Sierra Leone Telegraph: 1 March 2018:
Yesterday’s Supreme Court petition hearing, which is to determine whether Kandeh Yumkella can contest next week’s elections, was postponed to today, 1st March 2018. However, the Sierra Leone Telegraph has learnt that the hearing will now take place next Monday, 5th of March. Is this deliberate delaying tactics by the government and why?
The hearing was postponed due to illness reported by one of the three Judges. There were rumours on social media yesterday, claiming that the Court had dismissed the ruling APC party’s petition.
A source close to the NGC leadership told the Sierra Leone Telegraph that the hearing was postponed due to one of the Judges sudden illness.
“I understand that the case is adjourned till tomorrow because one of the justices was unwell. But I think in reality they did not want the APC rally to be overshadowed by a decision.
“There was also the President Mahama peace initiative; and mysterious rainbow in Freetown which is attracting a lot of coverage away from APC party rally,” he said.
But the latest information reaching the Sierra Leone Telegraph is that although the Yumkella hearing has been postponed until two days before the elections are held, creating serious uncertainty for the NGC and its supporters, the Supreme Court has now decided to sit today to hear the petition brought by Lawyer Charles Margai against the ruling APC presidential candidate – Dr Samura Kamara.
The petition against Samura Kamara is calling on the Supreme Court to disqualify Samura for violation of electoral laws, which states that all public officials wishing to contest the elections must have resigned from their posts at least 90 days prior to the elections.
Samura is alleged to have been receiving his government salary as foreign minister and had failed to resign his job in accordance with the law.
It is also alleged that Samura has both Sierra Leone and British citizenships, and has failed to renounce his British citizenship before his nomination as the presidential candidate of the ruling APC.
What many in Sierra Leone are now pondering is how the Supreme Court can decide to bring forward its hearing of the Samura Kamara petition today, despite the Yumkella petition having been tabled several weeks ago, long before the Samura petition was filed.
“Why is the Court dragging its feet on the Yumkella hearing, thus causing unnecessary and unfair disadvantage to the NGC campaign and hindering its chances of winning the elections?,” a human rights campaigner commented this morning.
The overwhelming expectation is that the Supreme Court will throw out the petition filed against Yumkella taking part in the elections next week.
Dr. Yumkella is being represented by world renowned legal expert and retired Judge – Dr. Abdulai Conteh.
Conteh was one of the architects of the 1991 Constitution, which is the basis of the Supreme Court hearing.
He better than most, will be able to argue that when the crafters of the 1991 Constitution created the Constitution, they did not intend to punish or disenfranchise any citizen, nor did they intend to take away the birth rights of citizens.
Central to this case is the question as to whether citizens must be disenfranchised for the failure of government to amend the country’s immigration and citizenship laws and the Constitution, in accordance with changes agreed by parliament.
Yumkella is being tipped as the candidate most likely to win the presidential election next week, while his party – the NGC are expected to win over 20% of the elected seats in parliament.
This will place the NGC in a very strong position to form a coalition government, as no single party is expected to win an outright majority in the first round of polling.