In a recent interview with Awoko the Paramount Chief (PC) John Jibao Russell Nyama II disclosed that the suspended Town Chief Albert Pessima was advised by Charles Margai not to pay the fine and apologize for a crime he committed

In an interview with legal luminary and descendant of Gbangbatoke, Charles Francis Margai on Wednesday at his Rawdon Street Chamber, Charles Margai admitted advising the suspended Town Chief not to pay the fine or apologize because “the Paramount Chief had no right to suspend him” adding “because of that I issued a Writ of Summons on behalf of the Plaintiff”.

The Writ, between Albert Pessima and Paramount Chief J.J. Russell Nyama II, the Minister of Local Government, the Provincial Secretary, the District Officer and the Attorney General witnessed by Justice Valesius Thomas, states that the plaintiff “claim is jointly and severally against the defendants for; his reinstatement as Town Chief of Gbangbatoke, payment to him of all salaries and other benefit due him from the 17th November 2014” among other things.

Given the particulars of claim, the Writ stated that the Plaintiff; Albert Pessima was elected Town Chief on 7th February 2012 and in November 2014, he was orally suspended by PC J.J. Russell Nyama II in November 2014, and the District Officer who confirmed the suspension on the 13th May 2015.

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Charles Margai wrote in the particulars of claims that a protest letter was written by the Youth Leader, and another letter was written by Margai a solicitor for the Plaintiff where he explained that the suspension of the Plaintiff “contravenes the Provision of the Chieftaincy Act.”
Reading through documents relating to the Gbangbatoke incident Lawyer Charles Margai said the Town Chief was never elected or appointed by the Paramount Chief and that he [Town Chief] held the office based on provisions in the Local Government Act and any suspension from the office should be done by the relevant authorities through the Act.

Charles F. Margai

He said because the Paramount Chief does not have the right to suspend the Town Chief, “reinstating him should be the responsibility of the Local Government through the District Officer.”

“Although the incident that occurred in Lower Banta Chiefdom in Gbangbatoke is unfortunate, where houses were burnt, people killed and some wounded, this shows that the Chief is definitely not at peace with his subjects not only in Gbangbatoke but the entire chiefdom. He is only in that position because of the slow process in the judiciary otherwise he would have been removed long long time ago” Charles Margai said.

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He further questioned the legality of PC John Jibao Russell Nyama II to Awoko saying that his chieftaincy Name PC John Russell Nyama II means that there was a first “who was the first and when did he rule; he should come with supporting evidence.”

He cited section 8(1) of the Chieftaincy Act No.10 of 2009, which qualifies one of becoming a chief saying that a person is born in wedlock to a rightful claimant in a recognised ruling house in the chiefdom or he/she has direct paternal or maternal lineage to the rightful claimant … whether born outside wedlock or not.

Lawyer Margai gave the background to the legality of PC Russell Nyama II saying a petition was filed against the chief contesting his qualification since he did not hail from a ruling house and in the judgment by Justice Roberts in 2011 he stated that the “PC election conducted at the Lower Banta Chiefdom… is hereby declared invalid and void and therefore shall be fresh Declaration of Rights and elections to be conducted … within four months of the judgment”.

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Margai said after the judgment, a letter was written to the Ministry of Local Government to “relive him but this was not done and so he [Russell] used political influence to get the judgment to be set aside on the grounds that he was not opportune to file-in crucial evidence. Since then the matter was not called since it was set aside”.

He alleged, “Lots of these things are the result of the slow progress in the judiciary. If the judiciary was independent as well as the Police things like these will never happen”.