EXCLUSIVE : The PPRC Judgment on the crises in the SLPP


Sierra Leone News: PPRC Judgment on


Over the years political Parties in Sierra
Leone have had there own fair share of
bad and incompetent party officials who
had brought untold and unpleasant
conflict on members and supporters of
Political Parties. Some officials before
assuming office will have the best of
intentions for their Parties; however,
once they assumed office their efforts
were frustrated by infighting and power

In some cases, they themselves abused
their powers for personal gains. All
these setbacks were at the expense of the
membership and supporters of the
Political Parties involved.

Persistent and consistent conflicts by the
Parties were attacks on our nascent
democracy and the indulgence of bad
faith among political party members was
an anathema to compromise and

Due to these attendant problems,
political Parties became greedy, corrupt,
intolerant, inefficient and violent.
Consequently unable to carry out the
activities, these prevented them to fulfil
the aspirations of the membership and
supporters of the parties, and sometimes
led to the demise of the parties.

The Commission is of the firm belief this
is the situation which has engulfed the
Sierra Leone Peoples Party (which I shall
hereafter refer to as the Party) and in
our view the Convention which included
the election of officials which we thought
was the appropriate time and
opportunity for the membership to
recognise these vices, and rededicate
themselves to the vision of the Party, as
they attempt to identify and grapple
with the challenges which have high-
jacked the progress and development of
the Party.

We nursed the hope that the challenges
and turmoil which now bedevilled the
Party will soon be a thing of the past. In
this vein we call on the goodwill of
influential elders and members of the
Party to organise themselves and take
the lead to address these challenges to
the extent of, if need be, naming and
shaming those officials and members
responsible for the dishevelled state of
the Party.




This Commission is an important and
integral part of our political system. It is
charged with the registration, and
supervision of Political Parties. From
time to time complaints and disputes
came before it. Political Parties asked us
to adjudicate or settle dispute among or
between their membership. We
endeavour to develop and innovate ways
of settling these complaints and disputes.
We approach the complaints and
disputes normally from different
perspectives, with the intention of
coming to an amicable settlement, of the
strained relationship created by the
dispute. Sometimes, we decide on the
dispute on the spur of the moment. At
other times we allow the dust thrown up
by the dispute to settle, this sometimes
creates the opportunity for the dispute to
be settled internally.

The present dispute in our view,
potentially falls under the second option
and added to this, we deliberately stalled
with this report, to give the parties
involved in the conflict, we say conflict,
because this is not only an election issue;
unsurprisingly it is beyond that, the
opportunity to settle their differences
through their own internal mechanism,
more so when an internal reconciliation
committee had been appointed –
whatever the shade of the Committee is
of no moment here. I understand the
Committee is still working. We can’t wait
any longer; we have to come out now
with our report.

Let us at this juncture express our
sincere thanks for the respect accorded
to us by the committee, by paying a
courtesy call on the Commission, on
their appointment.



It is a generally held view that a Political
meeting is an assembly where political
manoeuvring fights the truth and often
the truth lands on the loosing side, and
where victory depends on the
machination or intrigue adopted, as the
last resort.

Party activities including conventions,
conferences, meetings and elections are
regulated and guided by Political Parties’
constitutions and guidelines. It is
therefore absolutely incumbent on the
Political Parties to adhere to the
provisions of their constitutions. The
Sierra Leone Peoples Party Constitution
(which I shall hereafter refer to as the
constitution) is no exception.
Political Parties should not be too eager
or anxious to interfere with their
Constitutions, more so when the
interference is seemingly to compensate
or accommodate an individual or

In the Commission’s view, the origin of
the present impasse in the Party was due
to the deliberate interference with
Clause 6 (h) v of the Constitution, by the
National Executive Council to inject Rtd.
Brigadier Maada Bio the then Flag
bearer into the administration of the

Clause.6 (h) v states:
“In the event that the presidential
candidate of the Party looses the
Presidential election both Presidential
candidates and running mate shall
become ex-officio members of the
National Executive Council.”
In the clause, the word “shall” is used.
This is an auxiliary verb; and when used
in drafting, more often than not, it
denotes the imperative or mandatory
provision in a Constitution.
In the Oxford Advanced Learners
Dictionary; ‘ex-officio’ simply means
“someone who is allowed to be a
member of a Body because of his job or

