CF Magai’s Thoughts on Auditor General’s Suspension
Charles Margai breaks silence!
For more than three years of keeping silent after he was dismissed from office as Attorney General and Minister of Justice on 12th June 2018 barely two months after his appointment, Charles Francis Margai has for the first time spoken out.
In the wake of the widely condemned suspension of the Auditor General, Mrs Lara Taylor-Pearce and her deputy, Tamba Momoh, Mr Margai, as he had done in the past being one of the country’s most senior legal luminaries, has proffered a legal opinion on the issue, in which he out rightly condemned the President’s decision as a breach of Act No. 6 of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone.
“The President’s action is precipitous and a breach of his constitutional obligation”, Charles Francis Margai writes, referencing the President’s Oath in the second schedule, in which the latter made a solemn undertaking that “…I will at all times well and truly discharge the duties of the Office of the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone according to law, that I will preserve, support, uphold, maintain and defend the constitution of the republic of Sierra Leone as by law established, and that I will do right to all manner of people according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill will….”
In his estimation, Lawyer Margai states that the President’s suspension of the AG and her deputy should have come after the setting up of a tribunal, as provided for in section 137 (6) of Act No 6 of 1991 constitution rather than the reverse.
Lawyer Margai further clarifies that the constitution gives leeway to the President to revoke the suspension which ceases to have effect, where the tribunal recommends that the removal of the AG or a judge as the case may be is not tenable.
Charles Margai also questions the authority of the Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr Umaru Napoleon Koroma to have addressed a correspondence to the Hon Chief Justice, triggering the commencement of investigations into the conduct of the AG and her deputy, citing section 137 (5), of Act No 6 of 1991, which spells out the process to be followed in commencing investigations into the conduct of a judge, in this case the Auditor General, which Napoleon’s letter contravenes.
Mr Margai finally makes reference to the legal consequences when the president is in breach of the constitution.
Meanwhile, a member of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, Basita Michael Esq, has tendered her resignation dated 18th November 2021 in expression of her reservation over the independence of the Commission in relation to the setting up of the tribunal to investigate the conduct of the AG and her deputy; and dissatisfied with the process of selecting members of the tribunal.
By Abdul Kuyateh
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