March 25, 2015 By Regina Pratt
Veteran lawyer and politician, Charles Francis Margai, said on Radio Democracy FM 98.1 on Tuesday that in his opinion Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh is not qualified to hold the position of Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
“I think with respect Victor Foh, my brother-in-law, is not qualified. He should have been honest enough to tell the President he is not qualified because he is a highly educated man, an experienced civil servant, administrator and ambassador, etc, etc,” the legal luminary told the flagship morning programme of the radio station.
He based his argument on the fact that Ambassador Foh, who until his appointment to replace the sacked vice president was Ambassador to China, is a public officer paid emoluments from the consolidated fund, and thus not qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament, as stated in section 41(d) of the 1991 Constitution.
The said section is also stipulated in section 54(2b): “A person shall not be qualified to be a candidate for the Office of Vice President unless he has the qualifications specified in section 41.”
He added that by section 76(1b), Mr. Foh should have resigned at least twelve months, prior to his appointment, being a public officer, to be eligible for the post of Vice President.
“Anything Victor Foh is doing as a Vice President has no legality,” he stressed.
Mr. Margai had written an op-ed to proffer his legal opinion on the seeming constitutional saga in the country following the sacking of Vice President Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana.
He said he is of the opinion that the Vice President, having being elected together with the President by the people, can only be removed in accordance with sections 50 and 51 of the constitution, relating to mental and physical incapacity, and misconduct, respectively.
Thus, he concluded that the President has no vested constitutional authority to sack his vice, notwithstanding the “supreme executive authority” relied on by the presidency, or section 41(b) – that the Vice President should be a member of a political party.
However, he conceded that the Vice President should continue to fulfill the provision of section 41(b), albeit not necessarily with the party on whose ticket he was elected.
The matter is set to be heard and determined by the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone after lawyers for Alhaji Sam-Sumana filed a motion seeking an interpretation and reliefs that the decision be revoked on grounds of unconstitutionality. They also seek the equitable relief of injunction, which seeks to restrain Mr. Foh from performing the duties and functions of Vice President while the matter is before the apex court.
He further said that the international community is watching us as this is not the appropriate time and that people hold different views interpreting the constitution and “in my own view, it is the legal implication of swearing in Victor Foh as Vice President”.