of the act of the President in this matter is not in dispute…The powers of the President to remove and reappoint another person into the office of Vice-president” arose from 6th March 2015 but “did not become exercisable i.e. it was not ripe for execution” because Sam-Sumana “had the right to exhaust his right of appeal before the national delegates conference”.

ECOWAS Court actually endorsed constitutional powers to any sitting Sierra Leone President to replace his Vice President if his Vice-President is expelled from his political party. This is what ALL the ECOWAS judges said on Pages 16-17 and which is just what the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone had also stated.

Further on Page 19 of the ECOWAS judgement, the Judges stated of President Koroma’s powers to remove VP Sam-Sumana that, and again I quote: “This powers, to the mind of the [ECOWAS] Court, has been rightfully exercised.”

People should go and read Pages 16, 17 and 19 of the ECOWAS Court Judgment. ECOWAS Court said President Koroma had the full constitutional right and authority to remove his Vice-President.

Throughout his ten-years tenure as president, he may have breached some other few laws of the land but the truth is that President Ernest Koroma cannot be easily accused of breaching the Sierra Leone Constitution and he certainly did NOT breach the Constitution in the case of the removal of Sam-Sumana. Simple!

However, whilst recognising his full constitutional powers and authority to remove his Vice-President, the ECOWAS court condemned Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in his capacity as the then President of Sierra Leone, for removing Sam Sumana as Vice-President before Sam’s right to appeal was exhausted inside APC. That was all!

The ECOWAS Court never said APC’s National Advisory Committee (NAC) followed wrong procedures to expel Sam Sumana. It never did. In fact, the ECOWAS Court made it clear that the issues around the decision of the APC and its NAC were procedurally correct. So people need to read that ECOWAS judgment and stop the insidiously dangerous attacks on All Peoples Congress based on lies.

All what the ECOWAS Court said was that our brother, Chief Sam-Sumana, at the time he was relieved, still had a chance to appeal above the level of NAC so President Koroma should have waited for that right to appeal to be exhausted before President Koroma took action to remove the party-less VP as his VP.

But is that really so? Did President Koroma really need to have waited? I submit NOT! I submit that President Koroma did not need to wait to exercise his constitutional powers to remove his Vice-President.

President Koroma’s problem, as I see it, is that Koroma failed to defend his action to the esteemed Judges of the ECOWAS Court, so the judges ruled against Koroma since they only had one side to listen to.

If only President Koroma had sent Lawyers to defend him at the ECOWAS Court, they would have drawn the attention of the ECOWAS Court to the APC Constitution’s Article 6.9.3(i)&(ii) and Article 6.10.11.1(iv)&(vi) which inter-alia, automatically transforms NAC from the second highest body into the highest body during “special and emergency situations”. Sierra Leone at the time was under a State of Emergency with severe restrictions in place due to the Ebola virus outbreak.

But that is all now water under the bridge. Ernest Koroma failed to defend himself and ECOWAS ruled against him. Life goes on.

However, it is also important to recall that the NAC decision was indeed appealed by Chief Sam-Sumana to the National Delegates Conference. The APC’s NAC took the decision to expel Chief Sam-Sumana on 6th March 2015. Towards the end of March 2015, Chief Sam-Sumana wrote to the APC’s National Delegates Conference, through the Secretary General, to appeal the expulsion.

Immediately thereafter, in April 2015, an Emergency National Delegates Conference of APC was summoned to discuss the Ebola Emergency crisis during which the Appeal of Sam-Sumana was tabled at the Conference. The records show Sam-Sumana was legitimately expelled and the legitimate expulsion got endorsed at that APC conference to which Chief Sam-Sumana was invited but declined to attend.

Sam-Sumana’s expulsion from APC was unanimously approved by delegates of that APC’s highest decision making body on 30th April 2015 and the matter got closed at that level. It can only be re-opened at that level and not at the level of NAC which no longer has jurisdiction over the issue – unless under special or emergency circumstances.

Readers can recall that I was a member of the APC’s 9-Man Committee set up to look in to why we lost the 2018 Presidential Elections. My personal recommendation within our 9-Man Committee for Chief Sam-Sumana to be brought back into the APC as our Comrade, needs to be implemented as soon as possible. (Photo: Sam Sumana and Dr Sylvia Blyden). 

However, if that my personal recommendation is to be implemented, then it has to be done on a platform of HONESTY among ourselves. Why malign APC based on fiction?

Misleading the general public about what ECOWAS Court never ever said against our APC party, is not the way forward. The way forward is crystal clear. Honesty needs to prevail at all quarters and around all the issues. Sincerity and Love for APC should be the over-riding factor in all we do.

Many of us have been very deeply hurt in one way or the other with horrific lies cooked up against us, by those who fear our political strengths. But truth and Love can heal the extremely deep hurts all around us. Lies don’t cut it. Lies just don’t cut it. Lies just make things to become worse.

11 Comments

  1. If the ECOWAS court ruled in favour of the defendant (President Koroma and the APC), why did they ask the Government of Sierra Leone to pay the plaintiff (Sam Sumana) lost wages and compensation amounting to millions of dollars. Now I know why the former and current government of Sierra Leone refused to pay a dime to Sam Sumana.

    Now I also understand why the Inspector General of police removed the Security officers assigned to Sam Sumana. He was rightfully sacked and the decision to sack him was upheld by the highest court in Sierra Leone and the residual court in the region.

    Thank you Dr. Blyden for making these issues clear. The constitution of the land does not make provision for sacked VPs.

    • Could you please find out and explain to me why the ECOWAS court, asked the government of Sierra Leone to pay the plaintiff Mr. David Samura?
      The ECOWAS court can’t just give right to the government and the plaintiff on the same matter. There must be some legal reasons for such decisions in my view. Can you help clarify Mr. David Samura?
      Thanks and may God bless you. God help “get SALONE sorted”.

  2. I can’t even believe my eyes, what I’ve been saying here long ago that, Chief Sam Sumana will ever regret quitting his creative smart and eloquent party C4C. As some of our fellow brothers used to brag on this forum, beating chests about Sam Sumana and APC’s victory in the coming 2023 presidential election, my friend you’re dreaming. Sam Sumana I told you before and let me tell you again that,APC will use and fool you, but not the Kono people – hope you got it.

    Now ladies and gentlemen, Chief Sam Sumana has started experiencing unfair treatments from the APC PARTY. That’s good indeed. The APC party is currently asking him to write a comprehensive report of all what he has been doing when he was away, could you believe that? And that, he should wait out for now until the party finally completes their convention at Port Loko before, they can have a look at his case – whether they will accept him fully or nor. BRAVO to APC! Sam Sumana, this is just a smoke, the fire is yet to come.

    I personally would like the respectable readers of this noble platform to take their time and go over some of Dr. Sylvis O. Blyden’s article. “Contrary to false claims spurn mostly by SLPP elements to score political points and make APC unpopular enough to be voted out of governance, the raw truth is that the ECOWAS Court actually upheld decision taken by the supreme court of Sierra Leone in process of interpreting the constitutionality of the Sam Sumana matter”. Wow – interesting
    stuff, Sam Sumana I hope you watch your step.

    Under the National constitution Dr. Blyden said, a man cannot be without a party membership and yet continue to serve as our Vice President of Sierra Leone – simple. My goodness, laughable but you dismissed him in the first place from his legal office, despite being elected by the people right? The power of President Koroma to remove Sam Sumana and appoiunt Victor Foh was fully recognized by ECOWAS Court. Hope Sam got it. Sylvia defending the life Chairman.

    People need to read and understand that ECOWAS judgement. Sam Sumana is this clear to you? Every single one of the ECOWAS judges in that case stated their signed endorsement that President Koroma (your assumed brother) had the full constitutional power and authority to remove you (Sam Sumana) as his Vice President, if the VP was no longer a member of a political party. Dr. Sylvia said. I can’t believe what I am seeing.

    This is the woman a week ago, who posted a photo with you together in your support, rejoicing about your return. Sam Sumana, when will you become a smart man and why did you decide to abandon your C4C party? My advice to you is this, anyone who supported your quitting C4C, is your greatest enemy. Hope you understand. APC does not love you for nothing.

    Also Dr. Sylvia is advising people kindly to please pay attention to what the ECOWAS Judges wrote on page 16 to 17 of their 25 page judgement. They said and I quote: People should go and read page 16,17 and 19 of the ECOWAS judgement.

