Salone News

PMDC Goes To Supreme Court

6 June 2007 at 05:22 | 395 views

By Theophilus S. Gbenda,
Freetown

The long awaited court hearing involving the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC) and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), came up this morning (Tuesday) at the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone.

It could be recalled that sometime last year, the PMDC filed a Petition to the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), questioning the eligibility of Solomon Ekuma Berewa to be elected Leader and Presidential Candidate of the SLPP while he maintains the incumbent position of Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
The PMDC rests its case on Sections 35 (4) of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone which stipulates that “No political party shall have as its leader a person who is not qualified to be elected Member of Parliament” and 76 (1)(h) of the same constitution which states that “.if he is for the time being the President, the Vice-President, a Minister or a Deputy Minister under the provisions of this Constitution’’.

Based on the above mentioned portions of the 1991 constitution, it is evident even from a lay man’s perspective that Berewa’s appointment/ election as Leader and Presidential Candidate of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) while he remains the Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone is in breach of the constitution referred to.

In what was referred to by many observers as a travesty of justice, the PPRC, in a rather confused manner, and as if acting under the whims and caprices of the power that be, failed to address the crucial issues contained in the Petition, and thus went off track by endorsing the candidature of Solomon Ekuma Berewa for the presidency.
Because the PMDC feels the decision falls below the weight of the Petition, it was deemed necessary for the matter to be taken to the Supreme Court as dictated by Section 35 (7) of the 1991 constitution which provides that “Persons aggrieved by the decision of the PPRC can appeal directly to the Supreme Court”.

The controversial PPRC decision reads thus:
“As an ordinary citizen, Solomon Ekuma Berewa is qualified to become a Member of Parliament. But while serving as Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone , he cannot become a Member of Parliament at the same time. This is so because of the existence of the separation of powers; as no one individual citizen can become a member of any two or all three arms of government simultaneously, that is: the Legislature - which comprises the Speaker and Members of Parliament, the Executive - comprising the President, Vice Present and Cabinet and the Judiciary - comprising the Chief Justice and members of the Superior Court of Judicature. Because of the aforementioned, the Political Parties Registration Commission is of the view that Solomon Ekuma Berewa is qualified to contest for the Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Sierra Leone .”

The PMDC Legal Team headed by Charles Francis Margai, who happens to be the Leader and Presidential Candidate of the party, has argued its case before judges of the Supreme Court, who are now left with the onus of delivering a ruling based on law and not sentiment.

Below is the PMDC’s Appeal to the Supreme Court:

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF SIERRA LEONE
NOTICE OF CIVIL APPEAL
CIVIL APPEAL NO 1/2007
BETWEEN

1. PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC - Appellants/Petitioners
CHANGE (PMDC)
9A HANNAH BENKA-COKER STREET
FREETOWN

2. THE SECRETARY GENERAL
PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE (PMDC)
9A HANNAH BENKA-COKER STREET
FREETOWN

AND

1.SIERRA LEONE PEOPLE’S PARTY (SLPP) RESPONDENT
15 WALLACE JOHNSON STREET
FREETOWN

2. THE CHAIRMAN
SIERRA LEONE PEOPLE’S PARTY (SLPP)
15 WALLACE JOHNSON STREET
FREETOWN

TAKE NOTICE that the Appellants/Petition are being dissatisfied with the decision more particularly stated hereunder contained in the decision of the Political Parties Registration Commission dated 21st day of July, 2006, and pursuant to section 35 sub-section 7 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991, Act No. 6 of 1991, doth hereby appeal to the Supreme Court upon the grounds set out in paragraph 3 hereof and will, at the hearing of the appeal, seek the reliefs set out in paragraph 4.

1. Part of the Decision Complained of:
The complaint lies against the entire decision of the Political Parties Registration Commission dated 21st day of July, 2006 which states as follows:

“As an ordinary citizen Solomon Ekuma Berewa is qualified to become a Member of Parliament. But while serving as Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone , he cannot become a Member of Parliament at the same time.
This is so because of the existence of the separation of powers; as no one individual citizen can become a member of any two or all three arms of government simultaneously, that is,

A. The Legislature which comprises the Speaker and Members of Parliament.
B. The Executive comprising the President, Vice Present and Cabinet.
C. The Judiciary comprising the Chief Justice and members of the Superior Court of Judicature.

