30 Thunder Hill Road
Kissy Mess Mess
15th April 2017
Mr. Pios Foray
The Democrat Newspaper
14 Henry Street
Dear Ag. Editor,
Re: “Falling from the tower….ABASS BUNDU FOR SLPP SECRETARY-GENERAL”
I write to complain about the front page article captioned as above-mentioned published in The Democrat Newspaper of April 12, 2017, Vol. 21, No. 039, and to make the following comments and observations. I would be most grateful if you would kindly give this letter the same prominence as you gave to the said article.
First, it is not difficult to discern that the article is crafted by persons who, like Dr. Abass Bundu, are vying for the position of National Secretary-General of the SLPP. However, unlike Ambassador Alie Badara Kamara and Alhaji Brima Koroma, whose names also appear in the article, the crafters are definitely not extant office bearers. In a feat of pusillanimity, they shrouded their true identity. However, it takes little imagination to decipher who they are. If they are not celebrated cowards, I hereby challenge them to write their scurrilous smut again under their real names.
Second, Dr.Abass Bundu is a man I have known for many decades. He is a well-known achiever of great eminence at home and abroad. Today he has decided to be a candidate for the office of National Secretary-General of the SLPP. I know that decision is not entirely his own. As a matter of fact he was drafted into contesting for the position by important stakeholders who have high hopes for the Party and who, since two years ago when Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie abandoned that office, have come to admire and appreciate the great contribution Dr. Bundu has been making towards the progress and development of our Party.These stakeholders hail from different parts of the country and areprimarily concerned about protecting the stability and enhancing the image and stature of the Party nationally and internationally,especially in an election year. They therefore see Dr. Bundu’s extraordinary devotion and commitment to the Party as selfless and have never failed to wonder what might have become of the Party Secretariat if Dr. Bundu had not stepped in albeit behind the scenes.
Third, I also know that Dr. Bundu has agreed to make his services available to the Party only until the Presidential elections in March 2018. So, unlike the writer of the article, who seems to be a candidate for the same office, Dr. Bundu’s ambition is not about uplifting his persona or stature or enriching his curriculum vitae because he already has too much of that nationally and internationally. Hisdrive is solely the burning desire to see the SLPP returned to power democratically in 2018 under the leadership of Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio and to make a meaningful contribution towards that end. His ambition therefore is to be part of this huge project and to use it to substantially uplift the lives of all Sierra Leoneans.
Accomplished as he is in every important respect, the truth is that today it is the SLPP that needs Dr. Abass Bundu more than he needs the SLPP.He is a man driven not by any quest for fame and recognition which he has plenty of; not for experience which he possesses in strong and radiant varieties; not for superior knowledge and professional acumen which he has admirably accumulated over four decades of his working life. Rather the man is driven by high principles and an unalloyed conviction of strength and purpose.
Fourth, so what else could have been the writer’s motive for dragging the passport saga into the article if not to tarnish Dr .Bundu’s reputation and standing? Whatever his motive may have been, now that he has attempted to use the passport issue to tarnish him, let the truth be told for all the world to know.
The passport case highlighted by the writer is still before the Magistrates in Court No. 1 in Freetown. So we cannot go into the merits. However, it should be pointed out that it has been therefor 21 years now. The first time it was brought to the courts was in June 1996 by the SLPP Government of President Kabbah. It was discharged after a few weeks. The second time was on April 13, 2012. It was brought by the present APC Government of President Koroma. It has been there ever since. Since 2012, it has been adjourned 42 times, all of them, except two, at the behest of the State and not for any dearth of requests by the Court for the Attorney-Generalto state in writing their continuing interest in the prosecution of the matter. These requests have to date fallen flat.
It is significant also to note here that the charges brought against Dr. Bundu by the APC government in 2012 are not different from those preferred against him by the SLPP Government in 1996. So, in all, this matter has been in and out of court for the past 21 years and still there is no end to the litigation. It is anyone’s guess why this has been so but executive intrusion and executive persecution havealways been quite palpable or nevertoo far away.
Fifth, as earlier stated, the prosecution of Dr. Bundu in 2012 by the APC Government was not new. The first time he was prosecuted was in 1996 by the SLPP Government. It happened shortly after the Presidential election of that year in which Dr. Bundu was himself a presidential candidate. Although there was abundant evidence to show that the sale of passports to Hong Kong citizens was in fact a state policy, of which the late President Kabbah became well aware, he nevertheless directed that Dr. Bundu be prosecuted. Evidently his interest was not in any genuine criminal prosecution but rather in using the semblance of prosecution to punish Dr. Bundu for refusing to support him politically during the run-off presidential election of that year against his main political rival, Dr. John Karefa-Smart.
