Homebased and diaspora feud escalates as APC takes Yumkella to the Supreme Court

Abu Shaw: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 February 2018:

Sierra Leone is so divided at present that observers fear the jittery APC government is woefully planting seeds of violence and chaos. The division of deep-seated hatred presently brewing in Sierra Leone and overseas is only likened to the dark era of the heinous 10-year-old civil war when Sierra Leone was plunged into a very bloody tribal, regional, political and ideological factions that left a trail of untold sufferings and destruction in the country.

Today, a month to the much unpredictable presidential elections on March 7, the cocky but jittery ruling APC government has stooped so low again to trigger the controversial Dual Citizenship clause in the Sierra Leone Constitution to disenfranchise their most feared opponent in Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella KKY, the leader of the National Grand Coalition NGC.

Observers believe, the APC party has taken the NGC leader to the Supreme Court simply because of fear of losing the March 7 presidential elections as Yumkella, the fastest growing popular presidential candidate in recent times, is leading in opinion polls to win the elections.

APC is now looking up to the Supreme Court judges to ban KKY from contesting elections on the flimsy Dual Citizenship excuse.

The persistent APC government’s petition against KKY had previously been turned down twice by the National Elections Commission NEC because the NEC did not see any constitutional reason why KKY should be banned from exercising his inalienable rights to vote and to be voted for as a born and bred Sierra Leonean.  NEC therefore overruled the APC government’s baseless petition for lack of sufficient evidence against the defendant.

The enraged APC government, consisting of the most corrupt politicians ever assembled in Sierra Leone history, is becoming a laughing stock in the eyes of the international community for this dual citizenship issue.

And the APC’s shameful clampdown on Sierra Leone citizens who reside abroad is also making their presidential candidate Dr. Samura Kamara more unpopular. And unfortunately, this corrupt government is being propped up by some educated fools in the media who jealously labelled themselves as ‘Homebase’.

As a result, thousands of Sierra Leoneans in the Diaspora are visibly angry that the APC government is targeting them for simply being Dual Citizens.

Many Sierra Leoneans have now concluded that this latest segregated stance by the APC against Diasporans is a divisive, disrespectful, provocative, unfair ploy that has all the hallmarks of the same causes that led to the 10-year-old civil war (1991-2002) in the country.

Regrettably, the corrupt APC has succeeded in breeding bad blood among Sierra Leoneans by dividing the country in to Homebase and Diaspora. Blind APC campaigners are hiding behind the Sierra Leone Constitution to ridiculously argue that the Homebase are more patriotic than the Diasporans.

Observers are succinctly worried that this ugly scenario created by the APC has the propensity to degenerate in chaos and violence if sane political and legal judgement could not be reached amicably. And very soon.

The APC government’s Plan-B to seek favourable jurisdiction at the Supreme Court is a direct challenge and retaliation to the outcome of the National Electoral Commission’s ruling that favours the NGC leader.

Jittery President Ernest Koroma and his corrupt cabal were overconfident of winning the petition initially filed by one of its APC losers in the person of Mr. Abu Bakarr Sankoh who contested against the NGC presidential candidate Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella for constituency 062 parliamentary seat in Kambia District.

Poor Abu Sankoh lost in the race as Dr. Yumkella was nominated to represent constituency 062 in Kambia. But the panicky APC immediately petitioned the results on the excuse that Dr. Yumkella is a dual citizenship holder and urged the NEC to automatically disqualify Dr. Yumkella from running for parliament thus making him unlawful to also run for president.

However, after thorough deliberations by the NEC on Wednesday January 24, 2018, the petition was thrown out on the grounds of insufficient evidence. When NEC’s final petition result was announced, there was wild jubilation on the streets in Kambia as hundreds of NGC supporters in and outside the country celebrated the positive outcome.

To nail the APC coffin, the NEC Chairman Mohamed Nfa Alie Conteh recently endorsed the NEC ruling which infuriated the APC thus prompting them to seek redress at the Supreme Court.

“What the APC government is failing to understand is the fact that any time they touch Yumkella, they are touching Diasporans and millions of Sierra Leoneans back home.

KKY is just one person, but he is the symbol of hope standing against the APC corruption and oppression,” according to viewpoints expressed by Sierra Leone electorates.

