By S. U. Thoronka………..
Justice V. M. Solomon has endorsed earlier High Court ruling that the Central Bank takes responsibility for the debt owed to International Construction Company (ICC) by the Government of Sierra Leone.
The Bank of Sierra Leone had appealed against earlier court judgment which ordered it as one of the principal guarantors of government in the ICC debt case to take full responsibility for the payment of Thirteen Million U S dollars (USD13 million) debt owed to ICC. The debt dates as far back as the 80s, and in which several Promissory Notes were issued in fulfillment of contracts for the supply of materials and equipment for the construction of water stations and infrastructure in the provinces of Sierra Leone in the 70s. Promissory notes 14/25 to 25/25 on brochure222(290) dated July 15 1987 were issued to ICC by government and the Central Bank of Sierra Leone acting as guarantor on behalf of government.
On the 28th May 2014, solicitor for the 2nd defendant filed a motion paper in which he sought the following orders to wit: That an interim stay of execution of the judgment in default of defence dated 26th May 2014 be granted by the Honorable Court pending the hearing and determination of the application:
That the judgment in default of defense dated 26th May 2014 be set aside for irregularity on the following grounds:
That the time allowed to the 2nd Defendant/Applicant for the filing a defence pursuant to Order 21 Rule 2 of the High Court Rules 2007 had not yet elapsed upon the filing of the judgment in default by the plaintiff.
That no copy of the endorsed writ of summons was filed after the service of the writ on the 2nd Defendant/Applicant in contravention of Order 10 Rule7 of the High Court Rules 2007.
In his ruling Justice Solomon said after due consideration of the submissions and affidavits as filed, the court cannot grant the order sought. “To do so will be in futility as the other defendants, 1st, 3rd and 4th have not by evidence shown that they have a defence. The claim is against all the defendants as officials of the government of Sierra Leone and not in their private capacities”
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice had in a legal advice dated 17th March 2014 addressed to the President , recommended an out of court settlement to avoid what is referred to as ‘costly litigation’. He noted that full litigation was not in the best interest of Government.
The defendants in the ICC matters were Financial Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development as 1st Defendant, the Governor of the Bank of Sierra Leone 2nd Defendant, the Minister Ministry of Finance and Economic Development 3rd Defendant and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice 4th Defendant.
The ICC was represented by Lawyer M. P. Fofanah Esq., while O. I Kanu for 1st, 3rd and 4th defendants. W Nicol represented the second defendant.