Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 September 2015
Despite rallying calls by the party chairman – Chief Kapen for unity and constitutionality to reign supreme, feathers are still being ruffled as the war of words continues.
A group of senior party grandees whom Yumkella says ought to know better, than to deliberately try to exclude him from the party through unconstitutional means, are insisting that Yumkella is not a bona fide member of the party.
The group – also known as the membership verification committee, is led by the firebrand chairman of the party’s southern region – Mr. Soloku. Other members of the group include former foreign minister Dr. Abass Bundu and legal luminary Eke Halloway.
A few weeks ago the self-styled ‘membership verification committee’, published a report it said had investigated the membership status of Yumkella and found that, there is no evidence of his membership of the SLPP.
This conclusion was echoed last week by Dr. Abass Bundu, and has drawn swift response not only from Kandeh Yumkella himself, but supporters across the SLPP party and beyond.
Political analysts say that this membership crisis has now thrown the party’s chances of successfully contesting the 2018 general and presidential election into serious doubt, as the party continues to drag itself into deeper disrepute, and may eventually have to go to the Supreme Court for adjudication.
In response, Yumkella could not resist referring to Abass Bundu’s skeletons in his cupboard that refuses to go away – his alleged sale of Sierra Leone’s passport to foreign nationals for personal gain.
According to records, Bundu was prosecuted in 1996 by the Kabba government, for the alleged illegal sale of Sierra Leone passports, under a scheme known as the Immigration Investment Programme.
It is claimed that Bundu personally pocketed over $200,000 from the sale, which he is yet to account for.
Local media reports alleged that on 26th August, 1994, the sum of US$20,000 was paid into Abass Bundu’s London Bank Account, along with US$10,000 cash. A cheque of US$20,000 was paid into the same account on the 5th of September 1994. On the 27th September 1994, another cheque in the sum of US$10,000 was paid in. And on the 2nd of May 1995, cash in the sum of US$100.000 was said to have been paid directly to Bundu; followed by another sum of US$50.000 credited into his account on the 30th of June 1995.
But in October 2005 the kabba government to the surprise of many, decided to drop all charges – nolle prosequi.
Once a strong member of the APC party, Dr. Abass Bundu is the elected northern regional chairman of the embattled SLPP, and the older brother of the ruling APC party leader in parliament – Mr. Ibrahim Bundu.
Writing in the Global Times last week, Abass Bundu did not conceal his support for the self-styled membership verification committee, which many in the party and outside believe to be nothing other than a kangaroo court, set up to prevent any chance of Yumkella (KKY) becoming leader of the SLPP.
“……..while we might feel somewhat exhausted by the incessant questioning of the membership of Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella (KKY) in the SLPP, it is nevertheless of the utmost importance that this be done now rather than later, if only to avoid a future disappointment or calamity should he be nominated by the SLPP as its presidential candidate or be designated as its running mate in the 2018 presidential election.
“This is why I personally find it exasperating when our revered National Chairman and Leader decided to take to the airwaves and say he is satisfied simpliciter with the pronouncements by his National Secretary-General that KKY is a member of the party without producing any valid documentary proof of such membership.
“I have the greatest respect for both gentlemen but their oral pronouncements are not enough to make anyone a member of the party and, therefore, in my humble opinion, the case of my illustrious brother, KKY’s membership, is not yet closed.
“And this is why I considered it my bounded duty primarily to the SLPP to join the other regional chairmen to make it abundantly clear that we support the findings of the factual investigation carried out by our colleague chairman of the southern region.
“The simple answer to all the numerous issues being raised about KKY’s membership is for him to walk through the doors of Unity House when he is next in Freetown and apply for a fresh registration.
“I, as the regional chairman of the north, will gladly accompany him to the National Treasurer’s office. Doing this will not only put paid to the unnecessary distraction this issue is engendering, it would make him unquestionably eligible to contest for any office in the party.
“There should be no quick-fixes nor any clever circumventions of the party’s constitution in this regard. What is more, the extant party constitution contains no bar to a new member contesting for the flagbearership.
“The SLPP, being an eminently democratic party, will decide the question of flag bearer ultimately and decisively through the votes of the majority of the delegates at the appropriate Party Convention; and the sooner this is convened the better it will be for restoring amity and unity to the party.”
Responding to those comments by Abass Bundu, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella was very scathing.
He called upon Abass Bundu not to forget the inconclusive criminal matter regarding his selling of the country’s passport when he was foreign minister.
Yumkella said that those questioning the morality of others, must themselves be open to public scrutiny, and that Abass Bundu should bring the passport matter to a close by fully satisfying the people of Sierra Leone of his innocence.
In the meantime, and as the war of words continues, the SLPP Southern Region Secretariat has also issued a statement denouncing the self-styled membership verification committee, established by their very own chairman Soloku.
This is the Secretariat’s statement:
Sierra Leone People’s Party
Southern Region Secretariat
28 Fenton Road, Bo
Counter Press Release Regarding KKY’s SLPP Membership Status
(Bo, 21st September) Sequel to an SLPP emergency Southern Regional executive meeting held in Bo on Sunday 20th September 2015 and attended by the undersigned key executive members, the following resolutions were made for the attention of party members, supporters and the general public:
That the Bo District SLPP Chairman has never come out with a clear public statement with regards to the issue of Alhaji Dr. Kandeh Yumkella’s registration status especially when and where the impasse is said to have taken place.
That we the undersigned regional SLPP Executive members disregard and disassociate ourselves from the self-styled “SLPP verification team”.
That at no point in time have we been involved in or officially notified about discussions leading to the formation of the SLPP verification team as the Southern regional Chairman is claiming. We there outrightly disassociate ourselves from the outcome of the said verification committee
That the Regional Chairman acted unilaterally and this is not the first time of doing so since his election
That all regional executive members are elected at regional party conventions months before the Regional Chairman is elected at National Convention; he therefore cannot be as au-fait with Party’s realities on the ground, as other Regional Executives, especially so when he permanently stays out of the Region. He should therefore be more consultative.
Not surprisingly, the Regional Chairman’s baseless stance on Alhaji Dr. Kandeh Yumkella’s SLPP registration status is resulting from his failure to consult either the other elected regional officials or his predecessor Mr. Joseph Maada Kpulun during whose chairmanship Dr. Yumkella registered.
That we the undersigned regional officials condemn in the strongest terms the threat on the life of our colleague, the Regional Secretary General, Mr. Melvin Rogers and the abuses rained on his mother by irate party members like Kanja Daramy, SLPP District PRO, Aziz Carew, Constituency 104 Chairman in Freetown and Foday Sillah, a party member.
We are therefore calling on the police and the justice system to be proactive in protecting life and dispensing justice as the matter is already under investigation whilst Mr. Rogers’ legal team is closely monitoring the situation.
LONG LIVE SLPP
Abdul Wahab Rogers
Regional Young Generation Leader, South
Regional Vice Chairman, South
Regional Secretary General, South
You can watch Yumkella’s live response to Abass Bundu here: