Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Legal Opinion on Sierra Leone Vice President Expulsion-Ansu B. Lansana Esq.


The furore within the All Peoples’ Congress Party (APC) stemming from the allegations of Vice President Alhaji Samuel Sam Sumana misrepresenting his academic credentials, his eve-of-running mate-nomination switch from Christianity to Islam and his anti-APC activities have, over the past two weeks, overshadowed the nation’s preoccupation with the fight against the Ebola disease and the Auditor-general’s Report on the use of Ebola funds.

As the nation grappled with the implications of such allegations, the National Advisory Committee of the APC announced that the Vice President had been expelled from the party.

Much as the rationale for expulsion of the Vice President from the APC party rests with the APC to determine, the nation has been following the unfolding events with concern and anxiety; justifiably so because of the constitutional ramifications such an expulsion would have on the Office of the Vice President.

The nation’s concern and anxiety have now been heightened by the State House Press Release of 17th March 2015. The said press release informed the nation that Vice President Alhaji Sam Sumana had been dismissed from the Office of Vice President for the following reasons:

1. That by seeking asylum from a foreign embassy, he had evinced a willingness to abandon his duties and office as Vice President;
2. That having been expelled from the APC party, the Vice President was no longer a member of a political party in Sierra Leone and did not have the continuous requirement to hold office as Vice President.

Each of the aforementioned reasons has constitutional implications that make it imperative for the President to have invoked the interpretative jurisdiction of the Supreme Court as stipulated in Section 124 (1) (a) of the 1991 Constitution which states:

124. (1) The Supreme Court shall, save as otherwise provided in section 122 of this Constitution, have original jurisdiction, to the exclusion of all other Courts— 

a. in all matters relating to the enforcement or interpretation of any provision of this Constitution;


A detailed analysis of the reasons stated in the Press Release reveals illogicalities that render them untenable by average human comprehension, let alone legal scrutiny. 


Firstly, if it is argued that the Vice President demonstrated a willingness to abandon his duties and office as Vice President when he sought asylum, the legitimate question that comes to mind is: can demonstration of a willingness to abandon ones duties be equated to actually abandoning those duties?


Secondly, was the asylum the Vice President sought granted?


Thirdly, assuming, for the sake of argument, that the asylum the Vice President sought was granted. Can the President dismiss him on that score by merely invoking        Section 40 (1) of the 1991 Constitution which designates him the chief executive in governance? Can he dismiss the Vice President under any provision of the 1991 Constitution?


The legal import of treating the Vice President’s application for asylum as an abdication of his office is equating the application to constructive resignation. However, there is no provision in the 1991 Constitution for constructive resignation. The provision in the constitution is for real and actual resignation. Section 55 of the 1991 Constitution provides situations which render the Office of Vice President vacant:

55. The office of the Vice-President shall become vacant— 

a. on the expiration of the term of office of the President; or 

b. if the Vice-President resigns or retires from office or dies; or 

c. if the Vice-President is removed from office in accordance with the provisions of section 50 or 51 of this Constitution; or 

d. upon the assumption by the Vice-President to the office of President under subsection (4) of section 49. 



From the above Section, it is evidently manifest from (a) that the Vice President’s term of office expires upon the expiry of the President’s term of office. This is because in the eyes of the Law, the Presidency and Vice Presidency are indivisible. Their mandates are derived from the one single ticket on which the electorate voted for them. Therefore barring resignation, retirement or death, the only other modus operandi for creating a vacancy in the Office of the Vice President is by dismissal under Section 50 (for mental or physical incapacity) or 51 (for misconduct). Section 51 is more relevant to the issue under review:

51. (1) If notice in writing is given to the Speaker signed by not less than one-half of all the Members of Parliament of a motion alleging that the President/Vice President has committed any violation of the Constitution or any gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office and specifying the particulars of the allegations and proposing that a tribunal be appointed under this section to investigate those allegations, the Speaker shall— 

a. if Parliament is then sitting or has been summoned to meet within five days, cause the motion to be considered by Parliament within seven days of the receipt of the notice; or 

b. if Parliament is not then sitting (and notwithstanding that it may be prorogued), summon Parliament to meet within twenty-one days of the receipt of the notice, and cause the motion to be considered by Parliament. 


