As Bar Past Presidents Push for Election Reversal… Augustine S. Marrah & Co Reject Tuma Gento Jabbi as Bar President

Sierra Leone Bar Association Elections.jpg

By Foday Moriba Conteh

During a press conference held on Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at the New Brookfields Hotel in New England Ville, Freetown, Augustine S. Marrah, Wara Serry-Kamal, Presidential candidates of the recently concluded Sierra Leone Bar Association elections and other aggrieved members of the Association condemned the events at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Sierra Leone Bar Association held in Kenema on May 18, 2024. They declared that the Executive purportedly selected at the AGM does not represent the will of the paid-up members and was not duly elected.

Reading a joint statement, Augustine Marrah stated that the AGM events represent a grave assault on the principles of democracy, transparency and integrity that the Association is founded upon. He highlighted that the actions and inactions of the Board of Directors, which led to the declaration of a purported Executive that was not duly elected are illegal and deeply troubling.

He further outlined several initiatives they undertook prior to the AGM to ensure the integrity, transparency and accountability of the electoral process making reference to firstly court applications, of which Solicitors for Julian Cole Esq., Wara Serry-Kamal and Joy Precious Bayoh filed court applications seeking provisions for voting by proxy and early publication and verification of the voters’ list. These applications were denied by the Courts.

According to him secondly, there were security concerns of which Wara Serry-Kamal requested meetings with the Inspector General of Police to address security concerns through two letters. Those requests were not granted and finally proposed meetings of which Marrah and Serry-Kamal requested a meeting with the outgoing President of the Bar Association, Eddinia Michaela Swallow Esq., to discuss and outline a clear pathway for the electoral process. That request was also declined.

He pointed out that those events confirm that the AGM in Kenema was undermined by the Association’s Directors, with insufficient support from the Sierra Leone Police and the courts.

Augustine S. Marrah expressed great disappointment at the undemocratic actions orchestrated by the Association’s Directors and their enablers in Kenema, which, he said, included blatant disregard for the electoral process and disenfranchisement of members. He pointed out how those actions violated the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, the Companies Act 2009 (as amended) and ethical principles of decency and integrity.

Key points raised by Augustine S. Marrah included manipulation of the voter list stating how its integrity was compromised, with duly paid members omitted. He intimated that the issue was raised but not addressed by the Directors.

He added that the agenda was amended to commence voting prematurely at 12 pm, despite the scheduled registration and arrival time being 12 to 1 pm maintain that it was a calculated move to disenfranchise colleagues traveling from Bo and Freetown, whose movement was impeded by a suspicious truck blockage on the Bo-Kenema highway.

Augustine S. Marrah noted that the appointment of Francis Kaifala, the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission, as Returning Officer, despite objections due to a conflict of interest and the refusal to allow the usual practice of appointing three senior Bar members to assist, is unacceptable. He said those actions by Francis Kaifala undermined the democratic process.

He also maintained that the purported elections overseen by Francis Ben Kaifala lacked a verified voter list and that security personnel, acting on Ben Kaifala’s instructions shut down the hall and dispersed members with pepper spray or teargas, furthering that only a handful of members, mostly wearing blue wristbands in support of Tuma Jabbi, were allowed to vote. These voters mysteriously generated a total of 560 votes for Tuma Jabbi in the purported election for President of the Bar Association, he stated.

Augustine S. Marrah concluded by stressing that the Executive purportedly selected at the AGM in Kenema does not represent the will of the paid-up members of the Sierra Leone Bar Association and is not recognized as duly elected.

He said that they will explore all legal means to ensure that an election of Directors, consistent with democratic standards, is held as soon as possible and finally they will pursue all accountability measures against those complicit in the sham electoral process.

“We urge all members of the Sierra Leone Bar Association to join us in this call for justice. Together, we can reclaim our Bar Association, uphold democracy and maintain the standards of fairness that we all cherish,” Marrah stated.

In another development, the Past Presidents of the Sierra Leone Bar Association in a press statement called for the annulment of the election results announced at the Annual General Meeting held in Kenema on May 17th and 18th, 2024. This call comes in the wake of violent incidents involving some members during the meeting, actions that the former leaders have unequivocally condemned.

The Past Presidents have also expressed their strong opposition to any attempts to disenfranchise members of the Association and deny them their right to elect new leaders. They stressed that any conduct undermining the democratic process within the Association is unacceptable and must be thoroughly investigated and addressed.

Citing the gravity of these issues, the former leaders have demanded the nullification of the announced results and the immediate organization of proper and transparent elections. They emphasized that these elections must adhere to the highest standards of fairness and impartiality to ensure that all eligible members can vote without intimidation or obstruction.

Furthermore, the Past Presidents urged the current leadership of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, headed by Ms. Eddinia Swallow, to take decisive action to rectify the irregularities and improprieties observed during the recent election process. They highlighted the necessity for the Association to uphold its commitment to the rule of law and democratic governance.

In their statement, the Past Presidents affirmed their united resolve to protect the integrity of the Sierra Leone Bar Association and ensure that justice and democracy prevail within its ranks.

The resolution was signed on May 20, 2024, by the following Past Presidents: Charles Francis Margai Esq., Francis Gabbidon Esq., Emmanuel Shears-Moses Esq., Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara Esq., Abdul Tejan-Cole Esq., Elvis Kargbo Esq., Ibrahim Sorie Esq., Rhoda Sultan Esq. and Basita Michael Esq.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here