August 17, 2015 By Alusine Sesay
The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Franklyn Bai Kargbo, has written to veteran lawyer and politician Charles Francis Margai after the latter wrote two letters asking for clarification as to which mandate the president relied on to extend the State of Public Emergency.
Mr. Margai had first written to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice without getting a reply and followed-up with another letter in which he described the extension as “self-defeating” and “a controversial breach of the constitution” because only Parliament has the legal right to extend the State of Emergency which according to him expired on 6 August, 2015.
He also noted that Mr. Kargbo, as the “principal legal adviser to the Government”, should have advised the president better.
But Kargbo has come out aiming a tirade instead of proffering sound legal reasons to rebut Mr. Margai’s legal opinion, in what observers have described as a scathing personal attack against the legal luminary and chairman and leader of the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change.
Kargbo wrote thus: “I acknowledge receipt of your letters of the 7th and 11th August 2015 relative the captioned subject [Re: Presidential Broadcast]. Let me also express my delight at your belated appreciation of the constitutional purport and intent of the Office of Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, to wit: “principal legal adviser to the Government”. I am not, therefore, adviser to private individuals or leaders of shell entities of doubtful existence and purpose.”
He continued: “As regards your letter of the 7th August 2015, I hope you are able to recall our (Margai/Kargbo), telephone conversation on or about that date. I also hope that you are able to remember that I referred you to the Government Bookshop where you can easily purchase a copy of the Proclamation dated 6th August (P.N.1) 2015. Certainly, even a cursory perusal of the same would have informed, even a non-lawyer, of the law on which the proclamation was premised.”
The Attorney-General then launched another tirade: “I note the intemperate and “beneath-contempt” language in your letter of the 11th August 2015. But for my previous knowledge of you (and I sincerely hope that things have remained the same), I would certainly have ascribed the contents to a person with a profoundly disturbed mind. However, I also note, and put it squarely to your continued sad and unsuccessful quest for relevance in the national political discourse. Consequently, I will not dignify your said letter with a reply, your serious and unfortunate misunderstanding/misinterpretation of law under reference notwithstanding.
This may not be the last of unsavoury exchanges between the two senior legal practitioners, as Mr. Margai might decide to respond with in equal or more venom.