By Kalilu I. Totangi……………………………
Anyone who frequents Facebook may have read my off-the-cuff remarks regarding the expulsion of the plaintiffs in the recently concluded Alusine Bangura et al vs. the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) case before the Appeals Court of Sierra Leone. In my impromptu comment, I referred to the decision to expel the trio as “wrongheaded”, noting that it “only serves to erode the long earned democratic credentials” of the party. I called on “all peace loving and progressive members of our party to stand with me in calling on the party Secretariat to withdraw this ill-advised letter forthwith”, while indicating that “I will stop at nothing to restore the hard earned democratic and tolerant reputation of this noble institution”.
The reactions of party members and sympathizers to my Facebook post have been mixed; and as always, it has mirrored the Flag Bearer inclinations of most of the respondents. I have had to take it down eventually, because rather than addressing the substance of the issue I raised, many have seen it as a platform to throw invectives at their opponents in their doomed camps. There were even attempts to squeeze me in, with some accusing me of not been genuine, and others insulting me out rightly.
But that beside the point. The raison d’etre of my Facebook post was to caution the powers that be within the SLPP to recognize that their continued expulsion of members on the slightest pretense is not helping make the party attractive to the public, especially in this election year. The Facebook post was merely an expression of my disgust with the unhelpful trend.
When I first heard about the expulsion of Bangura and his cohorts, I found it hard to believe that my party would be in the business of expelling people at this nick of time. So I called Ambassador Alie Badara Kamara, the Secretary General of the party, and signatory to the letter. He told me that he was only performing a “routine administrative procedure”. He said the National Executive Council (NEC) of the party had expelled the plaintiffs from the party at its last meeting, and that he was just writing a letter to that effect, following the pronouncement of the verdict by the Appeals Court. I found his explanation very disturbing. I asked whether the Chairman and Leader was in the picture, but he couldn’t answer that question directly, only insisting that NEC had given him the mandate at its last meeting. His answer left more to be desired; so I called the National Chairman and Leader to ask his opinion on the matter. He told me on the phone that he was not consulted, and that if he were, he would have asked the Secretary General to hold off from writing the said letters.
Several calls to other members of the National Executive later, I realized that the decision to write the letters expelling the plaintiffs in the said matter came out of a closed door meeting between the Secretary General and the Deputy National Chairman and Leader. Some other Executive members told me that this fell within a pattern, where the Deputy National Chairman and Leader has arrogated some powers unto himself in disregard of the National Chairman and Leader. I think this is wrong and disrespectful of this party and all of us who have committed our all to it. No sane political party can inculcate the bad habit of expelling people at the slightest pretext at a time when numbers count. This is self-destruction. And there is no way I am going to keep quiet while a set of hot heads take me to the slaughter.
I have written somewhere that NEC has no authority under the SLPP constitution to expel any member for taking the party to court, and I stand by it. Nobody in his right minds can refer to the actions of the plaintiffs in the Appeals Court matter, much as I would have wished they didn’t go to court in the first place, as a slight of the NEC or as “bringing the party into disrepute” as some bone heads are wont to argue. Would you rather they took thugs to the party office to sort the matter out? What they did was the most appropriate thing to do, considering that they have argued that they didn’t believe that justice could have been served to them by that same NEC.
So what is this big deal? Yes NEC asked them to remove all matters from court, which could have been the ideal thing, provided NEC itself had shown any iota of responsibility in the way it handled the affairs of the party. But it is not because they refused to oblige to the request that gives NEC the right to expel them. In case anyone needs any reminder, NEC is not a law unto itself. It is guided by the constitution of the SLPP, and the SLPP constitution itself is guided by the constitution of Sierra Leone. NEC is not a kangaroo court where people get sentenced in absentia without a hearing. Have the Appeals Court three been summoned to a Disciplinary Committee hearing? You guessed the answer. At least even the nefarious APC pretended to call Sam Sumana to a Disciplinary Committee hearing before they expelled him. How can the SLPP which prides itself in the beauty of our democracy resort to such silly conduct only to silence people we disagree with. Not in my name!!
So the message here is simple, we wish there was no situation warranting any of our members going to court, or at least we wish our members had faith in our redress mechanisms within the party. But as it is now, these three didn’t seem to have faith in the process, so they went to court. They lost one and took one. Now that we have all said we are prepared to live with the verdict, let us do just that and rerun the elections freely, and fairly. Resorting to expelling people from the party because of that, especially the people who were given the right by the Appeals Court, amounts to opening another front for litigation. This party cannot afford any of that anymore.
It may have been wrong to take the party to court, but it is worse to create the avenues for such issues to arise; and even worst to expel our members at a time we are clamoring for people to join us and help us rid this nation of this bunch of criminals masquerading as a government. Let bygones be bygones.
One Country, One People!!!