As Sierra Leone Judiciary Continues To Protect Leone Oil…


The judiciary of any country is a very important arm of government, as it is entrusted with the responsibility of interpreting the country’s laws and convicting lawbreakers through a hierarchical court structure. As such, the judiciary is not only crucial to ensuring fair and transparent justice, but is also the bedrock of democracy and sustainable development.

But a recent statement from the European Union Observation Mission indicted the Sierra Leone judiciary, as being one of the major entities that lack public confidence. Although the Chief Justice, Hon. Justice Babatunde Edwards, has played a pivotal role in transforming the judiciary, some quarters within the Investment circle are looking up to him to ensure a speedy dispensation of justice in the matter at the High Court between Jaffer Zeghir (Plaintiff) of 36B Bai Bureh Road in Freetown and Leonoil Company Limited (Defendant).

The Presiding Judge, Justice Samuel O. Taylor, concluded the said matter on Friday 18th June 2021, when he also announced in court that notices will be served for a date to deliver his judgment. Since the above date, the Plaintiff, who happens to be a local investor, has not received any notice for the much-expected judgment to be delivered. Sources say the delayed justice is costing the local investor to record a major loss in his fuel business.

“It is about five months now since the judge promised to deliver judgment and that notices will be served,” sources say.

This is said to be in contravention of Section 120(16) of the national constitution, which states: “Every court established under this Constitution shall deliver its decision in writing not later than three months after the conclusion of the evidence and final addresses or arguments of appeal, and furnish all parties to the cause or matter [determined] with duly authenticated copies of the decision on the date of the delivery thereof.”

“Delayed justice can cause major harm on investment and investors’ confidence,” a retired Judge said last evening, adding that when once such an event occurs, the Chief Justice should intervene to save the image of the judiciary.

It could be recalled that the statement of claim filed by the Plaintiff’s Lawyer states that there has been a good business relationship between the Plaintiff and the Defendants over the years, in relation to fuel products (buying and supplying) until recently; that between the 27 day of January and the 2 day of February, 2021, the Plaintiff bought a total of Two Hundred Thousand Litres of assorted fuel products from the Defendants to the tune of One Billion, Two Hundred and Ninety-Six Million, Four Hundred Thousand Leones (Le1, 296, 400, 000); that after purchasing the said products, the Plaintiff was issued with a receipt and/or delivery notes in anticipation of collecting same from the Defendants; that the said products were meant to be transported to the provinces, but before the Plaintiff could transport same the Government of Sierra Leone had imposed some Internal Lockdown measures, restriction of movement within the Country; that the Defendants were aware of the constraints of the Plaintiff with relation to the Plaintiff getting the required passed for his fuel tankers and for the drivers to get the required Covid-19 test results from NACOVERC; That after the Plaintiff had ascertained the passes for his fuel tankers and the required COVID-19 test results for the drivers, the Plaintiff approached the Defendants to collect the products from the Defendants, the Plaintiff was informed by the Defendants that the pump prices of the fuel products has increased due to a Press Release, and therefore the Plaintiff would have to pay the increased price before they could supply the products that the Plaintiff had initially purchased; that on arrival, the Defendants refused to give the fuel products to the Plaintiff, but rather demanded more monies to be paid by the Plaintiff before delivery; that on enquiry, the Defendants stated there has been an increase in pump prices and therefore the Plaintiff must pay the difference in price; that the Plaintiff refused paying the increased price and by letter dated the 5th Day of February, 2021, the Solicitors for the Plaintiff wrote a letter to the Defendants demanding the supply of Two Hundred Thousand (200,000) litres of fuel products from the Defendants; that the Defendants have refused to supply the Plaintiff’s fuel products and as a result of the Defendants conduct, the Plaintiff has suffered undue hardship, depravity and loss; and that the Defendants, despite several demands made on them by the Plaintiff to supply the products, have proven futile unless ordered by the Honourable Court.

The Plaintiff claims thus: A Declaration that there is a binding contract between the Plaintiff and the Defendants for the buying and supply of Two Hundred Thousand Litres of assorted Petrol and Diesel products; A Declaration that the Defendants were bound by the said contract to supply the Two Hundred Thousand Litres of assorted Petrol and Diesel products to the Plaintiff; An Interlocutory Injunction against the Defendants from conducting any further business of buying and selling fuel products pending the hearing and determination of this Action; and Damages for breach of contract.

Justice Samuel O. Taylor of the High Court is now left to prove to the entire world that he is not only a no-nonsense Judge, but also a committed and dedicated figure in the judiciary, who does not mix matters. His credibility is being tested by society, especially fuel dealers, and despite some alleged interferences from some personalities in high places; he has proven to be a reliable figure, as he had successfully concluded a matter between Jaffer Zeghir (Plaintiff) of 36B Bai Bureh Road in Freetown and Leonoil Company Limited (Defendant). Investigations continue.

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