Africa-PressLiberia. The supreme law of Sierra Leone is the Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991, Act No. 6 of 1991. The Constitution states that the legislative power of Sierra Leone is vested in Parliament.

The Constitution also states how laws are made in Sierra Leone. As far as my knowledge of the law goes, a proclamation is not a law except for a State Of Emergency.

And even under a State Of Emergency, proclamation (declaration) elapses as a law in the case of a declaration made when Parliament is sitting at the expiration of a period of seven days beginning with the date of publication of the declaration; and in any other case, at the expiration of a period of twenty-one days beginning with the date of the declaration.

Sierra Leone is not under a State Of Emergency, and the public emergency itself does not warrant the President to such laws by mere proclamation! For such law to hold, the Constitution made it clear when interpreting “Public Emergency” includes any period during which (a) Sierra Leone is at war; or(b) there is in force a Proclamation issued by the President under subsection (1) of section 29; or(c) there is in force a Resolution of Parliament made under subsection (3) of section 29.

For a proclamation to hold in any of the above, the President needs to get approval from Parliament at least within a given period and wherein the President refuses to adhere to the law as stated in the Constitution, the President is said to be in breach with the Constitution.

The President abuses the law when he knowingly breaches it! The President has legal advisers and it is therefore expected that he should have been advised on the position of the law pertaining to proclamation.

The President must now be informed that he is abusing his authority/power in passing ‘Curfew Order’ as a law and as well stopping the people of Sierra Leone (and in Sierra Leone) from going to their religious houses of prayers for well over a month now without taking these orders/proclamation to Parliament for its approval.

The President is our Fountain of Honour and Justice and symbol of national unity and sovereignty. He doubles as the guardian of the Constitution, and in the second schedule of the Constitution, the President took an oath wherein he solemnly affirmed that he will preserve, support, uphold, maintain and defend the Constitution of the Republic of Sierra Leone as by law established.

The President must also be reminded that in the same second schedule, he swore in the name of God that he will do right to all manner of people according to law, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.

The oath in the second schedule of the 1991 Constitution that the President took on the night of April 4, 2018, was not a mere platitude and can never be! The oath of the President is a solemn contract between the President himself and the Constitution of the country and as well as between the President and the people of Sierra Leone.

To put it simple, that oath that was taken by the President is a serious business and requires full commitment. As good citizens, we should remind Mr.

President to at all times stand by that oath and respect our constitution to its fullest. And as good citizens, we should also ensure that the Constitution is respected by reminding Mr.

President of his excesses (abuses) and ask him to abide by the dictates of the Constitution going forward. To this end, as good citizens, we want the Parliament to play a leading role in ensuring that the law is supreme and thus promote good governance.

Parliamentarians are the people’s representatives. Much is expected of them to communicate issues of general concern on behalf of the people in Parliament.

Given that parliamentarians have special privileges and responsibility, it behoves them to be the pace-setters in the fight to transform this country into positive light in all facets particularly in governance. The president of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Mr Ahmed Nasralla, has started the ball rolling in the right direction.

He has written letters on behalf of SLAJ notifying the appropriate authority and particularly our international partners, keeping them informed of what SLAJ sees as anomalies and attempt by Parliament to interfere with the operations of the media houses.

He clearly describes the action of Parliament as a means to stifle the Press and press freedom with the dictate of the Clerk of Parliament in handpicking and selecting press reporters to report on proceedings and sessions of Parliament.

This approach by the Clerk of Parliament is a way to undermine press freedom and must be condemned and allow fairness to prevail in the reporting of parliamentary proceedings and sessions.

Once again, bravo to SLAJ for opening the right channel for people and organizations to follow in terms of notifying the appropriate authority on the status quo in due time!

It is now expected that Parliament and particularly the opposition in Parliament, would follow the queue in line with what SLAJ has done in informing the appropriate institutions (and including international partners and embassies) about the excesses of this Government.

It is important to start doing it now and more so with international partners, so that they can timely intervene and ensure the right things are done.

Sometimes, when the appropriate authorities lend their voices to early warning signs, they often prevent these anomalies or issues degenerating to full blown crisis especially when the said authority is/are respected.

The timely intervention on issues/anomalies are mostly due to official communication in due time. And thistherefore brings to mind the old adage, ‘a stitch in time saves nine.

