The ECOWAS Court has ruled that a former Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana, lacks the legal capacity to bring a suit before it seeking an order of the Court to impose sanctions against a Member State for its failure to enforce the Court’s judgment of 2017 against the State.

Justice Edward Amoako Asante who read the decision of the Court said though Article 3(1) of the 2012 Supplementary Act on Sanctions stated the general principle of Member State as liable to judicial and political sanctions for failure to honour its obligations to ECOWAS, it declined to impose sanctions against Sierra Leone after it observed the Act did not grant individuals access to the Court to seek the imposition of sanctions.

The Court took note of Article 14 of the Act which states “the application of sanctions against Member States failing to honour their obligations to the Community are implemented: (a) upon decision of the Authority of Heads of State and Government; (b) at the request of a member state; (c) on the recommendation of the President of the Commission.’’

However, individuals could “forward any complaints of non-compliance of a Member State directly to the President of ECOWAS Commission or to their national authority for regional integration who must forward it to the President of the Commission for necessary action”.

Consequently, the Court declined to issue an order for the imposition of sanctions and the other claims of the former Vice President.

Mr Femi Adedeji, lawyer to the former Vice President in suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/38/16/ENF filed on 10th of October 2019, had sought an order of the Court for the imposition of ECOWAS sanctions on the government of Sierra Leone for its failure to enforce the Court’s earlier judgment against the State.

In the 2017 judgment, the Court held that the former Vice President’s removal from office by the President on the 17th of March, 2015 violated his right to political participation and fair hearing, and ordered the government to pay all remuneration and entitlements attached to his position from the date of his removal from office till the date his tenure of office ended, having found the process of his removal inconsistent with the due process.

However, the Court rejected other claims sought by Alhaji Sumana including payment of 205 million USD as reparation for damages, as well as the government’s argument challenging the Court’s competence to hear the matter.

The case was adjudicated by a panel of three judges comprising Justices Edward Amoako Asante, Gberi-Be Ouattara and Dupe Atoki.