March 24, 2015 By Regina Pratt
Lawyers retained by Sierra Leone’s sacked Vice President, Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana, have commenced an action at the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone which among other reliefs seeks to restrain Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh from performing the functions of the Vice President.
In a notice dated and stamped by the registrar of the apex court on 20 March, 2015, Alhaji Sam-Sumana, plaintiff, is said to have filed an originating motion against the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of Sierra Leone and Victor Foh, as 1st and 2nd defendants, respectively.
The notice notifies the defendants that the motion filed by Alhaji Sam-Sumana’s legal team seeks a determination by the court, pursuant to sections 124 and 127 – interpretation of the constitution and enforcement of same – as to whether the Constitution of Sierra Leone empowers the President “to relieve the Vice President of his office and duties”, other than by ways set out in sections 50 and 51 of the 1991 Constitution; and whether the “Supreme Executive Authority” of the President mentioned in section 40 (1) of the said constitution includes the power to “relieve the Vice President of his office and duties”.
The notice then went on to state that if the answers to the aforementioned questions is “NO” then the plaintiff would seek the relief that the announcement that the Vice President had been relieved of his duties and office was “unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect”.
Secondly, that the appointment of Victor Bockarie Foh as his replacement was also “unconstitutional, null and void, and of no effect”, while also requesting for an injunction restraining Ambassador Foh from acting in the Office of Vice President “pending the hearing and determination of the matter”.
Lastly, the notice seeks a declaration that the elected Vice President should remain in office until he is removed as required by sections 50 and 51 of the 1991 Constitution.
Mr. Samuel Sam-Sumana was expelled from the APC party on 6 March, 2015 whilst on a voluntary quarantine and subsequently relieved of his duties as Vice President of Sierra Leone following an announcement from State House on 17 March.
He had denied allegations of “deceit, fraud and violence” – reasons given for his expulsion by his party – as “fabrications and lies”, as well as calling the president’s action “unconstitutional and unlawful”.
The Supreme Court, chaired by acting Chief Justice Valicious Thomas, is now tasked with determining which way the constitutional argument should go – either in favour of the president or his vice – with potential legal ramifications for both men.