The Ecowas Court’s Sumana Verdict by L. Gberie

The verdict of the Ecowas Court of Justice on 27 November ordering Bai Koroma’s government to pay his illegally sacked vice president, Samuel Sam Sumana, all remuneration and entitlements of office, “from the date of his removal till the date his tenure of office is expected to end”, is so important for human rights, justice and good governance in West Africa that it must be properly analysed, to be understood. The court also ordered Koroma to refund Sumana’s travel and sustenance cost, as well as legal bills, amounting to $10 million.

In response to this extraordinarily humiliating verdict – the first time the Ecowas court has rebuked a sitting head of state in such explicit terms – president Koroma’s attorney general promptly issued a statement saying that his government will not honour the court’s verdict because Sierra Leone’s Supreme Court “did rule on the above matter and therefore no other court is competent to overrule it except by [sic] itself. Therefore [sic], the Government of Sierra Leone refused to participate in the proceedings and does not accept nor recognize the ECOWAS court in respect of the said judgment.”

Koroma’s government did indeed, when served with the writ from the court over a year ago, file a notice of preliminary objection to the lawsuit on those grounds.

The Ecowas court concurred on this point, and in both the proceedings and the judgement it declined to review the Sierra Leone Supreme Court’s judgement, even though Sumana’s application contented that the court condoned the various violations of his rights.

But the very diverse judges of the Ecowas court – Justice Hamèye Founé Mahalmadane (Mali), the Dean of the Ecowas court, who presided; Justice Friday C. Nwoke (Nigeria); and Justice Alioune Sall (Senegal) – implicitly rebuked the Sierra Leone court by digging to the roots of the illegal ousting of Sumana.

This was president Koroma’s, and his All Peoples’ Congress party’s, refusal to grant Sumana, a member of the party at the time, a fair hearing over a rambling list of bogus allegations, summarily expelling him as party member to allow Koroma dubious legal cover to sack and replace him with Foh.

This extraordinarily invidious action, the Ecowas judges decided, violated Mr. Sumana’s rights to a fair hearing, to security, to participate in government, and to due process. The Sierra Leone Supreme Court, on the other hand, had focused on whether president Koroma enjoys ‘supreme executive power’ to fire an elected vice president, which – against the evidence of the country’s constitution – the court said he does.

The Ecowas court did not re-litigate that matter, and in several iterations it acknowledges the finality of the Supreme Court judgment without considering its merit or lack thereof.

“There is a thin divide,” its judgement said, “between reviewing the decision of national courts and hearing matters that flow from the decisions which allegedly pose questions of human rights violation.”

The Ecowas court instead drew upon a charter granted it in 2005 by Ecowas member states giving it the jurisdiction to take up cases brought by individuals, including those based on alleged violations of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and other international human rights instruments.

It was on this, rather than on the chief premise of Sumana’s case in the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone, that it based its decision. The issue is not simply a matter of awkward detail. The five judges in Sierra Leone had based their decision on Koroma’s claim to enjoy “supreme executive authority” to fire Sumana, and they inflicted considerable contortions on themselves to make this spurious claim.

They never considered the fundamental human rights of Sumana with respect to their various breaches, which were all part of his application for relief in 2015.

Clearly the Ecowas court accepts Sumana’s core contention about the illegality of president Koroma’s decision to sack him and appoint his replacement.

In its judgment, the Ecowas court referred to Sumana as “Hon. Vice President”, to his sacking by Koroma as “alleged”, and to the illegal vice president Victor Foh as “one Mr. Victor Foh” the “purported replacement” of the elected vice president.

However, it did not grant Sumana several reliefs he had sought, and which cannot reasonably be granted by normal human beings operating in a geopolitical institution.

He had wanted the fraudulently imposed Foh removed and himself to be reinstated so as to resume his lawful duties until March 2018. The court decided an order from them in this respect would be destabilising or cause chaos.

Sumana had also wanted Koroma’s government to pay him “special, general and exemplary damages” to the tune of $130 million, as well as damages relating to acute physical suffering and embarrassment caused by withholding salary and emoluments to the tune of $70 million “or any other amount in the sound discretion of the court.”

The judges used that discretion wisely, and the relief they agreed for Mr. Sumana is reasonable, and must be provided.

Koroma’s government has, after all, made itself a champion of carrying out orders of the Ecowas court. In 2008 it honoured a default judgment by the court in a case brought by a slimy Lebanese businessman named Mohamed Wanza, paying him $25 million in compensation for late president Tejan Kabbah’s reasonable rejection of his fraudulent claim over a useless gunboat the rogue military regime Kabbah replaced had contracted. (One heard that 25% of that amount went back to Koroma and some key ministers.)

It also honoured another order for relief in favour of former police officer El Tayid Bah. Sumana’s case is far more important, and far more clear-cut.

Sadly, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, the hapless attorney general who owns his career growth to his service in the internationally mandated Special Court for Sierra Leone as prosecutor, has now taken upon himself the dishonourable task of insulting a very important human rights institution in West Africa at the behest of a failed and venal administration.

That he would be so cavalier about the proceedings and judgement of this potentially powerful safeguard of the rights and freedoms of 360 million people is a disgrace….

39 thoughts on “The Ecowas Court’s Sumana Verdict by L. Gberie

  • April 28, 2018 at 11:12 am
    Permalink

    I got to bookmark your website. Well this is odd, your site was loaded when I opened my computer. I will talk about your blog with my school group. If your write ups are always this useful, I will be returning soon. Can youone day tell me more about thistopic?