For the above procedure, a 2/3 majority in Parliament passes a motion for a Tribunal to be set up to investigate the allegations. The Tribunal submits its report within 3 months and if the report shows that the allegations have been substantiated, Parliament would then pass a resolution on a 2/3 majority that the Vice President ceases to hold office.

It is my settled legal opinion that barring the aforementioned procedures, any other means by which the Vice President is dismissed from office is unconstitutional and of no legal effect.

The second reason given in the Press Release is that the expulsion of the Vice President from the APC party renders him ‘partyless’ and therefore divests him of the qualification to hold the office of Vice President.

A number of issues emanate from such reasoning. Firstly, the decision to dismiss the Vice President on this ground is premature as a final party decision could only be taken after the expiry of the 30-day period limited for the Vice President to appeal the decision of the National Advisory Committee of the APC. To dismiss him even before he appeals the NAC decision is not only unfair to him but smacks of a flagrant disregard of the APC party constitution, structures and functionaries.

Secondly, assuming the Vice President appeals and loses the appeal, there is no provision in the 1991 Constitution stating that he can be dismissed from office if he ceases to belong to a political party. The only provision therein is Section 77 (k) which relates to Members of Parliament who lose their seats if they cease to be members of the political party of which they were members at the time of their election to Parliament. This provision cannot, in extenso, be implied as applicable to the Vice President unless there is a specific constitutional provision there for. In the absence of a specific provision to that effect, I consider it unsafe and downright unconstitutional for the Vice President to be dismissed on that score.


The appropriate step State House should have taken was to approach the Supreme Court for an interpretation of Section 41 (b) in the light of the Vice President’s expulsion from his party. 


Section41 (b) states:

41. No person shall be qualified for election as President unless he— 

b. is a member of a political party; 


The issue for determination by the Supreme Court would then be whether the qualification requiring membership of a political party for election as a President/Vice President is a continuing qualification, the loss of which divests the President/Vice President of his mandate to function as such.


The second issue the Supreme Court would have had to determine is the full extent of the expression found in Section 40 (1) of the Constitution under which the President purportedly dismissed the Vice President: ‘SUPREME EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY’.


The reason why it is imperative that the Supreme Court educates the nation about this constitutional phraseology is that within it lurks a time bomb for dictatorship. Today, the President can invoke it to dismiss the Vice President; tomorrow he may invoke it to ban the SLPP, the PMDC and all other parties and declare a one-party state.


I am raising these issues because Sierra Leone is supposed to be a democracy which recognizes the people as sovereign from whom Government, through the Constitution,derives all its powers, authority and legitimacy.


The foundations of our national development should be rooted in democratic best practices and adherence to the Rule of Law. It behoves us as good citizens of Sierra Leone to urge our Leaders to exercise their powers within the confines of constitutional provisions; if only to avert the attendant consequences of unconstitutional governance.


Political philosophers and historians have over the years appreciated the beauty of keeping political power within constitutional confines. In the words of Lord Acton:


“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”


Ansu Baatillo Lansana Esq.

20th March 2015.




