May 5, 2015 By Abu-Bakarr Sheriff
The Supreme Court of Sierra Leone will today hear an injunction petition against Ambassador Victor Bockarie Foh which seeks to bar him from acting as vice president until the court determines whether or not President Ernest Bai Koroma acted within the country’s constitution to sack Vice President Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana and replace him, according to a competent judicial source.
Lawyers for the sacked vice president had filed an originating motion at the apex court last month seeking a number of reliefs, including whether the president can unilaterally sack the vice president without recourse to an impeachment procedure.
An originating summons they had filed at the court also sought reliefs that the State House announcement that Vice President Sam-Sumana had been relieved of his duties and office, plus the appointment of Ambassador Foh as Vice President, were both “unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect”.
Also, lawyers representing Alhaji Sam-Sumana pray that the court declares “an injunction restraining the said Victor Bockarie Foh from acting in the Office of Vice-President of Sierra Leone, pending the hearing and determination of this action”.
In the Supreme Court today, the five judges will hear arguments and counter arguments on whether to grant an interlocutory injunction, barring Ambassador Foh from acting as vice president until the determination of the substantive issue of the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of the president’s action.
If the injunction is granted by the court, the Sam-Sumana legal team would have scored a moral boosting early goal against lawyers representing Ambassador Foh, who together with the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Franklyn Bai Kargbo, are co-defendants in arguably the biggest constitutional litigation in post-conflict Sierra Leone.
The ruling could also have an impact on the executive arm of government as for the first time in the history of Sierra Leone, the office of vice president will be vacant, at least until the court delivers its judgment.
A State House release on 17 March 2015 said Vice President Sam-Sumana had been relieved from his post, citing sections 40(3) and 41(b) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.
The statement said the decision was taken because the vice president had been expelled by the ruling All Peoples Congress on 6 March 2015, and for “demonstrating willingness to abandon his duties and office as Vice President” following an alleged asylum bid to a foreign embassy, believed to be the American Embassy, on 14 March.
But the embattled vice president has challenged his “purported removal from office” which he described as “unconstitutional and unlawful”. He has also lodged an appeal with the party, contesting the constitutionality of his expulsion.