Time to call APC’s bluff – enough is enough

Puawui – Dr Sama Banya: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 May 2019:

I have known and been associated with the leadership of the All Peoples Congress (APC) party since 1968 when they decided to hold bye-elections to fill the large number of vacancies all over the country.

The vacancies themselves arose because of the crude behaviour of a judiciary presided over by acting Chief Justice H Brown-Mark, that was all too anxious to do away with the SLPP.

It was a vendetta against former Prime Minister Sir Albert Margai whom they perceived to be anti-Creole, an accusation that had no foundation because many of Sir Albert’s very close associates were Creole – among them were: Gershon Collier, Berthan Macaulay, Wadi Williams, H E B John, R G O King, Claude Nelson-Williams and many others.

Sir Albert had trodden on the toes of some men in the Judiciary, whose hostility to anything SLPP was there to see.

Some members of the APC regime had been my contemporaries at school while many others and I became very intimate, after I had accepted President Siaka Stevens’ persistent invitation to join his party.

I will state here without fear of contradiction that the majority of those who are today making the biggest noises and threats are also among the greatest cowards among them. They generally tease or as we say in Creole – they “opin call” but run for their lives the moment they see any sign of calling off their bluff.

The thuggery and violence they have perpetrated in the past have been because they were aided and abated by the security forces, especially the likes of Siaka Steven’s SSD now renamed OSD; they included the likes of “Yetie Yetie” or Mohamed Turay.

In the bye elections of 1968, the APC team went around as migrant voters, created confusion and mayhem in parts of the Western area, and especially in Kono, scared the generally peace-loving inhabitants. And as the latter withdrew, they impersonated and voted in their places.

One example of this was when two thugs answered to the names of the late Paramount Chief Sahr Fillie Mansa Matturi and his recently demised wife Manjama. The couple were so shocked especially when a man answered to Mrs Matturi’s name that the poor couple simply walked away. However, when they attempted to cross the Moa River at Manowa to penetrate the Kailahun district, it became a different story altogether.

Many of the adventurers neither made it to Kailahun nor returned to Tonkolili, Bombali or to Freetown. Shocked and infuriated, Siaka Stevens declared the first public state of emergency of his administration.

The majority of the membership and supporters of the SLPP including Paramount chiefs, mainly from the South and East were rounded up countrywide and incarcerated in Mafanta prison just outside Magburaka in the Tonkolili district.

In 1970, when a breakaway faction of the APC formed the National Democratic Party whose membership included the Taqi brothers, Dr. Mohamed Fornah with Dr. John Karefa-Smart and others, the APC thugs attacked their convoy on the Waterloo Masiaka highway. There were fierce skirmishes and again Siaka Stevens declared a state of public emergency and arrested and detained the entire leadership of the new party.

The late Dr Sariff Easmon who had persistently criticised Sir Albert Margai, wrote a stinker in the Daily Mail newspaper against Siaka Stevens.  As if by arrangement, I had also sent an open letter to the Prime Minister in the same Daily Mail newspaper in which I stated that by his declaration of a second state of public emergency, he had demonstrated his inability to rule the country and that he should resign forthwith.  Dr Easmon was detained and although I had packed my pyjamas, etc, I wasn’t touched that time.

Fast forward to the Presidential and Parliamentary elections of 2007, the leader of the APC opposition – Ernest Bai Koroma , wrote a letter to the United States Ambassador Dr. Thomas Walker in which he stated clearly – rather threatened, that if the ruling SLPP candidate was declared the winner he and his party would NOT ACCEPT the result and that they would make the country ungovernable.

(Photo: Former president Koroma seen here yesterday in his red para-military style beret along with his party’s members of parliament, as a show of force to the SLPP government).

No one touched him or any of his members. In the 2012 election, Charles Margai the PMDC leader declared that he could mobilise a 20,000 defence force were he to be attacked, under the Koroma administration; he was detained for questioning at the Criminal Investigation Department for three days.

SLPP Candidate Julius Maada Bio was threatened with arrest and detention by A I G Al-Skeik Kamara for allegedly blocking the way of President Ernest Bai Koroma’s convoy, contrary to some law.

Members of the SLPP in Kenema were arrested and charged to court on the orders of A I G Karrow Kamara for celebrating their party’s independence in their office building. When Human Rights activist went to make inquiries, he was promptly arrested and also charged to court.

