As Appeals Court Concludes 2 Cases… Judgment For APC

Anxiety and uncertainty hang heavily on the minds of 32 sitting All People’s Congress (APC) Members of Parliament that were petitioned by the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) candidate in the March 2018 parliamentary elections.

Last week, their lawyers received notice from the Registry of the Appeals Court that judgment in the said matters was to be delivered on Friday here in Freetown. Hon. Lahai Marah, one of the petitioned APC MPs narrated the circumstances leading up to the Appeals Court.

According to him, the High Court in the North squashed petitions filed against five of them by their SLPP opponents for lack of merit, including timing of the petitions and other legal factors. Dissatisfied with the ruling, the SLPP losers filed an appeal in the superior court which decided that because of the sensitive nature of the matter, and its implications, the lawyers representing both parties should share documents.

The reason why they, their family members and supporters thronged to the Law Court building past Friday was because they had been informed by their lawyers that the ruling was to be delivered. Hon. Lahai Marah commenting on the matter said their cases must be heard according to the law, noting that the law states that no election petition should be heard after four months of its filing but that in this case, their cases have lasted for one year in the court.

He repeated what the APC leadership has been saying that they do not have confidence in the Chief Justice and the Judiciary of Sierra Leone. Giving the reason why, he cited the Chief Justice slamming an injunction on them the day the Speaker of Parliament was to be elected so that they would not take part in the election.

He added that APC filed petitions against 26 elected SLPP MPs, whilst SLPP filed 26 but that the courts have been mute about APC’s petitions, whilst theirs are still being heard. He insinuated that the SLPP government is arm twisting because, according to him, it is always when APC MPs stand up to advocate on behalf of the people that the cases against them are awakened. Wanting an update on their matters, he said that was why they besieged the CJ’s office to get firsthand information from him. Hon. Daniel Koroma picked up the narrative at this point. He reported that the CJ was magnanimous to receive them and asked them why they wanted to see him.

He said it was because they had received notice from their lawyers about the verdict to be delivered that morning (past Friday). In respect of the law and as their right and duty, he said they had a right as a litigant to be present when the ruling is delivered as they each represent at least 50, 000 people in their different constituencies.

The CJ in updating them about their matters said the reason why judgment could not be delivered was because one of the three judges on the panel was ill. In such an instance, the court had to be adjourned but that the CJ gave them no specific adjourned date. However, he said the CJ told them that it would probably be by the end of this month. Notice to the effect, the CJ, he said, will be sent to their lawyers.

The CJ, Hon. Daniel Koroma said, also commented on the other petition cases against APC MPs in the Freetown High Court, with the CJ assigned as one of the judges but that his heavy workload has constrained him to conclude. However, the CJ informed the APC MPs that the Appeals Court ruling is finished, only delivery of it remains. Hon. Daniel Koroma said that based on what the CJ told them, they will inform the Party leadership accordingly.