By Feima Sesay
Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma former president of the Republic of Sierra Leone`s case has on Wednesday 22 June 2022 Commences before three appeal court judges at the Appeals Court in Freetown.
The judges include Justice Fatmata Bintu Alhadi presiding judge, Justice Tonia Barnett and Justice Komba Kamanda.
This is as about the commission of inquiry that was set up by president Bio to investigate past government officials that ruled the country for the tenure 2007 to 2018.
The appeal is based on the recommendations and findings made by judges at the Commissions of Inquiry in 2018.
Lawyer Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara representing the appellant Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in his submission stated that the appellant is basing his appeal on three main grounds.
He said firstly section 150 of the constitution of Sierra Leone was violated by Justice Biobelle George Will when he proceeded to conduct a whole commission of inquiry without the rules and regulations as stipulated in the constitution.
He added that the judge crafted his own rules regardless of the directions of the said constitution adding that the commissioner did not have the power to indict anyone but to make recommendations but Justice Bio Bell George Will finds the appellant guilty and even involves punishment.
He said the commissioners can input on the law but cannot action their decisions on the law.
He said the executive decision to approve terminal beneficiary payment to the petroleum directorate was authorised by the Ministry of Finance to offer an interest free loan for the procurement of election materials.
He said whiles a person is sitting as a president he or she has to be guided and takes decisions that will affect the government as there is a procedure the office of the president follows.
Lawyer Kamara said the staff at petroleum directorate was paid and they earned their terminal benefits in an extra account as a proposal was withdrawn and a report was given to the Ministry of Finance and the president approved it.
He said since the election was fast approaching the European Union cut down their finances to the government and so the government has to put in their money for election to be held and the elections materials and payment were made at the Rokel Bank adding that it was the decision of the president because the bank was at a verge of falling.
He said section 19(1)(2) of the bank act said banks should maintain paid up capital at the bank of Sierra Leone and if a bank is unable to maintain the paid up capital the bank should seek funds and that was what Dr. Ernest Koroma did and today Rokel Bank is a success story.
In the files of appeal number 39?202, lawyer Kamara submitted that the provision of section 150 of the constitution refer to as an outside clause which has the jurisdiction on its own and for the judge to issue a practice decision is a reserve of the Chief Justice.
Lawyer Kamara furthered that the commissioner Justice Bankole Thompson gives directions of the law and implemented it, he added that the appellant was never given the opportunity to argue instead they were over ruled.
He said the judge made an adverse finding against the appellant that he was in charge and control of peculiar resources disproportion to his office but there was no evidence before the commission but the judge in conclusion of his report stated that the property of the appellant at Femi Tuner Goderich and Makeni should be confiscated to the state.
Lawyer Kamara furthered that the appellant was a former insurance committee member and has been member of Parliament for ten years and also leader of a political party before been in office, he added that the appellant disclosed his asset before the Commission of Inquiry indicating that he has two properties which is the house at Femi Tuner in Goderich and it was purchase by his brother in 1984 and it has been subjected to continuous development and they present the conveyance before the court and the house at Makeni.
He said several properties were assigned to him as owner but did not hack them like the Bura Hotel in Port Loko which belong to one Mohammed Buya Kamara but the judge in his finding indicated that the said property belong to him and other properties that does not have his name but they still insist that he confiscate these properties to the state.
He said the commissioner said that house at Femi Tuner and Makeni should be confiscated to the states because they were purchased during his tenure in office.
Lawyer Kamara furthered that the commissioner fails to access the net worth of the appellant as against his official voluminate and he never research as to what he was earning whiles he was in office as president.
He said the commissioner said he has made a mathematical calculation that the appellant earns far expenses that he earn when he was in office.
Lawyer Kamara also submitted that when he went to access the house at Goderich stood several metres away from the house and he look at the roof saying he is afraid to enter the compound, he added that the commissioner then valued the house that it worth over 500,000 USD and the house is a two story building which he never entered and he never knew how many rooms are in the house or if it has swimming pool inside but concluded that the house worth over 500,000 USD.
In reply Lawyer Robert Kowa representing the state said that executive orders are orders given by the president and not the former president and no criminal or civil action can be taken against the president whiles in office.
He said in the case of Rokel Bank the constitution said that public funds should not be loaned without the approval of Parliament adding that most of what that has been done by the appellant was unlawful and unconstitutional.
Lawyer Kowa furthered that all the asset declarations and figures were calculated as the time the appellant took up office and the time he relinquishing office and those figures were found to be inconsistent.
He highlighted that exhibit AIAZ 1-36 is the property in Makeni indicated the cost by the contractor Hayssan Ray but at this juncture Lawyer Kamara objected that the man was never brought before the court as there were chances to do so but he never testified before the court nether was he cross examined by him and that so many exhibits were passed through the back door.
Lawyer Kowa refers to exhibit 422 to 437 stating that it is a cheque issued by the appellant to Eco Company and this he said tells the judge that the appellant was living above his legitimacy but lawyer Kamara objected again that he requested for the cheque to be brought before the court but they refused again and when they insisted they close the Commission.
After both submissions were made the three judges indicated that they will send out notices to both sides for ruling.
APC, SLPP sign MOU ahead of Bye-elections
Alfred Peter Conteh the Interim chairman for the All Peoples Congress together with Robert Chankanda from the Sierra Leone Peoples party has signed a memorandum of Understanding (MOU) ahead of the five (5) By-Elections on Saturday 25th June 2022.
The MOU was signed in the presence of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL), Office of National Security (ONS), the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF).
From the agreement both parties agreed to refrain from the use of obscene language, insulting songs, and hate speech against themselves and other state functionaries.
They also actively promised to promote tolerance and condemn any act of violence and intimidation by their supporters and members throughout the electioneering cycle.
The parties also agreed to continue to obey the security sector’s ban on the use of political party marshals and that all political actors, party stalwarts, and non-accredited individuals who are not ordinarily resident nor eligible to vote in those elections must not be seen within the precincts of Polling Centres on polling day.
The MOU also agreed that party officials accredited will be allowed in the Constituency and Wards and that contesting political parties, their candidates, and supporters shall refrain from all forms of violence.