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Supreme Court to rule on 2018 election petitions

March 3, 2021

By Ibrahim Kabba Turay

Chief Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards

The Supreme Court of Sierra Leone on Tuesday, 2nd March, 2021, withdrew   the 2018 election petition files for ruling- to determine whether the petition should be heard or struck out of court.

The direction came after the petitioners, Dr. Sylvia Blyden, Dr. Samura Kamara and Osman Yansaneh, as well as the respondent applicants including the National Electoral Commission (NEC), the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), and President Julius Bio have completed their oral submissions and synopses to the court

In April 2018, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden and Dr. Samura Kamara separately filed petitions in the Supreme Court, challenging the pronouncement of President Julius Maada Bio as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

The matter is being presided over by Chief Justice and other Supreme Court Judges including Justice Nicholas Brown Marke JSC, Justice  Eku Roberts JSC, Justice Glena Thompson JSC, and justice Ivan Sesay.

Earlier in court, counsel representing the respondent applicants, Banda Thomas, submitted that every originating process invariably sets forth a statement of the nature of the claim and the relief or remedy sought, adding that a petition under Order 9 of the High Court Rules normally includes a concise note of the relief or remedy sought.

He said the characteristic feature of an originating process is that it invariably contains a precise note of the nature of the claim made and or the relief that is being sought, which, he said the petition lacked

He further submitted that by not leaving a notice at the registry giving the name of the legal practitioner who is authorized to act as an agent, the petitioners failed to comply with mandatory provision of Rule 6 (1), and therefore asked the court to strike out both petitions on that ground.

Lawyer Thomas urged the Supreme Court judges to strike out the election petition matter on the grounds that it lacks technical grounds of the Supreme Court Rules of 1918.

“This honourable court should strike out the election petition on the grounds that an election petition is not an appropriate originating process to invoke the original jurisdiction of this court,” he submitted

Also,the first petitioner, Dr. Sylvia Blyden submitted that the election petition is an originating process to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone tied to Section 55 of the Public Elections Act of 2012.

She said there are only two instances in the constitution that talk about petition: the removal of the Chief Justice, or when President wants the Supreme Court to advising him on important issues.

She submitted that the instant petition case is pegged on Section 55 of the Public Elections Act No. 4 of 2012 and not the Constitution of Sierra Leone.

She argued that she was not before the apex court on constitutional matter but rather on election petition, thus mockingly re-echoing the respondent’s earlier plea to the court to strike out the matter on technical grounds, thus disagreeing with them on the basis that petitions are not brought to court for endorsement but rather to probe the validity of the election.

She said the respondent had argued that if a petitioner does not follow the originating motion of the process, it should be stroke out; thus submitting that  there was a clear and distinct difference between presidential election petition and originating notice of motion.

She banked her argument on paragraphs 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 of her affidavit, adding that it is only the Supreme Court that has the power to rule on the grounds cited in her affidavit.

She noted that she was not in court neither for interpretation of the constitution nor its enforcement, but for court to investigate as to how fair the 2018 presidential election was.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards informed the solicitors for the 3rd and 4th Defendants/Applicants that the court will duly notify them about the date for the ruling.