By Alfred Koroma
ECOWAS is likely to sanction the Government of Sierra Leone if it fails to honour ruling by the organization on the dismissal of former Vice President, Alhaji Samuel Samsumana.
In 2017, the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice ruled that the removal of Sam Sumana from office as Vice President was unconstitutional, and called for his reinstatement to his office and restoration of all his entitlements. But the government, under the leadership of Ernest Bai Koroma challenged the ruling and refused to honour it. Sam Sumana went to ECOWAS Court after the Sierra Leone Supreme Court ruled against him that his dismissal from the office of Vice President was legal.
Sam Sumana served as Vice President of Sierra Leone from 2007 until he was controversially sacked in March 2015. Former President Koroma summarily sacked him on claims of abandoning his office and duties to seeking a political asylum in the United States Embassy in Freetown. He was expelled from the All People’s Congress (APC) party and later sacked as Vice President.
Displeased Sam Sumana filed a case to the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone to determine whether the Constitution of Sierra Leone empowers the President to sack him, and whether the Supreme Executive Authority of the President as indicated in Section 40(1) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone includes power to dismiss Vice President other than provision in sections 50 and 51 of the Constitution. But the Supreme Court ruled against him.
Feeling disadvantaged, Sam Sumana proceeded to ECOWAS Court on the grounds that the Koroma led government did violate his rights to protection and security of the law; right to due process of the law; right to work; right to participate in government; right to personal safety and security; and right to dignity as enshrined in the African Charter and other international covenants.
The present ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) then in opposition condemned the Koroma led government and called on them to honour the ruling of the ECOWAS Court in favour of Sam Sumana. Since 2017, the Government of Sierra has not honored the organization’s ruling.
Femi Falana from Nigeria and Raymond Atuguba from Ghana are the lawyers representing Sam Suumana in the ECOWAS Court. In a press conference the former Vice President’s office organized yesterday, the lawyers called on the Sierra Leone Government to honour the Court’s ruling and disclosed that ECOWAS was set to further state it position in June this year which will include sanctions if the government fails to honor the 2017 ruling.
Sierra Leone is a member of ECOWAS and a signatory to its treaties. This makes it incumbent on all member states to honor the organization’s treaties of which failure to do so attract sanctions.
Article 77 of the Revised Treaty of the ECOWAS provides for the authority of the organization to suspend member state who fails to fulfill its obligations from benefiting loans or assistance, disbursement on on-going community projects or assistance, exclusion from presenting candidates for statutory and professional post, suspension of voting rights and participation in the activities of the community.
However, ECOWAS Court has no enforcement power,according to Finda Koroma, Vice President, ECOWAS Commission said in an audio played during the press briefing. Dispelling social media allegation that the suspension of the Kono University Project will be among sanction, she said the project has nothing to do with the ECOWAS Court of Justice. “Kono University of Science and Technology is a reality,” she emphasized.
Speaking at the press conference, Samsumana said citizens should be ready to stand against injustice and ensure the constitution of the country is protected, saying that he has endured a lot for the sake of citizens and for generations unborn.