Nevertheless, the stone-hearted APC party could not succumb to reality despite efforts by prominent legal minds in Sierra Leone who continue to admonish them about the implications and difficulties in disenfranchising the NGC leader. Read their analyses below:

Two of Sierra Leone’s best legal minds Mr. Abu Bakarr Orkailkail Bangura and lawyer Francis Gabiddon have come to the defence of the National Grand Coalition NGC leader Dr. Kandeh Yumkella by warning the ruling APC government to back off for the party’s own good.

Lawyer Abu Bakarr Bangura dubbed the APC petition on Yumkella as a legal miscalculation.  I am shocked to hear that the APC party has filed a petition against Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella’s candidacy.

I recently posted a commentary supporting the views expressed by Lawyer Francis Gabiddon on the dual citizenship issue. I stated that the constitution is the supreme law of the land and consequently, any law that is inconsistent with provisions of the constitution law is invalid to the extent of the inconsistency.

Since the 2006 Citizenship Act neither addressed nor contradict provisions of the constitution. Section 76(1) of the Constitution is still valid and will remain in force until amended. However, it would be a total miscalculation with far-reaching ramifications for the APC party to petition the candidacy of Kandeh Yumkella.

The APC party/government had over 50 dual citizens who served as MPs in the recently dissolved Parliament, and there are still people with dual citizenship and foreign nationals serving as Ministers in the current government in flagrant violation of section 76 of the Constitution.

The effect of this violation is that any law that was passed by a Sierra Leone Parliament with illegal MPs (foreign nationals or dual citizens) is void ab initio. The same also goes for all nominations approved or confirmed by the said Parliament.

This means the entire country has been operating illegally for the past ten years. To put the extent of this illegality into perspective I will give just a few examples.

THE SUPREME COURT

All or most of the judges in the current Supreme Court of Sierra Leone were confirmed by the last two parliament which had illegal MPs. This means that the confirmation of such judges is illegal, and consequently those judges are illegally serving in the Supreme Court. This makes it very complicating for an illegal Supreme Court whose Judges were confirmed in violation of Section 76 of the Constitution to hear a petition against the nomination of a candidate alleged to be in violation of the same Section 76. Also, since all or most judges of lower courts were also approved by the Sierra Leone Parliament in the last ten years, it would be apt to say that all judgments/decisions given by the Sierra Leone courts in the past ten years are illegal.

THE EXECUTIVE

Since all Cabinet Ministers, except the Attorney General have to be approved by Parliament, it is obvious that all ministers who have served in the past ten years have done so illegally by virtue of them being approved by an illegal Parliament. All Contracts/Agreements (mining, debts, international agreements) entered into by the government in the last 10 years are illegal. Again, all actions of National Electoral Commission NEC approved by an illegal parliament including the registration of voters are illegal. The list goes on.

These are just some of the implications of a petition against Dr. Yumkella. It would be like opening a Pandora’s box. According to the famous equitable maxim, he who comes to equity must come with cleans hands.

The APC does not have clean hands because APC has violated Section 76 in the past 10 years and the violation continues with dual citizens/foreign national currently serving as ministers.

The APC lawyers that, suddenly have become moral guarantors of the constitution should hold their heads in shame as Section 76 has always been alive. YOU CANNOT FILE A PETITION FOR A VIOLATION OF A LAW THAY YOU HAVE CONSISTENTLY VIOLATED AND STILL VIOLATING. You cannot complain about the snow in your neighbour’s house while your doorstep is unclean.

PRESIDENT KABBAH SUPPORTED YUMKELLA’S CANDIDACY FOR UNIDO

When it was Africa’s turn to choose the Director General of UNIDO, Dr. Yumkella was one of Africa’s candidates who met the Criteria to declare for the position. As a Sierra Leone, his government had to recommend him to the African Union.

It was the late SLPP government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, of blessed memory, who recommended Dr. Yumkella’s bid as President of Sierra Leone not Ernest Bai Koroma of the APC.

Even President Kabbah recommended Dr. Yumkella after the President of the African Union, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria then, had presented Yumkella to the African Union (AU) as Africa’s choice out of 6 other candidates for the UNIDO job. That was April of 2005 and Dr. Yumkella became Director General of UNIDO in December of 2005. He also won it for the second term with the blessing of his motherland Sierra Leone.

My advice to the APC government/party and the judiciary is that let sleeping dogs lie and let Section 76 be applied henceforth and not retrospectively.

