ECOWAS rejects Sam-Sumanas’s bid to sanction Sierra Leone

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The former Vice President was sacked in 2015 after serving for almost eight years.

By Alfred Koroma

In 2017, former Vice-President Samuel Sam-Sumana filed a case in the ECOWAS Court against the Government of Sierra Leone for ‘violating’ his rights by ‘unconstitutionally’ removing him from his position as Vice President of Sierra Leone.

The regional court ruled his sacking was illegal and ordered the then government led by President Ernest Bai Koroma to pay reparations. But the government did not recognize ECOWAS ruling. Instead, a letter was written to the Court, stating the government’s position that it cannot submit to the Court because of its sovereignty.

Sam-Sumana ‘s move to seek redress in the ECOWAS Community Court follows a Supreme Court ruling in Sierra Leone, that the controversial decision of former President Koroma to sack his Vice was constitutional.

After a change of government in 2018, Sam-Sumana went back to ECOWAS to seek enforcement of its 2017 judgement, requesting that the West African regional bloc impose sanction against Sierra Leone through the suspension of its entitlement in the community, pending compliance on the judgement.

The former Vice President requested that ECOWAS suspend his country from it access to the new community loans, stop the disbursement on on-going community projects or assistance programs in the country and exclude the country from presenting candidates for statutory and professional posts and suspends its voting rights and participation in the bloc’s activities, as demanded by Article 77 of the Revised Treaty of the ECOWAS.

But the regional Court has ruled against the former Vice President’s submission.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mohamed Lamin Tarawally informed the press yesterday, describing Sam-Sumana’s  move to seek sanctions against his country as a ‘very serious’ move that could have dent the country’s reputation if the ruling had gone in his  favour.

“This judgement if it was granted against the state, it could have meant that government is a violator or human rights abuser.  It could have meant that the country and the government don’t follow the rule of law,” the Attorney General said.

Samuel Sam-Sumana was sacked in 2015 as Vice-President having served in the role since 2007. According to a statement from the then President’s office, the Vice-President was sacked for ‘abandoning his duty and seeking political asylum in the US Embassy.

Before his sacking, the then governing All People’s Congress expelled Sam-Sumana  from the party after accusing him of flaming violence, and trying to form a breakaway party in party Kono.

The former Vice President denied the allegations, but he later formed the Coalition 4 Change (C4C) Party, under which he ran for President in 2018.  He reconciled with his former party, the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) with intention of running for President under the party but was disqualified from contesting for its flagbearer position.

It is not clear whether the recent ECOWAS ruling affects the 2017 judgement, or whether the judgement which demands  the reinstatement of Sam-Sumana  as Vice President  and restoration of all his entitlements will honored by the present SLPP-led government, considering the fact that  the party under which he was serving is no longer in office.

But while in opposition, the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) supported the judgement and called on the then administration to honor it.

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