The provision of the Constitution is
important and its application must be
treated with caution. A Presidential
candidate only becomes an ex-officio
member of the National Executive
Council when he looses an election.
Before Rtd. Brigadier Maada Bio, the
loosing presidential candidate, Mr.
Solomon Berewa became an ex-officio
member of the National Executive
Council with no added responsibility or
duty. This was in keeping with the said
clause. In the case of Rtd. Brigadier
Maada Bio, the current loosing
Presidential Candidate did not only
assume his position as an ex-officio
member of the National Executive
Council but was given an added
responsibility in the administration with
an office at the Party’s headquarter. The
reason proffered by some members of
the National Executive Council including
Mr. Tamba Sam, the National Publicity
Secretary, was to facilitate the election
petition which had been filed against the
result of the Presidential election.
In our view this was a spurious reason,
even unconvincing to the simple minds,
to justify the preferment. However, it
was gratifying to note that not all the
members of the National Executive
Council supported this idea or move. It
seems to us this was a ploy to keep the
former Flag bearer in the limelight, in
order to take attention away from
interested potential Flag bearers, as long
as possible.


In our judgement this solitary act of
indiscretion on the part of the National
Executive Council sparked off the
division and conflict which have now
pervaded the Party. It was a serious and
controversial violation of an important
provision of the Party’s Constitution.
The Party then drifted into a factional
fight and the struggle for supremacy and
control of the Party was born.


At the initial stage of the struggle or
conflict the key players were the
Chairman, John Benjamin on one side
and Rtd. Brigadier Maada Bio and Mr.
Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie the Secretary
General of the Party on the other. As the
conflict continued others joined the fray
on one side or the other.


This not only created a preferential and
select group of people but also blossomed
into an indiscipline and intimidatory
select band of members and officials


Rtd. Brigadier Maada Bio’s faction of the
Party – The Commission received report
of assault on other members opposed to
the Bio’s faction, some of these assaults
were reported to the Police. We are also
aware that the canker worm which is
eating the Party is the intransigent
behaviour of some members of the Party,
they are reluctant to come together to
solve the problems of the Party. We
think until those responsible for such
intransigent behaviour are willing to let
go or to have a change of heart and
allow well meaning people or members
to take over, the Party will continue to
be in disarray and turmoil. By now the
Party must have realised the serious
mistakes made on both sides, and we are
of the firm belief that in such
circumstance the first step to any
settlement is for the factions to accept
their mistakes and then make the
necessary move to reconcile their
differences for the good of the Party.


4) Key officials in the Saga
Before going further with the report, I
think it is pertinent at this stage to
catalogue the roles played by some
officials in the conflict namely: The
former Chairman and Leader, Mr. John
Oponjo Benjamin: the Secretary General
of the Party – Mr. Sulaiman Banja Tejan-
Sie present Chairman and Leader, Chief
Sumano Kapen, 1st Petitioner,
Ambassador Alie Bangura, Former Flag
bearer, Rtd. Brigadier, Maada Bio and
the Deputy Chairman and Leader of the
Party Dr. Prince Harding.

a. Former Chairman, John Opongo


Erstwhile Chairman and Leader of the
Party. He was a bit sensitive to criticism,
though sometimes unfairly criticised.
His frequent squabbles with the
Secretary General characterised the
weakness in his administration. He felt
slighted by the National Executive
Council when Rtd. Brigadier Maada Bio
was assigned a part in the
administration with an office at the
Party’s headquarters. Since then, his
tenure as Chairman did not yield any
significant change. Administrative
changes he attempted were met with
opposition by the Bio faction of the
Party. His fight with the Bio’s faction
continued up to the election and beyond.
This contributed to his lack of firm
action to instil discipline which is
responsible for the present state of the

b. Secretary General Banja Tejan-Sie
He belongs to the Bio faction which
means he was always in confrontation
with the Chairman on many issues. For
instance, the Ex-officio’s situation etc. of
Rtd. Brigadier Maada Bio. He was
plainly defiant of the Chairman’s
instructions and took Party’s decisions
independent of the Chairman, his style
and the quality of action brought the
Secretariat to a minimal level of
operation. It is said; he encouraged
indiscipline among the Bio’s faction of
the Party.
During the preparatory stage of the
election he usurped some of the
functions of the Independent Electoral
He needs to rethink his position. He is
an astute and capable lawyer; we think
he should direct his energy and
astuteness to work for the reconciliation
of the differences bugging the party; we
advise that he work for the good of the
Party as a whole.

