By Yusufu S. Bangura
The Executive Director for Native Consortium and Research Centre, Edmond Abu has been released from incarceration after saying he is sorry for his contemptuous conduct against Justice Adrian Fisher and the Judiciary of Sierra Leone.
He has come out after spending about 10 days at the Pademba Road Male Correctional Centre. But Abu’s 21 days prison has been suspended for 12 months on the condition that he must not repeat his conduct against the Judiciary.
“I have listened carefully to the pleas in mitigation by J.M Jengo and taken into account the apology tendered by the contemnor and upon his undertaking not to repeat the conduct for which he was committed,” Justice Fisher said. “I therefore ordered that the committal of Edmond Abu to prison for 21 days is suspended for a period of 12 months on condition that Edmond does not repeat his conduct, should there be any further conduct amount to contempt, further contempt proceedings would be instituted against him…”
“I want to say sorry to Justice Fisher and the judicial for what I did and I mean no harm as $100 has been spent on this case as the public were pressuring us and I will never disrespect the bench. The mobile companies were fighting for tariff increment and we were also fighting for it not to increase,” Edmond Abu told the Court a day before he was released.
Edmund was before the court on contempt in the face of the law and for several breaches before the judgment last week in a matter where he and other litigants lost their case against three telecoms service providers and their regulatory agency, National Telecommunications Authority (NATCA).
He was thrown into Pademba Road Male Correctional Centre on the 10th January for contempt of court and was due to appear before the court on the matter at the end of January. But he apologized after his lawyer; Jessie M. Jengo canvassed the Judge to secure his released.
Pleading with the Judge, Jengo said there are times when emotions bring people before the law but asked that Justice Fisher uses the story of the Prodigal son to forgive Edmond whose consortium he said is providing livelihoods for people.
In his plea, Edmond Abu said that as a law abiding citizen and a civil rights activist for 27 years, he was frustrated at the duration the matter had lasted and claimed they had spent about a hundred thousand dollars in the matter, but that he had no prior knowledge of the 105 pages judgement.
He appreciated the effort of Justice Fisher in the matter as he took them on a speedily trial and said he was sorry for his actions which had been deemed to be contempt, adding that he has no criminal record and he will never disrespect the court.
Justice Fisher in reply said the judiciary is an institution that is different from all other institutions because someone who might not have benefited from it today could benefit from it the next day, hence; scandalizing such an entity is a dangerous thing because the best alternative for the public’s lack of trust it would be going to the bush.
He said there were complainants made against him by counsel representing Africell and NATCA and he was under tremendous pressure that Edmond committed contempt of court despite being warned.
He said he had warned Edmund not to publish anything pertaining to the case because he did not want Edmund’s conduct to influence his judgement.
Justice Fisher said Edmond told the public that he has leakage of his judgement which he knows that his judgement has never been leak and this he said is a problem.
Justice Fisher admitted that the application from the litigants was a novel class action which he should not have been in a rush to prepare and deliver, adding that he would take his time to record the judgment so that Edmond would not have a criminal record.