Barely sixty-five days following the day votes were cast countrywide that ushered in the second coming of the All People’s Congress (APC) party to governance, the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is enmeshed in serious constitutional issue involving the National Chairman and Leader, John Oponjo Benjamin and the National Secretary-General, SulaimanBanjaTejan-Sei.
A press release issued in Freetown on 16thJanuary, 2013 and captioned “Chairman John O Benjamin clarifies SLPP leadership position” sought to explain that the issue regarding the flag bearer and running mate “providing political leadership of the SLPP” was against the party’s constitution.
The release stated that during the course of the emergency NEC meeting on 6th December 2012 called to discuss issues relating to the November 17th elections, “a motion was put forward suggesting that Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio and Dr KadieSesay remain as flagbearer and running mate respectively until the next National Delegates Conference with our case in the Supreme Court cited as the rationale.”
The release went on to state, “This issue was deftly handled by me (National Chairman/Leader) and other contributors and the motion was withdrawn by its proposer.”
However, the release went on, “at the end of the meeting, the National Secretary-General, consistent with normal practice, read out resolutions which had been agreed at the meeting but significantly, a third provision (that Rtd. Brig. Bio should continue to give political leadership until the next delegate conference in 2013) which had already been rejected, was now allegedly being inserted in the final proclamation of the National Secretary General.”
The release apparently written by John Benjamin said that such “particular provision was unauthorised and in direct contravention with our party’s constitution clause 5.1 (a) which clearly states that in prevailing circumstance, it was the chairman and Leader who shall be the political and administrative head of the party”.
Sadly, however, the Chairman said when the information reached the public domain, especially among supporters of the SLPP, and purportedly supporters of Rtd. Brig. Bio, they allegedly went on the rampage at the Party’s Headquarters, deflated his car tyres and took away the wheel nuts; and further used unprintable expletives on his mother.He claimed all of this was done in the presence of theflagbearer, Rtd. Brig. Bio.
He claimed that the alleged supporters were chanting that it is only the leadership of Maada Bio they will appreciate, and nothing else.
Chairman Benjamin has referred to the incident as “unfortunate” for the party but they (the SLPP) are planning to find a way forward for an amicable solution, while he plans to pursue legal means against those who assaulted his security officers and vandalized his vehicle.
According to eyewitness John Benjamin was spirited away from the party headquarters in Maada Bio’s vehicle with registration number JMB-001.
Police had been attracted to the scene but kept their distance when they were told it was an internal SLPP party affair.
By Poindexter Sama