c. Ambassador Alie Bangura 1st
The ambassador is a man known for his
democratic credentials we recall his
work in propagating democracy in the
days of the military. Being a former
chairman of the Electoral Board, he
detected some of the shortcomings,
irregularities, flaws and imperfections,
though belatedly, that shrouded the
election. However, it was a mistake in
his part to lead the “walk out” from the
hall. It was a mistake which marred the
election further. The other contestants
were unable to contest the election; who
knows they might have won. We think
he should reconsider his position and
reconcile his differences with the other
faction remembering that the Party is
bigger than any individual.

d. Chief Sumano Kapen Chairman/Leader
of the Party
Humility is a virtue. He should now
adopt this posture. We recall the
meetings at the Commission’s office
pursuant to Dr. Abass Bundu’s petition
with respect to the election during the
Mini-convention. Chief Sumano’s
allegations against the then Chairman/
Leader, Mr. John Benjamin was that he
was a dictator, impatient and intolerant.
We dare say these are the same
allegations some members are now
levelling on the Chairman and these are
serious allegations. We would expect the
Chief at this particular point in time to
be a unifier. This is not an eye for an
eye situation. This is the time to be a
leader for the entire membership of the
Party. Intimidatory tactics should be a
thing of the past.


Also the Commission received
information and complaints accusing the
Chief of victimization and high
handedness in certain cases.
We do not believe that this is the time
for recrimination, intimidation and
vindictiveness by the Chairman in
particular and Executive members in
general. Complaints abound of
victimization, both at national and
district levels of executive committee
members ‘unsympathetic’ to the
Chairman’s faction.


There is also the case of Dr. Bernadette
Lahai Minority Leader in Parliament.
Our advise is for the matter to be
properly looked into; this is a matter
which should be treated with objectivity
on all sides. The Chairman should
endeavour to minimize the sources for
his grievance he should not let
trivialities rule the day.


We understand the matter is now in
court, we shall refrain from making any
further comments on the issue except to
say we note the omission in the
Constitution of the provision for the
appointment or selection of the Minority
Leader in Parliament by the Party.
Fundamentally the hallmark of a good
leader is humility in which the hand of
friendship and tolerance is extended to
friends and foe alike.


e.Brigadier Maada Bio
He was the Party’s Flag bearer for the
2012 Presidential elections. He lost to
President Koroma. The Commission is of
the view that the catalyst for the present
impasse is his continued role of ex-
officio member of the National Executive
Council and being part of the
Administration with an office at the
Party’s headquarters. Some of his
supporters took advantage of this unique
position which led to the dispute and
fracas between some of his over zealous
supporters and some vocal members of
the Party.


The Commission takes the view that he is
better placed to work on his supporters
for the achievement of peace in the Party
and for the sake of the forbearers of the
Party who worked relentlessly to build a
vibrant Party before this unfortunate


f. Dr. Prince Harding
Former Minister in the Sierra Leone
Peoples Party (SLPP) government,
Former Secretary General of the Party;
now Deputy Leader of the Party; what an
impressive array of credentials for an
aspiring Leader, we think for someone of
his stature, irrespective of the gravity of
the situation, he should not insult but
contribute to the settlement of the
dispute with some modicum of
moderation. He must not loose his cool
or be angry even when under pressure.


We watch his demeanour at the few
meetings he attended. He appeared to be
always annoyed with the other side. We
also form the opinion that he is an
impatient personality who jumps to
conclusion without objectively analysing
the fact. For instance, e.g., evidence of
jumping to conclusion, was his
accusation of bias by the Commission at
the initial stage of the Commission’s
meeting with the Party.
Now that he is Deputy Leader of the
Party, he should try to lead by example:
the rank and file are always watching
and they are quick to follow the
examples of their leaders and officials of
the Party. This type of response by him,
will prolong rather than shorten the


The Commission is of the firm belief that
if the above named members of the
Party are willing to bury their hatchets;
we have every confidence that peace and
harmony will prevail in the not too
distant future. Let bygones be bygones.



