John Baimba Sesay – Freetown
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 September 2015
The Supreme Court of Sierra Leone on Wednesday 9th September ruled that the President of Sierra Leone has the power under the 1991 constitution to remove the country’s Vice President. (Photo: John Baimba – left, talking to VP Foh).
In the ruling, the Supreme Court stated among other things that, the President has powers to remove his Vice under section 40 since the requirement on section 41 is continuous.
The provisions in section 55 of the 1991 Constitution, the court said, are by implication modified by the provisions in sec 54 (5).
This verdict came following the sacking of former Vice President Sam Sumana in March of this year, after the governing All People’s Congress had earlier expelled him following accusations of fueling violence, and trying to form a breakaway party in his home district of Kono.
Immediately he was sacked, the ex-Vice President sought the attention of the country’s highest court to determine the constitutionality or otherwise of the President’s action, with the current Vice President and the country’s Attorney General as defendants.
Following the removal of Sam Sumana (Photo), Hon. Victor Bockarie Foh was on 19th March 2015 appointed Sierra Leone’s Vice President by His Excellency President Ernest Bai Koroma, in line with the country’s constitutional provision.
With a verdict delivered, this writer caught up with the Vice President, Victor Bockarie Foh at his Tower Hill Office, central Freetown and asked him about his reaction to the Supreme Court ruling. This is what he said:
VP Foh: This matter has been decided by the highest court of the land and I support the ruling. I am neither happy nor unhappy. I will be happiest when my Party builds itself in a very strong way. We are on the road to build the Party into a very strong and unified Political Party.
We want to continue to be in touch with the grassroots of our Party membership, not forgetting the elders of the Party. We want to have all hands on deck. We want the APC to continue to be in every corner of Sierra Leone.
The foundation upon which the APC was built is to care for the poor and the deprived. More or less, I am saying, it is a mass Party. Everybody must be happy with it.
John Baimba: With the former VP giving the view that he was a strong member of the Party then, and with this recent verdict, will that not in a way affect the Party in coming elections?
VP Foh: No. I look at it differently. It awakens the Party. The Party may have at a time, gone into slumber but the verdict awakens the Party to continue to be in touch with its membership.
The Vice President was catapulted into a very high position within the Party but he was not a strong member of the Party. He did not know the Party and the Party did not know him. I believe he was hanging on the Party.
He was not carrying the Party. He was supposed to be the Principal Assistant of the President and when one is Principal Assistant, you must assist the President on all fronts including the political front.
I believe that is a job he may not have done properly because I was the then Secretary-General of the Party. I believe the Vice President’s role as Vice President and Principal Assistant of the President was not very well articulated at the Party level by Mr. Sam Sumana.
For the case, I would say I am happy not because I am now occupying the position as Vice President. I am happy because my President’s powers have been further demonstrated to the public that the Supreme Executive Authority rests with the President.
I am happy that my President’s hands have been made stronger.
Yes indeed, those powers are in the constitution and have ever been in it since 1991 but not many people read and understand the constitution.
Now that we have been told in no uncertain terms that the President is the Supreme Executive Authority in this land and that he has powers to sack his Vice President including myself, we are all on our toes
John Baimba: If you were to be sacked today?
VP Foh: I will gladly go but will work as a member of the APC and continue to work with President Koroma.
John Baimba: With pending elections in years to come, what have you been doing to consolidate the Party’s presence and grip across the country?
VP Foh: I have been everywhere. I go on Government function as we have been trying to grapple with Ebola. I go really to preach the gospel that Ebola is not good and we must get rid of it. But I am a politician. One hand says, no Ebola and the other hand says politics.
Don’t forget your Party. We are waiting. The census will be here very soon. Boundary delimitation will be here very soon and population counts. This is a numbers game .I am meeting my people.
John Baimba: Thank you Mr. Vice President.
VP Foh: Thank you Mr. Sesay