    Reply
  • June 24, 2018 at 8:01 am
    Permalink

    I really enjoy the blog.Thanks Again. Really Cool.

    Reply
  • June 24, 2018 at 3:46 pm
    Permalink

    Well I will never be the same after seeing your work! It is really simple, yet really effective for some people. Your website looks just like my old blog. Do you have any evidence of this?

    Reply
  • June 27, 2018 at 8:41 am
    Permalink

    “I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I am quite certain I will learn a lot of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!”

    Reply
  • June 28, 2018 at 7:31 am
    Permalink

    “Thanks for sharing excellent informations. Your website is so cool. I’m impressed by the details that you’ve on this web site. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for more articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found just the info I already searched all over the place and just couldn’t come across. What an ideal site.”

    Reply
  • July 14, 2018 at 3:48 am
    Permalink

    How much of an effect, if you think there will be any, might this new event have on the current state of affairs we are seeing today? Just what I was searching for. This page is loved by this girl I recently met. Do not get afraid to spread your ideas. Do you write this type of great content yourself or are you a member of a team?

    Reply
  • July 26, 2018 at 3:42 am
    Permalink

    “Hey. Very nice web site!! Guy.. Excellent.. Amazing.. I’ll bookmark your web site and take the feeds additionally…I’m happy to find numerous helpful info right here in the article. Thanks for sharing.”

    Reply
  • July 30, 2018 at 11:12 pm
    Permalink

    I’ve never in my life thought of that before just now. You might have just saved me a ton of work just now. Your great write up truly has all of the information I needed. This is just what I was searching for! My reality has been changed forever after reading this. I’m really impressed, I need to say.

    Reply
  • September 1, 2018 at 6:31 pm
    Permalink

    {I check your blog about every few days.|Amazing article, totally what I was looking for.|I will be sure to like your social media websites.|Are there different articles you work for?|I enjoyed your site.|I was looking into a ios app earlier but I still Might there be any well researched papers on this topic or any closely related topics? This material is a bit too advanced for me so is there anything you would recommend for someone just starting out? You should really be thanked for your work way more than you are. So thanks! I really love your pages however… I am super dyslexic. Do you have Youtube videos on the topic?

    Reply
  • September 7, 2018 at 1:10 pm
    Permalink

    Бездепозитные бонусы за регистрацию в казино В этом разделе представлены актуальные бездепозитные бонусы за регистрацию в онлайн казино. Получить промо код, фриспины и бесплатные поинты без депозита.

    Reply
  • September 18, 2018 at 8:19 am
    Permalink

    {You really changed my mind on more than a few things.|Top Reddit pros would really like your blog.|How on earth can this type of thing happen?|That is the work of a brilliant brain.|Old people and small cute animals probably love you.|Wow, that’s unbelievable.|Your blogs really force me to think more about the world.|It is very informative and you are obviously very knowledgeable in this area.|I have been surfing on-line for more than 3 hours today.|Will you be writing any additional articles on this topic? Because I would sure like to discover more on this topic.|I would like to be a mentor in this subject someday.|On a scale going from 1 to 10, You are a 11!|Awesome tips and very easy to understand.|I tend to disagree with the first I have never in all my years heard of this before just now. Other then that, awesome website! {Listen, I really love your articles.|I only read about a few sentences in to this article but I’ll take a look at the rest of the blog post when I get home from work.|I am super really impressed!|I just found your article but I’m at my internship as I write this so I’ll have to read the rest of this later on when I can find the time and I’m able to read it without being distracted.|I was checking out a real estate the other day but I still In my view, if all webmasters and bloggers made just right content material as you did, the web might be a lot more helpful than ever before. I’m going through some of these same problems as well.

    Reply
  • September 18, 2018 at 4:04 pm
    Permalink

    I discovered this site by chance. {I sure don’t understand a whole lot about this subject matter but I’ll come back to your website so I can discover more.|I know tons of people read your write ups but I often wonder how many people really understand the lasting impact of what you’ve laid out here.|I really do enjoy the points you have made here however I really doubt many can be applied in reality.|I tend to disagree with the last I was talking to my mom on Sunday when I heard about your site. {I am always shocked that you’re somehow able to produce such great content on a consistent basis.|There sure has to be some type of really addictive aspect about this website because I can not go for more than a day without reading it.|Well I will never be the same person after reading this info!|I could not stop myself from leaving a comment.|If you can, shoot me an email and we can discuss because I have an idea I think you will enjoy.|There is something about your artice that is rather addictive and I would like to discover exactly what it might be.|It’s so rare to see a nice website like this one these days.|You clearly understand what you’re talking about.|Honestly, how much of a change, if any, might this new event have on the current climate we are seeing today?|This site looks just like my old site.|You remind me of my boyfriend back in Connecticut.|I seriously appreciate this article.|I am really beyond blown away, I have to admit.|I only got about a few sentences in to this write up and I’ll read the rest of the article when I go to work.|Just how many times a day do you use your marketing consultant and do you still love it?|Might you have you tube videos on the topic?|You must be really proud of the work you’ve done here.|Your site looks just like one I used to have.|You must really have a smart head resting on your shoulders.|You really need to write a lot more content if you want to stay a recognized leader in this market.|Your blog has a certain energy surrounding it.|I was looking into a tee shirt the other day but I still have so many questions You seem to really understand who you really are as a human. No real complaints on my end, this is simply a excellent article.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

CAPTCHA

*