Pat Sow ordered his APC thugs to attack a group of SLPP supporters whose only crime was that they had honoured an invitation from the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) to participate in the funeral rites of the late Justice Tolla Thompson – the former PPRC chairman.

And now, this group of miscreants – among them – the learned Attorneys at Law, are DEMANDING the outright sacking of the current chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission because they no longer had any confidence in him.

His crime is that he is not doing it their way, perhaps as Christiana Thorpe would have done. Mind you, they appointed him not the SLPP.

As for the current APC opposition Members of Parliament, who walked out on President Julius Maada Bio at the state opening of Parliament yesterday – especially when the country’s National Anthem was being played, the least said about them the better.

But I hope it is not true that two of them who had been nominated to attend the Pan African Parliament in South Africa then went to collect their airline tickets. That would be another example of their shameful attitude and lacking in principle.

I have often wondered at the psyche of the APC; do they ever recall some of their past beastly behaviour?

In the 1973 Parliamentary election campaign, they displayed so much violence that the opposition SLPP formally withdrew from the elections. They were returned unopposed and attended the first session of that Parliament in identical Mao Tse Tung suites.

When one takes all of those past actions of the APC into consideration, it would be clear that we are dealing with them with kid gloves.

When a delegation of us held a meeting at State House with the former Vice President Sam Sumana in 2008, the APC supporters threw buckets of urine at us as we left the meeting.

I do not have to remind readers of the day in 2007 when Christiana Thorpe declared Ernest Bai Koroma as the winner of the runoff election. A gang of the APC mob descended on the SLPP headquarters and inflicted much unprovoked damage to the building and manhandled those who were there including the rape of some women.

The APC administration did nothing to appease us. There was not a single word of remorse from their leadership.

And here we have them again, “crying baby” about this and about that.  My advice to the leadership of our SLPP party is that, we stand firm in the face of their unruly behaviour which is now posing a threat to the peace and stability of the country.

They must now be treated with firm hands under the rule of law. Enough must be enough.

11 Comments

  1. A very nice piece though one-sided with lots of missing elements. We should however eschew such attitude and rather focus on nation building. To be honest this one-way write up will never influence any developmental indicator.

  2. Good old Siaka Stevens…Our nations greatest politician, Father and leader; unless you have been born and raised in hatred, you cannot help but cherish, praise and love him. Charisma, wisdom and humour, all of those attributes could be found distinctly is just this one man.

    Gentlemen, Please refrain from disrespectfully spewing lies about those who no longer tread our beautiful, but are now awaiting mercy on everlasting, celestial shores. First and foremost, let me make something crystal clear – All those SLPP members that joined the APC (and there is a long list of them) were not forced, tricked, intimidated or coerce into joining the APC in the old days, but rather, they did it solely for the purposes of Greed, social acceptance and their insatiable lust for power and position.

    To put more simply, they were measured, weighed and bought at a price. Old Stevens, “Pops Shek” at that time was a political Maestro at the peak of his powers; he could orchestrate and bring to fruition any dream and vision he had with great ease, shrewdness, tenacity and lightning quick speed…And that scared the dullards of the SLPP of of their wits.

    So they ran to join the APC like bees to their honeycomb like scraps of iron drawn towards a giant magnet. The whole world was transfixed by the skills and abilities of Old Stevens, and he was recognized and referred to as one of Africa’s Colossal leaders.

    As a little boy, I saw him a couple of times in meetings and gatherings of the APC, I was fortunate to attend with my Dad. I never spoke to him, but from not too far away I noticed he was always calm, relaxed and as confident as a Majestic lion in his den. Untouchable was written all over him. He was fearless, a rare breed, one of a kind. I know because I grew up in the midst of a pride of APC lions just like him.

    The worst form of ingratitude is what I see being displayed here, especially coming from someone like Dr Banya that drank copiously and tirelessly from the overflowing Water fountains of the APC. Good old Stevens, were he alive today will only smile and shake his head in disbelief.

    A one sided picture is what Dr Banya and Sahr Matturi have painted. It was always peaceful, serene and calm during the days of Stevens, and only dissenters, anarchists and trouble makers challenging government positions, agendas and policies were severely disciplined and dealt with. It had to be so otherwise the thinnest cracks overnight can become giant problematic, worrisome holes.

