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SLAJ Drags Sierra Leone President Back into their Morass?
By Awareness Times
Sep 23, 2009, 17:16
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Even as H.E. President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has found a way to escape from the morass created for him by local journalists, the Journalists Secretary-General was yesterday September 22nd 2009 trying to drag the President back into their morass.


The fact is that many citizens, especially those with a good grasp of the importance of Separation of Powers were appalled at the aberration in an ill-drafted 28th August 2009 letter from State House that had implicitly stated a time for a Supreme Court ruling as if the President had the originating authority to state such.


Last week Thursday, after vigorous civil activism, the Presidency found a way to retract its previous stance and re-worded its communication to reflect the fact that the President cannot legitimately intervene or order any act within the Judiciary when it comes to judicial functions and intrinsic judicial powers.


Additionally, the clarified position of the President is that it never gave any in mid-September date but rather was himself expecting the ruling to be delivered anytime during the course of the judicial year starting 15th September 2009.


This is why it is amusing to read the latest attempt by the Secretary-General of SLAJ, Mr. Mustapha Sesay, to assert that those who criticised the President did so because the President, in Sesays own words, acted within his power.


Acted within what power Mr. Sesay? In case you still have not yet grasped it, President Koroma has maturely distanced himself from any misunderstanding of the August 28th 2009 Letter from State House!


The Presidency has issued a 17th September 2009 Press Release clarifying things and thus escaping from the imbroglio it had been in but yet still SLAJ is yesterday trying to drag the escaped President back into the morass the President has escaped from!


Mustapha Sesay should respect the right of the President to distance himself from any misunderstanding of just how limited his Executive powers are in this matter. In case SLAJ missed it, President Koromas Office has further clarified that what he had actually meant to do in the 28th August 2009 Letter was to render an assurance that, judgment would be delivered during the course of the judicial year starting 15th September 2009.


The President has clarified for you that insofar as that 28 August 2009 letter you now cite, is concerned, he was referencing any date during the course of the Judiciary year. Unless you wish to now say you understand the President better than himself.


Mr. Mustapha, instead of constructively engaging the Judiciary as you had recently misinformed Voice of America was done, you prefer, as the esteemed voice of the Fourth Estate, to destructively battle things out in the public domain with an institution that cannot be seen to be engaged in public battles.


You issue out battle cries even as you very well know that the Judiciary, by its very make-up, cannot publicly respond to your insulting threats against it; but surely there are journalists around who will not sit by idly and watch you drag the Judiciary through the mud when you have made absolutely no attempt to try to find out what could be the Judiciarys constraints faced that might hamper the three months constitutional deadline.


If, as the Fourth Estate, you think you are too good to dialogue with the Judiciary; If you are too arrogant to try to walk a mile in the other persons shoes; If you are too self-righteous to try to elicit what could be possible Judicial constraints, then just sit tight and keep your fingers crossed but take note that during the course of the Judicial year is a period that spans from September 2009 until June 2010.


Please reconsider your aggressor stance and threats of further backlash. I am not sure many sane people will entertain your backlash battle cries anymore. I suggest you take a step back and find people who will help you to initiate dialogue with the Judiciary. There are many who enjoy the respect of the Judiciary whom you also respect. Why not try them?


If you can find it in you to dialogue with the Executive over the issue, surely you can put your arrogance aside and take the step you should have taken a very long time ago? The Supreme Court Registrys doors are always open to citizens. Try walking through it for a change. Turn away from the Presidents Executive Doors, walk down to the Judiciary and try walking through the doors of the Supreme Courts Registry. Forget about the President and his August 28th 2009 Letter. The fact is that President Koroma has absolutely no power in the carrying out of Judicial functions. The poor man has found a way to maturely escape from your morass. Dont drag him back in.


1st Floor, 56 Campbell Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone P.M.B. 724



President: +232 76 609285                    Secretary General:  +232 76 652556


                             22 September 2009




Freetown: SLAJ wishes to remind the Supreme Court that as per a letter to the Association from the Office of the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone dated 28 August 2009, it should deliver a ruling in the case of a constitutional interpretation taken to it by the association.


The Association is deeply disappointed that up to now the Court has not made any announcement regarding the exact date of the ruling, which it considers a flagrant violation of the Constitution of Sierra Leone by the highest court of the land.


On criticism by some individuals that President Ernest Bai Koroma interfered with the work of the judiciary by intervening in the matter, SLAJ believes that as Fountain of Justice and guardian of the Constitution, the President acted within his power to protect the right of citizens where this was violated by those who should guarantee it.


The Association further wishes to reaffirm that the principle of separation of powers, which is being trumpeted by these critics, does not give a license to any of the organs of government to violate the rights of citizens as the Supreme Court has clearly done in this case.


It is worth noting that the case in question seeking an interpretation and a repeal of certain sections of the Public Order Act of 1965 which criminalise libel was taken to the Supreme Court by SLAJ in February 2008. The court only sat on the matter one year later.


And even though final arguments in the case were concluded on 9 March 2009, the Supreme Court has not delivered a ruling, contrary to Section 120/16 of the 1991 Constitution which says Every Court established under this Constitution shall deliver its decision in writing no later than three months after the conclusion of the evidence and final addresses of arguments of appeal, and furnish all parties to the cause or matter determine with duly authenticated copies of the decision on the date of the delivery thereof


SLAJ therefore remains hopeful that the Supreme Court will stop gambling with its credibility and rule on this case now to avert a further backlash.




Mustapha Sesay

National Secretary General


© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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