By Amin Kef (Ranger)
In a Press Statement issued by the JFK & Partners dated 28th November 2022 signed by Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, Esq, Plaintiffs Solicitor, it was stated that the general public is hereby informed that on the 28th November 2022, an Originating Notice of Motion has been filed with the Supreme Court for a Declaration amongst others, that the ‘Directive’ issued by the President, Rtd. Brig. Dr Julius Maada Bio, to the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL), to hold public elections for ordinary Members of Parliament by the Proportional Representation System, where there are extant and subsisting constituencies, is inconsistent with Section 38A of Constitutional Amendment, Act No.15 of 2001.
According to JFK & Partners it will be recalled that Proportional Representation, is itself a product of its time, a fall-back position; when there are no constituencies or wards for the purposes of public elections in the country.
They argued that such was the rationale and the prevailing circumstances that warranted and justified the amendment introduced in 2001 as now contained in section 38A of the Constitution.
It was stated that the country had then just come through a brutal and destabilizing rebel war foisted on the country which resulted in the destabilization of communities nationwide, apart from the loss of human lives and destruction of property.
They continued that an immediate effect of such a situation was the absence of settled Proportional communities and constituencies hence, the justification for the introduction of Proportional Representation System.
JFK & Partners argued that it was then seen as a contingency provision and not intended to be a regular format for public or general elections for Parliament.
According to them, plainly those conditions do not now prevail in the country and therefore recourse cannot lawfully and properly be had to such a system, in the face of existing constituencies and wards.
Furthermore, they argued that the power given to the Electoral Commission is to conduct and supervise elections, and not to determine the form or mode of Elections.
In their argument they stated that Section 68 of the Public elections Act 2022 is clear as to what constitutes the conduct of elections, to change the format or mode of elections. They maintained that to change the format or mode of elections is a matter of primary legislation, reserved for the Legislature and not the subject of a Statutory Instrument.
They said in all of these, the controversy generated by the purported Presidential Directive and the irregularity of Statutory Instrument No.83 2022 cannot be underscored, as it degenerated into Parliamentary chaos, public shock and concern.
JFK & Partners said therefore, the Supreme Court in the filed Originating Notice of Motion is urged to declare null and void the Presidential Directive and Statutory Instruments No. 83 of 16th November 2022 now purportedly laid before Parliament.
The Counsels on record are Dr Abdullai Conteh, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, Africanus Sesay, Ady Macauley, Wara Serry-Kamal and Gassim Conteh.