Sierra Leone politics – the unanswered questions

PUAWUI DR SAMA BANYA: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 June 2019:

“The Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) is concerned about the incident of 31st May, 2019 between the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) and supporters of the All Peoples Congress (APC), which took place at the APC Party headquarters Old Railway Line, Freetown.

“This incident led to injuries, arrests and detention. HCRSL monitored the incident and observed that the police fired rubber bullets and teargas directly into the APC headquarters while supporters were inside the building.

“HCRSL also observed that APC supporters barricaded roads, burnt tyres around the APC party office and pelted stones at police officers. HRCSL condemns the actions of both parties, which prevented others from enjoying the right to free movement…….”.

Of the many statements and commentaries that I have read or heard from various sources and there have been many, including even from our own Umaru Fofana, with the exception of his today’s opinion in Politico, this one from the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone appears to me to be the most impartial, unbiased and one that is free from exaggeration.

In every previous report of police brutality against the SLPP, there has never been any which says that the attacks were in reaction to SLPP lawlessness or attack on the police.

One sees demonstrations in almost every part of the world these days as people’s way of exercising their democratic rights where free speech and free assembly prevail. Many times such demonstrations have turned ugly as seen on the streets of Paris and in other French cities. (Photo Below: Police in France respond to violent protest).

I have seen incidents on my TV screen where demonstrators have been manhandled before being forcibly carted away in police vehicles. Quite a few have been deadly as in the Sudanese capital Khartoum only a couple of days ago, in which 60 unarmed and peaceful demonstrators or more lost their lives. (Photo Below: Police in Spain respond to violent protest).

Many African capitals have not been spared either. It is all very sad. And while one sympathises with the victims of such incidents for such acts of brutality, one cannot help but wonder why matters degenerate to that level.

Having said this, I will go back to the current incident at Old Railway line. I served in former President Siaka Stevens’ government for eight years. One of his favourite expressions over similar incidents was usually, “WHERE DID IT ALL BEGIN?”

And it is here that I have problem with many of the one-sided positions that many have taken on the Old Railway line incident. To them, it is all the fault of the Sierra Leone Police. But is it a fair comment Why have none of the critics, who when it comes to any matters even indirectly connected with the ruling SLPP, tend to be very sanctimonious in their commentaries?

Why has no commentator or critic followed up the story that a renegade OSD officer may have fired tear gas from within the APC headquarters?

The APC has up to date, failed to acknowledged that they lost the Presidential election to the SLPP’s Julius Maada Bio. They have, both locally and from the Diasporas thrown everything at him, including fabricated stories and placards.

For days they were asking their supporters to come out, not to sit quietly in their headquarters but to take to the streets and interfere with the human rights of the rest of the population.

Why was there, neither has there been any condemnation or even reference to the various inciting statements from the APC Secretary General Ambassador Yansaneh?

I did not hear him; but many who did, have confirmed to me that the APC publicity Secretary Cornelius Devaux (I always thought he was Daveneux) was on a radio programme using both vulgar and inciting language which is believed to have directly influenced the behaviour of the APC mob.

There has been no interest in that aspect, except in the police action, and like I said at the same time indirectly wanting to make a scapegoat of the SLPP.

And here, let me sound a note of caution to my former distinguished nephew, Ernest Bai Koroma. He could with one movement or statement put an end to all this by simply taking a back seat rather than continue to behave as if he is still in State House.

I was with former President Kabbah in Kumasi, Ghana for the tenth anniversary of the ascension of the Asanthene. He was one of three previous heads of state or Prime Ministers who delivered statements in an overcrowded Auditorium. He nearly brought the roof down with applause when he ended his statement with, “There is life after State House!”

Whither the Sierra Leone Bar Association

About three years ago, President Ernest Bai Koroma sacked his Vice President Alhajie Sam Sumana, who had been his running mate on the ballot ticket. It was for a flimsy excuse. Even the pro-APC members of the Sierra Leone Bar Association as well as ordinary lay people, could see that it was constitutionally wrong.

The Bar Association remained conspicuously silent; they did nothing, not even in the way of condemnation or of legal opinion.

