By Abdulai Kychom
Since Julius Maada Bio was elected President of the Republic of Sierra Leone on April 4th, 2018, the main feature of his government has been violation of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone. Action after action taken by this government had transgressed the constitution with impunity.
Today, the most serious political and legal ramifications of the appointment of Charles Francis Margai as Attorney General and Minister of Justice, on the one hand, and the appointment of Abdulai Bangura Esq. as Deputy Minister of Justice, on the other, is his petition against the appointment of Mr. Arrow Bockarie Esq. as Deputy Minister of Justice by the Koroma administration.
On May 16th 2011, lawyer Charles Margai wrote President Ernest Bai Koroma (former President now) stating that as one of the senior lawyers in the legal profession within Sierra Leone, he would be remiss in his duty to the profession and loyalty to the state of Sierra Leone, if he fails to raise the all important issue of the incorrectness of the appointment of Arrow J. Bockarie Esq. as Deputy Minister of Justice. Quoting Section 64(1) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone Act No.6 of 1991 which provides therefore:- “there shall be an Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, who shall be the principal Legal Adviser to the Government and a Minister.”
In a nutshell, it is unconstitutional for President Julius Maada Bio to appoint a Deputy Minister of Justice instead of Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice because these offices are not disjunctive but conjunctive and if the president wants to separate them as he has done now, he should approach Parliament to pass an Act separating the two offices. Certainly, there’s no provision in the Constitution that provides for a Deputy Attorney General, so the only option is for the government to seek a remedy through Parliament.
In his letter dated May 16th 2011, Charles Margai clearly stated that he would be “remiss in his duty to the (legal) profession and loyalty to the state of Sierra Leone, if he (fails) to raise this all important issue with (President Koroma).”
The million dollar question now is what is preventing Charles Margai from making the same application this time round when he fully knows that the disjunctive nature of the current appointment of his Deputy Abdulai Bangura as Minister of Justice only, and not as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, is tantamount to a violation of the Constitution?
So in the light of the indivisibility of the office of Attorney-General and Minister of Justice as per Section 64(1) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, Act No. 6 of 1991, the appointment by President Bio of Abdulai Bangura Esq. as “Deputy Minister of Justice”, is in violation of the said section.
We therefore urge President Bio to reverse the appointment of Mr. Abdulai Bangura Esq. because he’s not qualified to hold that office given the arguments (indivisibility) above and either transfer him to any other Ministry should the president so desire but not remain in his present post, which glaringly transgresses the sacred document we call the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone. We also call on the president to pay rapt attention to the constitution of this country which is our Bible/Quran to govern this land that we all so love dearly.