    Sam Sumana it was an honored for you to stay respectfully in your C4C till death do us part, but instead you failed to do that and betrayed us. Dr. Foday Osman Yansaneh and the out going life chairman will teach you lessons you would never forget. Meet again next time. May God bless Sierra Leone.

  3. “Honesty needs to prevail at all quarters and around all the issues”. Absolutely, but only what is preached is practiced.
    The whole piece reads like a ‘broken record’. Interesting. Dr Blyden started to narrate her ordeal in the manner she was relieved of her duties, provided an ‘affidavit’ and moved on to the substance on way in which Sam was removed – followed by the ECOWAS decision.

    When we choose to pass-off opinions as facts, it is not just misleading to the unsuspecting public, but also doing a massive disservice to Sierra Leone (SL). As a former cabinet minister, I believe Dr Blyden was briefed on her responsibility under the doctrine of ‘Collective Cabinet Responsibility’. So whether she was in post or even to this day – there are certain decisions the previous government took that her or any other former minister cant discuss publicly – until they’re declassified, knowing there are consequences if one defies.

    No one benefits from telling half-truths (except the teller for short-term gains). Dr Blyden’s choice to be selective with the bits that need to be brought to the attention of the public regarding the ECOWAS Court decision, is misleading to say the least. Except lawyers that don’t know the implications of wrongful/misleading advice/opinion would advice themselves on the same. Those with proper understanding of the same, would get legal advice of another suitably qualified lawyer.

    The same procedural Administrative and Constitutional errors the APC/SL Govt made that led to Sam’s ‘expulsion’ is what is on full display here. The contradictions are so many that, one point makes sense, but the next paragraph would leave you thinking, did I read the previous one right? If former HE had the constitutional authority to remove Sam from office, due to his lack of membership of a political party, did the APC procedurally allow Sam to fully exhaust his appeal rights as provided for by their own supreme document (constitution)?

    Arguably, because some within APC knew, former HE had the lawful authority via such route, they thought it fit to proceed without due care, and Dr Blyden also alluded to the same – “Did President Koroma really need to have waited? I submit NOT! I submit that President Koroma did not need to wait to exercise his constitutional powers to remove his Vice-President”. That was where it all started and unbelievable, some still within the APC does not see that the first hurdle needs to be cleared.

    When, what can be classed as an internal (APC) matter spilt out into the external (S/L), which threatened the Constitution of SL (Supreme Authority) any well-meaning individual and or other stakeholders with a capacity to protect the latter would do so either individually or collectively. It isn’t about party affiliations and in fact most that supported Sam during those times, in various ways simply did so because of the threat to SL’s Constitution, not because they were against party A or party B or believed Sam was not ‘guilty’ of the allegation levied against him, or liked him.

    Some of us just always want the Rule of Law to prevail. This message needs to be told and taken to the APC hierarchy undiluted- that since NAC is the highest decision-making body, they’re bound by their own decisions, as such vacate the very decision they took against Sam.

    Dr Blyden’s selective attempt at interpreting the judgment does not help anyone, in my humble opinion. She chose the ‘things said by the way’ in the judgment, rather than the ‘ratio’ of the judgment. The former does not bind, but the latter does. However, because of the title of your piece, one will leave it at that.

    NAC needs to get independent legal advisers (from outside or even within APC) that does not form part of NAC, nor holds any interests in their decisions. Such will remove the need for issues like this, reduce scope of accusations of actual or apparent bias in their dispensation of their functions.

    Why would a government not instruct lawyers to represent them in an Administrative/Constitution court is anyone’s guess? As we all know, Sam has judgment in his favour – phase 1, but to enforce against the S/L government (phase 2), is the hardest bit, this is the case in most civil matters.

    For the benefit of all, the court ruled that, Sam’s fundamental human rights to fair hearing and to participate in politics, as guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights were violated. The Court dismissed, from the start, the ‘argument’ the APC led government put forward: to the effect that the ECOWAS Court had no jurisdiction to hear the case. The court also declared that the removal of Sam was wrong, as it violated his right to appeal the decision, and therefore his right to Natural Justice and to a fair hearing, and further occasioned a violation of his right to participate in politics.

    Some of the reasons the court did not grant Sam some of the relief sought in his prayer, were because they had either elapsed or based on the laws of S/L as an independent country, but a member of ECOWAS.

