Independence Of Judiciary In Limbo
Investigation mounted by this medium into the delay over the delivery of Judgment on the matter between Jaffa Zehir (SKM) VS Leon Oil, has revealed that there has been political meddling from people top in the governance structure of the country. This, many say, has the potential of perverting Justice.
Many Sierra Leoneans, who have been following this case, are of the opinion that if such a situation continues, investor confidence will be affected. They maintained that the transaction between Jaffa and Leon Oil was a simple sale of goods business, which the oil company is obliged under that Act to honour, and its refusal to do so has further created unnecessary strain on the business of the dealer, resulting in economic loss that Leon Oil should compensate him for. All the facts of the case are clear that only someone reading in bad faith could otherwise misconstrue.
This situation brings to discredit the words of President Bio to protect investors and build up investor confidence. It is also a blow to the commitment of His Excellency to ensure an increase in service delivery and revenue collection, as the said delay has further jeopardized the government’s revenue generation drive, since what the government would have been gaining from the sale of fuel from Jaffa has been drastically reduced.
The facts of the case is that Jaffa bought a consignment of fuel to the tune of Le1.2 billion from Leon Oil at the very peak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, when the government imposed inter-district travel ban, which virtually prevented travel across the country. This situation hit the dealers of petroleum products, especially most of them doing business across the whole country, of which Jaffa was one. Barely days after paying for and receiving receipts for his consignment of fuel, the price of fuel was then increased. Since it was very difficult for inter-district travel, due to the ban by the government, Jaffa and others had to get a permit from the government to allow them to transport their fuel to their respective stations across the country. It was during this delay that the fuel pump price was increased, and upon getting the necessary permit to transport his fuel, Leon Oil decided that Jaffa should pay the difference in the new price. This was stoutly rejected by the dealer, and the Petroleum Regulatory Agency, (PRA), was then brought into the picture. After conducting their own investigation, the PRA then issued their own position, which is that the dealer should be given the consignment already paid for before the increase in the price of fuel. This decision was rejected by Leon Oil, which is an open challenge to the regulatory body by the oil company, and an affront to government, as it is a government agency charged with the power to regulate the industry.
After several sittings in Court, the Judge, a very eloquent and up-right Legal Luminary, is yet to deliver judgment, allegedly due to interference from orders from above. Even an injunction slammed on Leon Oil was vacated, allegedly on ‘orders from above’. Today, Leon Oil is carrying on its business without hindrance, whilst Jaffa is still licking his wounds from the delay of Justice.President Bio has on several occasions reiterated that he is determined to ensure that justice is served to all, regardless of their race, tribal links or political affiliation. Concerned workers are calling on President Bio to ensure that Jaffa gets justice, otherwise his commitment to see that justice is done to everyone will suffer a serious blow and may even discourage other Sierra Leoneans who may want to invest in the country. For in the eyes of the law, everyone is equal and should be treated on equal terms, regardless of their wealth or status in society. It is for such advantage that Sierra Leoneans voted for President Bio, especially as they see him as a disciplined Retired Brigadier.