SLPP Convention May Be Delayed
January 12, 2017 By Regina Pratt
The national delegates convention of the Sierra Leones Peoples Party (SLPP) may be delayed to an uncertain time as a rival faction in the litigious opposition seeks an interlocutory injunction restraining another faction from going ahead with the February 24-26 event in Kenema, eastern Sierra Leone.
A faction within the SLPP had filed an action in the High Court late last year seeking to prevent regional primaries from going ahead as planned, alleging gross irregularities in the lower level elections.
The plaintiffs in the matter are Alusine Bangura, Alex Kargbo and Victor Sheriff. They had filed their joint suit against the party’s National Chairman and Leader, Secretary General and four Vice Regional Chairpersons who supervised conduct of the 10th December lower level elections.
They were again in court on Monday, 9th January but the matter could not proceed because their lawyer, Sulaiman Banja Tejan-sei Esq., had served supplemental affidavit on the other side just that morning, with the defendants’ lawyers needing time to read and file a reply.
Thus, Umaru Napoleon Koroma Esq. asked for an adjournment until Wednesday (yesterday) with the view that they would also serve a supplemental affidavit in opposition.
While addressing the court yesterday, lead counsel for the plaintiffs/applicants, Tejan-Sie made a fresh application for an interlocutory injunction before Justice Babatunde Edwards.
He submitted that if the said injunction was not granted the plaintiffs would sustain more than financial loss as arrangements were being made for a national delegates conference this February.
He also undertook that if the defendants succeed against the plaintiff in the matter damages would be adequate as compensation.
“As your Lordship will hold that all what is done at this stage is legal, as there are facts to show that the plaintiffs sustain more than financial loss. Those who have lost their rights to vote continue to lose that right if the convention is held,” he stressed, submitting that based on the forgoing reference, the balance of convenience was in the plaintiffs favour as the only convenience was to order an interlocutory injunction.
He further submitted that issues concerned in the case were political and institutional rights dealing with ambitions far exceeding any financial loss.
Also, counsel for the 1st defendant, A.B.S. Sangarie Esq., said he would not oppose the application for an interlocutory injunction as there were serious and unconstitutional violation in the party.
He continued that serious and substantial issues were to be investigated as such would serve in the interest of both the plaintiffs and defendants.
In his response, lead defense counsel Umaru Koroma called on the trial judge to expedite the trial as he was in opposition of granting the injunction, adding that his position remains the same – just as he had opposed the application of 8th December, 2016 seeking, among others, an injunction to restrain the defendants, who were duly elected officers of the SLPP, from running the affairs of the party.
“We have filed an affidavit dated 5th January, 2017.The plaintiffs in this matter are asking this court to grant an injunction against the officers of the SLPP as the main opposition party with about 42 Members of Parliament, which activities are regulated by these officers,” he submitted.
He further argued that the plaintiffs were in court because they felt aggrieved on how the elections were conducted in 39 constituencies, out of the 112 constituencies in the country.
Lawyer Koroma said seeking an interlocutory injunction was not the best option as a speedy trial, stressing that the defendants were responsible for the running of day-to-day activities of the party.
He said both the plaintiffs and defendants are members of the SLPP and that the interest of the party should be paramount.
In his reply, Tejan-Sie said he welcomed the submission made by the defense but refused to respond to arguments in relation to rules and regulations of the party.
“I submit by law that your lordship has no alternative but to grant the interlocutory injunction, while the defense counsel is seeking a speedy trial,” he said.
The matter was adjourned to Wednesday, 18 January, 2017.