By Sorie Fofana.
In yesterday’s publication, we pointed out that, Slone Telecom has sued the Government of Sierra Leone for the “unfair cancellation” of a contract for the monitoring of Sierra Leone’s International Gateway System. The matter before the International Commercial Court of Arbitration in London is due to be determined in March this year.
Slone Telecom is suing the Sierra Leone Government for compensation for loss of investment to the tune of US$150m (One hundred and fifty million United States dollars).
Sierra Leone’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Joseph Kamara has conceded that, the Government was desirous of settling this matter out of court to avoid a costly legal fee for the people of Sierra Leone.
He informed the Global Times that, on the instruction of the President, he had met with Lawyers for Slone Telecom and was very optimistic that, the matter will be amicably resolved out of court.
It is understood that, State House had instructed NATCOM, to proceed with negotiations to settle the matter with Slone Telecom without further delay.
However, it is not yet known, what line of action NATCOM intends to take, to avert a costly legal settlement once a judgment is handed down by the International Commercial Court of Arbitration in London in March this year.
We call on President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma to personally intervene and have this matter resolved before he leaves office in March 2018.
He cannot afford to exit State House, leaving this matter hanging. After all, this matter has everything to do with his leadership of the country and by extension, his legacy. All the people involved in negotiating and even awarding this contract at NATCOM, were appointed directly by him.
The cancellation of the contract itself makes no commercial sense to any sensible person. According to the terms of the contract, Slone Telecom was supposed to be paying an aggregate of US$20m (Twenty Million United States dollars) annually to the Government of Sierra Leone.
Since Subah Infosolution Ghana was awarded this self-same contract, the Government of Sierra Leone has not received a quarter of this amount from the company. So, why did the Government, in the first place, decided to terminate the Slone Telecom contract?
If this matter is allowed to go to judgment in March 2018, the poor tax payers of Sierra Leone will be made to foolishly pay US$150m (One hundred and fifty million dollars) plus legal fees to Slone Telecom. This will put an unnecessary financial burden on the incoming government after March 2018. And, undoubtedly, President Koroma will carry the can.
The best way to resolve this matter is, for President Koroma to order the Attorney General to proceed to London and conclude whatever arrangement he had initiated with Lawyers for Slone Telecom.
As we went to press last night, we learned that, some positive developments have taken place in order to resolve this long-drawn legal impasse between the Government of Sierra Leone and Slone Telecom. May common sense prevail!
Watch this space for more details!