Sierra Leone’s New ‘Comedy Of Errors’ Season 1

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Humble Host
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Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone’s New ‘Comedy Of Errors’ Season 1

Post by Humble Host » Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:20 pm

By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)

One of the funny things I don’t like about lawyers is the archaic nature of their profession. Imagine, from Law School Sierra Leonean lawyers will spend their entire lives studying the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone (which is just 146 pages), yet every day they will pretend to have discovered new things in that Constitution which they will take weeks, and even months, to argue over. And why should modern educated people try to spew out memorized ancient Latin phrases which are no longer in currency even in the Latin Americas?

But the thing which I like most about all Sierra Leonean lawyers is their belief that a man, or even an institution, should be presumed innocent until a legal and competent court of law proves him or it otherwise. This cardinal legal principle is what the “Report of the Governance Transition Team [GTT] 2018”, which midwifed the current three Commissions of Inquiry, turns on its head. In its “Recommendations” section of Page 3, the GTT Report exhorts the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) government to “Immediately institute a Judge-led Special Commission of Inquiry…[that MUST]… recommend for prosecution former APC officials whose corrupt conduct is found to be particularly egregious….” So, in essence the authors of that Report have already passed guilty verdicts on APC officials long before the Judges of the current Commissions of Inquiry were selected. And these Commissions were set up in such a way so as to rubberstamp those preconceived guilty verdicts in the GTT Report.

But the SLPP’s Commissions of Inquiry are fast becoming a sort of “comedy of errors”. Before their commencement President Julius Maada Bio; his Chief Minister Professor David Francis, and his Minister of Information and Communications Mohamed ‘Rado’ Swaray had been ramming down the throats of non-SLPP members and supporters that a Commission of Inquiry by any other name would smell just as sweet (to paraphrase William Shakespeare). But they forgot, or feigned forgetfulness, that one of the qualifiers for any Commission of Inquiry to be legally constituted is the conformity to Section 150 of the 1991 Constitution. So it is now dawning on them that even if a Commission of Inquiry is referred to by any other name, as long as it is jumping from one rule to another it could only be likened to a Kangaroo doing its habitual exercise in an Australian park!

And the laughable thing about the ‘Kangarooness’ (this is a One Dropian dropped word) of their Commissions of Inquiry is that after President Bio had breast-beat himself into frenzy in Kono that his government would frog-march those who would refuse to appear before the Commissions if invited; after Prof. David Francis, like a tired and emotional professor on the eve of his Sabbatical, had professorially made wild allegations that “the APC was running a criminal and racketeering enterprise”, and after ‘Rado’ Swaray had suffixed every reference to the Commissions of Inquiry with his clichéd “in living memory” (well, the manner in which he pronounces that phrase gives one the feeling of someone who staggered his way through Fourah Bay College brainless!); the Hon. Justice Biobele Georgewill said he wouldn’t force anyone to appear before him if invited. With just a single sentence, the Nigerian Judge had pinholed some ballooned egos!

Another laughable thing about the funniness of the SLPP’s “comedy of errors” is that for the first time in Sierra Leone’s history, we are seeing dead people being invited from their graves to attend sittings of a Commission of Inquiry! When I saw a Public Notice in which dead people like Joseph Bandabla (JB) Dauda, William Juana Smith, Hindolo ‘Sumanguru’ Trye, Abdul Serry-Kamal and even Mohamed ‘African Champion’ Koroma are being dubbed as “persons of interest” to the Commissions of Inquiry”; I had to ask myself whether the SLPP was planning to shoot a Zombie movie at New England Ville. It tells you that the SLPP was, and still is, in such a hurry to demonise the All People’s Congress (APC) so much so that even to do basic due diligence or a little bit of pruning, on the list submitted to the Commissions of Inquiry, seem to be an Herculean task.

Also when I realised that the dead were now being invited to face the SLPP’s Commissions of Inquiry, I paid a visit to my father’s grave at the Race Course Cemetery last Sunday. Being a local APC operative in the Brima Lane-Portee-Rokupa area before he died, I went to consult him to know what he would do if his name eventually appears on the SLPP’s witch-hunting expedition list. I took along a ball of “foora”; a bottle of wine, and red and white kolanuts which I rolled and threw down like dices on the grave to summon my father’s spirit. But when he didn’t appear or speak, that was the time I realised how comical the SLPP’s Commissions of Inquiry had become by giving invitations to the dead to appear before them.

And as if to make their “comedy of errors” more horrendous, the Secretariat of the Commissions of Inquiry last Saturday, through a Public Notice announced on local radios and televisions, invited some “persons of interest” to appear before the Inquests on Monday 11 February 2019. Now my argument here is: If these Commissions of Inquiry, under Section 148 (1) of the 1991 Constitution, have “such powers, rights and privileges as are vested in the High Court of Justice…”, then why can’t the three Justices of these SLPP-leaning Commissions of Inquiry conform to Section 150 of this same Constitution if they are not doing the bidding of the authors of the GTT Report?

And if these Justices are not actually doing the bidding of the authors of the GTT Report, then why should “persons of interest” be summoned less than 24 hours to appear before the Commissions of Inquiry without according them the right to prepare themselves? This is just confirming the APC’s fears of them being “Kangaroo courts”. And by the way, is it really true that the Prosecutors at the Commissions of Inquiry are all from the same tribe?

All the same with the current general hardship in the country, coupled with the indefatigable calibrated blanket sackings of North-Westerners by the Bio administration, who cannot appreciate the comic relief being provided by the SLPP’s Commissions of Inquiry? You may want to call them: “Comedy of Errors Season 1”.

But coming back to my intro about the funny things I don’t like about lawyers generally. One of those things is what Moses Crowell notes that, “It is a secret worth knowing that lawyers rarely go to law”. But when they eventually do, you should not be surprised to hear a jargon like “Jurisdictional Objection”. What is that?

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