By Jane B. Mansaray.
The process and trial of the Election Petition Cases against opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) Party Honorable Members of Parliament yesterday commenced sitting at the High Court of Sierra Leone Presided over by Justice Komba Kamanda in Freetown.
It will be recalled that in August 2018 aggrieved citizens that contested for Parliamentary position on the 7th March, 2018 General Elections filed a case in compliance with Election Petition Rule of 2007 against duly elected Members of Parliament declared by the Chief Returning Officer of the National Electoral Commissioner, Nfah Alie Conteh.
One of the Election Petition cases that was mentioned by Lawyer Musa Meiwa on behalf of the Petitioner, Abdul Muniru Lansana against the Respondent Honorable Ahmed Mansaray and the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
Giving a back ground of the Election Petition case in Court, Petitioner Counsel Lawyer Musa Meiwa said the matter before the Court is with regards the candidature of the Respondent as by law.
He said before the conduct of the 7th March General Elections in Sierra Leone, the first Respondent who was fully employed by the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) was nominated and awarded the APC Party symbol to contest the Election for the seat of ordinary Member of Parliament, whilst at the same time received salary through the Consolidated Fund.
The Respondent, according to the affidavit in support of Petitioner case worked for twelve months under which he participated in the Elections and failed to resign his position at NASSIT and collected salary up till December 2017.
He submitted that the jurisdiction has given due consideration to the qualification at the time of the Election when he ought not to, thus based on such due consideration, Counsel urged the Court to disqualify or nullify the candidature of the Respondent and the option given to the second best candidate.
Lawyer M. Meiwa supported his argument pursuant to Section 76 Sub-section (1b) of Sierra Leone Constitution 1991147 of the Pubic Election Act. No.4 of 2012.
He further relied on the Petitioner affidavit and exhibits of Salary Pay slip attached, and also the case of former Honorable Macarthy as Petitioner against Lawyer Ansu Lansana who lost his seat to the second best candidate with no re-run Election conducted at that time.
In reply, Respondent Counsel, Lawyer Africanus Sorie Sesay said he relied on the entirety of Respondent affidavit sworn to on the 14th September, 2018 together with the exhibits attached.
He submitted that the opportunity of raising an objection on nomination is greatly by law, lied on voters whose duty is placed clearly on the Petitioner.
He said as far as the matter in Court is concern, there is no evidence that the Petitioner was not given the opportunity to object and not even a letter was sent to NEC.
Counsel went on to submit that Section 63 of the Public Election Act No.4 has been repealed and amended by Section 76 Sub-section 1b of Sierra Leone 1991 Constitution.
He further that Sub-section 3 of Section 63 gave the administrative responsibility as by law to the returning officer to look into objection raised.
This, he submitted, the Petitioner failed to follow the administrative steps and procedure channel in raising objection for nomination.
In the case of Lawyer Lansana, Respondent Counsel said it is an intraparty decision and not on nomination, and at the same time, no injunction against the Respondent as to the time of Election.
He however asked the Court to disregard and discountenance to Petition.
Other Petition cases including Alie Ibrahim Kamara against Honorable Mohamed Sheriff Yasim Carew of Constituency 122, Benjamin Turay against Honorable Abubakarr F. Sillah of Constituency 128 and others were also mentioned for legal argument and submission.
The matter has been adjourned on notice for judgement.