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SLPP scribe ‘fumbles’ in Court

February 2, 2017 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara & Regina Pratt

Acting Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), Ambassador Alie Badara Kamara, yesterday struggled to search for words and could not eloquently respond while being cross examined by Lawyer Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sei.

The acting scribe of the opposition party is the second defendant in a litigation pitching two rival factions in the SLPP and was being cross-examined on an affidavit he had sworn to.

A faction within the SLPP had filed an action in the High Court in December 2016 seeking to prevent regional primaries from going ahead as scheduled, claiming irregularities in the constituency elections.

Since then, the two factions have been scrambling for control of the party’s secretariat, with the creation of two parallel executives.

The plaintiffs in the matter are Alusine Bangura, Alex Kargbo and Victor Sheriff. They had filed a joint suit against the party’s National Chairman and Leader, Secretary General and four Vice Regional Chairpersons, who supervised the conduct of the 10th December lower level elections.

Ambassador Kamara admitted to being the acting scribe of the party as at the time of the conduct of the lower level elections but noted that the said elections were not guided by the amended rules and regulations gazetted  by the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) in conjunction with the 10-man committee of the party, on 11th May, 2016.

He told the court that he informed supervisors of the lower level elections to abide by the rules and regulations as gazetted on 29th January, 2016 and not the one that was amended by the PPRC and an ad hoc committee on 11th May, 2016.

At that juncture, Tejan-Sei displayed a document in court that was purportedly written by Ambassador Kamara, authorising referees of the lower level elections to go by the said 11th May amended rules and regulations, which he had earlier denied.

But his lawyer, Umaru Napoleon Koroma, opposed to the use of the document to cross-examine his client on the grounds that the document was not part of all the affidavits filed by the plaintiffs. His application was upheld by Justice Babatunde Edwards.

Tejan-Sei then sought leave of the court to file a fresh affidavit that would exhibit the said document, which request was granted by the trial judge.

Earlier, the ‘suspended’ Chairman and Leader of the party, Chief Bai Shebora Sumanoh Kapen III, admitted in his evidence that the party had failed to adhere to a Supreme Court ruling in the matter between him and Ambassador Alie Bangura.

The apex court had ruled that the last SLPP national delegates convention was marred by gross irregularities and warned the party to obey its own rules and regulations, release delegates list on time and set up an independent electoral board for the conduct of any other subsequent elections.

His lawyer, A.B.S. Shangari, stated in his submission that his client ‘did his best’ to avert irregularities and that it was as a result of the parallel structure set-up by the acting party scribe that compelled his client to forward a complaint to the PPRC.

Lawyer Shangari said the 29th January rules and regulations lacked the force of law, including the SLPP Constitution of 1995 as amended, thus noting that it cannot be the basis for the conduct of the said election.

Lead defendant counsel, Umaru Napoleon Koroma, representing the 2nd 3rd 4th 5th and 6th defendants, told the court that it was inconformity with the Supreme Court ruling that the party drafted for the ‘first time’ the rules and regulations for the conduct of executive elections.

He submitted that the aggrieved members only had challenged the outcome of results in 39 constituencies out of the 112 constituencies where the elections were held.

“If the 81 constituencies are clean why are they complaining on the 39 constituencies under the same rules and regulations?,” he questioned.

Lawyer Koroma argued that the plaintiffs in all their affidavits and submissions made before the court have not proffered any evidence to prove that Regional Vice Chairmen acted contrary to any laid down rules for the conduct of the elections, to invoke the jurisdiction of the court to declare the 39 constituencies null and void.

But Tejan Sei replied that based on evidence before the court and law, there were more than sufficient evidence before the court to prove their case, noting that the judge has ‘no alternative’ but to nullify all the 39 constituencies and grant all the relief sought.

Lawyer Napoleon replied that during the conduct of the elections, the party’s national officials relied on the rules and relegations of 29th January, 2016 and not the rules and regulations as amended of 11th May, 2016.

However, his assertion was challenged by lawyer Tejan-Sei, who submitted that the rules and regulations of 29th January had not come into force, by virtue of Section 24 of the PPRC Act.

He noted that only the PPRC has the mandate to decide when those rules and regulations should come into force (11 May, 2016)

Lawyers Banja Tejan-Sie, Alex M. Musa and Alhaji Kamara are representing the plaintiffs, while A.B.S. Shangari is representing the 1st defendant – Sumanoh Kapen. Umaru Napoleon Koroma, Joseph Kapuwa and Musa Mewa are representing the other defendants.

The matter was adjourned until 15th February, 2017.

 

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