Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 September 2015
Today, it seems, is yet another dark day for the rank and file members of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), who unwittingly are being dragged down by some prominent party zealots, into the precipice of political oblivion.
Kandeh Yumkella’s public declaration a few months ago to run for the presidential candidacy of the SLPP at next year’s leadership election – as a Northerner, has caused a lot of uneasiness among many senior members of the party – mostly, if not exclusively, from the south of the country.
And what started as a small number of disgruntled party zealots, covertly undermining his ambition, has now grown into a much larger and formalised group of campaigners who are determined to keep him out of the race.
Is the SLPP poised to breaking up along regional lines, and will Yumkella now consider forming his own political party?
Many tolerant and liberal Southerners in the party have been quick to denounce what is now being perceived as naked tribalism.
A group of senior party chiefs from the South of the country have formed themselves into an ‘extra-judicial’ committee, to investigate the legitimacy of Yumkella’s membership of the party.
Yumkella’s legal advisers have gone into overdrive trying to convince those party zealots of the authenticity and legitimacy of the records and evidence, which show that he has been a member of the party since 2013, when he was registered in the Bo district party office in abstention.
But the extra-judicial committee have strongly discounted those evidence as fake. And yesterday they even went one step further, by publishing what they described as a report on their investigations into the membership status of Yumkella.
This is what they said:
10TH September 2015
REPORT ON THE VERIFICATION OF DR KANDEH KOLLEH YUMKELLA’S MEMBERSHIP REGISTRATION WITH SLPP IN BO, DISTRICT IN 2013.
It will be recalled that Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella visited the SLPP National Headquarters in Freetown for the first time on 24th August 2015. He had a successful meeting with the National Officers of the Party.
During the meeting, Dr. Yumkella informed the National Officers that he was a registered member of the SLPP in the category of Grand Chief Patron and that it was his intention to upgrade his membership to the category of a Distinguished Grand Chief Patron.
At this stage, his registration was questioned since the National Treasury had had no record of his registration.
Dr. Yumkella replied that he had been registered as a member in Bo in March 2013 and promised to present all relevant documentary evidence of his membership through his Legal Team the following day, Tuesday, 25th August 2015, including the necessary payment for the upgrading of his membership.
A Committee comprising Hon. Edward A. Soloku, Regional Chairman, South (Chairman); Dr. James D. Rogers, National Financial Secretary; Madam Martha C. Kanagbo, National Treasurer; Lawyer Eke A. Halloway, Legal Adviser; Lawyer Anthony Brewah, Legal Adviser and Mr. Alimamy H. Bangura – Deputy Director of Administration (in attendance) was set up to investigate the validity of Dr. Yumkella’s registration.
Dr. Yumkella’s Legal Team did not come on the Tuesday as promised but came instead on Wednesday, 26th August 2015. They presented a photocopy of a Grand Chief Patron Membership Card No. 0115 signed by the Late Alhaji U.N.S. Jah as National Chairman and Mr. Jacob J. Saffa as National Secretary-General, two original receipts dated 2013 and 2014 respectively and cash of Le5,000,000 (Five million Leones) for upgrading.
The Committee refused to accept the money for upgrading since there were issues to be cleared about his membership.
The Committee proceeded with the investigation. Below are the key findings of the investigation:
1.That the registration for Dr. Kandeh Yumkella was purportedly done for him in Bo but no record of such registration has been found to exist at the Party Offices in Bo or Headquarters in Freetown as is required for persons who register for membership as Patrons, Chief Patrons and Grand Chief Patrons.
2.That both the Chairman, Bo District Branch, Alhaji Kanja Sesay, and the Secretary, Mr. Mohamed Alie, have no knowledge of any registration in Bo of Dr. Yumkella either by himself or on his behalf. The District Secretary has denied the claim by Dr. Momodu Yilla that a registration card was issued by the District Secretary and Dr. Yilla has not produced any satisfactory evidence to substantiate his claim that the District Secretary had indeed issued any valid registration card for Dr. Yumkella.
