September 28, 2022

A number of politicians have told this press that the incompetence of the Attorney-General’s immensely contributed to the outbreak of violence during a parliamentary sitting at the Bintumani Hotel in Freetown. According to sources, the Attorney-General was not supposed to table the Mid-Term Census Bill in parliament. They argue that the duty to table the bill lies in the hands of the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, Professor Kaikai and not the Attorney-General.

Opposition politicians have also argued that the Mid-Term Census presented in parliament is also surreptitiously accompanied by the Cyber Crime Bill which has been considerably bashed at.

Calls to hold the Attorney-General responsible for the violence in parliament are rife. It is the argument of the day that his incompetence in handling matters with legal ramifications caused the violence.

It has also been constantly argued that the Attorney-General is supposed to have properly advised government on tabling the Mid-Term Census Bill in parliament. One of the most prominent views around the presentation has indicated that this is not the right time for such a bill to be taken to the house.

Politicians say SLPP ought to have waited for the ten-year cycle to end in 2025. Apart from waiting for the normal cycle, other critical issues around the census including inadequate time for cartographic mapping, recruitment and training of 20, 000 enumerators, unreliable technology among others have been raised.

The skirmishes in parliament have again exposed the negative side of Sierra Leone in the world community of nations. Daggers seem to have been drawn between the main parties, the SLPP and the APC, and the red line has also drawn.

The former is apparently ready to pass the bill into law while the latter is determined to resist it at all cost. A member of parliament in the main opposition has said the ‘Politics of President Ernest Bai Koroma is over.

He said APC would go back to the politics of S.I. Koroma. The S.I. Koroma politics is one in which APC will not sit down with folded arms and allow the ruling party to lord it over them.

Another notable politician has threatened that as long as SLPP government fails to adhere to rule of law and due processes, parliament would no longer be at ease. The violence that erupted during the presentation of the bill was the second all-out conflict in the well.

Parliament was also swallowed in inter-party clashes prompting the police to intervene to restore order. It was the first in the country’s political history for the law-making arm of government to degenerate to such chaos.

Hopes existed that the violence which occurred in parliament in the early days of the PAOPA government would have been the last.

But, Monday’s violence which is the second wave appears to have been much more potent than any other.

The Attorney-General occupies a proud position in Sierra Leone’s Constitution, the supreme law of the land. He is the principal legal adviser to government and the titular head of the Bar.

He represents government in all legal matters and exercises the power of Nolle Prosequi. This means he is empowered to discontinue any case in the superior court of judicature at any time before judgement is delivered.

It is also assumed in law that all matters prosecuted in the name of the Republic of Sierra Leone are at the suit of the Attorney-General. This is not the first time Mr Brewah has blundered in parliament.

The Attorney-General recently was at the mercy of members of parliament for failing to formulate rules and regulations to guide the implementation of the State of Emergency proclaimed by the President slightly over a year ago.

Upon further questioning by parliamentarians, the AG apportioned the blame to his predecessor, Dr Priscillia Schwartz who was recently dismissed.

Her dismissal had close links with her failure to properly advise government on the treason trial of the former Minister of Defence, Alfred Paolo Conteh, and other related legal matters.

The State of Emergency was implemented throughout the country without rules to guide it. The failings of the two AG’s put the life of of Sierra Leone at the greatest risk.

Security forces were largely rudderless in the enforcement of the emergency in the initial period.

The liberty, fundamental rights and dignity of the individuals were under threat in the emergency period. A number of Sierra Leoneans have also argued that this government would likely face several lawsuits when it shall have left power owing to inability to control its security forces especially in the emergency period.

Since the New Direction Government is still bereft of competent AG, it has always relied on the use force to have its way in parliament. In every major law or policy passed, it always hopes to bulldoze their way through.

History of Violence in parliament could be traced at the time the Speaker was controversially imposed on parliamentarians.

The imposition was unlawful, but government, through the support of the police unlawfully installed Dr Abass Bundu as Speaker of Parliament. Since his legitimacy has been questioned from the onset, parliamentarians still find it difficult to accept him especially in situations of controversy.

SLPP government also recently resorted to illegality in the appointment of the Chief Electoral Commissioner, Mohamed Kenewui Konneh. The provision that warrants them to hold consultation with all political parties before the appointment of Head of National Electoral Commission was not adhered to.

The main opposition party also had it hot with the ruling party saying that they were not consulted before the NEC Boss was appointed.

APPA (All Political Parties Association), the umbrella body for all political parties also took similar stance. APPA members said they were not consulted when the appointment was made.

Government, owing to pressure, came up with a defence saying that it consulted the main opposition and other major political parties.

In the midst of political wrangling, Mohamed Konneh took his seat although he was not properly seated under the law.

Even the White Paper, the product of the defunct Commissions of Inquiry is being challenged in court by all persons of interest named therein.

The thrust of the challenge holds that Commissions of Inquiry from where the White Paper emanated are illegal. The Attorney-General circumvented a fundamental provision found in section 150 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, 1991.

The provision says rules of evidence for the regulation of the practice and procedure of all commissions of Inquiry must be in place.

Lawyers from the AG’s office have always argued that:  “Rules of evidence principle is not a condition precedent.”

The ‘Condition Precedent’ phraseology means the Commissions of Inquiry must have been in existence prior to the promulgation of the rules.

But, the rules never came from start of commissions’ proceedings to finish. All the illegalities in which SLPP has been caught up quite lately bounce back to the Office of the Attorney-General.

He has always failed to advise government properly.