’ There are issues (anomalies) if not addressed now or brought to the forefront and ensure that they are addressed, they’ll surface and even repeat themselves in different forms.

To avoid these ugly happenings or re-occurrences of anomalies, parliamentarians and other key players must adopt the strategy of SLAJ to inform the appropriate authority and endeavour to make the right things happen at the right time.

It must be noted that when the anomalies are not recorded nor reported to the appropriate authority, then the said appropriate authority would be justifiably be excused for not taking the appropriate measures to avert such problems or anomalies.

Among the many anomalies that have happened under this Government of President Bio include the Government’s failure to take the regulations to Parliament pertaining the operations of the State Of Emergency.

The State Of Emergency which lasted for a whole year was not with any regulations and many people were killed and locked up unaccounted for including prisoners at the infamous prison-break at the Pademba Road rehabilitation prison during this period.

The then Attorney General on behalf of the government and in front of the cameras, promised to take the regulations to Parliament within two weeks starting from the date the State of Emergency was passed in Parliament but she never did nor her successor.

This has eroded the confidence of the people in terms of this Government’s commitment to parliamentary procedures. Another anomaly has to do with the ongoing debate about whether the statutory instrument for the midterm census was properly laid in Parliament without the Mace or not.

Furthermore, the abuse of imposing a Curfew Order and restrictions that affects the fundamental human rights of Sierra Leoneans without going by the due process of the law is a serious concern.

The selective abuses of this Government are huge and they include but not limited to the sackings of many people with job tenure; the argument about the imposition of the Speaker of Parliament and the removal of opposition parliamentarians; the arrest of Michael Mansaray in Bo City by the ruling Government Party stalwarts for comments on video by Michael Mansaray that went viral; the destruction of ballot boxes in front of camera in Constituency 110 showing the involvement of a sitting Minister, the Minister of Transport and Aviation, and in the presence of the Sierra Leone Police.

It must be noted that no action has been taken against anyone with regards this electoral malpractice which led to billions of tax payers monies wasted for such recklessness.

These issues must be formally recorded and reported, and the opposition parliamentarians should champion this course and ensure that all the relevant stakeholders are informed, and that such documentation would serve as evidence or reference in the future whenever the need arises.

For instance, the cases of Michael Mansaray and the issue involving the Minister of Transport and Aviation in the presence of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) who conspicuously failed to effect an arrest, have far reaching implications to rig future elections.

The silencing of Michael Mansaray is a deliberate strategy. It was effectively done as an example to quieten any voice of the opposition in those areas that are considered as stronghold for the ruling government.

And the destruction of the ballot boxes in Constituency 110 with no penalties or consequences on those defaulters is another form of this Government encouraging violence and sending reassurance to their hooligans and thugs of the government’s protection of any form of violence done on behalf of its behalf.

These are therefore very serious issues that the opposition Parties and especially the opposition parliamentarians should endeavour to champion. Oppositionparliamentarians should that the Freedom House is fully aware about how people’s democratic rights are being trampled upon in Sierra Leone by this Government.

The Freedom House (is supposedly an independent American assessing organization employed by the Millennium Challenge Corporation [MCC] to assess and report on the country’s scorecard on ‘Democratic Right’ which includes Political Right and Civil Liberty).

I am particularly pinning on engaging the Freedom House because their last rating of the MCC scorecard on Political Right was 96% when the period under review was 2019.

In the same period under review ( i. e. 2019 ), Freedom House rated this Government in the MCC scorecard another excellent pass on 94% in its assessment on the Civil Liberty of Sierra Leoneans. Freedom House did not capture the facts that a whole constituency i. e.

Constituency 110 was denied representation in Parliament for more than a year due to the reckless behaviour of the sitting Government Party’s stalwarts wherein a sitting minister and the Sierra Leone Police were in the mix and they deprived people who exercised their franchise from getting representation in Parliament.

In the same vain, local council by-elections at Tonkoh Limba wherein a person was killed just to ensure that the opposition do not win, the opposition however won but the Government made sure that the results were cancelled just to deny the representation of the opposition in the Council.

All of these were not captured by the Freedom House because the opposition failed to communicate accordingly. However, it is better late than never. These reputable organizations would not turn blind eyes on serious issues that are brought to their attention, and in the same token they will not force into issues that are not brought to their attention.