Tuesday, March 24, 2015

No Man is an Island: The Miscalculations of Sam Sumana

Elected Vice President
Sam Sumana
Chief Alhaji Samuel Sam Sumana, the beleaguered Vice President of Sierra Leone, who has been unceremoniously disrobed of his party garments, stripped of his office by a President manifesting new tyrannical tentacles and whose replacement is one of the people he considered his close political allies, must be thinking to himself these days, "how the hell did I let this happen?"
Appointed Vice President
Victor Foh
After years of being estranged from the country's President Ernest Bai Koroma, things finally got to a climax in the past few days when he was issued marching orders by the ruling All Peoples Congress  (APC) party while he was trying to impress the whole world by putting himself under voluntary Ebola quarantine and acting the model of a very good citizen. As we previously reported, a member of his staff fell victim to the  dreaded Ebola virus. What better way than for the VP himself to prove that no one was above the law than voluntary quarantine?
Unfortunately for the VP, while he was busy showing what it meant to be a law abiding citizen, the law was being pulled from under his feet. Twenty one days of voluntary quarantine was more than enough time for President Koroma and his allies to finalize their grand plan for the Vice President. Sam Sumana would go into quarantine a Vice President and come out of quarantine 21 days later as a Private citizen, without an office, without a party and abandoned by fair-weather friends.
If President Koroma and his buddies have their way, Sam Sumana is just another JC (Jus Cam) who has been played. A man who is on the verge of losing everything and if he is not very careful, even his freedom. Now maybe people will start to understand why Monologue broadcaster David Tam Baryoh went to Pademba Road Prisons as a revolutionary and came out 11 days later as a reformed born again missionary.
President Koroma's Hatchet
Man Foday Yansaneh
Sam Sumana's adversaries within the ruling party have for years been looking for evry available opportunity to get rid of him without putting the country once more into turmoil. By putting himself under voluntary lock up for 21 days, unable to leave his residence, the leaders of his party, all handpicked by the country's President had the perfect opportunity to put the nail in the VPs political coffin. According to newly appointed ceremonial Vice President Victor Foh, a President is the boss and if he tells you to jump, you have only one question, "How High?"
So last week after much speculation on social media, President Ernest Bai Koroma's former political rivals now turned subservient errand men, Ibrahim B. Kargbo,  Party Secretary General Ambassador Foday Yansaneh and other cloak and dagger politicians expelled the Vice President from the ruling party on allegations so ridiculous that they almost sound untrue.
APC politicians probably had a lot of really good reasons they could have given for deciding that Sam Sumana was not one of them. That is if they had not wanted to be honest enough to tell him to his face that he did not have the geographical qualifications necessary to become an APC flagbearer. They could have referenced his complicity in the infamous Timbergate Scandal, or the scandal he had brought to the nation by allegedly defrauding multiple American businessmen who he had encouraged to go into diamond and timber businesses in the country when he was not yet a Vice President. They could have even convinced the people that he was acting against the national interest of the country, but they did not.

