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ECOWAS Court awards $250,000 in damages to police officer

The ECOWAS Court has awarded $250,000.00) as damages for the unlawful dismissal of a police officer, Mr. EL-Tayib Bah.  In a judgment delivered, Monday, May 4, the ECOWAS Court held that the dismissal of the Plaintiff in July 2008 violated the Police Code and the Constitution of Sierra Leone.

In his complaint before the court the Plaintiff stated that he was enlisted in the Sierra Leone Police as a cadet Assistant Superintendent Officer in 1984 and based on his meritorious service he was commissioned as Acting Superintendent of Police in 1992. He was however dismissed in 2008 on the allegation that he had links with the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) Rebels but was not given any opportunity to challenge the allegation.

Following the Plaintiff’s letter of appeal of 15th March 2008 the case was reviewed by the Police Authorities which found that the dismissal of the Plaintiff was a blatant violation of his human rights, as he was never afforded the opportunity to defend himself. The Police concluded that the Plaintiff’s dismissal “totally lacks legitimacy”.  But as he was not reinstated he approached the ECOWAS Court for redress.

Although the Government of Sierra Leone did not defend the action the Court proceeded to rule on the Plaintiff’s motion for default judgment in line with the Rules of Procedure of the Court. In addition to the general damages of $250,000.00 (Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars) the Court ordered the reinstatement of the Plaintiff and the payment of all salaries and allowances of the Claimant from the date of his unlawful dismissal from the Police Force of Sierra Leone.

In his post judgment reaction to the outcome of the case, Mr. Bah’s leading counsel, Femi Falana SAN commended the ECOWAS Court for upholding the socio-economic rights of community citizens in line with the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

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