Drame unfolded yesterday 11th January 2018 at the freetown High Court Presided over by Justice Abdul Rahman Mansaray, when both the ruling All Peoples Congress and the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party spoke with one voice and supported each other. It could be recalled that on Saturday 6th January 2018 the officials at NEC deferred the registration process of the APC Moyoral candidate Yvonne Akie-Sawyerr on the grounds that her address on her Voters Identification card is quite different from the one on the document she presented for the process.
Similar action was also taken on the nomination process of the main opposition Mayoral Candidate Raymond D George who according to his Voters identification card registered outside the Freetown municipality.
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) through their legal representation Counsel Drucil Taylor responded to an application in the form of a Notice of Motion by Counsel Afrikanus S Sesay representing the Applicant Respondent (Akie-Sawyerr) for the Court to instruct the transfer of her registration from Ward 369 to Ward 442.
Counsel Drucil Taylor asked that the originating summons dated 5th January 2018 and all subsequent proceedings be struck out on the grounds that the court cannot properly sit on the matter since no cause of action had been instituted and the Defendant Applicant (NEC) had not reached any decision on the application on which the matter is predicated upon.
He furthered that such an application is an abuse of process and waste of the Court time on the basis that there is no cause of action pursuant to Order 21 Rules 17 (D) of the High Court of 2017, disclosing that in support of the motion is an affidavit sworn to William A Davies on 10th January 2018.
He further informed the Court that NEC did respond to the letters sent by Akie-Sawyerr for the transfer of her registration within 24 hours informing her that the position of the Registration Officer is vacant.
According to him the effect of the application asking the Court to Order the transfer is to effectively substitute the powers given to the Registration Officer in section 40 of the Public Election Act 2012 to the High Court.
Lawyer Taylor said “election is a process not an event” adding that in such regard the injunction ordering the Commission for the transfer of registration has disrupted the election calendar of March 7th as the application was made prematurely. As a result he called on the Court to strike out the application.
After about an hour and half of submission and objection by counsel Taylor representing the APC Mayoral candidate, Yvonne Akie-Sawyerr, Counsel Musa Mewa representing the SLPP Mayoral candidate Raymond D George, informed the Court that they had a similar matter before the same court and for them to save time and cost he applied for both cases to be consolidated and heard at the same time.
There was no objection and Justice A.R Mansaray granted the said application and asked both legal teams representing their respective clients to respond to the submission made by the Defendant Applicant (NEC) Lawyer.
Counsel Afrikanus S Sesay in response informed the Court that what the Defendant is asking for is not before the court as such the court cannot act in vain. He added that they relied on the affidavit that formed the fact that the Plaintiff believes her statutory right under section 40 of the Public Election Act 2012 has been threatened.
He went further citing section 41 of the same Act that makes provision for the continuous existence of the office of the Registration Officer even 21 or 14 days before polling day, disclosing that the Defendants Respondent is trying to import proceedings that do not form part of section 40.
According to him denying the Applicant her application will defeat the purpose for which NEC was established to conduct free, fair election and also infringed on her constitutional and statutory rights to vote and be voted for and also to transfer her registration to another ward respectively.
He called on the Judge to instruct NEC to go comply with the application so that their client will be nominated before the deadline, which is on the 14 January 2018.
Counsel Musa Mewa representing the Raymond D George adopted the submission made by the APC Mayoral Candidate lawyer, adding that closure of the Registration Office should not be an hindrance to the statutory requirement under section 40 of the Public Election Act.
Justice A R Mansaray adjourned the matter to today for all the parties to make present their arguments on the substantive matter before the court and rulings on all the applications will be delivered after the 2 pm Juma prayers.
Friday January 12, 2018.