    The APC shouldn’t take comfort that “Every single one of the ECOWAS judges in that case stated their signed endorsement that President Koroma had the full constitutional power and fullest authority to remove his Vice-President if the VP was no longer a member of a political party.” Having authority is one thing, exercising the same is completely different. That is why the authority is vested in the holder of the office, not the individual per se.

    Even exercising one’s discretion in an official capacity, is subject to scrutiny (in some cases Judicial Reviews); and if others’ Opinions are different from that of APC’s, does that make them SLPP or other party members or sympathisers? I don’t think so. We as a country need to move the political and other discourse forward. Some people are simply calling things as they see it. Can’t we constructively criticize, without being labelled ‘foreign’?

    We should be more than just commenting for the sake of it; accommodate others irrespective of their views/ associations, but challenged professionally; call-out anyone peddling anything short of the full truth. When the cup is half full, it’s also half empty and the perception of ‘6 and 9’ or ‘see – saw’ need not be ignored/dismissed.

    Please note this is not an attack on your person or questioning what you have done as a public servant in S/L so far. However, it calls into question some of the issues raised within your piece as above. I chose not to throw light on some points within the piece, because they’re either personal or I don’t have standing.

    Respectfully!

    • Mr Sesay – welcome to the Sierra Leone Telegraph Readers’ Forum, and thank you for your contribution. Please note that we do have a rule regarding length of comments. I have allowed this comment to go through because you are new to the Forum. But please can you in future limit your comments to about 6 or 7 paragraphs of no more than 5 lines each. Once again welcome. You may wish in future to send us your opinions or comments in the form of an article for publication, if you believe that adhering to the word limit would constrain your message.

    • Saidu Sesay has just put this issue so eloquently that I succeeded in resisting the urge to add anything more to it. This is the kind of comments required in this forum; free from any political adulteration. Keep us enlightened bro. Well written piece and more of that.

    • Thank you Mr.Thomas for providing the platform to contribute on current issues and also for allowing my lengthy response. I note your points and will abide fully,going forward.

  4. “ The records show Sam-Sumana was legitimately expelled and the legitimate expulsion got endorsed at that APC conference to which Chief Sam-Sumana was invited but declined to attend”

    With all due respect, can the writer explain exactly what she meant alluding that the then VP was legitimately expelled from the APC? Goodness gracious, please let’s stop the spin-games in trying to justify the unlawful and inhumane treatments subjected to the VP. Instead of wasting time explaining or interpreting whatever ECOWAS judges might have stated or how EBK failed to defend himself, why not provide all the evidence that clearly shows a justification of the VP expulsion from the party? Among the many cooked up lies makeup to justify their unlawful acts, the APC alagbas then claimed that VP was engaging in anti-party activities, that he lied about him being a muslim, etc. Where are the proofs Dr. Blyden?

    In your opening statement of the article, you mentioned being fired unjustly. So how on earth could you consider being fired unjustly in an appointed position, yet try to justify the sacking of an elected leader by his boss? Hypocrisy at the highest level indeed. You claimed you recommended to the 9-man committee for the VP to be readmitted back into the APC; how contradictory can one be if you indeed think he was never wronged? I honestly think your piece just open old wounds. It would have been better you held your silence.

    I really feel bad for the VP while at the same time not supporting him to have gone back begging to return to APC. He was poorly treated by the entire APC hierarchy and it makes it worse for anyone trying to justify those wrongs against him.

  5. sorry, as a non sierra leonean i’m a little bit confused. Up to now I don’t know the exact reasons for the expulsion of this vice president. Another question is, in the Sierra Leone constitution only a party member can be a minister or vice president? No politically independent person?

    • Hello Sir, I am also not a Sierra Leonean. I have learnt that since Sam Sumana was no longer a member of the APC he was not qualified to continue holding his position as VP. Something similar happens if an MP changes his political Party whilst he is member of Parliament, and if a Party sacks/expells an MP – he/she too looses the seat in Parliament (until the next elections).
      I might not be correct but that’s what I have gathered in the 12 Months I have followed developements in S.L.

  6. Straight talk indeed. “Lies don’t cut it. Lies don’t just cut it. Lies just make things become worse”. Did they hear that loud and clear? Let people stop confusing ECOWAS ruling and APC NAC ruling. God bless Dr. Sylvia Blyden for her straight talk as always and God help “get SALONE sorted”.

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