The Party held its conference on the 16th
August 2013, pursuant to Clause 4A.1&
3(g). of the Constitution as amended
which states:
“The work of the Party shall be under
the direction and control of the Party
conference which itself shall be the
subject of the Constitution and Rules
and Regulations of the Party. The
conference shall meet regularly once in
every year at a place approved by
preceding conference and also at such
other time as may be determined by
the National Executive Council. The
Party conference shall elect the national
officers of the Party biennially”.


The high point of the conference was the
election of national officers of the Party
which took place on the 17th and 18th
August 2013. The result of the election
was subsequently made known to us by
the chairman of the Electoral Board. As
a result of the outcome of the elections,
Mr. Alie Bangura who described himself
as the 1st Petitioner and other aspirants
lodged a petition against the result at the
office of the Political Party Registration
Commission on the 20th August 2013. It
is obvious they were dissatisfied with the
result. Let us hasten to state here that
Sec 6 of Political Party Act 2002 gives us
the duty and responsibility to settle
intraparty dispute when asked to do so
by the membership of Political Parties.
This is the case with this petition. The
Commission subsequently started its
deliberations,on the 2nd September on
to the 9th September 2013.


The first election that of Chairman/
Leader of the Party between Chief
Sumano Kapen and Ambassador Alie
Bangura was won by Chief Kapen.
Thereafter, the 1st petitioner, some
aspirants for the other offices and some
delegates walked out, of the hall. The
subsequent election went on in their
absence and for those who where
contestants and had walked out, their
opponents were declared winners by the
Chairman of the Electoral Board. These
were briefly the circumstances which led
to the petition before us.



From the various submissions to the
Commission, it became clear that there is
no improvement in the behavioural
pattern of some officials and members of
the Party. The election it seems to us was
conducted under the shadow of acute
divergent views which even permeated
the Independent Electoral Board to the
extent that one of its members refused
to sign the Electoral Board Report on the
Election. However, Mr. Sulaiman Banja
Tejan-Sie the Secretary General, said that
in the main, the elections were
conducted in accordance with
democratic norms.


We believe that society accommodates
and encourages the practice of politics
and society has it different shades as to
how politics should be practiced.
However, it behoves those engaged in the
practice of politics to compromise and or
sacrifice their personal stance for the
sake of accommodating democratic
norms in the interest of the majority. In
doing so, we must not allow our ego to
overwhelm us. This spirit of compromise
was amply demonstrated by the
Petitioners and in particular the 1st
petitioner Ambassador Alie Bangura,
when they consented to reduce the
delegate list from 697 to 605. If this
attitude was replicated throughout the
election, the Party would not have been
before us.




It is pertinent to recall what the
Commission said when dealing with a
similar situation in the Bombali District
Executive election during the Mini
convention of the Party of that district.
The Commission in its report said.
“That the election held on the 25th May
2013 by Dr. Alusine Fofana is upheld.
Consequently that by Abu Abdulai
Koroma is set aside as he has no
authority to hold one”. The Commission
then went on to say:
“In our view the disgruntled members
(emphasis mine) should have reported
the appointment to the appropriate
authority instead of holding another
election. The Commission frowns at
party members taking the law into their
own hands”.


Similarly, Ambassador Alie Bangura and
his fellow supporting delegates were
disgruntled about some aspect of the
election and walked out of the hall. We
have never heard of Mr. Walkout
winning anything!
It is the Commission’s view that they
should not have walked out of the hall.
They should have stayed and taken part
in the election and if they loose,
complain to the relevant authority, as
they have now done. As the Commission
frowns at holding an unauthorised
election, the Commission equally frowns
at walk out at election. Two wrongs do
not make one right.



The election was conducted by the
Independent Electoral Board. The
Board is comprised of five members
including the Chairman, Mr.Hindowa
Momoh. They were appointed according
to the region they hailed from North,
South, East and west Regions. They were
appointed on the 3rd August 2013.
This was a Board difficult to assess
because of it rather casual and dilatory
approach to its work. It struck us as a
divisive board. They were at each others
throat even before us. We formed the
opinion that some of them had
compromised their position as members
of an independent body.

