Majeks Jacob Walker (Jnr): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 February 2019:
The Commission of Inquiry (COI) opened in Freetown this week, and early on in the proceedings, there was a notable exchange between Mr. Ady Macauley and the learned COI judge. Mr Ady Macauley is representing Mr Paolo Conteh and another at the COI.
This exchange has made it to social media, and some have used it to portray Mr. Ady Macauley as an inept lawyer, or as one commentator puts it “a lawyer with a wig” (whatever that means) who “bought” his law degree.
This piece is not a defence of Mr. Ady Macauley. He is a lawyer of many years standing, and he is more than capable of defending himself. This piece is in defence of the rule of law.
(Photo: Ady Macaulay – right – shaking hands with former president Koroma after his was appointed by the president to head the Anti-Corruption Commission).
Cards on the table, I have known Mr. Ady Macauley for over 25 years. We went to the prestigious Prince of Wales school together and attended law school in the UK together. He did his Bar Vocational Course (BVC) in the UK a year before me at the Inns of Court School of Law (I opted to do an LLM before taking on the bar), one of the most prestigious bar providers in the UK, where I also did my BVC.
He was called to the bar at the Honourable Society of Inner Temple, while I on the other hand was called to the bar at the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn. He then decided to return home to do the Sierra Leone Bar, and practice in his native land.
Mr Ady Macauley is far from being a gutter lawyer as is being portrayed in some quarters. He is a seasoned and well trained legal luminary.
His decision to represent officials of the former APC government, whose actions are now being subject to scrutiny at the COI will not sit well with many, simply because at the time when these persons were in office, he – Mr Ady Macauley was the ACC Commissioner, entrusted with checking the government’s corrupt practices.
By the way I have serious misgivings about the office of the ACC commissioner in general, and its inability to remain independent. If we are serious about fighting corruption in our country, we urgently need to revisit the statutes on which that office is based in order to guarantee the holders independence. I digress – and this discourse is for another day.
Now back to Mr. Ady Macauley.
Whilst I can understand the misgivings of many who question his judgment in offering representation to his current clients at the COI, it is an ethical matter that only Mr. Ady Macauley can traverse.
He will say that he was wrongly removed from office, not paid any of his benefits due to him by law, and now, as an independent lawyer, he has the right to take up any case that falls within his competence. He needs to feed himself and his family – he has to work.
It should also be noted that he is not allowed to travel out of Sierra Leone, so he cannot even take an international appointment should he so desire.
It appears to to me that he received his instructions to represent his current clients after he was relieved of his duties as the ACC Commissioner, and if that is the case, then no harm done.
I will not begrudge him for taking this matter on. He is doing nothing illegal. On the other hand, I will applaud his bravery in putting himself in the line of fire to ensure that the rule of law is upheld, by questioning the jurisdiction of the COI.
Bold lawyers argue against the tide. They question judicial reasoning and challenge settled law. Bold lawyers improve legal discourse and they are needed in every jurisdiction to check the excesses of executive action, and to ensure that the law grows positively.
Whether or not they succeed in their quest is another issue, but bold lawyers go where others dare not go.
The tenets of the rule of law require that the people who are called to appear before the commission should have a say, and that includes if they so wish, to question the legitimacy of the COI. Mr Macauley’s clients are indeed having that say through his bold submissions.
We should see this as a positive move in our country – all sides of the argument having their say, and the law will have its way.
With respect to the exchanges between Mr. Ady Macauley and the learned judge, it is only a layman with little understanding of how the theatre of litigation works, that will use that exchange to determine the aptitude of the lawyer.
An exchange where the judge takes control of his court and lays down the law to counsel, or where a judge shuts down a lawyer mid flow is quite normal in courts globally.
Whether Mr. Ady Macauley’s application in relation to the jurisdiction of the COI is a success or failure is immaterial. What is material to me, is the fact that the principles of the rule of law are being upheld, and the parties’ objections are being heard, no matter how strange or uncomfortable it may sound, and no matter how it is perceived in some quarters.
I will rather the political issue we have in our country be played out in a courtroom with the battle of the finest brains we have in our nation, locked in constructive legal arguments, than to have our streets being filled with the blood of our people innocently shed.
For the avoidance of doubt, as long as the rule of law and the principles of natural justice are followed, whoever is found culpable at the COI should be dealt with accordingly. As a nation, we should adopt a zero tolerance to corruption. No excuses. No exemptions, and a zero tolerance to the pilfering of our nation’s resources.
We await the next legal move of those appearing before the COI.
About the author
Mr. Majeks Jacob Walker (Jnr) is a qualified lawyer and has the following credentials: LLB(Hons); LLM(UCL) Barrister (UK). SLS; MCMI; SPCP Mediator.