Remarkably, Vice President Sam Sumana was booted out of his own party on largely hearsay allegations that he was a Christian and had pretended to be a Muslim to get into office, that he had pretended to have a Masters degree when he didn't have one, that he was guilty of  fomenting violence in home district of Kono,  and that he had the intention of forming a new party. The violence charges are particularly  ridiculous, considering the fact that junior government ministers who have somehow managed to grow closer to the President, have for months now been engaged in a campaign of harassment and intimidation of individuals close to the Vice President, including the well publicized arrest of his near naked sister in their home district on directives given by Karamoh Kabbah a government minister. 
The ugly nature of Sierra Leone politics really showed iself in the past few weeks. Individuals like the President's former rival Solomon Berewa of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP), President Koroma's personal political opposition stooge Mohamed Bangura of the UDM and even the man now appointed to replace Sam Sumana, Victor Foh, were sent as emissaries to the VP to convince him to resign. He reportedly told them he would, but then changed his mind. So the President was advised by his group of lawyers to use loopholes in the constitution to fire him. Sierra Leone has a brand of the type of lawyers who would discover Sharia Law in the center of the Holy Bible if only you pay them well enough.
Koroma Spiritual Strategist
Kabbs Kanu
Sam Sumana's current troubles lend credence to the enduring statement that, "no man is an Island." The VP has suddenly found himself under siege, abandoned by former friends. Save for a few brave voices within his APC party, the bulk of sympathy for the shoddy way he is being treated is coming from opposition politicians, Many of who simply do not want to see the country's constitution being so blatantly violated. One of Sam Sumana's most ardent defenders over the years, the Minister Plenipotentiary and publisher of the online new outlet Cocorioko the Reverend Leeroy Kabs Kanu, is now the lead Pharisee for his crucifixion. The loyalties of the Sierra Leone political class are as shifty as a candle in the wind, bowing in whichever direction the breeze is blowing.
As Vice President, Sam Sumana never really tried to endear himself to the people of Sierra Leone. Many were even surprised when the President decided to run again with him in 2012. His first problem was that he  never really tried to develop a political base outside his own APC party and could never get traction within the party. Unlike other politicians who try to reach outside their party base to build relationships, Sam Sumana was so fearful of being labeled an opposition sympathizer that he deliberately avoided personal relationships with opposition figures and independents in the country. So now he is like a man that everybody feels sorry for, but nobody really wants to fight for.
The Vice President Sam Sumana committed two strategic mistakes that most African politicians do not make. Firstly, he allowed a gulf to develop between himself and the President, allowing  ambitious junior political rivals to exploit this divide and sow seeds of discord between them. It is reported that the country's two leaders have not been on talking terms for a very long period. This was a real mistake. President Koroma rewards loyalty and is reportedly very suspicious of people who he doubts. The President also subscribes to a lot of gossip. The isolation of the President from the VP  allowed the VP's foes to poison the President's mind and help reduce VP's role to a largely ceremonial position,  as he was largely disregarded on most issues of national importance. This isolation also made the President to fill the party hierarchy with his loyalists, marginalizing people close to the VP. Today the VP has little standing in APC, even if he were to be somehow readmitted into party ranks.
The President's Chief Constitutional
Adviser Ibrahim B. Kargbo
The VP's second strategic mistake was the underestimation of the damage that junior politicians from his Kono district could do to his political fortunes. Three ministers from Kono who were not in any good relationship with the Vice President saw the rift between the President and the VP and decided that they would widen this rift and use it to cause his downfall. These Kono three, Karamoh Kabbah,  Diana Konomanyi and Balogun Koroma, apparently combined forces and ensured that they slowly chipped away at the VP's authority by helping fuel instability in Kono and disseminating negative propaganda against the man. It was a real battle between the VP and his three brethren for some considerable period and it seems as if for now the Kono three have won the current round.
Many Sierra Leoneans are asking for the VP to be reinstated. Truly, the only realistic chance the VP has is pressure from people who are fighting to defend the constitution, and these are largely civic organizations, opposition parties and other pressure groups. Sam Sumana has no chance in the Supreme Court, as President Koroma's politics of patronage has helped pave the way for many staunch loyalists to occupy prime positions in the judiciary. Lawyers meeting today Tuesday in Freetown to deliberate the constitutionality of the President's move were not even allowed to occupy the judicial building, but were impeded by both the top people in the judiciary and the police. Sam Sumana leaving his political fate in the hands of the Sierra Leone judiciary will be like leaving a young bull with lions for safekeeping. The Sierra Leone judiciary will always rule in favor of the President on this matter. For Parliament, don't even get me started. For now Vice President Sam Sumana is basically screwed. No man is an Island, even the powerful

Sierra Leone and the Missteps of Executive Arrogance

Beleaguered VP Sam Sumana
Sometimes news from Sierra Leone flows so fast that it is occasionally hard to keep up with the mix of health system horror tales and comedic political relief. The past few weeks, events in Freetown Sierra Leone have been fast and furious.

On the bright side,  new incidences of Ebola infection around the country are at their lowest rates since the disease peaked around the end of the previous year. Many districts have reported no new Ebola cases for some months now. Residents of the northwestern area of the country who have been hardest hit finally seem to be winning the battle against this horrible infection.