    To protect the nation, government and legacy, Old Stevens didn’t hesitate, even for a minute to bring down his iron hammer heavily on his tribalistic detractors. He was tolerant but also tough and strict. So many SLPP members benefited under him, like Sahr Matturri’s uncle. They maneuvered and exploited the system while Stevens deliberately looked the other way.

    Generosity or corruption? You decide. And now to find favors in the eyes of Bio, they are biting the same fingers that once fed them. Disgraceful. Dr Banya’s comment has totally proved my point that the SLPP still holds the APC responsible for their past misfortunes, political degradations and societal hardships they have suffered.

    His biased, one-sided statements clearly show that they are out for revenge and are not interested at all in closure and amicably ironing out their differences with the APC. Like Seafarers staring the oceans, watching and waiting for their Ships to come…we are watching them from a distance, but watching all the same. Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

    • Mr. Saidu Conteh, it will be waste of time for me to associate myself to all what you have been saying in the past and present.
      Until you respond to my questions, all you comments in my view will fall on deaf ears.
      Again, please try and reply to my questions I asked of you sometime ago.
      Don’t feel that the issue has gone away. I will remind everyone on this platform again for them to judge. It’s something you will never hide from until you reply. So, stay tuned. The pressure you will get will make you a responsible commentator. So, no DODGING and POPPING here and there.

  3. Thanks Justice N C Browne-Marke for participating on this platform and for your FACT CHECK. Dr. Banya is a very wise politician who should be listened to. What Dr. Banya is trying to say in his article is to compare the misdeeds of the APC under the late President Siaka Stevens and the foul the APC is now crying against the SLPP under President Bio. It is sometimes good to refer to the past when drawing conclusions on things affecting the present. Fair enough.

    THUGGERY AND VIOLENCE has been the order of the day during the APC rule of the late President Stevens. No one will dispute that. Unless those who were not affected by the BRUTAL and LETHAL FORCES of the APC under the late SHAKI. Those DARK AGES were really not only dangerous moments in our country’s history, but a pathetic, sad and unacceptable situation for years.

    The good thing was that, SHAKI tried to reach out to SLPP politicians he had intimidated, shamed and brutalised to come join him under the one party state. Some of them had no choice but to answer to that call. I don’t blame them for that. Answering calls for NATIONAL UNITY is always a good idea. That is why, I want President Bio to do a similar thing by forming a GOVERNMENT of NATIONAL UNITY.

    Let me give a story I witnessed. During election days in KOIDU, SSD’s will come and ask people which party they belong to. The head of each household will answer to the question. The children seeing the armed police men will run and hide under their beds if they have one, or hide behind where ever they felt comfortable. That was really traumatising. Can you imagine being in that situation as a child? If the dad or adult male does not answer what suits the SSD, they will be harassed, intimidated and sometimes taken away.

    One day, all the adult male in the compound learnt the accent of replying to the SSD personnel who where mostly LIMBAS. They agreed that, If the SSD asked for example which party do you support, they should reply, YAY P C (meaning APC) and no SEL P P (meaning no SLPP). So each time they came to our compound and asked questions, they were happy with the response. Finally, they stopped coming.

    What doctor Banya is saying was fact. Some of us witnessed those brutal thuggery and intimidation of our parents. But no problems. We should now move forward and make Sierra Leone a successful place for everyone. No REVENGE and no VENGEANCE.

    My uncle whom Dr. Banya mentioned in his article was one of the SLPP members under the APC radar since Siaka Stevens came to power. Unlike Dr. Banya and others, he refused calls to join the APC and accept lucrative ministerial positions. The late President even proposed Second Vice President and Prime Minister position occupied the by the late C. A. Kamara-Taylor. But he refused. S.L. Matturi wanted GOLD (SH). I am very sure my uncle would have accepted the role as leader of the APC then but, subject to reformation and restructuring of the APC party, which the Late Siaka Stevens would never have accepted. However, he accepted a job that will help control the sales and valuing of our diamonds for the good of the country and he succeeded in doing that. I repeat again – AH TELL YOU.

    The message I want to convey to our wise Dr. Banya is that, times and things have changed. Things have got better, especially on THUGGERY and VIOLENCE under the APC leaderships of both the late J. S. Momoh and former president Ernest Koroma. The only ERA that could be compared with the late SIAKA STEVEN’s, is the BRUTAL ERA of the NPRC.