There was a total lack of control by the
chairman, we found him to be intelligent
but with insufficient self confidence to
lead. For instance he allowed himself to
be manipulated by the Secretary
General. He was also not prepared to
sacrifice his other avocation for the work
as chairman of the Board.
Granted, however, it is fair to say that
due to the workload of the Board and the
closeness of the election there was not
enough time to apply all the rules and
regulations pertaining to the election.
For instance they received the delegate
list from the Secretary General at
1:00a.m. the morning of the election.
The nomination form was issued on
Friday and returned the following
Saturday the day of the election.
We think the time has come for Party
Elections to follow the national pattern
in preparation and execution; we suggest
that in all elections of Political Parties,
be organised under the supervision of
the Political Parties Registration
Commission until a law is enacted to
organise them.

The petitioners narrated a litany of
incidents some supported by
documentary materials which they
claimed were irregularities.
Based on these incidents, the petitioners
have asked us to nullify the election on
the grounds that – the election was
undemocratic, unconstitutional and
Fresh election be held under an
independent body.
An interim body be set up to oversee the
administration until fresh elections
are conducted.
Those holding offices now be barred
from using party funds and assets.


We have carefully considered the
submissions by the respective parties
including members of the Independent
Electoral Board. We have also looked at
the documents presented including our
own report of the election.

We also had the opportunity to interview
some elders and influential members of
the Party on the conduct of the elections
and the conference as a whole. The
purpose of talking to the Party members
outside the Conference and the
meetings held at the Commission was
born out of desire and intention to
consider issues relevant to the present
confused and disturbed state of the Party
and also to garner invaluable support
if need be, for an amicable settlement of
this prolonged impasse that is
gradually and systematically taking the
Party down the abyss of no return and

These are the following findings of facts:

1.That the origin of the conflict started
when Rtd. Brigadier Maada Bio the
erstwhile Flag bearer was given additional
duty by the National Executive Council
contrary to Clause 6(h) v of the Party

2.That by this action the administration
was unofficially divided between the
Chairman/Leader on one side and Brigadier
Rtd. Maada Bio and the Secretary General
Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie on the other.

3.That the intention of the Bio faction was
to gain control of the Party Brigadier Rtd.
Maada Bio continued to be part of the
administration up to the Convention/
Election and beyond.

4.In some cases the Constitution of the
Party and the guidelines were not adhered
to by:
(i)The Secretary General
(ii)The Independent Electoral Board

5.That the Independent Electoral Board
had, limited time to prepare and conduct
the election.

6.That during the preparatory process the
Secretary General usurped some of the
duties of the Independent Electoral Board
and manipulated the Board to his own

7.That the Board itself was divisive, and
weak, which rendered it incompetent,
headed by a chairman who was never in
control of the Board.

8.The election from it preparatory stage to
the conduct of the election was marred with

9. That the parties (contestants for the
chairmanship) acquiesced or consented to
some of the irregularities.

10.That there was no justification for the
“walk out” by the 1st petitioner and other
delegates either before or after the 1st

11. That there were no justifiable reasons
for the use of abusive language, high-
handness and intimidatory tactics or
action by partisan groups before, during
and after the election.

12.The cause for the conflict or the impasse
went beyond that of securing victory at
an election.

13.Some of the irregularities came about
because of the lack of adherence to the
Party’s Constitution.

We agree that the election was marred
with irregularities giving time
constraint in the preparation for the
election. However, the Commission is
taken aback with the lack of
management by the Independent
Electoral Board of those irregularities.
We think the Board should have taken
steps to minimise the irregularities as
was the case of the election for
Chairman, but then it will be argued and
rightly so, that the Board was not given
the opportunity by the walkout.
Taking the cue from the first election
that of chairman and leader of the Party,
we therefore cannot agree that the
election was undemocratic and
unconstitutional as we did not have the
opportunity to observe the election for
the other offices due to the “walkout” of
some of the contestants and delegates.


The conflict or trying time you are now
going through begs the question of your
Party’s motto: One Country One People;
in this sense if you do not have unity in
your Party how can you unite the
country if the opportunity comes the
Party’s way. We urge you; please let
your appetite to unite the Party outweigh
your belligerent and selfish desires.
Please rekindle and use your reason and
appetite for joining the Party several
years ago to settle your differences.

