I know for a fact from impeccable sources that Hon. Justice Nicholas Colin Browne-Marke on Tuesday May 4th 2010 at around 4:00pm personally begged the Hon. Chief Justice Umu-Hawa Tejan-Jalloh in her office, virtually on his bended knees, in the presence of others, to be excused (recused) from continuing to preside over the matters of the State versus Haja Afsatu Kabba.
His removal from the matters therefore had nothing to do with political interference but everything to do with patriotic local journalists’ embarrassing revelations of Browne-Marke’s links to a primary prosecutorial antagonist of Afsatu Kabba by the name of Mrs. Lilian Ada Lisk. It was a case of the Fourth Estate helping an arm of Government (the Judiciary) to do the right thing. And for this, For Di People (Paul Kamara), Independent Observer (Jonathan Leigh), Premier News (Theo Nicol) & Awareness Times (yours truly) should be credited.
Earlier that same Tuesday, Haja Afsatu Kabba’s lawyers had invited Anti Corruption Commission’s Lawyer Calvin Mantsebo Esq. to go with them to Browne-Marke’s Chambers where Haja Afsatu’s lawyers highlighted incontrovertible evidence of Browne-Marke’s links to Lilian Lisk; evidence that Browne-Marke was not to dispute but to reportedly shamefacedly accept that it would be wrong for him to continue to preside over Haja Afsatu’s matters.
Indeed, leading opinions are that for him to have even commenced the matter in light of the facts that now were tumbling out, has cast a slur on his reputation.
The Judge realised that ‘the game was up’ when Afsatu Kabba’s lawyers, [which team is led by Blyden Jenkins-Johnston Esq.] told him right inside his Chambers to knowledge of the ACC’s Lead Prosecutor Calvin Mantsebo, that if he did not quietly remove himself from the case with self-respect like a big man, they were determined to vigorously expose his questionable Lilian Lisk links in Open Court the next morning.
So, Justice Browne-Marke took the best route out to ‘save his face’ by leaving his offices at the east-end of the Third Floor facing Siaka Stevens Street, walked down the stairs to the Second Floor office suites of the Chief Justice at the west-end of the Law Courts, where he personally ensured the handing-over of the two Afsatu Kabba case files back to his Boss the Chief Justice for re-assignment to another Judge.
During the conversation that ensued, I am informed that in the presence of other persons, the Chief Justice repeatedly asked him if he was sure he wanted to be excused and he repeatedly responded in affirmative. I am informed that he took pains to explain to the Chief Justice what transpired between him and the lawyers and how he told them that he had long since wanted to be recused from the matter because of his Lilian Lisk links but had not wanted his Boss to be upset with him if he turned down her assignment of the file to him.
It was only then that the Chief Justice, in her wisdom, instructed the Master & Registrar to place the file in front of Hon. Samuel Ademusu. There are only three Judges handling Corruption Cases. The third one, Justice Mary Sey recently lost her mother and had to travel to the Gambia for the funeral.
This is why I am finding it irritating to watch and read as certain persons hastily fall all over themselves to second-guess ‘reasons’ for why Abdul Tejan-Cole has resigned from his powerful office of Sierra Leone’s Anti Corruption Commissioner; into which they lump ‘changing of the Judge for alleged political reasons’ failing to know the Judge was changed because the Judge begged to be removed from the case so as not to be disgraced in Open Court as having unfortunately taken on a case where he (Browne-Marke) had an opaque vested link to the primary witness against the accused.
It is now hoped that everyone has been properly informed about why Justice Browne-Marke is no longer presiding over the Afsatu Kabba matters.