The same President Ernest Bai Koroma decided, and I have to admit wisely, that the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone needed amendment in some parts, including the Public Order Act. He set up a Commission under the chairmanship of the distinguished former Judge and Speaker of Parliament – the late Justice Edmund Cowan.

After countrywide consultations, the Cowan Constitution Review Commission (CRC), submitted its report to the President. The members of the Commission were unanimous in their recommendations.

Those who were privy to its content also commended the chairman and his members, whom included many prominent members of the ruling APC.

President Koroma never presented the Report to Parliament for ratification or amendment, because he wanted the insertion of a clause that would justify his sacking of V P Sam Sumana as well as to allow him a third term as President.

Instead, Koroma got his party members of the Commission to write and withdraw their signature from the original document. Justice Cowan stood his ground and up to the time of his death he would have none of it.

Did the leadership of the Bar Association make any comment? The answer is no.

In the 2012 Parliamentary elections, one of the Association’s own colleagues – Ansu Lansana Esq. was petitioned in the High court. The Presiding Justice Showers nullified Lansana’s election and ordered the runner-up to take the seat. Although the Bar Association saw it as a bad judgement it did nothing.

Now that ten APC Members of Parliament have lost their seats, the presiding Judges citing precedent, the Bar Association have come out saying that the 2012 judgement was faulty.

Would they by that, want Ansu Lansana to be declared winner; and if so, to what purpose? Does the Association have to sound so sanctimonious now?

My submission, with utmost respect Learned ladies and gentlemen – fudge!.

4 Comments

  1. I will always listen carefully to whatever Dr. Banya says and try to digest it and make the best use of it. He has been around this political business for a very long time. If I am not mistaken, he is the oldest of our politicians now living. Correct me if I am wrong. He has worked for both the APC and the SLPP. So, he has a lot of experience.

    A few weeks ago, he was expressing his concerns about how worried he was about the state of affairs in our country. Days later, we have this clash between the APC and the POLICE.

    One of the gains of this clash between the APC and the POLICE, is for the first time, the OPPOSITION speaking with one voice. Remember that, three of these parties did not take part in BINTUMANI THREE. Have these three parties got a common agenda for the future? Their number is a big chunk in terms of voters.

    There are pictures in the article showing rioting. But what this government must avoid is any form of rioting. The government must make sure that, decisions are not taking that will lead to any form of protest by any group in society.

    Finally, let us all show respect for Dr. Banya in the sense that even with his age, he is contributing to the national debate. He might make mistakes sometimes but, we must just ignore his mistakes and give him the benefit of the doubt.

    To let most people know, Dr. Banya was a very good and kind medical practitioner whilst he was in FREETOWN. Believe me, you can enter into his surgery without a cent and you will come out treated and with free DRUGS(with made in Germany on the packs).

    Certain school boys played the school boy tricks by taking their friends/girl friends to Dr. Banya for free treatment and medications. Don’t ask me who or how. He is SLPP but, does not favour TRIBALISM. That I will tell everyone.

    Thank you very much Dr. Banya for your ideas at all times.

  2. Indeed, Sierra Leone would have to boldly accept that tribalism is the answer to its downfall. Tribalism in general, is a very sensitive issue that sometimes borders on the margins of taboo; though the presence and application of tribalism by the political class has become the norm, and hence the main drawback in the constant stagnation of a very promising economy, and a divisive society reduced to being creeps or sycophants.

    Even Bintumani III, which was supposedly initiated to create a platform to discuss the problems inhibiting our development, integration and national cohesion, among other pressing matters, the most epidemic disease of tribalism was hardly confronted – at least not head on.

    Instead, the main feature of the conference, apart from the dull and contradictory speeches, was a display of ethnic divisions embedded in indirect political tribalism by so called ‘APC Ghetto Youths’ at the entrance to the conference hall – advertising the main theme of the event. It is like trying to make up with your arch rival while highlighting your indifference to the likelihood of his response, to the public.

    Were the SLPP ready for peace and national cohesion? How can they speculate on building a fragmented society to a unified nation, when the official representatives of over 60% of the populace think it is a premature gesture – and that, there are more urgent and critical challenges to tackle?

