19th February 2018
Former APC Minister Warns of APC Contamination on Dual Citizenship Issue!
By a press release (16/01/18)
This is clearly a situation of the ruling APC government of President Ernest Koroma shooting itself in the foot regarding dual citizenship issue.
Reproduced verbatim: She said to show the deliberate intent to protect the Cabinet from being occupied by persons of Dual Nationality, even when the 1991 Constitution stopped Ministers from being chosen amongst Parliamentarians as used to happen before, yet still a special new sub-section was created under Section 56 of that 1991 Constitution which most categorically prohibited from ever sitting in our sacred Cabinet, anyone not qualified to be a parliamentarian (including Dual Nationality persons). (Photo: Sierra Leone Justice Minister Joseph Kamara, will he usher in a just decision on this issue?).
FULL ARTICLE FOLLOWS BELOW:
Noted Sierra Leonean Constitutional Commentator Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, who has written and published numerous well-respected Opinions on the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, has in a piece shared widely over the Internet on Sunday January 14th 2018, stated her "100% support" for the recent controversial decision of President Koroma and the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) to refuse to give APC party symbols for Parliamentary tickets to any person who held another citizenship other than Sierra Leone. Blyden has however raised concerns over reports that persons of dual citizenship may be seated in the current Cabinet of President Koroma. She said she had no evidence of that being the case but warned that if indeed that was the case, it was a contamination of the constitutional expectation of what the Cabinet should be composed of. She described such a Cabinet as "dangerously contaminated".
Section 76.1.(a) of Sierra Leone constitution prohibits for anyone to become a parliamentarian if that person holds another citizenship other than Sierra Leonean.
According to Dr. Sylvia Blyden, she said she had conducted diligent research which shows this prohibition of dual nationality citizens, has been the case since the 1971 Constitution as amended in 1974 when Section 22(1)(a) of that Constitution prohibited any person of dual citizenship to be elected as Parliamentarians and consequently become Cabinet Ministers or Vice-President and also same applied for President.
This prohibition, she insisted, continued in the 1978 Constitution and again was included in the 1991 Constitution which is the Constitution still in use.
She said to show the deliberate intent to protect the Cabinet from being occupied by persons of Dual Nationality, even when the 1991 Constitution stopped Ministers from being chosen amongst Parliamentarians as used to happen before, yet still a special new sub-section was created under Section 56 of that 1991 Constitution which most categorically prohibited from ever sitting in our sacred Cabinet, anyone not qualified to be a parliamentarian (including Dual Nationality persons).
Dr. Blyden therefore revealed that it was nothing new but rather, it has been the case since the seventies that no person of dual nationality can sit in Sierra Leone Parliament or become a Cabinet Minister or Vice-President or President.
However, the provision had been ignored since 1996 when democracy was re-instituted in Sierra Leone’s ongoing second republic. The belated decision in 2018 to therefore deny symbols to such aspirants, has brought much controversy and debates. Some people questioned why it was only being used now for the first time in this Second Republic.
Many writers viciously condemned the President for refusing to give the APC party symbol to Dual Nationality Citizens when prior to now, that constitutional provision had been openly flounted.
However, Dr. Sylvia Blyden, writing on the Internet stated thus: "I completely support President Koroma on this matter. I 100% support what he did as he had no other option. Section 76.1(a) had become very topical with APC aspirants petitioning their competitors based on the dual citizenship prohibition. I honestly cannot blame the President for acting as he did in his capacity as Chairman and Leader of the APC. If he had not done so, then the matter may have been petitioned at higher levels and no responsible party leader can expose his party to such a threat," Blyden wrote.
In further comments, Dr. Blyden said that not only Parliamentarians but also anyone aspiring to be the President, the Vice-President or who is to sit in the Ministerial Cabinet, should not carry citizenship of another country or any other form of allegiance to any other country other than Sierra Leone.
She wrote that if there was any current Cabinet Minister or Deputy Minister holding a citizenship other than Sierra Leonean, that person was illegally sitting as minister. Going further, Dr. Sylvia Blyden insisted that not only were all acts taken by such a Minister null and void but she said if such a person continued to occupy a seat in Cabinet, then it may be tantamount to such a person committing Treason.
Her opinions, which are usually taken with much seriousness by ordinary citizens, have gone viral and are now being shared all over the world within the last 24 hours.
Contacted by this newspaper to throw light on the matter, Dr. Blyden confirmed that all the above views were indeed written by her. She revealed that she will be issuing out a comprehensive opinion on the matter shortly. Here follows some of her views written on social media:
"Any Cabinet Minister who carries Dual Citizenship is an ILLEGAL MINISTER. Any Deputy Minister who carries Dual Citizenship is an ILLEGAL DEPUTY MINISTER. All orders, directives and agreements signed by such a Minister or Deputy Minister are completely NULL and VOID and of no legality and of no moment."
"To go further with my views, if it is proven that indeed such foreign-allegiance persons are seated in our sacred Cabinet (as yet, we have no such evidence), then let me go further to state that the Cabinet is dangerously contaminated."
"I am very hopeful that the Honourable Attorney General will advise His Excellency the President who is the Guardian of the Constitution and Fountain of Honour, to apply executive powers under Section 59.(2) of Sierra Leone Constitution and IMMEDIATELY remove such foreign-allegiance persons from the sacred Cabinet."
"If such persons continue to sit in Cabinet, after their foreign allegiance is uncovered, then it can even be deduced further that such Dual Citizens are committing TREASON under Section 108 of our sacred Constitution."
Meanwhile, the Government’s Principal Legal Adviser who is the Attorney General and Justice Minister, Hon. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, is yet to officially react to the above views as expressed by Dr. Sylvia Blyden.
The following are relevant Sections of Sierra Leone Constitution pertinent to the views of Dr. Sylvia Blyden:
Section 76.(1)(a): No person shall be qualified for election as a Member of Parliament if he is a naturalised 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.
Section 56.(2)(a): A person shall not be appointed a Minister or Deputy Minister unless he is qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament.
Section 41.(1)(d): No person shall be qualified for election as President unless he is qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament.
Section 54.(2): A person shall not be qualified to be a candidate for the office of Vice-President unless he has the qualifications specified in Section 41.
Section 59.(2): A person appointed as a Member of Cabinet shall vacate his seat in the Cabinet is he ceases to be a Minister or if the President so directs.
Section 108.(8): Any suspension, alteration, or repeal of this Constitution other than on the authority of Parliament shall be deemed to be an act of Treason.
Courtesy: Awareness Times Newspaper Monday January 15th 2018