Will Sierra Leone’s opposition APC go ahead with its national convention?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 January 2020:

A pressure group known as the National Reformation Movement (NRM- APC) – said to be members of the opposition APC party in Sierra Leone, has this afternoon won a High Court injunction in Freetown, stopping the APC party from going ahead with its national convention. (Photo above: Former president Ernest Bai Koroma – leader and chairman of the opposition APC).

The convention opened this morning with the registration and accreditation of delegates at the Kemoh Sesay Hotel in Port Loko, where thousands of delegates and senior party executives had started to gather.

Justice Kamanda slammed the injunction on the APC party, brought to court by Lawyer Gevao on behalf of the NRM who are totally opposed to the convention going ahead without what they refer to as key constitutional arrangements in place.

Members of the NRM (Photo above) are accusing the APC party executives of failing to ensure that delegates attending the convention have been duly elected by their local party or regional members to represent them.

They also say that the party bosses have failed to disseminate copies of the draft constitution to all members in advance if this weekend’s convention where it was to have been approved.

But some opposition APC rank and file members say that Lawyer Gevao is an SLPP lawyer, and accuse members of the NRM of being used by the ruling SLPP to destroy the APC party.

Last night, the APC party issued a call to all its Regional, District Chairmen and Heads of Certified Affiliate Organisations to present copies of their authentic delegate lists to the party’s Accreditation Committee for verification, in fulfilment of their constitutional requirement.

With the convention now suspended, pending further legal hearings at the High Court, concerns are being raised about the huge costs that have been incurred especially by hundreds of diaspora based delegates of the party, who are in Sierra Leone to attend the convention this weekend.

Many of the overseas based delegates have taken time off their employment, and are scheduled to return to work next week.

Tonight, APC party officials say that preparations for the convention is running into Billions of Leones (Tens of Thousands of Dollars). Early this week, party members went to the party office in Freetown to make large donations towards the costs of staging the convention.

Many in the APC party are now calling for defiance of the Court order. They say that the convention must go ahead to avoid incurring huge financial losses that could bankrupt the party.

And in a surprised twist to today’s High Court decision granting an injunction, the country’s Party Political Registration Commission took an opposite view to the Court, after members of the NRM applied to the PPRC to stop the convention.

In its decision not to grant the NRM their request to stop the convention, the PPRC said that the members of the NRM do not have the legal standing to make such a request, as they do not represent the senior executives of the party.

This decision by the PPRC runs contrary to the High Court’s decision to grant the NRM their request for injunction, a decision that the opposition APC now regards as politically motivated and orchestrated by the ruling SLPP party.

“Chief Justice Babatunde Edwards (Photo) in uncharacteristic speed and efficiency this morning, assigned the injunction case to Justice Kamanda which shows the level of double standards at today’s judiciary. This action has now fuelled serious discussions about the independence and integrity of Sierra Leone’s judiciary.

“If the Chief Justice can afford to assign this NRM case in 30 minutes, what is preventing him from assigning the Appeals of our illegally removed MPs in five months.

“It would be recalled that Justice Kamanda was the same judge who removed about 10 APC MPs from parliament in 2019 after winning the 2018 elections. From all indications and from past experience, it appears the ultimate goal of the plaintiffs (NRM), including the judiciary is to stop the convention which was supposed to adopt the new constitution of the APC party,” a prominent member of the APC legal team opined.

“Interestingly, the judiciary took less than an hour to assign this file. Whilst the same judiciary have not assigned cases filed by the APC and the Sierra Leone Bar Association for over a year now. The same judiciary has failed to empanel judges to hear the appeals of the removed APC MPs from Parliament even though the constitution says it should be done within four months.

“The questions now on the lips of millions of Sierra Leoneans are: when will the judiciary be left alone to administer its own affairs?  Is the lack of judicial independence an anathema to the promotion of democracy in Sierra Leone?,” a law practitioner observed.

But supporters of the SLPP party are denying any involvement in today’s High Court action and ruling.

A few weeks ago, the outspoken APC party grandee – Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden (Photo) was also totally against the APC party bosses holding this weekend’s convention.

Writing at the time, she said: “My Beloved Fellow APC Comrades, some of us are determined to do all we can to ensure there will be no APC National Delegates Conference in January 2020.

“The proposed delegates to that Jan-2020 Conference are mostly illegally in office – especially the National Officers and the Regional Officers. Of course, those imposed and expired ‘Executives’ in the Diaspora have no locus standi under democratic tenets to present themselves as legitimate delegates. Nope! On all counts, illegitimate delegates cannot be allowed to sit in any APC Convention.

“What we should be trumpeting now is rebuilding our glorious APC party from the ground up. After we get a stable party with recognized Constituency-Level Databases, (and for the Diaspora, recognised Branch-Level Databases), we can then speak of legitimately changing the current Interim (I repeat, INTERIM – as stated TWICE in the PREAMBLE) 1995 Constitution.

“…………We will ensure there is no APC National Convention in January 2020. MARK MY WORDS‼‼ Any Comrade who reads this, can freely quote me.”

Following the breaking news this afternoon of an High Court injunction stopping this weekend’s APC convention, the Sierra Leone Telegraph asked Dr Blyden whether she still stands by the above statement.