Because of the aforementioned, the Political Parties Registration Commission is of the view that Solomon Ekuma Berewa is qualified to contest for the Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Sierra Leone .”

2. The Particulars of Misdirection and errors of Law respectively are as follows:

A. That the Commission erred in considering Mr. Solomon Ekuma Berewa’s Response dated 28th June 2006 purportedly made in response to the Appellants/Petitioners’ Petition dated 16th June 2006 as a response from the Respondents.
B. That the Commission, in its deliberation and hence decision, failed to appreciate that section 75 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991, Act No. 6 of 1991 aforesaid, should have been read subject to section 76(1)(h) of the said Constitution.
C. That the Commission, in its deliberation and conclusion, misconceived the spirit and intent of section 76(1)(h) of the said Constitution.

3. The Grounds of Appeal are:

A. That in the light of the provisions of sections 34, 35, 75 and 76 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991, Act No.6 of 1991 in particular section 35(4) and 76(1)(h) of the said Constitution as well as the provisions of section 6(1) and (2) (a-e), 14(1) and 27(a) and (b) of the Political Parties Act 2002, Act No.3 of 2002 (as amended), the Political Parties Registration Commission, in its decision of 21st day of July 2006, failed to address the crucial and all-important question contained in the Appellants/Petition ers Petition of 16th June as to “whether in the light of the aforesaid provisions of section 14(1) of the Political Parties Act no. 3 of 2002 (as amended) and sections 35(4) and 76(1)(h) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, Act No. 6 of 1991, Mr. Solomon Berewa as Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone and Leader of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is not contravening the aforementioned provisions”.

B. That notwithstanding the provisions of section 5(3) and (4) of the Political Parties Act 2002 aforesaid, the Commission, in proceeding to determine the said Petition in the absence of the Chairman, deprived itself of the necessary ‘judicial’ oversight that the Chairman’s presence would have brought to bear on its decision.

C. That the Political Parties Registration Commission determined the Appellants/Petitioners’ Petition and reached a decision on it without a Response from the Respondents.

D. That the aforesaid decision of the Political Parties Registration Commission is against the weight of the Petition filed by the Appellants/Petition ers.

4. The Reliefs sought from the Supreme Court are:
a. To set aside the decision of the Political Parties Registration Commission for the aforesaid reasons and to substitute one in favour of the Appellants/Petitioners.
b. Such further or other relief to be granted to the Appellants/Petitioners as the justice of the case requires.

5. The address for the service of the Appellants/Petition ers is 9A Hannah Benka-Coker Street , Freetown , and the names and addresses for service of the Solicitor and Counsel for the Appellants/Petitioners respectively are:

1.M. P. Fofanah Esq.
Edrina Chambers
42 Siaka Stevens Street
Freetown -
Solicitor for the Appellants/Petitioners.

2.C.F. Margai Esq.
Banta Chambers
40 Rawdon Street,
Freetown -
Counsel for the Appellants/Petitioners

6.The Persons directly affected by this appeal are:

A. Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP)
C/O The Chairman
15 Wallace Johnson Street
Freetown.

Dated this 18th day of January 2007.

...........................
Counsel for the Appellants/Petitioners

This Notice of Appeal is filed by M.P. Fofanah Esq. of Edrina Chambers, 42 Siaka Stevens Street , Freetown , Solicitor for the Appellants/Petitioners.

Note: If the PMDC’s Appeal is granted, it will signal the end of the political life of the SLPP, at least for the coming Presidential and Parliamentary elections slated for August 11, 2007. The relevant provision is contained in Section 27 of the Political Parties Act 2002, which states, “In an event that a political party violates the provisions of the constitution, the PPRC shall make recommendation for that party to be struck off the register of political parties”.

Photo: PMDC leader Charles Margai.

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