Former Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone has been deprived of substantial sum of money out of the Le36Bn paid by the ‘New Direction’ government as retirement benefit to past government officials.
Although VP Sam Sumana served the state for close to ten years as the second gentleman, he was left out of the billions of Leones benefit owing to the ‘New Direction’ government’s claim that he was a sacked official.
This is the second time the former VP has been deprived of his retirement benefit by the ‘New Direction’ government. Almost a year ago, government paid similar sum of money to officials of the past government of the All People’s Congress now the main opposition.
The repeated deprivation of the former VP’s entitlement has raised question about President Bio’s commitment to the ruling of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court in 2015.
President Bio’s speech in November, 2017 tacitly accepted the ruling of the ECOWAS court which, he said, the removal of the former VP was “unconstitutional.”
The President made the statement at the time he was the Presidential candidate of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP).
“…The removal of Vice President, Alhaji Sam Sumana from office by President Ernest Bai Koroma was wrongful.” A portion Of President Bio’s speech reads in part.
The President Speech indicated that the wrongful removal of Sam Sumana from office clearly violated his fundamental rights to fair hearing and free participation in the politics of his country.
The speech also noted that the then government of former President Koroma was in breach of the rights guaranteed by the African Charter on Human Rights, the Revised ECOWAS Treaty, the Protocol that established the ECOWAS court and several other international conventions on human rights to which Sierra Leone is a signatory.
Towards this direction, President Bio emphasised his unreserved condemnation of the arbitrary removal of the former VP.
President Bio, in his speech, stressed that his respect for ECOWAS court ruling took precedence for the country’s Supreme Court verdict.
“…The judgement of the Sierra Leone Supreme Court having been overturned by the ruling of the ECOWAS Regional Court, the protocol for the establishment of the court to which Sierra Leone was a notable signatory, I remain faithful to my abiding and unflinching commitment to the rule of law as a fundamental principle of state governance,” President Bio’s speech also reads.
“I want it to be known that I fully respect the ruling of the ECOWAS Regional Court,” He stressed.
The number of excerpts from President Bio’s speech when he was the SLPP presidential candidate indicates that the government has failed to honour what they promised.
Many Sierra Leoneans have expressed concern over the non-payment of retirement benefit to VP Sam Sumana by the ‘New Direction’ government in view of the fact that Sam Sumana was unconstitutionally removed from office.
“The SLPP government should not also support the illegal actions of the former APC government,” a member of the public warned.
The call for the payment of benefit of the former VP seems to have fallen on deaf ears in spite of the repeated promises by government of respect for the rights of the former VP.
Comments filtering through the public indicate that the ‘New Direction’ government fell out with the former VP after he reconciled with APC and former President Koroma.
The reconciliatory move by Sam Sumana with the APC caused the ‘New Direction’ government to resort to rash and radical measures against him especially the withdrawal of security details.
By virtue of the ECOWAS court ruling, Sierra Leone Parliament was of the view that the withdrawal of security details from Sam Sumana was unacceptably wrong for which the former Inspector-General, Richard Moigbe was summoned by one of the parliamentary committees.
The relationship between Sam Sumana and the New Direction government is always sour after his reconciliation with the APC considering that the SLPP government is bent on securing a second-term mandate for which the Kono votes would be crucial.
Although the ‘New Direction’ government has made two serious blunders for failing to pay the retirement benefits of Chief Sam Sumana, the people of Sierra Leone urge the government to honour its promises to the former VP and not to participate in illegality.