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In Sierra Leone: As he Endorses Controversial Commission of Inquiry

In Sierra Leone: As he Endorses Controversial Commission of Inquiry


Many Sierra Leoneans, especially members of the main opposition, All Peoples Congress (APC), have questioned the neutrality and independence of the Hon. Chief Justice, Mr. Desmond Babatunde Edwards, over his endorsement of the legally contentious Commissions of Inquiry launched past Tuesday, 29th January, 2019 by President Julius Maada Bio.

The endorsement of the COIs by the head of the judiciary of Sierra Leone, who ought to be a neutralist, has now sparked a lot of debate from both national and foreign quarters and has also left many analysts wondering whether the Hon. Chief Justice is not another Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) surrogate who is been used by the SLPP Government to target the opposition.

It could be recalled that the constitutional instruments that set up the three commissions of inquiry are still heavily contentious as members of the opposition All Peoples Congress (APC), All Political Parties Association (APPA), Bar Association and a good number of Civil Society Organizations among others believe the instruments contravene sections 149 & 150 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.

The contraventions in the constitutional instruments have strongly been challenged by the aforementioned groups and organizations especially the Sierra Leone Bar Association who had written letters to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to look into the grey areas of the constitutional instruments and subsequently taken the matter to the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone for an interpretation .

Without looking into the concerns by the various groups especially the main opposition, whose past officials are to be investigated by the commissions of inquiry, the Sierra Leone Peoples Party Government has gone ahead in launching the commissions of inquiry even though the opposition has remain adamant in its non-compliance stance.

To make matters worse, the Chief Justice, who is the head of the Judiciary and whose institution is to preside over the constitutional concerns raised by the Sierra Leone Bar Association and the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC), has already taken sides with the government by endorsing the highly regarded  illegal commissions of inquiry.

His action has indeed left many Sierra Leoneans wondering whether the Judiciary of Sierra Leone, which has come under serious condemnation over the years for its high political interference, poor performance in dispensing equal justice, corruption among others, will not be worst under his watch.

By Ibrahim Alusine Kamara

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