By Foday Moriba Conteh
‘Our confidence in the Judiciary is at its lowest and we do not trust them to do justice. To make matters worse, it is our understanding that one of the judges empanelled to hear the appeals is a known SLPP member, who ran for parliament and lost to the APC candidate in the 2007 and 2012 Parliamentary Elections in Constituency 86 (as it then was), Moyamba District.’
These were the words in a press statement issued by the APC dated Friday 14th February, 2020. It went further to say that the leadership of the All People’s Congress (APC) Legal Team has been served by the Court of Appeal with Notices for the hearing of Appeals filed by ten of its Members of Parliament who were illegally removed from Parliament on the 31st of May 2019. The said hearing of the appeals is slated for today 17th February 2020.
It claimed that the Judiciary, the International Community and the General Public are reminded that “on the 11th of June 2019, our ousted MPs, being dissatisfied with the judgements of the High Court, filed Notices of Appeal to the Court of Appeal in accordance with the provision of Section 78 (3) of the 1991 Constitution and in conformity with the requirement of Section 146 (1) of the Public Elections Act 2012.”
It added that pursuant to Section 78 (4) of the 1991 Constitution, such appeals MUST be completed within four months from the date they were filed;
Section 78 (4): “The Court of Appeal before which an appeal is brought pursuant to subsection (3) shall determine the appeal and give judgement thereon within four months after the appeal was filed.’
“In several of our press releases”, the APC says it “drew the attention of the Judiciary to this mandatory provision and urged them to empanel judges to hear and determine the appeals within the stipulated Constitutional timeframe. The International Community and the General Public were similarly informed of this Constitutional provision. However, all our appeals fell on deaf ears and the Judiciary deliberately refused and/or neglected to hear the cases”, the release added.
“Over eight months after the Notices of Appeal were filed the Judiciary has now thought it fit to hear the appeals”, according to release, adding that ‘While the APC continues to maintain that their MPs were illegally removed from Parliament, it is the position of the Party that the Court of Appeal lacks Jurisdiction to hear the appeals, since the Chief Justice failed to empanel judges to hear and determine the appeals within months from the 11th of June 2019 when the Notices of Appeal were filed.’ It added that as far as the APC is concerned, ‘the human rights of our MPs have been violated and they have been denied justice.’
It added that the party ‘considers this move by the Judiciary as a continuing show of its disregard for the rule of law, high – handedness and injustice meted out on our Party.’ According to the release several APC members are incarcerated or attending endless criminal proceedings, while ‘the Judiciary has refused and/or neglected to assign many of the other cases we have filed before it.’
The release went on to ask: “What has happened to the Presidential Election Petitions filed to the Supreme Court by Dr. Samura Kamara and Others: and Dr. Sylvia Blyden?
What has happened to our parliamentary petitions filed against SLPP MPs from the southern region?
What has happened to the application filed by our lawyers to the Supreme Court relating to the interpretation of Section 78 (2) on the determination by the High Court of election petitions within four months from their commencement?
What has again happened to the multiple Supreme Court applications questioning the COI for the lack of rules that ought to have been formulated according to Section 150 of the 1991 Constitution?”
The release adds: ‘Our confidence in the Judiciary is at its lowest and we do not trust them to do justice. To make matters worse, it is our understanding that one of the judges empanelled to hear the appeals is a known SLPP member who ran for parliament and lost to the APC candidate in the 2007 and 2012 Parliamentary Elections in Constituency 86 (as it then was), Moyamba District.
The release went further to state that ‘in view of the blatant disregard for the Constitutional Provisions and the consequent lack of jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal, the Party has instructed its lawyers to strictly follow the legal processes and ensure that they avoid compounding illegality.’
The release ended by stating that the Party will soon inform the General Public of its next line of action. The release was signed by Ambassador Dr. Alhaji Osman F. Yansaneh, APC National Secretary General.