March 29, 2018 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
The Supreme Court in Sierra Leone has adjourned until April 5 to continue hearing a case brought before it by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) for judicial review of a raft of orders that had been granted by the High Court, presided by Justice Abdul Rahaman Mansaray.
On Monday, 26 March, Justice Mansaray gave several orders that NEC should follow when conducting the presidential runoff slated for March 31, but the commission challenged the said orders in the apex court on the grounds that the lower court lacks the jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court, presided over by Justice N.C. Brown-Marke, Justice Eku E. Roberts and Justice Glenna Thompson said solicitors for the applicants – Drucil E. Taylor, Beryl Cummings and Joseph E. Kapuwa – had filed an amended notice of motion, statement of case and supplemental affidavit deposed and sworn to on March 28, 2018.
However, counsel for the respondent, Lansana Dumbuya, told the judges that he had been unable to file a statement of the case on behalf of his client because he had not been served with the documents the previous day (March 27), but that he was only receiving it that afternoon.
Dumbuya said: “Having looked at the amendment sought, we would be able to respond to those details which they raised.”
Just after his statement, Justice Brown-Marke stated that the court cannot give any precise order as the respondent needs time to reply to plaintiff’s statement of case applicants.
At that juncture, Drucil Taylor stood up and brought to the notice of the three judges that the said adjourned date would affect his clients’ conduct of Saturday’s presidential run-off in view of the orders of Justice Mansaray in the High Court.
In response, they replied that that Taylor should ask for the file to be recalled in the High Court so both counsel could argue their case as there was no argument on the substantive matter in the lower court.
It could be recalled that one Ibrahim Sorie Koroma had filed an origination motion against NEC, Chief Returning Officer and the Attorney General seeking a litany of reliefs, including an injunction to restrain NEC from going ahead with the conduct of the run-off.
The court initially granted an interim injunction, which it later vacated and granted ten orders as to how the electoral body should conduct Saturday’s election.
But NEC lawyers say the judge should not have granted the orders in the first place as the High Court lacks jurisdiction to hear a matter relates to the office of the president, thus the decision to proceed to the Supreme Court.