S. I. KAMARA
When Dr. Peter Tucker was charged with heading and directing the commission to rewrite our national constitution, it was with the 1978 constitution in mind and sight and also and most important to fit into the new era that was to come which is the multiple dispensation.
I am not a constitutional lawyer or lawyer of any sort but a layman. The 1978 constitution gave extraordinary powers to the president at the time, Dr. Siaka Probyn Stevens. The APC one party constitution virtually made Siaka a demi god thereby putting everything about every sierra Leonean into the hands of one creation of the Almighty God. Every body became de facto and de jure a member of the APC. A senior civil servant could become a permanent secretary only and except he was a card carrier of the APC. The president not only could appoint a judge of the superior court of judicature but he had that constitutional right to fire or sack him.
That system was the final straw that broke the moral fabric of the sierra Leonean society as friends were going against friends, families going against each other, wives going against husbands and children becoming lawless and carefree. The educational standard, that we were once proud of, sank to irretrievable levels.
Dr Peter Tucker and his commission strenuously and with patriotic fervour and democratic principles looked at the 1978 constitution and reduced some if not most of the wonderful executive powers that Siaka Stevens had. Judges finally became protected from arbitrary dismissal; permanent secretaries maintained their political leanings etc.
The first person to use the 1991 Constitution has been Tejan Kabba. What has amazed me is the fact that Sierra Leoneans especially some journalists, lawyers and the general citizenry all have been keeping quiet and allowing Tejan Kabba to do what he liked with the very constitution he swore to protect and upkeep. He never protected the people when they actually needed protection instead he ran away to Guinea with many sierra Leonean following in his wake only to come back and benefit from the suffering and killings levied against innocent people by the AFRC.
Kabba had and still has no respect for the constitution. He twists it the way he wants under the direct advice of Berewa. Had it not been for late Brigadier General Maxwell Kobe of the Nigerian Army he would have disbanded the army. In his anger from Guinea he arrested soldiers he suspected and put them on a show trial with Berewa as Attorney General and chief prosecutor making thousands from the very soldiers that he advised to be killed by firing squad. Did they all deserve to die? Let the people and posterity judge.
This was the very Kabba who informed the world that he had prior knowledge of the planned coup that sent him running to Guinea leaving his people at the mercy of the brutal AFRC.
When Kabba was to protect and defend the people, he woefully failed. When, before the January 6th 1999 invasion of Freetown by the now defunct RUF, a journalist wrote in one of the local newspapers that he saw rebels coming down like ?mannas from heaven’ Kabba locked him up for alarming the people. The rebels came down and really invaded Freetown. One would have expected Kabba to have called the guy to get more information from him and take measures to frustrate the rebels’ efforts. This was a blatant and useless use of executive powers especially when there was not only truth but that thousands of innocent people died and thousands lost properties. Kabba lied, as usual, to the people that he would help them rebuild their homes. They are yet to benefit anything.
Since independence, no leader had ever used state residence for prayers except Kabba. Kabba has been using Hill Station Lodge for Friday prayers and, guess what, all the known sycophants request invitation to go and pray side by side with Kabba or be seen around. No journalist or lawyer or human rights activist or the ordinary citizen has ever raised a voice on this misuse of executive power. There are mosques in Freetown where Kabba could easily go and pray to the Almighty God because that is the house of God made specifically for that purpose. But Kabba has always been afraid of moving out of the lodge because he knows he has failed the people. Going to the mosque to pray with the people is one act to mingle with the people who put their lives on the line to bring him to power but no, Kabba now regards those very people as infected with communicable diseases with offensive odour and he cannot stand. Otherwise why should he keep away from the ordinary sierra Leonean?
Let us look at the Judiciary where Kabba has put all his cronies to protect him and make the way clear for all what he wants in our country. Sections 135 (1) (2) (3) all show the importance of the Judicial Service Commission in the appointment of judges to the judicature. But does this commission exist? Let people like Theophilus Gbenda tell us. This part of the constitution was brought about to reduce the absolute power the president had under the 1978 Constitution to hire and fire judges. But what happens here? Kabba has kept quiet over the formation of the judicial service commission thereby arrogating to himself that right to simply appoint judges and use his surrogates in Parliament to confirm their appointments. Everybody has kept quiet and let this man have his way. Why? What is wrong with Sierra Leonean? Are we doomed or cursed to eternal failure, decadence and doom? Don’t we have brains? Why do we allow our leaders to do to us whatever they like? Are we going to wait for God’s intervention when people in Ghana are moving into the 21st century?
