Is the NEC chairman in collusion with the ruling party?

Dr. Sama Banya

9 November 2012

For reasons of holding on to power, it would appear that the Koroma government and its co-conspirators have so quickly forgotten what the poor people of this country went through, during those eleven long brutal years.

And it all came about, because of the greed and selfishness of a few people at the top.

They commandeered everything for themselves, their immediate family and friends, and completely ignored or neglected the needs and the suffering of a large proportion of the population.

The masses felt marginalized and became pawns for the impatient ones, who could not stick it out any longer. In the end, we all paid a very high price. In point of fact, for many it was a sacrifice, because whole families were wiped out in the conflagration.

From time to time, some of us have dared to remind those at the top today, as if anyone needed to be reminded, that a lot of the causes of the ten years upheaval are once again raising their ugly heads, while the hypocrites – the squealer character type, continue to flatter them that the rest of society have never had it so good.

I refer to the “Tiday betteh pass yesterday” praise singers.

When a group of young army officers could stand it no longer, because it was they, whose lives were at risk at the war front, they did what everyone applauded at the time.

In early 1992 as elections under a new dispensation approached, the ruling elite began to put modalities in place in order to hold on to power. We would never have got to that stage, if our judiciary for example, had men with balls to stand up to the regime.

Those who did were shown the red card. Sadly, I am thinking especially of the likes of honourable Chief Justice Okoro-Cole and his immediate successor – honourable Chief Justice Livesey Luke.

The APC government of President Ernest Bai Koroma, which came to power through the backdoor, which was opened for them by the chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) – Christiana Thorpe, has finished its five year mandate.

If they had performed to the satisfaction of the vast majority of the citizens of this country, they could easily have sat back today to receive their well-earned reward – be voted back in.

But no, they will take no chances and are instead engaging themselves in every dubious practice to hold on to power.

Because other attempts in that direction have so far been unsuccessful, they are now using – or rather, coercing some judges of the judiciary to achieve their objective.

The recent decisions of two members of the Bench, have given many of us cause for concern.

In their Pre-election report, the Carter Centre has very indirectly and as may be expected diplomatically, referred to one of those instances. The current case in point, is the decision of the presiding judge – a justice of Appeal at that, to “consult the honourable Chief justice” about a point raised by counsel in the Matter between the former opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) Member of Parliament – the honourable Sam May Macarthy and the honourable Brima Kamanda – the individual plaintiffs, and Mr. Augustine Lansana and captain Kanga, with the SLPP and the National Electoral Commission as defendants.

The learned Judge has surprisingly granted interlocutory injunctions to both plaintiffs, in spite of the prevailing circumstances. One of the plaintiffs – Sam Macarthy, had before the judgment, already declared for the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) party.

The laborious exercise of nomination of candidates for President, Parliament and local councils, has been completed and NEC has completed the preparation of voting and other essential documents for polling on November 17.

Counsel for the NEC informed her Lordship that for practical reasons, his commission would NOT comply with her order. How does her ladyship expect NEC to remove a name from all those printed documents?

And if nominations have already taken place, would it not have been more appropriate or mandatory to advise the plaintiffs to take out an election petition?

If her decision stands, would it not tantamount to ensuring that the ruling party’s candidates are returned unopposed in constituencies in which they otherwise would have no chance of winning?

Her ladyship has yet to convince this writer that she did not arrive at her judgment with Big Brother looking over her shoulder.

I have confessed before that the nearest that I read law was in the educative publication “John Citizen and the Law”, and believe me that was a long time ago.

Be that as it may, I have never heard of a trial judge responding to a legal point, by saying that she was going to consult another judge – be it the Chief justice.

The decision of the judge in the above matter is certainly adding fuel to the cumulative flame of a future winter of discontent. Are the matters before her already on appeal?

The Awareness Times newspaper has published that the candidate of the Peoples Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), in one of the constituencies is planning to withdraw his candidature.

If this is true, then once again focus is directed at the chairman of the NEC, whose attention had previously been drawn to an anomaly in her instructions to her staff, about candidates who had by law been nominated by their parties and who are NOT INDEPENDENT – being allowed to withdraw their candidature without any reference to the party, under whose banner they had been nominated.

It all adds up to the suspicion that the NEC chairman is in collusion with the ruling party.

All of the above notwithstanding, if the nominated opposition candidates were to go ahead with their election programmes, like Mr. Charles Margai of the PMDC has done under similar circumstance, would the learned judge order the Under Sheriff to arrest them?

And what if the citizens of the constituencies who would want a Parliamentary Representative were to see the name of their preferred candidate on the NEC official Ballot paper and vote for him; would they be arrested en mass?

Over to you – your ladyship.

Some members of the Bench may unwittingly or even deliberately be sowing the seeds of a winter of discontent. Poor Salone, do we deserve all this after those terrible eleven years?


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