Sierra Leone: Former VP Samsuna’s ECOWAS Sanction Relief Seeks To Cripple The Country -AG
By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
Sierra Leone’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohamed- Lamin Tarawalley, has revealed that if the country’s former Vice President, Chief Alhaji Samuel -Samsumana’s 2017 enforced judgement against the government in his ingoing case at the West African regional court, ECOWAS in Abuja succeeded , it would have had a catastrophic impact on the country, as a whole, believing that his intention was to ‘’cripple the country’’
Speaking to journalists at their Lamina Sankoh Street office conference hall in Freetown, he said that the reliefs that the former Vice President was asking from the government were serious, prompting government to argue their own side at the court in Abuja, which, he said, saved the country from embarrassment.
‘’But for us to sit and allow this to go was a serious knack on us and a serious knack on the nation. If the former Vice President would have succeeded, it would have been possible for other international and regional bodies to sanction the country as well. He went to court for his removal as Vice President and then subsequently to ECOWAS Court . The reason he went to ECOWAS was because of the violations of his rights,’’ he said.
The former Vice President was sacked by the erstwhile President Ernest Bai Koroma in 2015, which forced him to take action against the country at the regional court of ECOWAS, over what he termed his “illegal removal from office ‘’, to which a default judgement was given against the state in 2017, a judgement which still stands against the West African nation.
‘’We all know before now that Alhaji Samsumana, before 2015, was the country’s Vice President under the previous Koroma administration, and sometime in May 2015, he was revoked from office for reason best known to the then administration. Subsequently, after a change of government in 2018, Samsumana wanted to enforce his judgment. The best way he could do that is to go to the ECOWAS Court again to enforce the judgment. The reliefs he sought were very serious . Primarily, among many things, was the ECOWAS to sanction this country, as if it was a military regime or any terrorist country, or country that has been blacklisted by a state,’’ Mohamed- Lamin Tarawalley said.
Mr. Tarawalley said that, as lawyers for the government representing the state, they had no option but to go and defend the country, adding that ‘’we couldn’t have settled to allow this to go, because when the action was first brought against the country, nobody defended and that was how he was able to get this judgment’’
The regional court thus, in 2017, ordered the Sierra Leonean government to pay all remunerations, perquisites of office and other entitlements due to the former second gentle man from the date of his removal from office till the date his tenure of office ended. However, the previous Koroma administration did not honour the ruling, prompting Sam’s latest enforcement reliefs to the court.
But the government of Sierra Leone believes that the West African regional court does not have the power and mandate or jurisdiction to sanction enforcement against the country, thus, enabling them to succeed on their case.
‘’As God could have it, we were able to stand our grounds with our argument. Another significance of this judgement is that he went to court for the violation of his human rights, as he has been deprived of his right to politically participate in governance, and this judgment, if it was granted against the state, would have made government a violator or abuser of his human rights. Again it would have meant the country doesn’t follow the rule of law.’’ Sierra Leone’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice added.
‘’For this reason, the Applicant again filed a motion on the 10th October 2019, seeking the following reliefs from the Court: directing the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS to impose sanctions against the Respondent through suspension of new community loans or assistance, suspension of disbursement on on-going community projects or assistance programmes, exclusion from presenting candidates for statutory and professional posts and suspension from participating in the activities of the community, pending compliance with the Judgment of the Ecowas Court delivered on the 27th day of November, 2017; and such order or further orders as this Honourable Community Court of Justice may deem fit and proper to make in the circumstance of this suit,’’ the former Vice President’s reliefs stated.