The substantive matter; whether the constitution of Sierra Leone empowers President Koroma to sack the elected Vice President (VP) Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana from his position and relieve him off his duties has begun as the five Supreme Court Judges started the hearing last Friday.
The Plaintiff applicant; Chief Sam-Sumana was in court for the first time. He was seated on the right hand side of his Lawyers, in the last row of chairs, dressed in a black suit and sporting a black and white striped necktie. The Chief Justice informed the court that the matter was not heard on the last slated date – the 12th May, 2015 “because the plaintiff requested for an adjournment.” He added that the court granted his request and that was why the hearing was adjourned for last Friday.
Lead Lawyer for the plaintiff Blyden Jenkins Johnston who is backed up by Pa Momoh Fofanah and Leon Jenkins-Johnston addressed the Supreme Court on behalf of Alhaji Sam-Sumana “in the matter of sections 124 and 127 of the constitution of Sierra Leone Act No 6 of 1991, and in the matter of the office of the Vice President of Sierra Leone.”
He told the five Supreme Court judges that they are before them for an interpretation of two questions; “whether the constitution of Sierra Leone empowers the President to remove the Vice President …” in a manner other than “the procedures set out in sections 50 and 51 of the constitution,” and whether the “Supreme Executive Authority” mentioned in section 41 of the constitution includes the power to relieve the VP from power rather than through the due process set out in section 51 and 52 of the constitution.
Addressing the five Supreme Court Judges, Valesius Thomas (Chief Justice and Chairman of the panel of Judges), Nicolas Browne-Marke, Patrick Hamilton, Vivian Solomon and Eku Roberts, Lawyer Jenkins Johnson made reference to the origination notice of motion.
He outlined the reliefs sort which include a declaration that the public notice announcing the Vice President is relieved is unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect; the appointment of Victor B. Foh as Vice President is null and void; injunction restraining Victor Foh from acting in the office as Vice President and declaration that Alhaji Sam Sumana remains in office as Vice President until removed by section 50 or 51 in the constitution of Sierra Leone.
He then proceeded with a supplementary affidavit to the originating notice of motion. At this point defence lawyer Berthan Macauley Jnr objected that they do not have that document. They argued that the supplementary affidavit of motion which he is dated 8th April 2015, is fresh fact which was not contained in their reply.
The judges confirmed that “they have the said document,” and asked Plaintiff Lawyer whether he was the one that served the defendants lawyers.
Responding Jenkins Johnston said “no” adding that he filed the papers to the Supreme Court Registrar and according to Supreme Court rules it was the registrar that should now serve the other parties, stating that is why they had given enough copies to the registry.
The Judges then ordered that the Defendants’ lawyers be served.
Immediately after, the Defendants’ Lawyers applied to the court for leave to amend their case since Sam Sumana’s Lawyer had come up with fresh facts.
A fifteen Minutes stand-down was taken by the judges to decide on the objection made by Lawyers representing the defendants.
The judges ruled that following the objection, the registry must serve supplementary affidavit to the originating notice of motion yesterday 15th May, 2015 adding that the defendants’ lawyers can amend on to the 22nd May, 2015.
They then adjourned the matter to the 28th May, 2015.
As the elected VP quietly left the court room and entered his car, his supporters gave him a round of applause.
By Emmanuella Kallon
Monday May 18, 2015