Evidential proof of this fact is well documented in a book written by Mr. Solomon Berewa, erstwhile Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, published in December 2011 entitled “A New Perspective on Governance, Leadership, Conflict and Nation Building in Sierra Leone.”At page 271, Berewa admits:
“[There] was enough material to connect him [Abass Bundu] with the transaction. There was, however, information relating to the sale of the passports, which I did not have, namely that it was a policy decision by the NPRC regime to sell the passports and use the proceeds to defray the cost of weapons needed in the war effort.” (Italics added).
Mr. Berewa goes on:
“The prospect of securing a conviction was therefore slim. The prosecution resulting in his acquittal would have been interpreted as victimisation against Dr. Abass Bundu for having contested against President Kabbah in the recently concluded presidential election. I used my judgement and discretion to discontinue the prosecution.”
And Mr. Berewa concludes:
“The integrity and reputation of the office of Attorney-General and Minister of Justice would, under the new democratic dispensation, have been adversely impaired if I had proceeded with the prosecution, especially in the case where, on the available evidence, securing a conviction appeared unlikely. Thus, like in the case of Dr. Abass Bundu, I used my judgement and discretion not to proceed with the prosecution.” (Italics added).
Put Berewa’s admission that “available evidence” made a conviction unlikely alongside his earlier assertion that he did not have the information that the sale of the passports was a state policy, even though the State records in the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Internal Affairs (Immigration) were available at his beck and call, the whole saga begins to assume an odious posture. Indeed it beggars belief as it looks less and less a genuine criminal prosecution and more and more a thinly veiled form of political persecution against Dr. Abass Bundu by a Government that beattheir chest about being the foremost respecter of the Rule of Law and the independence of the Judiciary in Sierra Leone.
Viewed thus, it is most disconcertingindeed that the writer, purportedly a member of the SLPP vying for the coveted post of National Secretary-General of the Party, far from remonstrating an abiding sense of guilt and shame about the SLPP Government persecuting Dr. Abass Bundu for a matter that was state policy, should be the one to display unbridled temerity and delight to highlight it in a newspaper article. I would have thought such nastiness and pettiness not only belies a fundamental value that the SLPP holds sacred but is one that is best relegated to the bosom of less principled political parties in Sierra Leone.
Equally regrettable is the unfortunate insinuation in the said article that Dr. Bundu only officially became a member of the SLPP when the passport charges were dropped by the Kabbah Government. Again this assertion is as spuriousas it is puerile. The truth of the matter is that Dr. Bundu joined the SLPP in 2006, 10 years after the passport charges were dropped by the Kabbah Government in 1996.
Let it also be stated for the record that, contrary to the allegation in the article, Dr. Bundu was not associated with the AFRC regime in any capacity nor did he ever serve it as its spokesman. Neither in the copious records of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) nor in any court records is there any evidence to substantiate the writer’s allegation. This too must be dismissed as a figment of the writer’s imagination.
Sixth, as already stated, it is anyone’s guess why Dr. Bundu was arraigned before the courts for a second time in 2012 by the APC Government. It is instructive, however, that again, like in 1996, the indictment came shortly after the presidential election of that year in which Dr. Bundu had played a prominent role as an ardent supporter of Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, the SLPP Presidential Candidate. The renewed charges were brought against him notwithstanding that the courts had in fact discharged Dr. Bundu in 1996 for precisely the same offences. There have been 42 court appearances since 2012 and still there is no end in sight. However, I am reliably informed by sources close to Dr. Bundu that he is waiting patiently for the number of adjournments to reach a record 50 times before considering other possible steps.
Seventh, if the writer of the said article is unable to see the “flavour” that Dr. Bundu would bring to the SLPP when he is elected as the National Secretary-General, there are many important stakeholders of the Party who do. Quite apart from donating the hefty sum of US$10,000 for the resuscitation of the SLPP in 1991, when the Party was in dire straits, Dr. Bundu is currently a fully paid-up Grand Chief Patron in addition to being a valued and regular benefactor of the Partywith regard to many public bye-elections; the construction of the Party’s regional office in the Southern Region; the renting of party offices in the Northern region; the ongoing voter registration exercise in the Northern Region and in many other instances that are just too numerous to mention. I wonder if the writer of the lurid article could dare to claimsimilar contributions to our Party.
Eighth and finally, Dr. Bundu, like all the aspirants for the other positions on the National Executive of the Party, may not be the perfect candidate for the office of National Secretary-General but he is far and away the best among all the contestants for that position. He therefore deserves to be elected overwhelmingly by the delegates of the National Party Conference. Andhe is certainly not a man who can be bought with any brown envelope from any quarter.