Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden (OOR): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 January 2020:
I am breaking my silence on this issue. At the time the ECOWAS judgment was issued some two years ago on 27th November 2017, I had been unfairly and painfully sacked as Cabinet Minister just 4 days earlier.
Not even my highly commended role of few weeks earlier, in singularly taking lead to stem Ajisafe/Mufti Menk saga that would have proven to be our country’s biggest religious challenge was to count, as I got dumped like a canine who lacked any value worth retaining.
It was a watershed moment that left me with no energy to discuss ECOWAS Court judgment. I have since forgiven all who hurt me. I am merely explaining the reason for my silence over a critical national issue that I would normally have commented on back in November 2017.
Today, I have decided to break my silence in defence of my party, the All Peoples Congress (APC) and in further defence of Former President Koroma, the outgoing Chairman & Leader of the APC. It is time to set the records straight and end the pernicious twisting of our country’s narrative on those issues.
First of all, I, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, a trustworthy compatriot and Officer of the Order of the Rokel of the Republic of Sierra Leone, want to be on record to state very clearly that the ECOWAS Court never indicted the All Peoples Congress (APC) in its judgment on the Sam Sumana case. That never happened! (Photo: Dr Sylvia Blyden).
Secondly, contrary to false claims spurn mostly by SLPP elements to score political points and make APC unpopular enough to be voted out of governance, the raw truth is that the ECOWAS Court actually upheld decisions taken by the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone in process of interpreting the constitutionality of the Sam-Sumana matter.
Under our national constitution, a man cannot be without a party membership and yet continue to serve as our Vice-President of Sierra Leone. Simple!
The power of President Koroma to remove Sam-Sumana and appoint Victor Foh was fully recognised by ECOWAS Court. People need to read and understand that ECOWAS judgement.
Every single one of the ECOWAS judges in that case stated their signed endorsement that President Koroma had the full constitutional power and fullest authority to remove his Vice-President if the VP was no longer a member of a political party.
Please pay attention to what the ECOWAS Judges wrote on Pages 16 to 17 of their 25 page judgement. They said and I quote:
“The constitutionality or otherwise of the act of the President in this matter is not in dispute…The powers of the President to remove and reappoint another person into the office of Vice-president” arose from 6th March 2015 but “did not become exercisable i.e. it was not ripe for execution” because Sam-Sumana “had the right to exhaust his right of appeal before the national delegates conference”.
ECOWAS Court actually endorsed constitutional powers to any sitting Sierra Leone President to replace his Vice President if his Vice-President is expelled from his political party. This is what ALL the ECOWAS judges said on Pages 16-17 and which is just what the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone had also stated.
Further on Page 19 of the ECOWAS judgement, the Judges stated of President Koroma’s powers to remove VP Sam-Sumana that, and again I quote: “This powers, to the mind of the [ECOWAS] Court, has been rightfully exercised.”
People should go and read Pages 16, 17 and 19 of the ECOWAS Court Judgment. ECOWAS Court said President Koroma had the full constitutional right and authority to remove his Vice-President.
Throughout his ten-years tenure as president, he may have breached some other few laws of the land but the truth is that President Ernest Koroma cannot be easily accused of breaching the Sierra Leone Constitution and he certainly did NOT breach the Constitution in the case of the removal of Sam-Sumana. Simple!
However, whilst recognising his full constitutional powers and authority to remove his Vice-President, the ECOWAS court condemned Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in his capacity as the then President of Sierra Leone, for removing Sam Sumana as Vice-President before Sam’s right to appeal was exhausted inside APC. That was all!
The ECOWAS Court never said APC’s National Advisory Committee (NAC) followed wrong procedures to expel Sam Sumana. It never did. In fact, the ECOWAS Court made it clear that the issues around the decision of the APC and its NAC were procedurally correct. So people need to read that ECOWAS judgment and stop the insidiously dangerous attacks on All Peoples Congress based on lies.
All what the ECOWAS Court said was that our brother, Chief Sam-Sumana, at the time he was relieved, still had a chance to appeal above the level of NAC so President Koroma should have waited for that right to appeal to be exhausted before President Koroma took action to remove the party-less VP as his VP.
But is that really so? Did President Koroma really need to have waited? I submit NOT! I submit that President Koroma did not need to wait to exercise his constitutional powers to remove his Vice-President.
President Koroma’s problem, as I see it, is that Koroma failed to defend his action to the esteemed Judges of the ECOWAS Court, so the judges ruled against Koroma since they only had one side to listen to.
If only President Koroma had sent Lawyers to defend him at the ECOWAS Court, they would have drawn the attention of the ECOWAS Court to the APC Constitution’s Article 6.9.3(i)&(ii) and Article 18.104.22.168(iv)&(vi) which inter-alia, automatically transforms NAC from the second highest body into the highest body during “special and emergency situations”. Sierra Leone at the time was under a State of Emergency with severe restrictions in place due to the Ebola virus outbreak.
But that is all now water under the bridge. Ernest Koroma failed to defend himself and ECOWAS ruled against him. Life goes on.
However, it is also important to recall that the NAC decision was indeed appealed by Chief Sam-Sumana to the National Delegates Conference. The APC’s NAC took the decision to expel Chief Sam-Sumana on 6th March 2015. Towards the end of March 2015, Chief Sam-Sumana wrote to the APC’s National Delegates Conference, through the Secretary General, to appeal the expulsion.
Immediately thereafter, in April 2015, an Emergency National Delegates Conference of APC was summoned to discuss the Ebola Emergency crisis during which the Appeal of Sam-Sumana was tabled at the Conference. The records show Sam-Sumana was legitimately expelled and the legitimate expulsion got endorsed at that APC conference to which Chief Sam-Sumana was invited but declined to attend.
Sam-Sumana’s expulsion from APC was unanimously approved by delegates of that APC’s highest decision making body on 30th April 2015 and the matter got closed at that level. It can only be re-opened at that level and not at the level of NAC which no longer has jurisdiction over the issue – unless under special or emergency circumstances.
Readers can recall that I was a member of the APC’s 9-Man Committee set up to look in to why we lost the 2018 Presidential Elections. My personal recommendation within our 9-Man Committee for Chief Sam-Sumana to be brought back into the APC as our Comrade, needs to be implemented as soon as possible. (Photo: Sam Sumana and Dr Sylvia Blyden).
However, if that my personal recommendation is to be implemented, then it has to be done on a platform of HONESTY among ourselves. Why malign APC based on fiction?
Misleading the general public about what ECOWAS Court never ever said against our APC party, is not the way forward. The way forward is crystal clear. Honesty needs to prevail at all quarters and around all the issues. Sincerity and Love for APC should be the over-riding factor in all we do.
Many of us have been very deeply hurt in one way or the other with horrific lies cooked up against us, by those who fear our political strengths. But truth and Love can heal the extremely deep hurts all around us. Lies don’t cut it. Lies just don’t cut it. Lies just make things to become worse.