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Sam-Sumana case adjourned again: ‘It’s a delay tactic’

- cries lawyer Jenkins-Johnston

May 29, 2015 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma & Hawa Amara

HOPING AGAINST HOPE? … Chief Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana

HOPING AGAINST HOPE? … Chief Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana

Lawyer representing sacked Vice President Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana has said that another adjournment in the constitutional matter of whether President Ernest Bai Koroma acted within the law to sack his client was “a delay tactic”.

James Blyden Jenkins-Johnston was speaking yesterday after Berthan Macauley, counsel for the first defendant, Attorney-General and Minster of Justice, Franklyn Bai Kargbo, asked the court to set aside a motion he had been granted by the court.

The five judges of the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone – acting Chief Justice Valisius Thomas, Justices Nicholas Browne-Marke, Eku Roberts, Vivian Solomon and Patrick Hamilton – in a jam-packed courtroom, including Alhaji Sam-Sumana, listened attentively as Macauley pleaded for a motion he had asked for on 15 May, and granted, to be set aside.

Counsel Macauley had applied for an order from the court to do an amendment to the statement of the first defendant. He said counsel for the plaintiff had also sought leave to file an amendment to his papers, which was granted by the court by way of Exhibit LL4.

He maintained it was within their right to amend their case, thus referring to Rule 98 of the Supreme Court Rules. He said the motion should be treated as a nullity and set aside by the court on the basis of procedural irregularities.

However, counsel for the plaintiff, Jenkins-Johnston, said the matter was between counsel for the first defendant and the court because he (Macauley) had applied for the said order, which the five judges granted, but had failed to give any reason as to error in the law in respect of the application.

“My Lords, I submit that counsel for the defendant did not show any error to this court and my Lords we did not intend to, and we will not amend our case. What we are before the court for is simple and our case is, if the President has the right to remove the Vice President from his office and if it is in law that the ‘supreme executive power’ gives the President the right to sack his vice. That is our case my Lords,” he submitted.

Acting Chief Justice, Valisius V. Thomas, announced that the ruling was reserved, adding that notices would be sent to all parties within a short period.

Alhaji Sam-Sumana’s lawyers had filed an originating motion at the Supreme Court on 20 March, 2015 seeking an interpretation of whether the President can “relieve the Vice President of his office and duties” other than by ways prescribed by sections 50 and 51 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone. They also prayed that the apex court interpret whether the President, by way of his “Supreme Executive Authority”, can unilaterally sack his Vice President.

The lawyers are yet to start arguing the substantive matter of the legality of the sacking of the elected Vice President, more than two months after the plaintiff filed his suit.

The court, meanwhile, had rejected to grant an interim injunction restraining Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh from performing the duties of Vice President while it hears and determines the substantive issue, although it had pledged to “fast track” the case.