Following today’s interim Injunction Order granted by the High Court of Sierra Leone against the Sierra Leone Police restricting vehicular movement during polling day, one of Sierra Leone’s Harvard University graduates-Lawyer Pa Momo Fofana has said in Freetown that “this is the beginning of judicial independence in Sierra Leone.”
The Sierra Leone Police had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with more than ten registered political parties to abide by the Accra Principles of Electoral Justice; restriction of vehicular movement; Public Order Act of 1965 relating to procession; Political Parties-National Electoral Commission and the Political Parties Registration Commission to engage in a constructive dialogue to prevent and respond to elections related violence and complaints.
The restriction of movements on polling day has faced stiff criticism from the public, many describing it “infringement of citizens’ fundamental human rights.”
The police leadership after a long drawn disagreement said their action to restrict movements of people and vehicles is legal and hinges on the peace and stability of the state. They further argued that the MOU have been amended and only vehicular movement will be restricted on polling day.
It could be recalled that Lawyer Charles Francis Margai had filed in an application at the High Court about the action of the Sierra Leone Police restricting the movements of vehicles and people on polling day invoking various Sections of the police Act of 1964 including the Public Order Act of 1965. He submitted that the action of the Sierra Leone Police will disenfranchise many eligible voters.
Lawyer Pa Momo Fofana who associated with Lawyer Margai explained that “the application was not made under the 1991 Constitution because we dealt with the Sections dealing with their operations and specified functions.”
He said the police are pushing too far by assuming powers that doesn’t in any way belong to them.
After legal arguments and counter arguments, the High Court presided over by Justice Adelaide Dworzak ordered that the action of the Sierra Leone Police be suspended until the final determination of the matter. This follows the objection by the Defence counsel-Lawyer Osman Khanu who submitted that the court was not properly constituted. According to Lawyer Khanu, such a matter can only be heard by the Supreme Court.
In her ruling, Justice Dworzak ordered that, “the Inspector General of Police and all Police personnel in the Republic of Sierra Leone” are stopped from “carrying out or attempting to dessiminate and/or enforce the contents of the MOU made between the police and several political parties, in particular the portion dealing with restriction of vehicular movement and movement of people on polling day, to wit on 7th March, 2018.”
The Presiding Judge went further to state that the interim injunction is to remain in force until the determination of the originating motion scheduled for tomorrow 6th, March, 2018 at 9:00 am.
In an exclusive interview with the head of Edrina Chambers- Lawyer Pa Momo Fofana, he asserted that such a blanket restriction tramples on the fundamental human rights of citizens and considered it unconstitutional and illegal.
By Elkass Sannoh