The ECOWAS Court on Monday, 27th November 2017 ordered the Republic of Sierra Leone to pay Alhaji Samuel Sam-Sumana, all remuneration, prerequisites of office and other entitlement due to the former Vice President from the date of his removal till the date his tenure of office is expected to end. 

A panel of three judges of the Court, presided over by Justice Hameye Foune Mahalmadane ruled that the removal of the Applicant as the Vice- President of the Defendant by the President on the 17th of March, 2015, violates Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right.

Delivering judgement in Suit NO: ECW/CCJ/APP/38/16, the Court acknowledged the right of the President of Sierra Leone to remove from office a party member for acts contrary to the constitution of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party, but said that removing him while his right of appeal was still subsisting amounted to a breach of his right to fair hearing.

The Court disagreed with the preliminary objection of the Defendant regarding its jurisdiction, ruling instead that it has jurisdiction as it is a clear case of human rights violation relying on its decisions in a plethora of cases that for jurisdiction to arise, the alleged violation must be founded on an international or Community obligation of the State.

In the judgement, which was read by Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke, the Court held that the ‘right of a person to participate in the government of his or her State is a recognized and enforceable human right, noting that Article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right provides that “Every citizen shall have the right to participate freely in the government of his Country, either directly or through freely chosen representatives in accordance with the provisions of the law.”

However, the Court declined to grant other reliefs sought by the Applicant on the grounds that most of them are predicated on the domestic law of the Defendant and granting them could likely interfere in matters essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of the Defendant.

The Plaintiff had approached the Court alleging that his removal from office and the subsequent treatment meted out to him by the State, including the invasion of his house by armed soldiers and the withdrawal of his personal security violated his right to protection and security of the law, right to due process of law, right to work, and right to participate in government among others.

He had asked for, among others, an order directing the Defendant to pay special, general and exemplary Damages of One Hundred and Thirty Million United States Dollars (US $130,000,000.00) or any other amount in the wisdom of this Court, for the violations of his Human Rights to Dignity, Safety and Security, Fair Hearing, Participation in the Government of his Country.

The Plaintiff also urged the Court to order the government to pay another US 75,000,000 (Seventy five million) or any amount to be determined by the Court in damages for Anxiety, Psychological Trauma, Deterioration in Health, and embarrassment due to withdrawal of income and benefits given that the Applicant’s life, work and activities were constantly monitored and disrupted such that the gathering of evidence for this case was extremely arduous.

Finally, he urged the Court to direct the vacation of office by his successor to enable him immediately resume duty as Vice President and enjoy the perquisites of the office.