As Judge vacates Interim Injunction
March 27, 2018 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
It was past 1p.m. inside the crowded courtroom at the High Court in Sierra Leone. The audience seemed impatient and tempers began to flare up. The court proceeding would have commenced at 12p.m., but there was an unexplained delay, apparently caused by the parties involved in the matter.
A lady from the audience stood up and shouted ‘time! time!’ and majority of those seated in the gallery joined in. She said the election has suspended major activities in the country, including the school session. Her outburst was met with huge public reaction.
Some court officials asked a senior police to clear the gallery but he disagreed with them, stating that he would not ‘over-police’ the process.
Outside the court building, protesters were chanting ‘Maada Bioooooooo, Maada Bioooooo while others chanted ‘we dae vote tumara, and others held placards that read ‘we want a peaceful election’ ‘say no to regionalism’ ‘nor ask watin den do for you but watin u don do for salone’etc.
There was also a heavy presence of armed police and military personnel that enveloped the court building.
The judge had to stand down the matter after lawyers representing the National Electoral Commission and the plaintiff, Ibrahim Sorie Koroma, asked for a short stand down.
Last Saturday (24 March) the judge adjourned the matter to Monday, 26 March, and slammed an interim injunction on the presidential runoff, casting a shadow of doubt over the process.
Lawyer Durucil Taylor, representing NEC and the Returning officer, had requested last Saturday that the presiding judge refer the matter to the Supreme Court for an interpretation of Section 45 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.
He made the application after Judge Abdul Rahaman Mansaray had ruled that the High Court has jurisdiction to hear the substantive matter before it.
Yesterday, the judge told the court that although NEC had not filed an affidavit in opposition to the one filed by the plaintiff, as directed by the court, his ruling was informed by the legal implications of the matter and the public interest the matter has generated.
He ordered that the interim injunction that restrained NEC from conducting the election be vacated and that that the commission should ensure that political party agents representing both parties in the run-off are given tamper evidence envelope containing signed copies of election results of each polling station nationwide.
He also ordered that the results from the district and regional tally centres be manually transferred to the national tally centre and that political party agents should monitor the transportation of sensitive polling materials.
The judge said counting shall be done manually at the close of polling in the presence of party agents and security officers, and that ballot boxes containing the counted ballots should be sealed in the presence of those agents and returned to the tally centres, accompanied by security personnel.
He also ordered that all election results shall be pasted at each polling station immediately after the counting of the ballot, signed by the party agents present.
The court also stated that polling officers, political party agents and security personnel working at a particular station shall be called upon to explain any anomalies that occurred.