Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 December 2015
There was jubilation at the Supreme Court in Freetown today, 15th December 2015, in reaction to the Judges’ decision to throw out the action brought against the national executive council of the main opposition SLPP, by the renegade party leadership contestant – Alie Bangura.
And after two years of legal deliberations and adjournments, the feelings of the Supreme Court Judges can be summed up in seven words: ‘Tired and fed-up of the political circus’.
Lawyers acting for Bangura had filed a petition at the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone in 2013, challenging the outcome of the Bo Convention elections, after failing to win the party chairmanship, won by Chief Somano Kapen.
Responding to what the party’s national executive council saw as unacceptable behaviour and an attempt by Alie Bangura to destroy the party, the council decided to expel Bangura (Photo) from the party in April 2015, and published this statement:
”……….The National Officers further recalled in their deliberations that Mr. Allie Essa Bangura has unjustifiably failed to honour and fulfil his solemn obligations as a member of the Party as prescribed by the Party Constitution 1995 (as amended) including in particular his failure to pay regularly the prescribed dues of the Party since the Bo Conference.
“The National Officers further noted that it has been the intention of Mr. Allie Essa Bangura, as evidenced by his recent conduct and activities towards the Party, to bring about the total paralysis and eventual collapse of the Party.
“Such activities included his manifest desire to use the judicial process to frustrate and restrain all the established organs and institutions of the Party at all levels from carrying out their legitimate and constitutional functions and duties that will ensure the continued survival and integrity of the SLPP as a democratic Party, especially at this most critical time in the history of the evolution and development of constitutionalism, democracy and democratic governance of the State of Sierra Leone of which our Party is an integral part.
“In light of all the foregoing, and in the paramount interest of preserving the integrity and survival of the SLPP, the elected National Officers of the Party have resolved to relieve Mr. Allie Essa Bangura of his membership of the SLPP.”
At the heart of Bangura’s case against the SLPP executives, was his argument that the election which took place at the party convention in Bo on 17-18 August 2013, was undemocratic and unconstitutional.
But since 2013, Alie Bangura’s lawyers had failed to present credible evidence to convince the Judges beyond all reasonable doubt, that the party executives had acted unfairly and undemocratically, thus causing his defeat at the party chairmanship election.
Ruling against Alie Bangura today, the Supreme Court said that Bangura’s case lacked clarity, and that he was unable to bring forward incontrovertible evidence of party irregularities that he said took place at the leadership election in Bo in 2013.
This evening, the editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph Abdul Rashid Thomas, spoke to a senior party national executive council member, who is also pro-Chairman Kapen.
Speaking under anonymity, this is his response to the court ruling: “I was not in Court and I am yet to see the judgment. But whatever it is, we must embrace peace by reconciling our differences and seek to build a cohesive party, capable of redeeming our people from their current woes.”
“This sounds like an olive branch being extended to Bangura. Does this court ruling mean that the party will now rescind its expulsion of Alie Bangura?” the editor enquired.
The NEC officer replied: “I never endorsed that expulsion, as it was irregular and illegal. As far as I am concerned, Alie Bangura is a key stakeholder in the Party.”
So it seems the proverbial ball is now in Alie Bangura’s court. Will he take up once again, his key stakeholder role in the SLPP?
After losing such a long, costly, momentous, divisive and bitter court battle, the road to reconciliation and healing will be long and equally painful.
Four months ago, the Supreme Court had ruled that the SLPP must refrain from conducting any form of elections, before the court ruling on the substantive matter relating to the expulsion of Alie Bangura from the party.
Two weeks earlier, in a hearing before Justices Valesius Thomas, Vivian Solomon, Nicholas Browne-Marke, Eku Roberts, and Patrick Hamilton, lawyer Jalloh acting for Alie Bangura, had argued that to allow the SLPP executive to conduct elections will be inimical to his client’s political interests in the party.
The substantive matter put before the court by Alie Bangura’s lawyers, was a motion calling upon the Supreme Court to declare the 2013 national executive council election which brought the current SLPP executives to power, null and void.
But the Sierra Leone Telegraph had long argued that whilst the Supreme Court had decided to suspend any form of elections by the SLPP, Judges will find it very difficult to nullify the party’s 2013 national executive council election results.
However, there was expectation today that the Court may rule against the expulsion of Alie Bangura from the party. And it is not yet clear from today’s verdict what conditions – if any the court has imposed on the SLPP. Would these include the de-expulsion of Bangura?
The Sierra Leone Telegraph has learnt that today’s ruling and the likelihood of a reinstatement of Bangura’s membership by the executives, will pave the way for substantive peace talks between all factions of the party, including the toxic relationship between Maada Bio and the national executive council.
Today’s court ruling may not have lifted the cloud of uncertainty over Bangura’s future, but what it will certainly do for the SLPP now is to legitimise preparations for a national party convention in four months time – before the start of the rainy season, when new executives and presidential flagbearer will be elected.