October 4, 2016 By Regina Pratt
The main opposition Sierra Leone People’s party (SLPP) has in a statement released Monday, 3rd October, 2016 stated that the chairperson of National Electoral Commission (NEC), Mohamed N’fa Alie Conteh, had declared Hon. Navo Kaikai as duly elected Member of Parliament for constituency 001.
Signed by Acting National Secretary-General, Ambassador Alie Badara Kamara, the statement is in response to a petition filed in the Kenema High Court by the defeated All People’s Congress candidate in the bye-election for Constituency 001, Haja Nasratu Jalloh, challenging the victory of Hon. Navo Kaikai.
The bye-election was held on Saturday, 9 July 2016 after the death of Hon. Patrick Foyah, with the result announced by NEC chairperson N’fa Alie Conteh Tuesday, 12 July, declaring Hon. Kaikai as duly elected.
However, even though Hon Kaikai had taken the oath and started serving as lawmaker, the ruling party has still gone ahead to file a controversial petition, almost two months after the election.
“The SLPP view with dismay the recent development relating to constituency 001 where a petition has been filed in the High Court in the Kenema district by the defeated APC candidate, Haja Nasratu Jalloh,” the release noted.
The release further stated that since the APC came to power in 2007, there has been a systemic pattern of unbridled violence, intimidation, harassment and selective justice meted out to SLPP members right across the country.
The main opposition party alleged that the ruling party had on several instances demonstrated through the conduct of bye-elections between 2008 and 2012 their determination to undermine the country’s fledgling democracy by adopting measures that interfere with the right of electorates to choose their own representatives.
But the opposition said they would respect due process, although they hint the move could undermine the country’s nascent democracy.
“While the matter is before the court, which we cannot comment on its details, we wish to bring to the attention of the general public, international community a very disturbing and unpleasant development that has the potential to undermine our democracy,” the release stated.
The release also suggested that the petitioner had taken the cue from what happened in two other petitions in constituencies 005 and 015, in which Justice Adeliza Showers bizarrely ruled in favour of ruling party aspirants who had been rejected by voters in the two opposition strongholds.
“In this regard, the results of our candidates were annulled and the APC candidates were declared winner by the then Chief Electoral Commissioner of NEC,” the release stated.
Though the opposition petitioned the ruling, the Appeal Court is yet to rule on the matter, almost three years after the former launched an appeal.
Meanwhile, the opposition statement also noted the country was going through acute economic challenges that should be the focus of any responsible government rather than settling for diversionary petitions.
“This petition is a distraction well calculated to put the party off balance and further exposes the APC’s determination to hold on to power ad infinitum. They believed they can arm twists the judiciary to pervert justice in their favour as it were in the two previous instances in constituencies 005 and 015,” the statement further said.
The release also cited the case of Hon. Ibrahim Ben-Kargbo, whose bye-election win had been petitioned prior to taking the oath of office, adding that that much as the SLPP is a respecter of law, “we wish to state that Hon. Madam Navo Kaikai has been officially and duly elected as the winner in the 001 bye-elections of 9th July, 2016 and has subscribed to the oath of seat in Parliament.”