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As APC MP retains seat

Kono awaits ruling, by-election in Falaba

June 28, 2019

By Regina Pratt & Ibrahim K. Turay

The High Court in Sierra Leone yesterday gave its verdicts on three outstanding petition cases that were brought before it by the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) just after the conclusion of the March 7 presidential and parliamentary elections.

Thirty-one cases were filed altogether in the High Court of which 12 were before Justice Momoh Jah Stevens, 9 before Justice Komba Kamanda while 10 were before Justice I.M Koroma who presided in the northern city of Makeni.

The main opposition APC petitioned only two seats, whereas the SLPP challenged 24 seats, and the National Grand Coalition (NGC) appealed five seats.

However, the APC have won 18 of their petition cases, while the SLPP won 11. The court has however declared two seats vacant where by-election are to be conducted within 90 days.

In yesterday’s judgement, Justice Komba Kamanda declared the election of Alhassan J. Kamara of constituency 040 in the Falaba district null and void and ordered the National Election Commission to conduct a fresh by-election within three months.

Kamara was petitioned by Alpha Fode Jabbie on grounds of election fraud and that he had prayed for the court to grant an interim injunction restraining the MP until the hearing and determination of the matter.

The petitioner in his affidavit had claimed that the seals in some on the ballot boxes where broken, thus alleging that there were wide election malpractices.

Justice Kamanda also told the court that in paragraphs 5, 8 and 10 of the affidavit sworn to by Hon. Paran Tarawally showed that election malpractices were done by NEC officer in Falaba.

He said the allegations in the affidavits were grave, citing the gazette for the 7th March elections which states that the respondent vote is 3,497, while the petitioner got 3,605.

The High Court judge thus invoked Section 147 of the Public Election Act of 2012 and declares the seat vacant.

Meanwhile, Justice Kamanda has reserved the ruling of the petition case filed by SLPP’s Sahr Francis Gbondo against Hon. Isaac T. Tucker of APC in const. 022 on the grounds of Election violence and rigging.

The judge has also ordered both parties to serve each other with the affidavits in opposition and in support respectively and that judgement would be delivered on July 11, 2019.

Justice Kamanda noted that the petition was in breach of rules 12 and 13 of the High Court Rules of 2007 but that it was within the time frame as the life of a ‘petition cannot be cut short’.

“The application for the petition against the Kono MP still stands in court. Proceedings must be conducted by affidavit evidence. The Petitioner and the Respondent should serve the affidavit within 5 days and the respondent should continue to serve Member of Parliament,” he ordered.

In high court no 9 presided by Hon. Justice Momoh Jah-Stevens nullified the petition case filed by Foday Sudiku Kallon as against Roland Foday kargbo of constituency O64 in the Karina District.

In a related development, before Justice Alhaji Momoh Jah Stevens, the respondent, Hon Rolan Foday Kargbo of Constituency 064, who was petitioned by Foday Sidiku Kallon retained his seat.

The petitioner had prayed for the nullification of the result on the grounds that he scored the highest vote cast, and that there were massive discrepancies on the conduct of the respondent and that of NEC staff, and also the negative attitude of the first respondent contrary to Section 76(2) of the 1991 constitution.

The judge added that with regards to the negative conduct averred by the petitioner, there was no specificity in relation of the first respondent which was supposed to be contrary to Section 76(2) of the same constitution.

“I will not even go into the case of the first respondent because I am not satisfied with the case of the petitioner as presented, as the petition lacks specificity, precision as required by law. The 1st respondent filed an affidavit in opposition dated 28 June 2018 denying the allegations in the said petition,” the judge said.

The Judge ruled in favour of Hon. Kargbo of the APC and stated that the former was duly elected as Member of Parliament.