So we finally expect some smiles and tranquility to come back to Sierra Leone after a period of unimaginable tales sickness and death. Well if that is what you are expecting, sorry to disappoint you, because the political clowns in Sierra Leone will not  give you even one that moment of peaceful bliss. As the news on the Ebola front starts to be really great, juvenile political  maneuvers by the President and his cronies are now setting the stage for another round of instability in the country, as if the people have already not had enough.
Top Presidential Adviser
Ibrahim B. Kargbo

In Freetown, the Vice President Sam Sumana seems to have been the last obstacle to the President's total dominance of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) party. Having filled the party executive with hand selected loyalists and individuals whose political destinies are tied to his waist coat, President Koroma has more or less guaranteed that his wishes are party policy. Anybody who tries to go against Koroma's wishes now face the wrath of the President's hand picked party secretary general Ambassador Yansaneh, who is only too quick to brand such individuals as pariahs and have them booted out of the party. From the young and ambitious Mohamed Kamaraimba Mansaray to Vice President Sam Sumana, anyone having a contrary opinion in APC these days is guaranteeing themselves of the surest way to be expelled from the party. Yansaneh is now kicking people out of APC with such mercernary zeal, that you would be forgiven for assuming that the party was his grandfather's last earthly investment.

About two weeks ago, as we reported, the Vice President Alhaji Sam Sumana was booted out of the ruling party on seemingly bogus charges that; he had falsified his academic credentials to gain office, he was fomenting violence in his home district, he was a Christian who had opportunistically claimed to be a Muslim to get the VP position and he was secretly trying to form his own party. These alleged anti-party activities had warranted an emergency meeting called while he was under self-imposed Ebola quarantine and the officials of the party had decided that these charges were serious enough for him to be kicked out of the party, even when he was physically unable to be present to mount a defense. Unfortunately for Yansaneh and his conspiring group, there had been a previous clandestine meeting held, the details of which were leaked online before the VP's expulsion, in which the real reason for the VP's expulsion was exposed as a way of paving a way for someone from the President's  region of the country to lead the party into elections, in case he was unable to accomplish his plan of going for a third term. All those voting to remove Sam Sumana were promised hefty sums of money, as several attempts to get rid of him in the past had failed.
Trading Places Koroma, Sumana
"Sumana watch you back"

Then last week the President put out a press release stating that he had dismissed the Vice President from office, on the basis of the allegations of the APC party elders, even when the quarantined VP had publicly gone on air refuting all the allegations and promising to defend himself against these charges as soon as he was out of quarantine. President Koroma also accused the VP of trying to seek political asylum in America, an act that according to the President was tantamount to an intent on the part of the VP to give up his official duties and responsibilities. The President used an ambiguous reference to "supreme executive authority" in the Constitution as justification for dismissing the VP, even though the Constitution is very clear on how a VP can be removed, and no where does it say the President has any such authority.

Many Sierra Leoneans are wondering why the President did not give the VP the privilege of due process to determine whether there was any substance to these allegations before he was removed. Why the haste? The other question was why the President did not send the matter to a Parliament that was full of loyalists of his who are always too willing to do his bidding, thus at least giving the pretense of following constitutional guidelines. What was the reason for this executive arrogance? Did President Koroma so underestimate the Sierra Leone people that he expected such a violation to go challenged? Was the fact that the President surrounded himself with admirers and people who only said things that he wanted to hear blind him to the reality that there were still people in Sierra Leone who do not want to go back to a past era of constitutional violations and one man tyranny?

Many prominent private citizens, politicians, civil society organizations and almost all the respected lawyers in the country, including over 85% of the members of the country's Bar Association have come out against the President's move as a blatant violation of the Constitution. The only major group that has endorsed the move as constitutional has been the Motor Driver's Union. But on matters of the Constitution, many in Sierra Leone would rather listen to the Bar association than the Driver's Union.

