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SLPP Urges Gov’t to Accept ECOWAS Court Verdict

…Calls for the AG to resign

November 29, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai

The main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) has urged the government to accept the verdict of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in the matter between sacked Vice President Sam Sumana and the government of Sierra Leone.

Speaking during a presser hosted at the party’s headquarters yesterday, Secretary-General Umaru Napoleon Koroma recalled that in 2015 the elected Vice President was removed from office by President Ernest Bai Koroma, adding that the country’s Supreme Court adjudicated the matter and ruled that the president’s action was constitutional.

Koroma, himself a lawyer, said as a way of seeking further redress for the violation of his constitutional and human rights, Sam Sumana brought the matter to the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, which ruled on Monday that the decision of President Koroma was unconstitutional.

“We applaud the ECOWAS Court ruling of 27th November, 2017 which has declared the removal of the Vice President unconstitutional. The Office of Attorney-General and Minister of Justice issued a statement in which he stated that “Nevertheless, upon receipt and review of the said judgment, government will be advised accordingly on the appropriate action” even though the government had earlier argued that the Court did not have competence and jurisdiction in the matter,” he said.

He said SLPP finds government’s pronouncement as “arrogant and disrespectful to not only the citizenry of Sierra Leone, but to ECOWAS, which has always been in the forefront of sustaining the country’s democracy and rule of law even in the most trying and turbulent times.”

He added: “This same government in 2008 honoured a default judgment against Sierra Leone by the same ECOWAS Court in the matter involving businessman Mohamed Wanza and a compensation of twenty-five million United States Dollars (US$25m) was given to the latter. SLPP calls on the Attorney-General, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, to immediately resign because of gross disrespect and empty response to the ECOWAS Court ruling.”

On his part, the SLPP presidential candidate, Brigadier (Rtd.) Julius Maada Bio said reiterated that President Koroma’s decision to sack Vice President Sam Sumana was wrong because it violated the latter’s fundamental human rights to fair hearing and to freely participate in the politics of the country – rights which are guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the Revised ECOWAS Treaty, the Protocol establishing the ECOWAS Court and several other international conventions on human rights, all of which Sierra Leone is a signatory.

“I want it to be known that I fully respect the ruling of the ECOWAS Court,” he said.

He recalled that the same ECOWAS Court, in matters involving the government of Sierra Leone and Messrs. Wansa and Tayyib Bah respectively, had ruled that  “government pays US$25 million for a non-existent gun-boat and the second the payment of damages amounting to US$250,000” which the current administration complied with.

He said he would not hesitate to implore President Koroma’s government to swiftly and diligently accept and honour the ruling of the ECOWAS Regional Court in respect of the “wrongful removal from office” of the elected Vice President.

SLPP Chairman and Leader, Dr. Prince Harding, said the party respects human dignity and the rule of law, adding that the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party has scarred the international image of the country by showing disrespect for the rule of law.

“We are witnessing a very sad day in Sierra Leone after the government has stated that the ECOWAS Court lacks competence and jurisdiction in the matter of the sacked Vice President-Alhaji Sam Sumana. The country’s [international] respectability is seriously at risk,” he maintained.