REJOINDER TO THE OFFICIAL REACTION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF SIERRA LEONE TO ECOWAS COURT JUDGEMENT IN SAMUEL SAM-SUMANA V. REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE
Our attention has been drawn to the official reaction of the Government of Sierra Leone to the judgment delivered by the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice on Monday, November 27, 2017 in the case of His Excellency, Mr. Samuel Sam-Sumana v. Republic of Sierra Leone. In a statement issued on behalf of the Government, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Mr. Joseph Kamara claimed falsely that “the Government of Sierra Leone refused to participate in the proceedings and now therefore does not accept nor (sic) recognise the decision of the Ecowas Court in respect of the specific judgment.”
Contrary to the misleading statement of the Attorney-General, the Government of Sierra Leone actually participated in the proceedings. Thus, upon the service of the Originating Application on the Government, the Attorney-General filed a notice of preliminary objection at the Registry of the ECOWAS Court at Abuja. The objection which was accompanied by a written address was signed by the self-same Attorney-General. It is important to note that the address filed by the Republic of Sierra Leone, in some significant respects, went beyond the preliminary objection to jurisdiction and responded to the substance of the case.
Accordingly, on behalf of the plaintiff we filed a reply to the said written submissions and preliminary objection. In the comprehensive judgment of the ECOWAS Court, it was found that the preliminary objection was completely lacking in merit. Hence, it was dismissed. Thereafter, the ECOWAS Court proceeded to consider the substantive case and declared the purported removal of the plaintiff as the Vice President of Sierra Leone illegal, null and void on the grounds that human rights of the plaintiff to fair hearing had been breached.
Having participated in the case on behalf of the Government, we are compelled to caution the Attorney-General to desist from misleading the Government and people of Sierra Leone with respect to the decision of the ECOWAS Court. Even though the Attorney-General has said that the Government of Sierra Leone will not accept or recognise the judgment, he turned around to say that “upon receipt and review of the said judgment, Government will be advised accordingly on the appropriate actions.”
Having ratified the ECOWAS Revised Treaty and the Protocol establishing the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, as well as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, the Government of Sierra Leone has always ensured compliance with the decisions of the Court. We are confident that the Government will be properly advised to obey the judgment just delivered by the ECOWAS Court in the case of His Excellency, Mr. Samuel Sam-Sumana v. Republic of Sierra Leone.
Femi Falana SAN and Dr. Raymond Atuguba
(Lawyers for His Excellency Samuel Sam Sumana)