The All Peoples Congress' party Secretary General, Ambassador Yansaneh, does not even seem to understand why many people who are not APC should care about the VP being dismissed. He considers their action, "internal party business." Whatthe Ambassador does not seem to understand is that even though many of us think Sam Sumana was a lousy choice as a Vice President, the Vice Presidency is a national institution whose duties and responsibilities are enshrined in the country's constitution. Nobody raised a fuss when the APC decided to get rid of Mohamed Kamaraimba Mansaray just when his growing popularity was seen as a threat to the APC political establishment. Yansaneh should however realize that a Vice President, even an unpopular one, is no Kamaraimba. The Vice President is elected directly by the people, on the same ticket as the President. If the rights granted by the Vice President under Sierra Leone's Constitution can be taken away by Ibrahim Kargbo or Ambassador Yansaneh, what guarantees the rights of the ordinary citizen?
Karamoh Kabbah
The Instigator

I am no fan of Vice President Sam Sumana. I think the VP and the other ministers from Kono should have spent all these months helping the people of their heavily exploited district instead of engaging in daily quarrel and petty political rivalry. With Kono having so many ministers in the current government and the district being the bread basket of the country, there is very little the people of the district can boast of in terms of either infrastructure or long term development projects. However, I believe that the way the Vice President is being removed sets a very bad precedent for our still evolving democracy. If this travesty is allowed to stand, then not only are future VPs not safe, even Presidents can then be removed by the same process. In the future a group of the members of any President's party who are unhappy with him will get up one day, concoct some bogus allegations and use it to dismiss the President from his party. Will the President then be dismissed for not "continuously" belonging to a party?
Supreme Executive Authority
Ernest Bai Koroma

One of my favorite quotes comes from a favorite musician, Joseph Hill of Culture. He said, "when you dig a hole for your brother, remember to always dig two." I hope the Karamoh Kabbas and Konomanyis of this world would understand the meaning of this quotation. Through their sustained efforts they have taken the Vice Presidency and probably a future presidency away from their home district to the small village of Jimmy Bargbo, albeit temporarily. When brothers fight, others benefit.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Sierra Leone Vice President Under Ebola Quarantine Kicked out of Ruling Party

Quarantined Vice President
Alhaji Sam Sumana
After two years of being regularly sidelined, neglected and occasionally being subject to public humiliation, the Vice President of Sierra Leone Alhaji Sam Sumana has finally been kicked out of the ruling party All Peoples Congress (APC) party and his position as Vice President is now tenuous at best. 

Just a few days ago, it was reported that a member of the Vice President's staff had tested positive for Ebola. The Vice President then elected to go into twenty one days of voluntary quarantine in accordance with existing Ebola protocol. Using the opportunity provided by the VP's quarantine, top members of his ruling party have hastily convened a meeting of senior party officials in Freetown and stripped the Vice President off his membership of the ruling APC.

From a graduate of Metro State University in Minnesota, to a job as a parking attendant in Minneapolis, to a stint as a diamond mining CEO in his native Sierra, and then being tapped to be opposition leader Ernest Bai Koroma's running mate in 2007, Vice President Sam Sumana's rise in Sierra Leone politics was meteoric and his fall from grace has been equally spectacular.

Convincing some prominent American businessmen of the diamond business potential in his home district of Kono in Eastern Sierra Leone, Sam Sumana a Sierra Leone migrant resident in Minnesota during the civil war in Sierra Leone obtained operational finance from these businessmen in the mid part of the last decade to go back to his country and launch a a large scale mining concern of which he was to be the CEO. The venture had  elements of both a profit motive and a social business, intending to provide needed employment for youths in his native Kono District; at least that is how he sold the mission to his fellow business partners in America.
Ibrahim Ben Kargbo
Pontius Pilate

