Sierra Leone Lawyer Denounces President Koroma's Dual Citizenship Hypocrisy!
By Anonymous Lawyer (14/02/18)
President Ernest Koroma's blatant double standard on Sierra Leoneans with dual citizenship is being criticised by all patriotic citizens.
Here, a learned Sierra Leonean lawyer, who prefers anonymity, makes this eye opening, must read legal submission regarding the mischievous way the APC government of Ernest Koroma continues to manhandle the dual citizenship issue. The lawyer writes:
Recent developments have seen the APC Government under Ernest Bai Koroma leading the unholy crusade against Sierra Leoneans holding dual citizenship so as to prevent them from participating as candidates for elective positions in the March 7th, 2018 elections.
It is not their desire to follow the law that is in issue; it is the use of this law as a weapon against those who the government now sees as a threat to their survival after violating same for so long that exposes the hypocrisy and shrewdness of the APC government and President Ernest Bai Koroma.
The correct position is that dual citizenship is generally allowed by law and is not illegal by any means since the passing of the Sierra Leone Citizenship Amendment Act 2006 – which by Section 5 made holding dual citizenship unqualifiedly legal. However, certain positions are, by constitutional mandate under section 75 and 76 of the constitution reserved to be held by persons who do not hold voluntary dual citizenship or are under an oath of allegiance to another country at the time of their nomination and election to parliament, to the vice presidency, the presidency or to be otherwise appointed ministers or deputy ministers.
By section 56 (2) of the Constitution, a person can only be appointed a Minister if he is qualified to be appointed to Parliament. This Provision clearly states as follows:
“A person shall not be appointed a Minister or Deputy Minister unless -
a. he is qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament; and
b. he has not contested and lost as a candidate in the general election immediately preceding his nomination for appointment; and
c. his nomination is approved by Parliament.”
As to what amounts to being qualified for election as a member of Parliament in the first place before being eligible for appointment as a Minister is stated Section 76(1) of the Constitution as follows:
“No person shall be qualified for election as a Member of Parliament - if he is a naturalized citizen of Sierra Leone or is a citizen of a country other than Sierra Leone having become such a citizen voluntarily or is under a declaration of allegiance to such a country”
This provision, when read with Section 75 of the Constitution, limits eligibility for election as member of Parliament to only citizens that are (i) not naturalized citizens and (ii) do not hold citizenship of another country if they held that other citizenship “voluntarily or (iii) are under a declaration of allegiance to such a country”. In effect, it disqualifies any one holding dual citizenship from occupying any position that has eligibility-for-election-to-Parliament as one of its requirements. That includes Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Government.
By Section 56 of the Constitution, the power to appoint Ministers is vested in the President who by Section 40 (2) and (2) respectively is regarded as:
“The President shall be the Fountain of Honour and Justice and the symbol of national unity and sovereignty. The President shall be the guardian of the Constitution and the guarantor of national independence and territorial integrity, and shall ensure respect for treaties and international agreements.”
By this sacred designation, the President ought to be the guardian of the Constitution and should not only ensure that the Constitution is respected and enforced fairly, but also that he himself abides by its mandates and dictates including in ensuring that no Minister of Deputy Minister holding a dual citizenship would be among persons he appoints into Ministerial and Cabinet positions.
As it stands, several ministers of government currently hold dual citizenship; but they continue to occupy their offices in clear violation of the Constitution. If only President Koroma and his advisers were to read the 'Constitution well, they will see that by Section 56 (2) of the Constitution and Section 76(1), it is expressly prohibited for anyone to remain a Minister or Deputy Minister who is a Dual Citizen. By Section 58 of the Constitution, the president can revoke appointments to Ministerial Positions as they hold their position at his sole discretion.
However, the President has remained sealed lipped on the status of more than half of his Ministerial appointments who hold dual citizenship while he continues to shamelessly lead an unholy crusade to disqualify Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkela. That is a betrayal of his position as the Constitutionally designated 'Fountain of Honour' - as he is flagrantly disrespecting the Constitution on the one hand while on the other hand, he is trying to disenfranchise several other Sierra Leoneans from having the opportunity to serve his people for his own selfish ends.
In the first place, a President who respects the Constitution ought to have carried out due diligence on his choice of Ministers and Deputy Ministers before appointing those Ministers and Deputy Ministers into office so as not to be in violation of Section 56 of the Constitution. He either knew that they were dual citizens but sought to appoint them anyway in violation of the Constitution he swore to protect, or he was in fact reckless as to what the Constitution had to say and therefore acted without regard for it. Either way, that he has kept them in cabinet to date while his party is fighting Dr. Yumkella and other dual citizens even in his own party is a testament to the fact that he is no respecter of the Constitution but is merely leading a desperate crusade to disqualify a key opponent to his party’s bid to remain in power and to remove an obvious pending defeat for his hand-picked successor in his party.
As the curtain draws on his regime, one thing that President Koroma will be remembered for is his disrespect for the very Constitution he swore to protect and the many times he has deliberately disregarded its clear stipulations so as to satisfy his selfish narcissistic political agenda.
That these ministers continue to serve in government while his party chose to exclude others from having a fair opportunity to serve their country; and is very determined in seeking to have other parties’ Presidential candidates disqualified on the basis of being under “oath of allegiance” to a foreign country, means that the law is being selectively applied under his watch.
This dishonourable abuse of his position and power, which is unfortunately characteristic of his presidency, undermines the Rule of Law and is a recipe for chaos for the country. The law on the exclusion of certain class of dual citizens should be either wholly properly applied to all affected without a hidden motive or rather be totally abandoned into desuetude or disuse.
By his action in appointing dual citizens throughput the 10 years of his presidency, President Koroma had evidently chosen the latter until now. Going back is regrettably a callous step not befitting the one designated the 'Fountain of Honour' he disappointingly ought to have been.
Courtesy: Written by a Sierra Leonean lawyer who prefers to remain anonymous