State House must not be seen legitimising wrongdoing

State house must not be seen legitimising Wrongdoing

In any political climate, when executive members of the Sierra Leone Bar Association (SLBA) visit State House, the rhetoric of “maintaining independence from national politics” often rings hollow, rendering it a mere buzzword that threatens to erode the association’s credibility as a credible pressure group.

The contentious victory of Tuma Adama Gento Kamara in an election riddled with chaos and irregularities has ignited a firestorm of protest, with over 500 disillusioned members invoking the Company’s Act 2009 to demand an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM). Given the gravity of these concerns, and the disturbing allegations suggesting the SLBA’s capture by state actors, backed by compelling video evidence revealing egregious electoral manipulation, State House’s decision to embrace the disputed SLBA leadership rather than exercise prudence and postpone scheduled engagements until the issues are resolved, raises serious questions
and is deeply disconcerting. Not only did it turn a blind eye to the turmoil within the SLBA ranks, but it also actively legitimized the contested leadership through a public photo op with the President. Such actions fall far short of the lofty ideals we associate with the State House, which should stand as the Fountain of Honour, championing the rule of law above all else.

This validation seems to have emboldened the purported SLBA president, who wasted no time in flexing newfound authority by filing a complaint against Mary Kaigbanja Esq., a young lawyer. Mary was summoned to the Criminal Investigations Department on allegations of cyberstalking, supposedly stemming from the release of a document linked to an administrative complaint against her by the same individual.This has left a scar and cast a chilling shadow in the history of the legal profession.

Journalist Thomas Dixon’s poignant tweet encapsulates the grim reality unfolding before our eyes -: “What happened in front of me today is very sad! CID Officers molesting lawyers who were at CID headquarters to give solidarity to their colleague, Mary Kaibanja who was reported for cyber offenses allegedly by Tuma Gento, the controversial President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association. I saw female lawyers being molested, their phones snatched from them and the head of CID who is also a lawyer, RPG ordered for the arrest of his colleagues. Even my phone was snatched by one OSD Officer who called himself Ansumana.”

Our junior colleague Hanrietta Kargbo in a post also shared her horrifying experience. Amongst other things she said: “ I was chocked, pushed and eventually put under gun point by three men at the CID”.

The current climate of fear gripping the legal fraternity speaks volumes about the precarious state of affairs. Unless State House takes decisive steps to distance itself from the troubling events unfolding within the legal sphere, it risks further fracturing an already polarized society and fanning the flames of discontent. Moreover, its failure to address these systemic issues and the deafening silence of the Attorney General who is the titular head of the Bar, only fuels speculation that the tentacles of state capture have infiltrated our institutions, undermining the very fabric of our democracy.

We are at an inflection point.How we choose to respond to the current crisis at the bar in the coming days will go a long way in shaping the future of our democracy for better or for worse.

Despite the sense of hopelessness amongst colleagues I am still hopeful that those standing in the way of peace unity and democracy at the bar will have the courage to reflect on their actions or omissions and realise the disservice they have inflicted upon the image of our bar our government and our country and audaciously resolve to take us back to the days when we use to laugh sing and dance together in spite of our differences

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