It should be recalled that the Inspector General of Police by a press release dated 26th February 2018 and revised/reviewed on 5th March 2018 banned all unauthorised vehicular movement on elections day. The Plaintiff contends that on 7th March 2018 while en route to the east-end of Freetown where he was duly registered to vote, he was halted and arrested by the Police for an apparent failure to obtain a vehicular authorization to ply the streets of Freetown. This the Plaintiff contends resulted in the violation of his right to vote since he did not end up exercise his franchise by reason of his arrest and detention. The lawyers for the Plaintiff, Messrs. Yada Williams and Associates are seeking to argue that the Inspector General lacked any constitutional or statutory backing for the said vehicular restrictions which were imposed across the country on 7th March 2018.
The case against the Inspector General is probably the first constitutional matter bordering on freedom of movement and the right to vote. Sierra Leone is a signatory to the United Nation’s human right covenants and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Therefore, the state of Sierra Leone has both national and international obligations to protect and guard against the infringement of fundamental rights. This suit, many governance activists believe, will be a groundbreaking litigation against the increasingly excessive powers of the police clamping down on the human rights of the people of Sierra Leone.
The Supreme Court is the sole and exclusive court for constitutional redresses by virtue of section 28 of the 1991 Constitution. It is not clear whether the widely-regarded conservative court would approach this case with the lens of a modern perspective of a right-based approach. In recent times, the court has come under attack for its unprogressive judicial reasoning and rulings. Certainly, this case will determine whether the court has resolved to sojourn across to the modern principles of justice, equity, fairness and human rights.
Augustine S. Marrah heads the Renaissance Movement of Sierra Leone, which is one of the biggest social rights movement in the country. The movement has itself filed a case against the Inspector General of Police in the Supreme Court for an alleged violation of the right to protest.