Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 May 2021:
Sierra Leone’s High Court decision pronounced by Justice Adrian J. Fisher on the 19th of April 2021, ordering the country’s main opposition APC party to convene an emergency National Delegates Conference, so that its rank-and-file members can adopt the Party’s amended 1995 Constitution has become a focus of immense political intrigue.
Whilst ruling that the injunction imposed by the Courts on 26th February 2021, restraining the Party from conducting political activities must continue to be in force, Justice Fisher however, ordered that, “the following office holders are restrained from taking part as delegates in the emergency national delegates convention: all members of the National Advisory Committee, the National Secretary General, the Assistant National Secretary General, the National Organising Secretary, the Assistant National Organising Secretary, the National Publicity Secretary, the Assistant National Publicity Secretary, the National Treasurer, the five Regional Chairmen, the 16 Districts Chairmen, the 132 Constituency Chairmen.’’ (Photo: The most powerful executives of the APC – former president Koroma, Secretary Genreral – Yansaneh, and Dr Minkailu Mansaray -deputy leader of the Party, banned from taking part in adopting the Party’s draft constitution).
He also ordered the election of twenty delegates representing the Women’s Congress, twenty delegates representing the Youth League, and five delegates for each constituency must be conducted no later than 25th June 2021.
The High Court ruling by Justice Adrian Fisher has been received with mixed feelings by sections of the APC Party as well as by observers. Many believe that the ruling by a Judge they describe as a ruling Party supporter, is politically motivated and calculated to damage the main opposition APC ahead of the 2023 elections.
But others say that the Court’s ruling is aimed at ensuring democracy and the observance of constitutional order and the rule of law by the executives of the APC Party, who are being accused of dictatorship, especially its Chairman and leader – former president Koroma.
Writing in a statement published last week, the National Reformation Movement (NRM) – a pressure group within the party, who took the APC executives to Court, launched a scathing attack on former president Koroma and his co-executives of the party. This is what they said:
“On the 19th April, 2021, a High Court Judge in Freetown issued an order which restrained a group of people, who have held offices illegally in the All People’s Congress (APC), from participating in the adoption of the draft constitution of the party.
“Clearly because the people who have been putting on a show as executive members and delegates of the APC were selected into positions the party’s 1995 Constitution requires to be filled through the conduct of elections, the court’s order, in line with Article 6.9.1 of the party’s 1995 Constitution, also enjoins the third defendant – the All People’s Congress – to conduct elections for the delegates, who will adopt the new constitution.
“Wishing to bypass so fair a process enjoined the court, and preferring the adoption of the constitution to be left in the hands of delegates they themselves have selected, reduced to yes-men, and drilled into them a sycophantic attitude that promotes the elevation of those who unconstitutionally selected them into offices to the pedestal of demigods, the leadership of the APC, most of whom the court has restrained from taking part in the adoption of the constitution, regarded the opening granted by the court for the conduct of the elections of delegates in considerably bad faith.
“The expired office holders in the APC, most of whom the court have restrained from taking part in the adoption of the constitution, worked up a plan in order to subvert the election of delegates.
“On the 28th of April, 2020, the party’s chairman – who now holds office illegally – summoned a meeting of the National Advisory Council (NAC) in Makeni to take a decision on the court order. A majority of the NAC membership and the party’s legal team supported compliance with the court order – restraining the participation of the either handpicked or expired office holders in the adoption of the constitution and ordering the conduct of elections for delegates to adopt the new constitution.
“Realizing that the odds were heavily against him and his band of adherents at the NAC meeting held in Makeni, and desperate for an arrangement that, in his mind, would eliminate any question of personal accountability, the Chairman and Leader, whose term of office has clearly expired, and who, lately, only becomes affected by something when his personal interest is on the line, quickly summoned the puppets he has forged through his unprecedented abuse of the selection clause to make a decision on the court order.
“Those whom the party’s chairman assembled in Makeni, all of whom put on a show as executives of constituencies and decided that the party should appeal the recent court order, are mostly puppets whom EBK, through his abuse of the selection clause, has forged in his own image and likeness.
“The recurrent spectacle of these handpicked and expired constituency executives endorsing anything that drips from the lips of those who selected them into the positions they unconstitutionally occupy, has become part of the enduring legacies of the party’s current leadership.
“We regret to say now that it seems our comrades who had always opposed dialogue with the status quo were right. EBK and his executive are insincere and duplicitous in their dealings.
“The charade of assembling EBK’s puppets in Makeni to endorse his resistance to the court order and to demonstrate that his commitment to the democratization of the party’s internal politics is nothing but mirage has clearly shown that EBK and his expired executive are in no urgency for the party to come into governance.
“How can anyone be so blinded by selfishness to appeal an order that commands you to go to a convention and adopt a constitution! What harm there is in excluding expired office holders who bear the greatest responsibility for all the chaos in the APC, who are bent on maintaining perpetual control of the party, who are prone to corrupt the process, plant confusion and make mockery of the constitution adoption process?
“If we at the NRM can demonstrate our commitment to peace by withdrawing our case from court in an effort to promote peace and cohesion, why is it so difficult for the expired holders of offices in the APC to accept an order that commands the party to conduct elections for delegates and adopt a democratic constitution?
“We want the Chairman and Leader, whose mandate has expired, and who is the mastermind of all the chaos in the APC, to know that we at the movement have the same energies he has in fomenting chaos.
“To all those who believe in the struggle for democracy in our party’s internal politics as opposed to the vigorous authoritarian order Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma wants to entrench, our assurances of an unrelenting commitment to the struggle for democracy in the APC.
“Signed: Osman Bikal Kamara, Secretary General, NRM.”