“No,” she said, ‘things have changed’. This is her full statement on her current position:

“SUCCESSFUL MEETING BETWEEN COMRADE DR. SYLVIA BLYDEN AND APC’S NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE(NAC) ENDS WITH ACKNOWLEDGEMENT THAT JANUARY 2020 APC CONVENTION IS GOING AHEAD AND COMRADE BLYDEN IS IMMEDIATELY CO-OPTED TO NOW ATTEND ALL APC’S NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE(NAC) MEETINGS.

“This important message is being put out by me (Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden OOR) at the request of the National Advisory Committee (NAC) of the All Peoples Congress(APC).

“I held a meeting with NAC yesterday Friday December 13th 2019 in Freetown. The NAC Meeting, which was chaired by APC National Chairman/Leader Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, started later than planned as there was need to ensure the NAC was properly constituted by its membership – for the records to reflect it was an official meeting of NAC.

“Sensitive information and observations were brought to attention of NAC by my humble self. I was deeply appreciated by each and every NAC member present for being astute enough to pick up on those points and more importantly, to not have ever raised them publicly but instead confidentially bring the serious issues to the notice of NAC behind closed doors.

“During the appreciations, it was unanimously resolved at the NAC meeting, that considering my well-recognised, multiple talents, my skills should be utilized much more by the APC – at both the level of NAC and at the National Secretariat as a co-opted Member to both organs.

“I gratefully accepted this very high honour to serve the APC and I look forward to attending all NAC meetings henceforth as well as to now be on hand to be assisting my dear uncle, Ambassador Osman Yansaneh, at the APC National Headquarters.

“Steps are being immediately taken starting from today, Saturday December 14th 2019, to work to ensure the very sensitive issues I have confidentially brought to the notice of NAC, are treated in the appropriate manner. I will say no more on those sensitive issues.

“Meanwhile, about the legitimacy of delegates, my initial recollection, of how the National and Regional Officers of the party were chosen in 2017, seem to be in some contradiction to what Comrades of NAC and other delegates of the 2017 National Delegates Conference(NDC) recall.

“Their own version is what was reported in the Minutes (Rapporteur’s Report) of the 2017 APC NDC. In the interest of our great party, and especially as I was not present during the Regional Conventions, I want to now publicly accept the version as recorded in the Rapporteur’s Report.

“I alone cannot argue with hundreds of other APC NDC delegates or with the official written, recorded document of the 2017 APC National Delegates Conference.

“I happily look forward to attending the January 2020 APC National Delegates Conference in Port Loko where a new Constitution for the APC will be adopted. I understand the final version of the proposed new constitution has already been sent to all branches. I will collect a copy of the proposed new Constitution from the APC National Secretary-General by Monday.

“After I examine it, I will now prepare myself to extensively debate each and every clause of the proposed new Constitution during the January 2020 National Delegates Conference. I will do my best to ensure the new APC Constitution is in line with best internal democratic practices as envisaged by our great transformational APC Leader, the late Former President H.E. Joseph Saidu Momoh of blessed memory who ensured Sierra Leone was returned to a Multi-Party Democratic State on October 1st 1991.

“In my view, our new APC Constitution should follow transformational Vision of H.E. President Momoh. It should ensure that POWER is NOT concentrated at the top but should be diffusely held and such power should be MAXIMALLY CONTROLLED from the bottom by ordinary people who choose their Leaders.

“The January 2020 National Delegates Conference will also immediately choose Dates for lower level ELECTIONS to be conducted at Zonal/Ward, Constituency, District, Regional levels as well as at all Diaspora Branch levels.

“The January 2020 National Delegates Conference will also announce the date for another National Delegates Conference at which conference, all National Officers will be ELECTED.

“I urge all Fellow Comrades to join our APC Leadership in Port Loko at the APC National Delegates Conference of January 2020. As of yesterday, I have already been co-opted 100% in to the processes to ensure we keep our APC safe and strong.

“All those Comrades who trust and believe in me, should please support the January 2020 Convention. Indeed, dialogue amongst brethren brings about solutions.” (END).

Will the APC bosses defy the High Court order and go ahead with their convention as planned? One APC parliamentarian this evening told the Sierra Leone Telegraph that; “part bosses have confirmed that the convention will go ahead as scheduled”.

1 Comment

  1. Is Justice Kamanda being used as a scapegoat when it comes to decisions concerning the APC at the high court or for some other special reasons? Remember the decision to unseat those 10 APC members in favour of their SLPP rivals? Now this. Are the critics of this judge right? And are they justified in saying that Justice Kamanda has become an anti APC judge?

    All what is happening now plays in the hands of the APC. It gives leverage to them in terms of popularity, courage and resolve. The SLPP that is in power should be doing some polling to help them evaluate their popularity with voters each time such decisions are made.

    The more the APC stays in the political spotlight, news and the media, the more popular they become and the more they win over independent voters. But the SLPP still don’t get that. APC being in the spotlight is a very good thing for their publicity too. Most people now see Justice Kamanda as someone who will never give a fair decision in favour of the APC. Because of that, people both in Sierra Leone and outside see his decisions as a political football game in favour of the ruling SLPP in my view. Can you imagine the political fallout and damage such thoughts are provoking?

    Don’t worry, be happy APC. Don’t worry, be happy Chief Sam Sumana. Being in the political and media spotlight everyday is good. The political reason does not matter. It just shows weakness on the other side. God help reform our justice system and God help “get SALONE sorted”.

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