3.That the Receipt Number 12794 dated 02/03/2013 bearing the name of Alhaji Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella (Dr.), with a total payment of Le1,400,000 (One Million Four Hundred Thousand Leones), for the category of Grand Chief Patron membership with monthly contributions spanning the period from January to December 2013, claimed to have been obtained in Bo, corresponds with a Duplicate Receipt Number 12794 found at the Party’s National Treasury in Freetown bearing the name of Alfred Senesie with total payment of Le11,000 (Eleven Thousand Leones) for an ordinary membership registration card done by Mr. Michael Musa (a designated staff member) on 18/06/2013 during the tenure of Mr. John O. Benjamin as Chairman and Mr. Joe Kallon as National Treasurer.
4. That the Receipt Number 5400 dated 10/03/2014 bearing the name of Alhaji Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella with a total payment of Le1, 200,000 (One Million Two Hundred Thousand Leones) for the category of Grand Chief Patron membership with monthly contributions for the period from January to December 2014 does not match with any of the Receipt Numbers in the General Receipt Books kept at the National Headquarters and printed between 2nd September 2013 and 19th June 2015. The Receipt serial numbers for that period comprise of seven (7) digits from 0000001-0003000.
5. That the Grand Chief Patron Membership Card with the No. 0115, signed by the Late Alhaji U.N.S. Jah as National Chairman and Mr. Jacob J. Saffa as National Secretary-General, issued in the name of Alhaji Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella (Dr.), a photocopy of which was presented by his Legal Team, had in fact been rendered obsolete as at the date of issue printed on it (02/03/2013).
That particular specie of membership card had been superseded and replaced by new specie in August 2012 when the Party introduced the new semi-biometric membership card that is currently in use.
This change was done during the Chairmanship of Mr. John O. Benjamin whose tenure of office ended in August 2013. Although membership cards issued before August 2012 remain valid, all persons applying for membership at the level of Grand Chief Patron, Chief Patron or Patron after the new cards came into effect have had their photographs imprinted on their cards.
In light of all of the foregoing, the Committee finds itself unable to verify the authenticity of the documents tendered by the Legal Team of Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella.
The Committee therefore regrets that it cannot recommend any upgrading as requested by Dr. Yumkella since there is no proof of any pre-existing valid registration of membership. Instead the Committee wishes to recommend that Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella applies for a new registration of membership of the Party.
This way this matter will be brought to closure, thereby reducing unnecessary conflict and tension amongst party supporters and helping to promote the ongoing unity, peace and reconciliation initiatives within the Party.
Finally, the Committee would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm the SLPP’s principle of inclusiveness as encapsulated by its Motto of “One Country One People”, which it holds sacred, and to open the doors of the Party to all Sierra Leoneans without discrimination of any kind.
There is no desire on the part of anyone to exclude any bona fide applicant wanting to join our Great Party.
All we strive to promote and uphold is unflinching respect for the sanctity of the Constitution of our Party and the Rule of Law by asking all who desire to join it to openly and transparently follow the established and hallowed procedures for obtaining the membership of our Great Party.
Long Live the SLPP
One Country One People
Hon. Edward A. Soloku – Regional Chairman, South & Chairman verification Committee
…………………..End of Committee’s Statement……………………………………………
Following the publication of that press statement yesterday, which is printed on the letter headed stationery of the SLPP party and using its logo, the party’s national secretary general – Mr, Sullaiman Banja Tejan-Sie, has today denounced the extra-judicial committee, as unconstitutional and unrepresentative of the party’s voice.
He said that the report of the committee has no legitimacy and warned the public and members of the party to consider and treat it as such.
This open confrontation is now regarded by political observers as the first salvo that could sink SLPP’s 2018 election campaign ship, and may well lead to the breaking up of the party, possibly along regional lines.
This is Tejan-Sie’s statement in response to the report of the extra-judicial committee: