NGC & C4C betray Salone Constitution …Over confirmation of Judges in Parliament

By Abu Bakarr Kargbo 

The three newly appointed Judges of the Appeal Court

In what was supposed to be a show of commitment to the National Constitution and loyalty to the nation turned out to be a betrayal by members of Sierra Leone’s two smaller opposition parties in Parliament when they disregarded constitutional provisions that did not favor two nominated judges to serve in the Court of Appeal.

Members of Parliament of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) and the Coalition for Change (C4C) joined the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) to vote against the decision of the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) not to approve two newly promoted Judges to the Court of Appeal. Justices Komba Kamanda and Alhaji Momoja Stevens will save June 25th as a date they will never forget after they received a heavy blow in the Well of Parliament from the main Opposition, which nearly denied them the opportunity to serve as Appeals Court Judges. Although APC Members of Parliament did not see the occasion as a fight-back opportunity and never made reference to the recent cases in court, they, however, brought to the attention of the public that the two Judges are not qualified to attain such a public office. The two Judges were part of six other Presidential Nominees that were to be approved in Parliament after they went through thorough scrutiny by the Committee on Appointment.

“We have gone through the records of the roll of court register and did not find the name of Justice Momoja Stevens,” says the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Chernor R.M. Bah and added that Justice Kamanda will be qualified on 2nd February 2021. “We should respect the laws we make in Parliament,” he noted and furthered that these are new facts discovered by the opposition party Members of Parliament despite the fact that they were made Judges by the previous regime.

The Leader of the Opposition praised Justice FatmataBintuAladi who she described as excellent in doing her job, competent, capable, and impartial and fit enough to sit in the Courts of Appeal.

Hon. Bah was able to establish that Justice Aladi is 158 and Justice KombaKamanda is 172 on the Roll of Court Register. The former signed the register on 12th January 2005. quoted Section 12 (1) and (2) of the Legal Practitioners Act of 2000 “(1) Subject to the Act, any person who wishes to be admitted to practice law in Sierra Leone shall make a written application to the Council in that behalf. (2) An application under subsection (1) shall bel be accompanied by- (a) two credentials of good character sufficient to satisfy the Council; (b) copies of certificates testifying that the applicant holds the qualification specified in Section 10, and (c) a certificate that he has served the period of pupilage applicable to him.” Section 10 (b) of the Act stated thus: “he has passed the appropriate professional examination conducted by the Council of Legal Education and served a period of pupilage of not less than twelve months with a legal practitioner of at least ten years standing in Sierra Leone.”

The APC Leader of Parliament also quoted Section 135 (4) of the 1991 Constitution, which stated thus: “For the purposes of subsection (3), a person shall be regarded as entitled to practice as Counsel if he has been called, enrolled or otherwise admitted as such and has not subsequently been disbarred or removed from the Roll of Counsel or Legal Practitioners.”

This fact from the Main Opposition did not catch the attention of the ruling Members of the Parliament together with the C4C, NGC, and Paramount Chiefs Members of Parliament. They all stood in favor of the motion to approve the two Justices after the motion had been put to them by the Speaker of the House.

The Leader of Government Business, Hon. Matthew Nyuma argued that the same law used by the President to appoint Justice Fatmata Bintu Aladi is the same used on the two other Justices.

Hon. Abdul Kargbo of the APC said the judiciary should uphold independence and impartiality, and added that nobody should dictate or influence the functions of the judiciary. “Those subjecting themselves to these odds in the judiciary will have their names and those of their families brought into disrepute. “Judges must not identify themselves openly with any political party, although they have the right to vote. They should respect the rule of law and natural justice,” he advised and reiterated the fact that everybody must have the right to a fair trial in court.

Hon. Kargbo singled out Justice Aladi who said she has comported herself and demonstrated impartiality in the administration of justice. 

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