NOVEMBER 20, 2014 By BAMIDALE SHORUNKEH-SAWYERR
The Sierra Leone Bar Association has issued a resolution taking a position on the recent impasse surrounding the tenure of Office of the Chief Justice occasioned by a letter from Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, the Anti-Corruption Commissioner, directed to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, requesting clarification on the continued stay in Office of the Chief Justice after she attained the mandatory retirement age of 65 years.
In its resolution, dated 17 November 2014, the Bar Association discloses that it held an Extraordinary Meeting to discuss the impasse mindful of the fact that the letter from the ACC Czar had provoked a national debate with constitutional implications.
Guided by the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone (Act No.6), members of the Bar resolved that the compulsory retirement age for judges of the Superior Court of Judicature inclusive of the Chief Justice is 65 years; pursuant to section 137 (2)(b).
As a consequence thereof, the Bar Association, in its Extraordinary General Meeting of 14 November 2014, unanimously resolved that by section 137, subsection 2 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone (Act No.6) of 1991, judges of the Superior Court of Judicature, which includes the holder of the Office of Chief Justice, shall retire upon attaining the age of 65, save for an extension of not more than three months, to enable such a judge to deliver judgement or do any other thing in relation to proceedings that were commenced before the said judge hitherto.
The Bar further resolved that Section 136, subsections 2,3,4,5 and 6, which makes provision for the granting of ‘contracts’ to judges of the Superior Court of Judicature after attaining the age of 65, do not apply to the holder of the Office of Chief Justice because she is the office holder empowered by the constitution to advice the President on the grant of such ‘contracts’ and so cannot be seen advising the President on the grant of such ‘contracts’ to herself.
This position is consistent with what the ACC Boss and other legal luminaries had maintained. The Bar Association’s intervention has laid to rest what one observer described as a needless misunderstanding of the constitution of Sierra Leone. The Bar Association has demonstrated its commitment to upholding the Rule of Law.