After establishing himself as a diamond magnate in Kono, Sam Sumana came to the notice of the the leader of the then opposition All People's Congress Ernest Bai Koroma, who was experiencing a growing  populist appeal across the country after years of austerity measures under the late UN veteran turned President Alhaji Dr. Ahmed Tejan Kabba. With Ernest Bai Koroma's fortunes on the rise and the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party having shot themselves in the foot by nominating the sitting Vice President Solomon Ekuma Berewa, a largely uncharismatic and uninspiring individual as the party flagbearer, Ernest Koroma saw his chance, particularly when VP Berewa's arch political rival Charles Margai  decided to break away from the ruling Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) and form his own political outfit, the People's Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC). Berewa underestimated the potency of his political rival Charles Margai, the son of the  second Prime Minister of the country and nephew of the first. That decision proved to be a strategic mistake.

In the 2007 election Charles Margai came third in the national polls and threw in his lot with the Koroma APC instead of the SLPP party of his father and helped Ernest Koroma secure the presidency in what was described as a loose power sharing agreement. The agreement was maintained briefly, but the two men soon had a falling out as Koroma consolidated his power base and Margai's influence waned within his own party. Ernest Koroma indirectly helped to put the death watch on the PMDC by kicking Margai loyalists out of his government and appointing Margai's rivals within the PMDC to ministerial positions on the condition that they defect from the PMDC.

In the 2012 elections Margai's party was practically voted out of political relevance. To sink the nail in PMDC's coffin further, the President's wife allegedly grabbed a prime piece of real estate in the Aberdeen region of Freetown from Margai,  to which he responded by making some threatening remarks to a group of assembled journalists. The power broker Margai was arrested and detained like a common criminal for a few days, causing his family to go to the President and beg him for mercy. After the incident Margai's political capital plummeted like a punctured tire and many think his political career has lost momentum for good.

Before the 2012 elections, there were persistent rumors that President Ernest Bai Koroma was not going to have the VP as his running mate. However, the president defied expectations and renominated Sam Sumana again. Immediately after the elections however, it seemed as if there was trouble in Paradise, as rumors started to mill around Freetown that the two leaders had had a falling out. These rumors were given credence by the fact that the VP's adversaries from his home district of Kono were given cabinet positions, while he was largely ignored in the conduct of the affairs of the state. The President's newly created Special Executive Assistant, an irascible character by the name of Sylvia Blyden, also used her news tabloid outlet the Awareness Times to rain indirect insults on the head of the isolated VP.
President Koroma and VP Sumana

After 2013 things got from bad to worse and by the period of the Ebola crisis everybody in the country knew that the VP's role had become practically redundant. He was not given any role to play in the Ebola crisis and his family members and supporters were being constantly harassed in his home district. At the peak of the crisis, the VP's sister was allegedly arrested without being allowed to dress up on spurious allegations of assembling in contravention of Ebola regulations. The arrests were supervised by another minster from Kono Karamo Kabbah.

A prominent journalist close to the Vice President, David Tam Baryoh, was recently arrested for allegedly making inciting statements in contravention of emergency health regulations in the country. He spent about 11 days in the country's notorious Pademba Road Prison. When he was released, he went on to the radio and backtracked on all the earlier statements he had made, basically throwing his supporters under the bus. He claimed that he was now a changed man and an agent of peace. Rumors had it that while incarcerated, he had been threatened of being locked up with an Ebola patient and in mortal dread, he had come out singing like a hen.
Born Again David Tam Baryoh

So after a long period of trying to get rid of the Vice President his adversaries have now publicly set the wheels in motion. There was leak two days ago of a telephone recording of an acquaintance of the President stating that they had been all promised twenty five million Leones each, to vote for the removal of the VP. So yesterday top party brass, all handpicked by President Koroma had presided over a meeting agreeing to kick the Vice President out of the ruling party, accusing him of faking his academic credentials when he ran for office, of pretending to be a Muslim when he was in fact a Christian, and making clandestine plans to form his own party.

