Agricultural Products v Sahid Koroma & Anor (CC 94/18)  SLHC 1257 (03 July 2018);
IN THE HIGH COURT OF SIERRA LEONE LAW COURTS BUILDING
SIAKA STEVENS STREET
AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS PLAINTIFF
SAHlD KOROMA &.ANOR. DEFENDANT
ALHA,ll M. KAMARA ESQ. COUNSEL. FOR THE PLAINTIFF
C.F. MARGAI &. ASSOCIATES. (R0£3ERT B. KO\VA ESQ.)
COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENDANT
BEFORE THE HON. MR. JUSTICE SENGU KOROMA JA. RULING DELIVERED ON 3Ro JULY, 2018
•1. This is an application by way of notice of motion dated the 1st day of June, 2018 filed for and on behalf of the defendant herein for the following orders:-
- That the National Con11nission for Privatization be added as a defendant in this action.
- That the Attorney-General and l\Iinister of Justice be added as Defendant.
- That the l\Iinistry Of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment be joined as defendant,
- At the hearing of the application, the Defendant/ Applicant (hereinafter referred to as the "Applicant") uses the affidavit in support sworn to on the 12th clay of June, 2018 with the exhibits attached thereto.
- The relevant part of the affidavit is found in paragraphs 5 thereof in which the deponent states that the substratum of the n1attcr is to evict the Applicant frmn the premises occupied by the1n as the Plaintiff/Respondent (herein after referred to as the "Respondent") is now clain1ing freehold title to the said land; paragraph 6 that the plaintiff is a mere lessee and the property is owned by the state. The deponent further avers in paragraph 7 that the best purpose of justice will be served if all the relevant parties that will help the court to have a full and frank disclosure of the land transaction are joined as Defendants to this action.
- In his oral sub1nission, R.B Kowa Esq. for the Applicant states that the application is 1nadc pursuant to Order 18 rules 4 sub rules 1 of the High Court Rules, 2007.
- The Respondent opposes the application and relies on the affidavit in opposition sworn to on the 18th June, 2018. In the said affidavit, the deponent exhibits A E B 1· 2 which are copies of the conveyance and contract of sale in respect of the subject 1natter of this action.
By that sale, he deposes, the NCP is functus of the property. He further avers that both the Attorney-General and l\Iinister of .Justice and :Minister of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment (l\1LCPE) are strangers to the property. The deponent avers that this application is a deliberate atten1pt to delay the action and consequently deprive the Respondent from enjoying his property.
- In his oral subn1ission, A.l'vl. Kamara Esq. Counsel for the Respondent argues that the Court will only entertain an application for joinder of parties where those parties have an interest in the n1atter. For this, he refers the Court to Order 18 rule 6 sub rules 3 of the High Court Rules, 2007. l'vlr. Kamara subn1its that the property has been sold to the Respondent by Exhibit AB 1-2 by the National Commission for Privation (NCP) by way of divestiture. He refers to Section 2 of the Interpretation which gives a definition of divestiture and the NCP Act, 2002 which lists the names of con1panies slated for divestiture, which includes the Sierra Leone Produce l\1arketing Erard which owed P.K Oil seed mill. l'v1r. Kamara also refers this Court to Sections 19 and 20 of the NCP Act.
- Counsel for the Respondent concludes that the High Court Rule referred to by his colleague has nothing to do with this application.
- In determining this matter, I have taken into consideration that in the affidavit in support, the Applicant agrees that the Respondent is a Lessee of the said property but exhibits nothing to show that the said Applicants are lawfully on the land. A perusal of Exhibits AEB 1-2 reveals that the transaction between the Respondent and the NCP is one of outright sale and not a lease as the Applicant is alleging. I therefore agree with Counsel for the Respondent that the NCP, the Attorney-General and the l'vlinistry Of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment have no relevant role to play in this matter.
- I have also perused Exhibit RBK 2, the An1ended State111ent of Defence and Counterclai1n, and I note that in the said counterclaim, the Applicant is praying that the Respondent abides by the original agree111ent to sell that portion of the land occupied by the Defendants to carry on their business. This further show that the title of the Respondent in the said land is not in dispute.
- In the circumstances, adding the intended Defendants as parties will only complicate a si111ple and straight forward case. I will stop at this point to avoid making a comn1cnt that will prejudice the substantive n1atter.
- The second issue I have to consider is the scope of Order 18 Rule 4 subrulc
1 of the High Court Rules relied on by R.B. Kowa Esq.
- Order 18 Rule 4 sub-rule 1 provides as follows:-
"subject to sub-rule (1) of rule 5 two or more persons 111ay be joined together in one action as Plaintiffs or as Defendants without the leave of the Court or where-
- If separate actions were brought by or against each of them, as the case n1ay be, son1e con1mon question of law or fact would arise in all the actions; and
- All rights to relief claimed in the action (whether they are joint, several or alternative) arc in respect of or arise out of the sainc transaction or series of transactions.
- Counsel for the Respondent in arguing that the intended Defendants have no interest in this matter refers to Order 18 Rule 6 sub-rule 3 which provides that:-
"any application by any person for an Order under sub-rule (2) to add that person as party shall be made by motion supported by an affidavit showing the person's interest in the inattcr in dispute before or at the trial."
- I agree wit:1 him. The Applicants have not established the interest of the intended Defendants in this 111atter. The property has been divested through sale by the NCP which is authorised by virtue of Part V, Sections 19 and 20 of the NCP Act, 2002, more particularly Section 20 (1)(a) in this case. This subsection provides that "for loss making public enterprises engaged in production, the divestiture shall be by outright sale without any further capitalization.
- The subject matter of this action was a loss n1aking subsidiary of the
SLPMB and so it was out rightly sold to the Respondent herein following the laid down procedure in the NCP Act. After that sale, the governn1ent of Sierra Leone ceased to have any interest in that asset and thus cannot serve any useful purpose in making them parties. If the Applicants believe they have a valid legal relationship with the intended Defendants, they are presumed to know the steps to be taken.
In the circumstances, I Order as follows:-
- Application for leave to add the National Commission for Privatization, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and the :Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment as Defendants in this action is refused.
- No Order as to costs.
Hon. Mr. Justice Sengu M. Koron1a J