Therefore what is desired at this stage is
to identify men and women of goodwill
and honour, self-respect and integrity
who will not only indulge in frivolous,
unwarranted imputation, expression and
comment against other members of the
Party who do not share their views,
when those members exercised their
fundamental rights of engaging in free
speech as is enshrined in Sec. 25(1) of
our national Constitution which states:-
“except with his own consent no person
shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his
freedom of expression and for the
purpose of this Section the said freedom
include the freedom to hold opinion, etc”
So long as the freedom of speech is
exercised in good faith (emphasis mine)
there will be no problem or quarrel or
discord in the Party and fairness will
reign supreme.

Your Party is the oldest Party in our land
and it is replete with men and women of
wisdom and goodwill now is the time for
you to tap their brain and use their
experience. To name a few Professor Joe
Pemagbi, Dr. Bernadette Lahai, Mrs.
Mariatu Mahdi, Mr. Andrew Keilie, Dr.
Alpha Wurie, Lawyer Sulaiman Tejan-
Jalloh, Lawyer Foday Dabor,
Dr. Wusu Sannoh, Lawyer Kanu, Lawyer
Alpha Timbo, Major General (Rtd.) Sheku
Tarwallie, Hon. Dr. Bubuakei Jabbie,
Mrs. Isata Jabbie-Kabba, Mrs. Lulu
Sheriff, Haja Alari Cole, Haja Alakeh
Mahdi, Dr. Sama Banya, Mr. Solomon
Berewa and , Dr. Joe Demby Former
Vice President, Mr. U.N.S. Jah, Madam
Harriet Turay and a host of other
distinguished men and women. These
men and women of goodwill can be in
the Reconciliation Committee.

It is the policy of the Commission that
when dealing with dispute among the
membership of Political parties, usually,
the Commission endeavours to strike a
balance between legality and political
expediency – simply put, what is legal
might not necessarily be politically
expedient. The Commission intends to
adopt that Policy on this occasion.

Finally, taking the circumstances of the
election and the protracted conflict and
its consequences into consideration and
working towards the permanent and
ultimate goal of reconciliation of the
factions, we are therefore reluctant to
recommend the nullity of the election,
instead we shall use the election as a
platform to foster the noble act of

In accordance with our findings we
make the following recommendations:

1.That a 11 man committee be established
to reconcile the various factions
2.Chief Sumano Kapen, Chairman and
Leader of the Party and Ambassador Alie
Bangura appoint 5 members each. Members
of the ongoing Reconciliation Committee
are eligible for appointment or selection to
the Committee.

3.That Chief Sumano Kapen and
Ambassador Alie Bangura agree on the
appointment of the Chairman outside the 10
members appointed by them.

4.Secretary of Committee should be
appointed by Chief Sumano Kapen, and
Ambassador Alie Bangura outside the
membership of the Committee.

5.The Secretary General and Treasurer
make all relevant documents available to
the Committee.

6.The Committee to start work or
deliberations two weeks from the date of
the reading of this report or any time
agreed by the Committee. In any event, not
more than one week after the period
recommend by the report.

7.The Committee to submit its report to the
Chairman and Leader1st Petitioner, Alie
Bangura and the Political Parties
Registration Commission six weeks after
the commencement of the sittings of

8.The PPRC to facilitate a meeting between
Chief Sumano Kapen, Chairman/Leader and
1st Petitioner, Ambassador Alie Bangura
for the purpose of setting up the
Reconciliation Committee

We call on you all to refrain from the
politics of division and embrace the
politics of compromise and inclusion.
At a time like this, it is of primary
importance for you to invoke the
assistance of God to see you through. In
this vein, therefore we shall leave you
with the modified version of the PRAYER
“Everyday, we need you Lord but this
day especially we need some extra
strength to face whatever is to come.
This day more than any other day, we
need to feel you near us, to fortify our
courage and overcome our fears. By
ourselves we cannot meet the
challenges of the hour; How much,
frail human creatures need a higher
power sustaining them in all that life
may bring and so dear Lord, hold our
trembling hands and be with us Lord as
we go through this reconciliation
process to know your guidance at
work in all, to know your blessed

We urge you now men and women,
young and old, able and disable, rich
and poor to countenance the above
prayer. After all, if God can reconcile
with sinners who are we sinners not to
reconcile our differences with one

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