Courtesy: Abu Bakarr Orkailkail Bangura – BA, LLB (UNDA), GDLP, LLM (USYD), LLM (UNSW), PhD in Law Cand. (UNSW)

How Lawyer Gabiddon Vindicated Yumkella on the Ridiculous APC Petition

Prominent Sierra Leone lawyer Francis Gabiddon, who raised the constitutionality of dual citizens, has an excellent advice for the APC government. He writes:

Fellow citizens, my attention has been drawn to an objection raised by a fine Sierra Leonean, Mr. Abu Bakarr Sankoh (the APC candidate), with regards to the legality of Dr. Kandeh Yumkella’s voter registration.

I must state at the outset that Mr. Sankoh’s reason and underlying legal argument is simply untenable and, or frivolous. His reliance on section 76(1) of the 1991 constitution as the sole basis of his objection, is misguided and ill informed. Section 76(1) does not in any way relate to a citizen’s right to become a registered voter. Rather, it deals with a citizen’s eligibility for election into parliament. The right to be voted for.

Assuming arguendo, that Mr. Sankoh’s objection was intended to challenge Dr. Yumkella’s eligibility for registration as an elector, how about reference to sections 4 and 7(a) of the Electoral Laws Act of 2002? Perhaps more germane to this subject is section 7 (a)of the Act. It stipulates, in essence, that “No person shall be registered as an elector or, having been registered as such, shall be entitled to vote at any election if he is-a non citizen.”

Now, turning to the pivotal question of citizenship, which regrettably, Mr. Sankoh did not raise in his objection. The Citizenship Act of 1973 (as amended) is quite explicit in its definition of the phrase ‘citizen of Sierra Leone ‘. Section 2 of that Act provides as follows : “Every person who having been born in Sierra Leone before the 19th day of April 1971 …shall be deemed a citizen of Sierra Leone by birth – Provided that his father or grandfather was born in Sierra Leone; and he is a person of negro African descent…”

Reading section 2 of the 1973 Act, in tandem with the Dual Citizenship Act of 2006, should be enough to convince all and sundry that no further elucidation is required . The new Section 19(A) of the Dual Citizenship Act unmistakably allows any citizen of Sierra Leone to resume his citizenship status, in the event he/she has acquired the citizenship of a foreign country by any voluntary or formal act. Consequently Dr. Yumkella, and all dual citizens who are registered as electors for the forthcoming election, can and may vote. No law prohibits them from doing so.

Finally, let me reiterate that attempts to apply the law in a discriminatory and disparate fashion will, as a matter of public policy, not serve our country well. We fought for and gained peace at a very heavy price.

This is time for all Sierra Leoneans to coalesce as a nation and endeavour to forge a more perfect union. We must continue to build our democracy, understanding that we are one nation under God, indivisible. TOGETHER AS ONE.Humbly submitted. Courtesy: Lawyer Francis Gabidon

About the author

Abu Shaw is the publisher of www.theorganiser.net  online newspaper.

5 Comments

  1. The illusion that the APC party has 99 tactics to hold on to power can only be interpreted in their satanic, diabolic abilities that defy logic and progress. And all it leads to is the masses bearing the brunt of their gross economic mismanagement of financial resources for their selfish ends due to bad leadership and bad governance.

    In 2007 Christiana Thorpe – then chief electoral commissioner disenfranchised nearly 600,000 voters to bring back the APC party in power. After ten years in power Sierra Leone is back to square one, with high external and internal debts created by the APC government. We are now the hungriest country in the West African sub-region and the third hungriest country in the planet Earth.

    We have not used our educational knowledge. The judiciary – magistrates and judges are among the most highly paid individuals in the country. The high court judges upwards are earning up to US$10,000 a month and the masses are not getting any meaningful justice in return, as we can seen in most of the landmark cases that have been judged in recent times – like the removal of a democratically elected vice president, etc.

    I am appealing to our so-called learned colleagues that over 70% of the youths are unemployed, over 65% of the populace live in poverty – some in abject poverty, whist you are enjoying such a high level of income to support your families. We can not boast of any meaningful industries including petroleum oil refinery, and the government has to import refined petroleum products from Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

    If you the magistrates and judges can sponsor your children overseas for opportunities for advancement, I want you to know that the vast majority of the masses back home depend on remittances from Sierra Leoneans in the diaspora to survive and opportunities for advancements.

    Your rulings and judgements can adversely affect investor confidence in Sierra Leone. Most of you learned people were educated using the English language at the various institutions you studied. but now the APC led government has mortgaged the Sierra Leone economy to the chinese of mainland land China.

    And very soon some of the chinese language and culture will be competing with our traditional English western culture, religions and lifestyles- including the rule of law, democracy, freedom of religions, and human rights.