    On the other hand, was Bintumani III designed to distract the public from the appalling performance of the government in their first year in tenure, or was it a mere prelude to the impending outcome of the then ongoing petition cases in the High Court?

    Until this chronic tribal element is phased out of Sierra Leone society, it is HYPOCRITICAL to assume that a commission for social integration and tribal cohesion will bind us together. The first piece in the jigsaw is the formulation of an institution that monitors and regulates tribal equality. For instance, the establishment of a Tribal Equality Council (TEC) which will have a mandate similar to that of the Racial Equality Council (REC) in Britain. Such an organisation, as in the case of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), should be given powers to prosecute individuals, private and public enterprises, that infringe tribal equality laws and regulations, as in Britain.

    In any District, there should be a team of TEC officials comprising of a member of each tribe in the country. Part of their responsibilities will include, monitoring and evaluating tribal tendencies in regions; comparing trends across country; and if need be, accompanying or representing clients in court. This will create awareness of the scourge of tribalism in the country, and prepare people’s mind and willingness for an integrated and harmonious society.

    Just like corruption, tribalism should be seen as one of the biggest impediment along the road to our economic development and social cohesion. There is no hiding place – Tribalism has to feature in Sierra Leone’s mainstream political discussions and an area of policy implementation.

  3. What a good speech Dr Sama Banya. I think people like you need to step down from Sierra Leone politics. Imagine serviing in the late pa Sheki cabinet and also pa Tejan Kabba cabinet. I think it is time old politicians give up and give a chance to us the new generation.

    The new Sierra Leone needs peace, not violence. The new generation has learned a lot. So give Sierra Leone a chance to prosper. We do not need story telling. What we need is prosperity and unity. So please Dr Banya, give Salone one more chance. Give thanks and praise to our lord. God bless Sierra Leone.

  4. A new dawn has arrived – calmly and silently it creeps stealthily from the shadows, in it usual unintrusive way, like a cat entering a majestic Palace one stride at a time. It is said the sunrise and sunset are Siamese twins joined together in strange and complicated ways – I think such statement is true.

    History is repeating itself it seems. Political pirates who once came ashore with their empty, light freighted vessels and looted, ransacked and plundered our nation are at it again. This time with mischief in their hearts, disguised with smiles and words of reason, while their ships are anchored on the shores of the SLPP, waiting in restlessness for bounties that they can seize, load and then sail away.

    To be honest, it shockingly baffles me to see the writer quoting Old Stevens – Father of the APC, and stabbing his children in the back. What a disgraceful thing to do! You cannot have it both ways, either you are APC or SLPP; make you choice.

    The Tit for Tat attitude he is trying to legitimized will only spell disaster for our beloved nation, because we are masters at this game they wish to play. If their weapons of choice are knives that peel oranges, let them be fully aware that our arsenals are overcrowded with the keenest deadliest mindsets that no weapons can match. I would strongly advise the SLPP government to leave the trivialities alone, and devote most of their attention to governance and service of the nation.

    After all, their years of holding on to power will not be forever. Wiser minds would have called for a re-run of those elections with doubtful outcomes, but instead shady, questionable judicial rulings were used to rob the APC and give the SLPP the advantage they had been craving for.

    What the Judges responsible for those underhanded decisions did, was totally irresponsible, repulsive and unacceptable – not only did they cheat those that stood in long lines for hours and voted, but they also created a messy roadblock that will forever interrupt the peaceful progression of Democracy in our country.

    The Sierra Leone Bar Association was right on the money: those rulings were unethical, improper and immoral. So let those Old dinosaurs we thought were extinct, keep on laying unfertilized eggs that will never be hatched and materialized into their wicked, mischievous little ones they are hoping and praying for.

    Listen, for the one millionth time – Koroma cannot be removed, unless Almighty God desires it to be so! Leave him alone, he is there for a reason. A lion doesn’t leave its den to look for scraps of meat left being by Orangutans. The King of the Jungle can hunt on its own, even when sitting on its throne. The baton of power has already been handed to you, so run with it. Run SLPP Run! – Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

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