FREETOWN, Sierra Leone – In a significant legal development, the Court of Appellate, under the guidance of Justice Ivan Sesay, Justice Momoh Jah Stevens, and Justice Adrian Fisher, has decided to reserve judgment regarding the appeals made by former President Ernest Bai Koroma and former presidential candidate of the main All Congress Party (APC), Dr. Samura Kamara, in response to adverse findings issued by the Commissions of Inquiry.
Former President Ernest Bai Koroma, represented by his legal team led by former Anti-Corruption Commissioner Ade Macauley, initiated this legal battle in October 2020 when he filed two notices of appeal. These appeals were aimed at challenging the ‘adverse findings’ made by Justice Thompson and Justice Biobelle Georgewill, with the intention of setting aside or quashing these findings against him.
Additionally, Former President Koroma’s legal team requested a declaration from the court to nullify the acceptance of the Government White Paper regarding matters concerning the former President as a Person of Interest, and instead, secure a judgment in his favor.
One of the primary arguments put forth by the appellant’s legal representatives was that the Commissioners, Justice Bankole Thompson and Biobelle Georgewill, made legal errors when they failed to consider and apply the Head of State’s immunity clause, as stipulated in Section 48(4) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone. This clause grants the President immunity against the commencement or continuation of civil or criminal proceedings while holding office.
Furthermore, it was contended that the Commissioners acted in violation of Section 150 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone by conducting the Commissions of Inquiry without the appropriate “rules regulating the practice and procedures” for such commissions, as prescribed by the Rules of Court Committee through a constitutional instrument.
Another critical argument presented was that the Commissioners wrongfully indicted and tried the appellant for the offense of abuse of office and corrupt acquisition of wealth, powers not conferred by Constitutional Instrument 64, which established the Commission.
In response to these claims, the Solicitor General, Robert Baoma Kowa, emphasized that Section 48(4) of the 1991 Constitution explicitly states that, “while any person holds or performs the functions of the office of the President, no civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against him in respect of anything done or omitted to be done by him either in his official or private capacity.”
In a related development, Lawyer Ade Macaulay also lodged an appeal against the recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry that Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara, the former APC candidate in the 2018 and 2023 elections, was involved in the sale of the government’s 30% share in the Sierra Rutile mining company.
The Court of Appeals has now reserved judgment on these appeals, setting the stage for a pivotal legal decision that could have far-reaching implications in Sierra Leone’s political and legal landscape.