    Also, I would like Dr. Banya to know that we are trying to advocate to bring people and the country together, despite the horrors and the brutalities of the past. Sierra Leone can not continue with this TIT for TAT or revenge ideology. Presently, the two political forces (SLPP and APC) are seen as SACRED institutions by most people. I wonder if some people believe in GOD as they believe in the APC or the SLPP.

    We tried last year by interviewing people to see if we can put the SLPP or the APC off side to enter the elections, but we could not. It was very difficult at the moment to enter the nucleus of the members (especially the most loyal voters who make the largest part of the electorate) of these two parties and come out victorious.

    Until we (DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL MOVEMENT in the waiting) and others are able to remove both the APC and the SLPP democratically through the ballot box, we ask these two GIANTS on the POLITICAL FOREFRONT in SIERRA LEONE POLITICS, to put their DIFFERENCES and GRIEVANCES aside, come together and work in the interest of the country.

    To be honest, the PROSPERITY, UNITY and DEVELOPMENT of our country lies mainly in the hands of these two political parties at the moment. Everyone is tired now of this impasse and the ordinary citizens want their leaders to pity and help them live a PROPEROUS and DECENT life. SLPP AND APC, PLEASE HELP THE PEOPLE.

  4. Dr Banya, Justice N E Browne-Marke (not H) was not Acting CJ in 1968. Between April 1968 and August Justice Richard Bright-Marke (no relation of the Browne-Markes) was Ag CJ. When he passed away in August 1968, Justice Okoro Cole was recalled from the UN to become Ag CJ.

    Some of us still remember the sequence of events in 1968. I was getting on to 11 years then and in Form 1 at the Grammar School, when NRC was overthrown by the ACRM on 18th April 1968. And by the way Dr, I have the African Law Reports, Sierra Leone series to support my point.

    Regards
    Justice N C Browne-Marke.

  5. Former President Ernest Bai Koroma is a different person in every shape and form. He is living in a different world and still dreaming of ruling this nation. I want this Pa to critically look at the entire world and even our continent. I want him to tell me which former president in the entire world ever behaved or is behaving in the manner he is doing?

    He should now be treated like a former president and a political activist who should be jailed if found wanting by the law and our constitution. He has put off the presidential robe and should now be treated as a politician. What he is doing will warrant any Sierra Leonean to treat him differently.

    Let him keep off active politics and enjoy his stay and respect as former president. My feeling and impression is that he has something up his sleeve and SLPP should be very mindful of what he is up to. He has some hidden and precious object he wants to protect in his closet. Be watchful of what he has in that mansion in Makeni. Remember what we are seeing in social media of some former African presidents who hid US Dollars in their mansions.

  6. My best and frank advice is for the current government to follow due process of the law. If candidates contested the 2018 election under any ticket, did not resign 12 months prior to election and were receiving salaries from the consolidated fund, do not show any mercy.

    Any attempt to change the rules of the game as laid down in the constitution will be branded differently by the international community and the world at large including the very APC. All those affected should face the law and be ejected out with immediate effect. They should also pay all monies they received during that period to date from the consolidated fund as candidates and MPs.

  7. It is well said enough is enough and that the Present President should stand tall on all those unruly ones. Let them face their own tune and may God Almighty hereafter have mercy on them. This is the right time for them to pay the price of their deeds. Wake up Mr President and I say again wake UP!

  8. Indeed, the rule of law must be enforced. But the SLPP must never descend to the low standard of the APC by employing thuggish tactics to maintain the peace. If necessary, the president should establish a parliamentary police force at Tower Hill primarily to discipline unruly lawmakers.

    It was such a shame seeing lawmakers in red berets behaving like hoodlums that I wondered if any peaceful citizen would have been safe riding an elevator with them, without thinking that these hoodlums who masquerade as lawmakers may in fact be violent.

    President Julius Bio should not allow himself to be distracted by the APC. The APC have no interest in seeing a prosperous Sierra Leone. Bio should continue his impressive work in turning the economy around and guiding Sierra Leone toward prosperous.

  9. A very good article to read. I love reading from such an intelligent person. He actually wrote facts not fiction.

  10. A big thanks for cataloguing the past misdeeds of the APC, which by your own admission you were part of. It appears that what we are witnessing is the politics of revenge! This is sad and disappointing, especially as Sierra Leoneans were told a year ago that governance will take a “new direction”.

    It is worth bearing in mind that since independence only TWO political parties, SLPP and APC, have governed this country in a “musical chair” fashion. Is it not time the political class abandon their politics of revenge?

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