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.