    May the good Lord help us as the current APC government has reduced the people to gullibility. God is watching you EB Koroma and you will one day give account of your stewardship for the people of Sierra Leone.

  2. The APC government and President Koroma have been successful in changing the real narratives that should be discussed few weeks before the elections, which should be the looting of our national wealth and foreign donations and many important issues that have been taking place for the last 10 years. And now we are talking about two sims.

    They are also trying to paint the people with dual citizenship as the real looters who are unpatriotic and are only interested in grabbing money from Sierra Leone within few months to pay their mortgages in the west, especially if they are elected to public office.

    The unfortunate thing is because of the high level of illiteracy which the APC government is trying to maintain within their core voters, they believe that narrative and at this crucial time even if they lose the court battle, they will have definitely turned the public opinion against Dr. Kandeh Yumkella that he is one of the unpatriotic two simmers.

    The final advantage that the President and the APC also used against the two simmers was to quickly and simply eliminate most of the contestants for their Party symbols which was a serious problem because of the large number of potential and present current 10 years looters within their party, to make room for their so called patriotic grassroot candidates.

    In my opinion, if this issue continue for the next few weeks, the only winner will be President Ernest Bai Koroma.

  3. I absolutely agree with the sentiments raised here by the comments and this is what we expect all presidential aspirants or their parties to condemn in totality irrespective of political affiliation as this is another great trial for our democracy. The APC are capable of using any means to eliminate other aspirants who may think they are comfortable because they are not affected just yet.

    The case of the former VP was just an example of how ruthless APC can be. Some us don’t really care if we are labelled NGC all we want is to see the back of these looters. This is a national issue and requires a national response.I can assure the APC that this matter will bring more people closer to NGC and they will be amazed come March 7 that Sierra leoneans cant be taken for granted.

  4. I do not think that even lawyer Francis Gabbidon, who initiated this Dual Citizenship debate, anticipated that it would degenerate into a political farce. It is an open secret that the APC party is milking this issue in an attempt to disenfranchise Kandeh Yumkella, who appears to pose a threat to their traditional votes in the Northern Province. However, the buffoonery and horseplay that we see from the APC party is comical, if not for the serious danger it poses to our national security.

    I do feel vindicated in a way for always maintaining that the APC party is incapable of governing our great nation. This conviction is born out of living and enduring life under successive APC administrations, starting with their God father, Siaka Stevens. Theirs is not a political party but a bunch of criminals bent on fattening their pockets at the expense of the whole nation. Their greed for self-enrichment has always taken a front seat to the constitution that guarantees probity, transparency and the rule of law.

    Ernest Bai Koroma did not deviate from this modus operandi. In fact, I can honestly say that he is one of the worst APC presidents we have seen in the modern age. What makes his presidency unique is that he came to power with promises of change at a time when Sierra Leoneans were eager to embrace change and to put the agony of living in terror for 10 years behind them.

    However, it appears our President Ernest Bai Koroma was playing with our concerns and fears. In his years in office, Ernest Bai Koroma has shown no respect for our constitution. He has degraded the office of the Presidency and has shown malice and disrespect to the majority of Sierra Leoneans who looked up to him as the fountain of honor.

    But what Ernest Bai Koroma has failed to realize is that you cannot bite the hand that feeds you. The people of Sierra Leone are fully awake. They have seen through the darkness and illusion that have been the hallmark of this APC government, and this Dual Citizenship debacle is not going to obfuscate the fact that the citizens of Sierra Leone are fed up with the APC.

    As for the Supreme Court, I can only say that they have not lived up to the expectations of the people in the past, so whatever decision they come up with now is going to be greeted with cynicism. I hope for the future of our great land, they will recuse themselves and refer this case back to NEC, which has ruled in favor of the plaintiff.
    For full disclosure, I am not an NGC fan but an injustice to one is an injustice to all

  5. I agree 100% with the wisdom of Lawyer Garbidon. The price of peace was too heavy for us as a nation and no one should be allowed to threaten this peace by dividing the country against itself and by pushing Sierra Leoneans to the recourse of violence as a way of expressing their dissatisfaction about political or economic issues.

    The case against Yumkella is a case against all Sierra Leoneans. It is a case that all of Sierra Leone has to be united to fight against. But just a point of correction for the writer; the APC does not fear Yumkella because they think he will win the election. The APC fears Yumkella because he has eroded their bases thereby giving the SLPP an advantage and an opportunity of winning the elections. NGC will affect the APC the same way the PMDC affected the SLPP in 2007

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