Latest court challenge does not yet constitute a legal impediment to Samura Kamara ‘s presidential candidacy
In a last minute dramatic twist to Sierra Leone’s presidential elections slated for June 24, the candidacy of All People’s Congress (APC) flagbearer, Dr. Samura Kamara is being challenged to court by rebels within the party.
Former Sports Minister and Publisher of FOR DI PEOPLE newspaper, Paul Kamara and Ex-Deputy Ambassador to the Sierra Leone Embassy in the U.S. have filed an application for constructions, interpretation and determination to Sections 35 (4) and 76 (1) D of the national constitution 1991, Act No. 6 of 1991.
As seen from the court papers below, they are seeking a determination from the court whether the Transitional Interim Independent Election Management (TIIEM ) had the legal mandate to conduct the APC National Delegates Convention in Makeni from the 17-19 February 2023 where Dr. Samura Kamara was elected presidential candidate, and also whether the findings of the Commission of Inquiry and the pending criminal case on the matter of the alleged embezzlement of funds meant for the renovation of the Sierra Leone UN Mission Chancery in New York (in which Dr. Kamara is one of the accused ) should have been taken into consideration by the Elections Commission of Sierra Leone ( ECSL) on the nomination of Dr. Samura Kamara as presidential candidate of the APC.
The first Respondent is the Elections Commission Chairman; the second the Elections Commission; the third Dr. Samura Kamara and the fourth the APC.
In layman’s term, they are asking the court to construct, interpret and determine the legitimacy of Dr. Samura Kamara ‘s candidacy..
HOWEVER, using my knowledge as somebody who studied Law but only did not take the bar exams, I WANT EVERY COMRADE OF THE APC TO know certain very important facts :
Until the Supreme Court issues responses positively affirming that there are legal grounds for the concerns raised ( if I may put it so ) or the answers demanded by the applicants had legal merits, Dr. Samura Kamara remains the APC presidential candidate, , contrary to the assertions of SLPP supporters , who are not grounded in the law . . For now also, the application by Paul KAMARA and Coulson Turay does not constitute any legal impediment to SAMURA KAMARA ‘S CANDIDACY, until the Supreme Court rules that it is so.
Secondly, using the precedent from the Donald Trump case , SAMURA KAMARA will only be disqualified from running for the presidency if he is found guilty of a crime without any reasonable doubt by a competent court of law. As at now, he has not been found guilty of anything ; the charges preferred against him are only allegations and according to law, a man is innocent until he has been tried and found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a court of competent jurisdiction.
As for the Commission of Inquiry findings, Dr. Samura Kamara has challenged them to court and he has at no time entered into any settlement of any sort with the Anti- Corruption Commission or the Government of Sierra Leone , which would have suggested an admission of culpability . The court has still not ruled on the appeal lodged by Dr. SAMURA KAMARA . Therefore , for now, on the basis of the COI White Paper alone, SAMURA KAMARA cannot be disqualified from contesting the elections.
With regards to the the question of whether the TIIEM had legal right to conduct the APC National Convention , the facts are clear. A High Court Judge, Justice Hannah Bonnie, with competent jurisdiction over the matter as the judge who originally placed the injunction, Justice Adrian Fisher, granted leave to the APC to hold its National Delegates Conference on the grounds that the injunction did not affect them.
Some comrades are contending that the applicants erred by taking the matter right to the Supreme Court instead of a lower court . In this, I wish to differ. Mind you, the applicants are seeking for construction , interpretation and determination to sections of the constitution that can only be given by the highest judicial court in the land– the Supreme Court. It is not a matter for any lower court.
It is unconscionable to imagine that Justice Bonnie lacked the legal competence, locus or jurisdiction to grant the leave when her decision has never been legally challenged by Justice Fisher or any competent judicial hearing or even by the Supreme Court.
It is also unconscionable to think that Justice Bonnie would have erred in ruling that the injunction did not affect the convention . First of all, she was continuing from Justice Fisher’s legal proceedings and was not acting from an adversarial position. It is therefore reasonable to believe that her decision was consistent with what Justice Fisher too would have decided if he had handled the matter. Again, there was no legal challenge to Justice Bonnie’s ruling, even from the Elections Commission or the PPRC.
There are also precedents in one or two African countries where , given such applications to determine, the Supreme Court deferred from doing so in the national interest , especially where it would have led to national catastrophe or chaos, or where a decision would not serve a good purpose ( I will go back into my old newspapers and the AFRICA WATCH magazine where I think I read it ) . I am not saying the Sierra Leone Supreme Court would follow the same precedent. Just stating what I read before.
From my understanding, no petition has been officially or legally filed against Dr. Samura Kamara ‘s CANDIDACY, though it is reasonable to assume that is the ultimate intention of the applicants . The two gentlemen have only as yet applied for construction, interpretation and determination to Sections 35 (4 ) and 76 ( 1) ( D) of the Sierra Leone Constitution 1991 ,Act No. 6 of 1991.
Let us wait and see whether the Supreme Court will accept the matter , given the ripples it would create nationally and internationally and its potential to plunge the nation into chaos, owing to the popularity of the 3rd respondent, Dr. Samura Kamara.
By Kabs Kanu
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