Kabba changed the meaning of inauguration when after the results of the 2002 elections he hurriedly appointed Justice Timbo to act as Chief Justice who in turn swore him into office at his Hill Station lodge. Timbo knew that was wrong but went along anyway because he wanted the office and saw that as an opportunity. It is the understanding that after any national elections the winner is sworn into office at a ceremony, like we have been used to in Sierra Leone, in parliament. But no, Kabba was in such a hurry that he went ahead and did it as if there was somebody to strip him of that privilege.
The most blatant and useless exercise of executive power was the case of Paul Kamara of For Di People newspaper. Everybody knows that Paul Kamara does not belong to any political party or grouping so he is free to write the truth. The pursuit of truth has been relentless because he is a Sierra Leonean. He spoke and wrote the truth about Justice Tolla Thompson when he was Chairman of SLAFA. Paul Kamara wrote that time that Justice Tolla Thompson, as Appeal Court judge under section 138 (4) had no right to be chairman as he was receiving profit or remuneration. He was hounded by people like Dr. Sama Banya and taken to court presided over by a female judge who was referring to Justice Tolla Thompson as a senior colleague meaning who dared Paul Kamara to criticize him.
Later this very Tolla Thompson was promoted to the Supreme Court.
Paul Kamara merely reproduced a report from the commission of inquiry headed by Justice Beoku Betts which stated the true character of Tejan Kabba. Kabba suddenly saw himself as a mini god and had him, Paul, prosecuted though he, Kabba, did not go to court. Kabba always has the equivalent of the late Ayatollah Qhalkali notoriously known as the butcher of Tehran, in the person of Justice Bankole Raschid. This judge did/does everything Kabba wanted/wants him to do from declaring Charles Margai a non member of the S.L.P.P. because he could not produce a membership card when he the Kabba did not have one, to sentencing Paul Kamara to prison for daring to publish a report, he, Paul did not write.
All these people say they fear God but how? I challenge them that they do not believe in God. Nobody can believe in God and encourage your fellow human being to levy unnecessary punishment on another human being just because you want a secure retirement. When I read the appeal made by lawyer Jenkins Johnston, I asked myself is Tejan Kabba God Almighty? Has he forgotten how Siaka Stevens and others ended? Does he have children or care for them?
Whom does Kabba want to believe that crap that the Appeals Court freed Paul Kamara? Let us look at the pattern. Momoh Pujeh was taken to court for trumped up charges and sentenced to a jail term because Kabba suspected Pujeh would challenge him for the leadership of the S.L.P.P. He got the gullible public by accusing Pujeh fo corruption. When the leadership election passed and Kabba again became leader, the Appeals Court met and freed him making it appear that the legal system was working perfectly, bull s….
Kabba again has orchestrated the release of Paul Kamara to appear as if the legal process was taking its course and secondly to coincide with the donors conference in London.
What has Kabba gained from all this? As far as I am concerned, nothing except the useless exercise of executive power. Anybody seeing Paul on his release will ask the question how can Kabba be so inhuman to his fellow citizen? Could he not have used Dr. Banya, his djeliba, to counter Paul? Has the incarceration of Paul erased what Paul reported? Who has won the fight? Kabba definitely has not worn this fight as indeed he has not worn the battle against bad governance, decadence, poverty, youth unemployment, vindictiveness and utter wickedness. In short, this is a useless exercise of executive power. Kabba should be held accountable after he leaves office. I advise Paul to do just that. Kabba did not like what Justice Beoku Betts did to him but here he is today uselessly using his executive power against a fellow citizen. The charging to court of Charles Margai would be another useless exercise of executive power because Kabba and Berewa lack what it takes to convince the people otherwise. They are trying tooth and nail to keep Charles Margai behind bars then deal with the APC like in Uganda. I do hope it does not backfire or boomerang. So people like Theophilus Gbenda can now resume their attack on Charles. Oh power.