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Supreme Court upholds Alie Bangura injunction

- but SLPP executive stays on

July 31, 2015 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara & Hassan Gbessay Koroma

The Supreme Court of Sierra Leone yesterday upheld the interlocutory injunction earlier sought by Ambassador Alie Essa Bangura to restrain the National Executive of the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) from conducting any intra-party elections while the substantive matter in court was yet to be determined.

Ambassador Bangura had filed a petition at the country’s apex court in 2013 against the party’s current Chairman, Chief Somanoh Kapen III and 27 others, challenging the outcome of the Bo Convention where he lost narrowly to the current chairman, thus asking the court to declare the elections “null and void” and order fresh elections.

As the matter progressed in court, the party expelled the plaintiff – a decision he has also challenged in court.

The plaintiff counsel, Osman Jalloh, had filed a supplementary motion which sought to restrain the SLPP executive from conducting any intra-party elections.

Assigned by the acting Chief Justice to read the judgment, Justice Eku Robert stated among other things that the interlocutory injunction the court had granted against the SLPP executive will not stop them from performing other functions. He said the court took into consideration the submission of the lead defence lawyer, Dr. Bu-Buakei Jabbi, that they should not grant the injunction on party executive members as they were not holders of public offices, thus making an allusion to the judgment the court made against sacked vice president, Samuel Sam-Sumana in his petition case.

The learned judge said the SLPP executive members were not holders of public offices as they were not paid from the Consolidated Fund, which was contrary to the case of Sam-Sumana, whose office was public and that holders of such office receive salaries from government coffers.

Justice Robert maintained that the court has also weighed the two sides as to what hardship the injunction might have on either side. “This court will grant the interlocutory injunction on the SLPP until the hearing and determination of the substantive matter. This court holds that it will cause no hardship to the defendants herein,” the judge ruled.

He noted, however, that the present injunction was only restraining the party temporarily from conducting any higher or lower elections until the court hears and determines the substantive matter, which is slated to start full hearing on September 24.

In a snap interview just after the court ruling, the party’s Deputy Chairman, Dr. Prince Harding, said the ruling has no effect on the party but rather complemented what they had earlier planned, which was not conducting any elections as the country was presently under a State of Public Health Emergency.

“The action of Ambassador Bangura has sent a wrong signal to both local and diaspora members of the SLPP,” said Dr. Harding. “These are the people who do not want this party to function effectively because of their personal vested interest.”

He added that the mandate of the current executive should have come to an end on 18 August 2015 but has now been extended by the court until September 24 and beyond.

The quintet of judges headed by acting Chief Justice Valesius Thomas, and Eku Robert, Vivian Solomon, Patrick Hamilton and Nicholas Browne-Marke, are due to start full hearing on the matter on September 24.

Meanwhile, the plaintiff was represented by lawyers M.S. Tarawally, Osman Jalloh and Augustine Marah, while Hon. Dr. Bu-Buakei Jabbi, Anthony Y. Brewa and Umaru Koroma represented the defendants.

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