Lawyer Margai asks for amendment time
June 17, 2015 By Regina Pratt & Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Charles Francis Margai, the newly hired lead defence counsel for sacked Vice President Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana, yesterday asked the Supreme Court for time to amend the plaintiff’s originating motion to the court.
“My lords, I submit that we are in court to seek leave for more time to comply with the order of the court, citing Rule 103 of the Supreme Court Rules of 1982, waive of non-compliance with the rules,” pleaded Mr. Margai.
Addressing the judges on the authorities, he said in support of the application he had furnished the court with ten authorities and opined that the refusal of the erstwhile plaintiff lawyer to amend the case was deliberate, although the court and client had instructed him to do so.
Alhaji Sam-Sumana seeks an interpretation of whether President Ernest Bai Koroma as part of his “Supreme Executive Powers” has any right to remove him from office without recourse to sections 50 and 51 of the 1991 Constitution.
With the case having dragged on since March, beginning with an application for an interim injunction restraining the appointive vice president to continue serving in his post, which the five panel judges rejected, the veteran lawyer was announced as lead counsel after the ‘former’ vice president replaced J.B. Jenkins-Johnston in a rather dramatic fashion.
Prior to the application, the firebrand legal luminary informed the five judges – Acting Chief Justice Valisius Thomas, Justices Nicholas Browne-Marke, Eku Roberts, Vivian Solomon and Patrick Hamilton – his team had issues with the competence of lawyer Lahai Momoh Farmer, who is one of the counsels for first defendant, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Franklyn Bai Kargbo.
He informed the court of an application by lawyers representing Alhaji Sam-Sumana, by way of a notice of motion dated 10th June, 2015 and filed on 11 June, supported by affidavits marked exhibits ‘A’ to ‘J’ inclusively and exhibit ‘E’, which elicited an order of the court dated 1 June 2015.
He said it was not in contention for the court to order an amendment of the statement of a case as lead counsel of the plaintiff did not oppose to the amendment.
However, Mr. Margai noted that his predecessor did not comply with the said order to amend the plaintiff’s case, adding that instead on 4 June, 2015 filed a notice to the court that he did not intend to amend the case.
In his reply, Berthan Macaulay, counsel for first defendant, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Franklyn Bai Kargbo, submitted that the previous counsel, Mr. Jenkins-Johnston and his team had elected, by way of an affidavit on 4 June, not to amend the plaintiff’s case as he was entitled to do by order of the court.
He further submitted that the plaintiff is bound by that election as filing of the said affidavit was causal and not collateral to an order by the court, and that an extension of time was untenable.
The court is now due to rule on both legal submissions in its next hearing, which the panel of five judges did not announce.