By Ibrahim K. Turay
The Court of Appellate presided over by Justice Ivan Sesay, Justice Momoh Jah Stevens and Justice Adrian Fisher, has reserved judgement for appeals made by former President Ernest Bai Koroma, former presidential candidate of the main All Congress Party (APC), Dr. Samura Kamara in respect of adverse findings made by the Commissions of Inquiry.
Former President Ernest Bai Koroma, through his Legal team headed by former Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Ade Macauley, in October 2020, filed two notices of appeal, challenging the ‘adverse findings’ of Justice Thompson and Justice Biobelle Georgewill, seeking to set aside or quash the adverse findings against him.
Former President Koroma’s legal team had also sought a declaration from the court to void the acceptance of the Government White Paper on matters affecting the former President as a Person of Interest and enter a judgment in his favour.
On the first grounds of appeal, lawyers for the appellant had argued that the Commissioners-Justice Bankole Thompson and Biobelle Georgewill erred in law when they failed to consider and apply the Head of State’s immunity clause as provided under Section 48(4) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, which gives the President immunity against the commencement or continuation of civil or criminal proceedings against the person holding the office of President.
They had also argued that the Commissioners erred in law and acted in violation of Section 150 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, Act No. 6 of 1991, when they proceeded to conduct the Commissions of Inquiry without the “rules regulating the practice and procedures” of all Commissions of Inquiry, as prescribed by the Rules of Court Committee through a constitutional instrument.
The team had also argued that the Commissioners erred and without authority, indicted and tried the appellant for the offence of abuse of office and corrupt acquisition of wealth, a power that was not conferred by the Constitutional Instrument 64 that established the Commission.
The had further argued that the Commissioners erred and misapplied the law to the facts when they opined that, “This Commission has critically reviewed, appraised and considered the totality of the evidence of the state against the Persons of Interest and finds that the unchallenged evidence of the state has made out a prima facie case against all of the Persons of Interest. They affirmed that the adverse findings against the Appellant cannot be supported by the evidence presented and challenged.
In his final submissions on behalf of the State in response to the Appellant’s Lawyers, the Solicitor General, Robert Baoma Kowa argued that Section 48 (4) of the 1991 Constitution states that, “while any person holds or perform the functions of the office of the President, no civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against him in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by him either in his official or private capacity.”
Lawyer Ade Macaulay had also appeal against the recommendation of the COI that the Former 2018 and 2023 APC candidate Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara that he involved in the selling of the 30% government share at the Sierra Rutile mining company.