The public spat between Chief Justice Babatunde Edwards and the most Senior Judge in the Superior Court of Judicature in Sierra Leone ,Justice Brown Marke has reached it lowest ebb which has seen the latter being sent on a “vacation leave” on the 31 March 2020.
This has also seen leaked letters in which the two legal giants are trading words for which many people are now laughing the Judiciary.
The letters have exposed some bad practices in both the administration and the execution of justice in Sierra Leone Judiciary
In the letter written by the CJ to Justice Browne Marke, he claimed that since Justice Browne Marke was appointed Justice of the Court of Appeal on contract on February 20, 2007 and on substantive basis on January 6 ,2009 that he (Justice Brown Marke) has proceeded on annual vacation leave only 5 times and far lesser period than 60 days granted to Judges pursuant to Judges Condition of Service Act No 12 of 1983.
“That apart it has been noted further that since your appointment to this time you have outstanding a number of judgement spanning 6-10 years without you bothering to deliver same, I have several times orally called your attention to such a negative scenario with no marked results, as the complaint from the public keep on coming as one of your biggest problems,” Chief Justice revealed
Pointing out that; “Meanwhile during your vacation leave period, I require and demand that you complete and deliver the several rulings and judgement outstanding not later than 3 months after the start of your vacation leave.
That failure to conclude same within the time frame noting the length of time those judgment have been outstanding tantamount to an abuse of position and would be treated as such pursuant to section 43 of the Anti Corruption Act No12 of 2008, Chief Justice asserted.
“The other alternative would be for me to cause a withholding of your salary until you complete and delivers such judgement. A good sections of the public has been waiting for their judgement 6,7,8,9 years and you cannot just go unabated without bringing those cases to completion,” Chief Justice stated.
In response to the Chief Justice Letter, Senior Supreme Court Judge, Brown Marke said “Your Lordship has also threatened a referral to the Anti-Corruption Commission if I were to fail to do certain things. I believe such a threat was most unnecessary. I have not committed a criminal act.”
Adding that; “A refusal to assign cases may for instance may for instance in certain circumstances constitutes an abuse of office in terms of the current Anti-Corruption Act in that some cases may have been assigned where there may have been an interest to serve, whereas other cases have not been so assigned. Nobling of judges could be another instance. Further assuming an office and also receiving emoluments for holding that office without going through the required constitutional process, could also constitute an abuse of office even though the conferment of the office might not in itself be justiciable. Attempt to interfere with the outcomes of professional exams could also constitute abuse of office.”
That delays in delivering judgement surely will not fall within the ambit of the offense of abused of office as canvass by you.
“I believe that I have done my best my Lord and that your action is insupportable in law and unwarranted giving the cordiality which has existed between us, save for, perhaps, our differences over the outcome of the reference examination in criminal law,” Brown Marke maintained.
Meanwhile Sierra Leoneans are calling for an inquiry into all the issues that the two gentlemen raised in the letters.