Only the future knows how this political maneuver will play out. According to the leaked telephone recording, the prime reason why they wanted to kick the Vice President out was that the President did not want someone from the East of the country to head the party going into the next elections. President Koroma wanted to use his influence to appoint a relative of his and a trusted Lieutenant one John Sesay as his replacement,  if the President himself was unable to succeed in his agenda of running for a third term in contravention of the current constitution.
Sam Sumana Supporter Adamu

President Koroma's presidency has been remarkable for the degree of tribalism and regionalism that has infiltrated every aspect of life in the country. A man who grew up in the heydays of tribal politics, he seemed to be stuck in another era. He is paranoid of heterogeneity, preferring to surround himself and give sensitive national offices to only close associates. The president has politicized even the civil service in the country and distributes government and public administration positions on a winner takes all basis, making appointments largely on the basis of loyalty and political patronage. Consequently the level of corruption in the country is at an all time high and accountability is at an all time low.

Nobody knows what the future holds for Sam Sumana,  as he himself is deeply unpopular in his home district and he has never really tried to build a solid political base around the country. He is rumored to be planning to roll out his own political party, but only time will tell if this is just not another political game by his many detractors in the government. By the time the VP emerges from the quarantine, he will come to a country in which he no longer belongs to a registered political party. But as the saying goes, man proposes, God disposes. Nobody knows tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Honorable Musa Tamba Sam

Hon. Musa Tamba Sam 
The Segbwema blog joins many other Sierra Leoneans at home and in the diaspora to mourn the untimely demise of Honorable Musa Tamba Sam, a former Member of Parliament and the current Publicity Secretary for the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, the oldest political party in the country.

Tamba Sam was a vocal member of Parliament and has been a tireless voice of the opposition, adept at exposing government malpractice in the troubled West African nation.  Tamba was never one to shy away from public controversy not even when it came to his own party.  He recently took part in an abortive attempt to replace the current Chairman of his party Chief Somano Kapen and the Secretary General over accusations of gross incomptetence.

Chief Somano Kapen's tenure as overseer of the SLPP has been characterized by incessant internal party squabbles that has resulted in near paralysis and detracted from it's role as the country's major opposition entity. Fed up with a party Chairman full of excuses and no tangible solutions, Tamba had joined the Vice Chair Dr. Prince Harding in a failed attempt to get rid of the party top brass. However, their approach was not strictly constitutional and had been seen as an act of sabotage by members allied to a certain partisan faction. Though abortive,  the attempt has brought some urgency to opposition business.

As Publicity Secretary, Tamba Sam has only been too willing to rise up to the challenge,  in spite of some persistent health issues, compounded by the inadequate health infrastructure in the country. However, this foot soldier for democracy never let  health issues slow him down,  but was constantly on radio stations and tours around the country, lamenting the unbridled corruption,  nepotism, sycophancy and economic mismanagement that have become the hallmarks of the Koroma Presidency.
Chairman Chief Somano
Kapen SLPP 

As the country moves from one crisis to the other and continues to be rocked by one scandal and another, the loss of a brave voice representing the interests of the downtrodden masses will be a major blow to popular aspirations in a fragile democracy. The voice of Jeremiah has surely faded into the political wilderness.

The fight against attempts to use the current Ebola crisis in the country to extend the mandate of President Ernest Bai Koroma beyond his constitutional two-term limit has lost a major voice. Musa Tamba Sam's demise will be a major blow in the struggle to prevent this great travesty.

Democracy has lost a champion in Sierra Leone. Even though the forces of tyranny and evil seem to be having a field day in the country, it is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that no individual, group or entity hijacks the democracy whose reestablishment in Sierra Leone led to the loss of so many thousands of innocent lives.
Funeral Arrangements 

We join thousands of Sierra Leoneans in extending messages of condolence to members of his family and pray that he receives the blessing of his Maker.

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