Judiciary of Sierra Leone Communications, Main Law Courts Building, Freetown, 20th April 2021:* The Supreme Court of Sierra Leone presided over by the Hon. Chief Justice, His Lordship Desmond Babatunde Edwards, has struck out the 2018 Presidential elections petition case brought before the court by the leadership of the main opposition All Peoples Congress (APC) Party.
The empanelled Coram comprised the Hon. Justice Nicholas Browne- Marke (JSC), the Hon. Justice Eku Roberts (JSC), the Hon. Justice Alusine Sesay (JSC) and the Hon. Justice Ansumana Ivan Sesay (JA).
The Petitioners which include Dr Sylvia Blyden (1st Petitioner), Dr Samura M. W. Kamara (2nd petitioner); Minkailu Mansaray (3rd petitioner) and Dr Osman Foday Yansaneh (4th petitioner) filed a petition against the former National Electoral Commissioner (NEC) Mohamed N’fah Allie Conteh; NEC; His Excellency Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio and the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), challenging the validity of the 2018 Presidential election results.
It could be recalled that in April 2018, Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden and Dr Samura M.W. Kamara separately filed petitions challenging the pronouncement of His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. These cases were heard by the Supreme Court presided over by Justices Nicholas Browne-Marke; Eku Roberts and Glena Thompson who gave directives for both petitions to be consolidated.
In the substantive application, the Petitioners claimed that the Presidential elections of 31st March 2018 that brought His Excellency President, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, to power, was improper and fraught with irregularities.
They asserted that the election was not conducted following the 1991 Constitution, the Public Elections Act of 2012 and the governing regulations. They argued that NEC failed to establish and maintain an accurate voter register that was publicly available, verifiable and credible as required by Section 42 of the 1991 Constitution.
They also alleged that the NEC Commissioner on the 4th of April 2018, without ‘‘full and frank disclosure’’ of over-voting concerns pronounced Julius Maada Bio as the winner of the run-off elections contrary to the Public Elections Act No. 2 of 2012.
The Petitioners further claimed that there was widespread intimidation, harassment and assault on polling agents of the APC party, particularly in Kenema, Kailahun, Pujehun, and Bo Districts by ‘SLPP operatives in agreement with NEC officials.’
Representing His Excellency President Bio, George Banda Thomas Esq. urged the Supreme Court to strike out the Petition because the method or process used by the Petitioners to invoke the Original Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to challenge the validity of the elections of the President as prescribed under the Sierra Leone Constitution is faulty.
According to him, the process to challenge the validity of the elections of the President should be done by Originating Notice of Motion, rather than by a Petition.
Delivering the joint ruling, the Supreme Court Judges unanimously declared that the Court in its inherent jurisdiction holds that the “election of His Excellency Brigadier (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio, the Sierra Leone Peoples’ Party Candidate as President of Sierra Leone on the 4th April 2018, was and is valid.”
The Supreme Court Judges affirmed that “the petitioners have failed, refused or neglected to produce any evidence to rebut the fact that Brigadier (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio now President was validly elected as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. All things considered, the petition of Dr Sylvia Blyden as SC6/2018 and that of Dr Samura M. W. Kamara, Minkailu Mansaray and Ambassador Dr Osman Foday Yansaneh as SC7/2018 now consolidated as S.C. Cases 6 and 7 of 2018 are all herein struck out.”