I am of the strong opinion that these reputable International Organizations would treat reports from our parliamentarians with the utmost seriousness they deserve, and as representatives of the people their reports would be treated with more speed and attention than if it were from ordinary individual(s).

It must be noted that when organizations like the Freedom House report on the abuses of the Democratic Rights of Sierra Leoneans, this Government would be compelled to do the right things, and by so doing good governance would be fostered in our society. Now that Dr.

Denis Bright has stirred the debate on the unbalanced staffing at the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Parliament and especially the opposition parliamentarians and as well as other well-meaning bodies should delve into this very issue with the utmost seriousness it deserves.

What Dr. Denis Bright has pointed out with regards the unbalanced NEC staffing are early warning signs of a potential rigging of elections by the ruling Party which has recently tremendously increased their salaries with a new organogram that aptly fits Dr.

Denis Bright’s legitimate concerns. The recruitment to these offices should be openly and balancedly done, but the opposite is what obtains there. This secrecy of recruitment at NEC was popularized by N’fa AlieConteh and this was the very reason why members of this government (SLPP) were so cocksure that they were going to win 2018 elections at all cost.

With such unbalanced staffing at NEC one could understand without blinking why areas like Kenema has as much polling stations as Western Area/Freetown.

Because of the bias staffing at NEC people can now understand why in many areas in North and Northwest people are forced to walk 17 miles and more to go and cast a vote (i. e. 34 miles to and fro a polling station).

These are the issues that were expected to have been addressed by a fair and objective conference! NEC should avoid any form of contradicting its constitutional mandate regarding the voters register. And any attempt to manipulate its mandate with the already flawed National Civil Registration Agency would be an attempt create trouble.

And if any trouble comes out of this registration issue, the responsibility would be squarely laid on the NEC as a lot of suspicion has already been raised and centred on the twinning of NEC and the NCRA operations, and yet NEC is trying to avoid its own constitutional mandate for a system that is flawed right from its inception.

NEC is given the mandate and the responsibility to conduct and supervise the voters’ registration as specifically stated in Section 33 of the 1991 Constitution Act No.6 of 1991, and this constitutional provision supersedes any subordinate law including the NCRA Act of 2016.

Notwithstanding all of these arguments, Dr Denis Bright’s highlight with regards to the unbalanced NEC staffing is/was a serious concern that should re-direct the purpose of a sincere Conference.

As at now, the main issue about NEC is that of CREDIBILITY. People are seeing NEC as an entity on a mission to rig the elections which itself would be a recipe for chaos.

In the prevailing circumstance NEC has no option but to revisit it unbalanced staffing and endeavour to make it credible by reviewing it with the will and ability to dismantle it and then reorganize and recruit a balanced staff that Sierra Leoneans would have confidence in and would believe that they would manage the elections without fear or favour.

People would not accept anything short of credibility from NEC and the current unbalanced staffing cannot be allowed to rig our elections. Thestaffing at NEC cannot be allowed to manage the country’s elections with an overwhelming one tribe or two regions dominance.

Sierra Leone has five regions with at least sixteen ethnic groups and therefore no one or two tribes and regions should be allowed to continue to maintain a prevailing dominance in our electoral process.

It is due to this particular reason that our electoral process has been marred with malpractices and nothing comes out of it so long as the decision does not align with the tribe/ethnic group or region of the decision makers at NEC.

Up till now NEC has not released and posted the results of the 2018 General Elections for the public to validate the results, all that was given was total sum of the results and was stated in percentile.

The people want NEC to release the 2018 General Elections showing the results at each polling stations. This results are long overdue, we want to see these results and NEC should stop the secrecy of this results and it will help in building your credibility with a new recruited and balanced staffing.

To conclude the message on the abuse and excesses of the President’s power and authority leading to elections years in Sierra Leone, I am oblige to draw not only the President’s attention but every Sierra Leonean that, the business as usual to rig elections and as well create violence has gotten the attention of the President Joe Biden and he has given a strong message to that effect through the American Ambassador to Zambia.

The message simply states that America would take strong measures and actions against perpetrators of violence and leading to violence. The message goes for all persons including those in governance, opposition, the security forces including police etc. and also elections managers (i. e. NEC). My last word on all this those who have ears must hear very well.


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