Sierra Leone Rejects Decision of ECOWAS Court on Dismissed VP Sumana

Abuja, Nigeria – Following the ruling of the ECOWAS Court on Monday in Abuja that the dismissal of Vice President Sam Sumana by President Ernest Bai Koroma, the Sierra Leonen Government has rejected the decision in its formal response.

Former Vice President Sam Sumanna and President Ernest Bai Koroma
Former Vice President Sam Sumana and President Ernest Bai Koroma

In a statement issued in Freetown by the Sierra Leone Justice Ministry said that “The Supreme Court of Sierra Leone did rule on the above matter and therefore no other court is competent to overrule it except by itself. Therefore, 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.”

The ECOWAS Court of Justice ruled that the 2015 dismissal of the Sierra Leonen Vice President was done illegally and that his fundamental human rights, as guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

The Charter, set up in 1987, is an international human rights instrument that is intended to promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms in the African continent.

In dismissing the challenge to the Sierra Leonen Government that it had no jurisdiction over the matter, the Court held that it did have full jurisdiction to consider and adjudicate the case of Mr. Sumana in defense of is fundamental human rights.

In dismissing his former Vice President in 2015, President Koroma defended his decision then, saying that Mr. Sumana had taken up asylum in a foreign embassy and abandoned his duties.

Former Vice President Sam Sumana
Former Vice President Sam Sumana

In response, the former Vice President said he feared for his life and sought asylum in the U.S.

The ruling of the Ecowas Court of Justice awarded Mr. Sumana reparation for his legal fees, back salary and emoluments as of thee day of his dismissal by President Koroma.

In instances where local laws of Sierra Leone were involved or due to lapse of time, the Court said it could not offer such relief to Mr. Sumana.

42 African countries including Sierra Leone have signed and ratified the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine