Since 2010 when the last SLPP flag bearer election was conducted, the SLPP has experienced an idiotic and destructive spate of intra-party violence, intimidation and profanity, never seen before in the party’s leadership election.
I have once served as the SLPP UK secretary general, and am still a registered member in Freetown. But never in our history have we seen this kind of grotesque violence that is now tearing the very foundation of the party.
What is most disturbing is that these damaging and violent behaviours have gone on for far too long, with the National Executive of the party failing to instill discipline or censure the paopa leader – Julius Bio, even when prima facie evidence suggested that he had given directives to his supporters to be rough with his critics.
In an interview in Freetown following the stabbing and murder in Kenema city on 27 May 2016 of a supporter of another SLPP flag bearer aspirant – Mr John Benjamin, Julius Bio in his usual deceitful manner condemned the action of his supporter.
But it is important to note that the Assistant Inspector General of Police – Karrow Kamara in Kenema, said that the assailant is a supporter of Julius Bio, whilst the victim is a supporter of John Benjamin.
To show that Julius Bio is directly responsible for the conduct of his supporters, his statement in a video clip recorded in London in which he called on his supporters not to be calm with those who criticise him, whilst he as their leader would remain calm, is an incitement to violence. The opposite of calm is active, violence and turbulence.
One cannot condemned the actions of his supporters for acts of violence, when he is urging them not to be calm, which is a metaphorical way of telling them to attack those who do not support him.
This is an obscene and dangerous hypocrisy for someone who wants to become president of Sierra Leone. Attached is a clip of Julius Bio’s video statement. These attacks are not new, nor sporadic, but a covertly organised campaign of violence and intimidation by Julius Bio’s campaign team against rival flagbearer aspirants and their supporters.
I have been a victim of these attacks and intimidation, when Bio’s supporters took to insulting my mother on Facebook.
The PAOPAS, as they have been dubbed in Sierra Leone, are a minority violent faction within the SLPP, whose conducts and behaviours work against the core values of inclusiveness, tolerance, respect for due process and one nation philosophy.
PAOPA in Sierra Leone language means to pursue a stated objective at all cost, including violence. This is usually backed by militancy to achieve such aim.
Several of these reported cases of attacks have resulted in serious injuries to persons, which have led to hospitalisation for some of the victims since 2010. The police force in Sierra Leone has some of these cases still on their file, so I do not need to name all the victims.
However, I draw your attention to the case of Jaiah Sundafu Koroma, a supporter of one of the SLPP leadership aspirant – Andrew Keili. Jaiah was attacked by supporter of Julius Bio with a chair smashed on his head, which left him bleeding.
Among other party officials and members who have been attacked by supporters of Julius Bio are the former National Chairman of SLPP – John Benjamin, Josephus – former NEC member, the widow of the late president Kabba – I J Jabbi-Kabba.
And last year, an attempted murder outside the law courts in Freetown on Dr John Karimu, former NUP party presidential candidate and now SLPP; and the mother of former UNIDO director – Dr Kandeh Yumkella, whose late husband Paramount Chief Yumkella was a founding member of the Sierra Leone People’s Party. Dr Yumkella is also a leading aspirant for the SLPP leadership.
Such has been the scale and persistence from this violent faction that, a grandee of the party – Dr Sama Siama Banya (Photo) – a British trained medical doctor and former foreign minister of Sierra Leone in President Kabba’s SLPP government, was compelled to write an open letter to Julius Bio, warning him of the violent conducts of his supporters.
Dr Banya had supported Julius Bio for the SLPP leadership in 2011. Attached is the open letter published in the Sierra Leone Telegraph. http://www.thesierraleonetelegraph.com/?p=5964
Due to the history of violence associated with Julius Bio and his PAOPA factions in the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), I feel threatened as I am and have been one of his main critics opposed to his campaign to lead my party again, having taken us to the worst defeat for the party in competitive national elections in 2012.
To the Sierra Leone police force:
You have a constitutional duty to protect the public from criminals and political thuggery. Perpetrators of violence should be apprehended, charged and dealt with in accordance with the law.
The violence against rival SLPP members and supporters should be treated as a threat to the rule of law and peace of the nation. In this regard, the leader of the PAOPA faction – Julius Bio should be arrested and question in the light of this murder, and his video statement inciting his supporters to violence.
To the British Home Secretary Rt Hon Theresa May and the security agencies in Britain:
I draw your attention to the video clip in which Julius Bio as a student at Bradford University had incited his followers to disturb public peace, by directing them not to be calm against his critics. As a British citizen of Sierra Leonean descent and as a critic of Julius Bio’s campaign to lead a party in Sierra Leone of which I am a member, I feel threatened by his video statement.
To president Koroma:
You took an oath of office after your election to the office of president of Sierra Leone, to protect the people of Sierra Leone and their human rights. Many of your fellow citizens,, although they belong to a rival political party – the SLPP , are not enjoying the right to freely associate, free speech or support a candidate of their choice. They are being subjected to violent attacks, resulting in the latest death of a young man for not supporting Julius Bio.
To the minister of the Interior in Sierra Leone – Palo Conteh:
In your recent statement, you promised to deal with indiscipline and lawlessness in the country firmly. I support you in that, as long as it is impartial, judicious and tendered with fairness and justice.
To the SLPP National Executive in Sierra Leone:
You have the responsibility to ensure the party is properly organised and ready to win the next national elections. To achieve this, you need to be non-partisan and must promote individual flag bearer’s interest above the party.
Discipline, professionalism and adherence to the principles of good administration, and the party’s core values should be vigorously protected when under attack.
To this extent, it is my honest submission that there is a strong case for Julius Bio, on whose behalf and with his tacit approval – his supporters have been attacking party members of the National Executive, to expel him from the SLPP.
The killing of a party member by a supporter of Julius Bio is a heinous crime. And Bio himself, if he has any decency left in him, should remove himself from the SLPP race and not wait for an expulsion.
It is time to rein in on political violence and lawlessness. Only then can the SLPP restore its values and win the trust of the people of Sierra Leone, as a credible alternative to the APC administration come 2018 general elections. (Yankuba Kai-Samba Former SLPP UK and Ireland branch)