Dear Dr. Banya,
Let me start by thanking you very much for your selfless efforts towards the advancement of our Party and your public display of fortitude and honesty on not only issues affecting the SLPP but the nation. I pray that we all live long to see the re-emergence of our great SLPP as the ruling Party.
I read your open letter to me dated April 15, 2014. I usually prefer to discuss such issues using the Party’s structure as they bother on certain allegations against party members. However, since you have written an open letter to me, I feel compelled to respond to you using the same medium but promise to further discuss these issues with you privately at a later date of your earliest convenience.
As you would know, I have repeatedly denounced violence in all forms and have dissociated myself from the instances of violence reported to me. I have never missed an opportunity to admonish SLPP members and supporters to be law abiding and refrain from violence. In the most recent meeting with the general membership at the Unity Headquarters on March 22nd, 2014, I re-echoed my call for peace and unity in the Party. I have also implored past and current executives to enforce the Party’s Disciplinary Code of Conduct irrespective of the personality involved or their affiliations within the party. But you can also agree with me that, it has been usual for those opposed to me to blame me for misconduct of any SLPP member even when I have no knowledge of the person or the incident and even when I am out of the country. The only rationale I fathom for such blame game is the desire of these people to slur me for their personal political interests.
Let me now address the three specific instances referenced in your open letter. On two of these, the allegation of insult against Dr. Yumkella’s family members and the assault against the Northern Regional Party Secretary, Mr. Sorie Fofana, I would like to categorically state that I have no knowledge of the incidents and perpetrators and have not been informed of any investigation that has led to the conclusion that these are my supporters. Since 2013, I have been in the UK for most of the time and only recently returned to Freetown for the funeral of Late President Tejan Kabba. No one reported to me, formally or informally, any occurrence of violence perpetrated by any of my supporters. It is reasonable to expect that I could not have taken action of any incident which has not been reported to me or I have no knowledge of. As one of our elders of the Party, I would restate my request that going forward, if you receive any complaint or witness of any incident of violence by any party member, then we should ensure that the complaint of violence be referred to the National Executive for appropriate disciplinary action. In any instance of violence where a specific supporter is mentioned and the allegation is proven, be rest assured that I will take appropriate disciplinary action.
On the recent issue in Kenema involving Mr. John Benjamin, I learnt about it hours later after the Church Service and immediately commissioned an investigation. The investigation was generally one sided because I could not access anyone on the other side. I tried to call Mr. Benjamin to hear from him what exactly happened. I was, however, disturbed that the Awareness Times report of the incident blamed me. I had hoped that, in the interest of the SLPP, Mr. John Benjamin would have called me before going to the Press to discuss the matter. Unfortunately, he did not but promised in the same Newspaper Report to do so. To date, I have not received any report from Mr. John Benjamin or an executive of the Party on the matter. I would have liked to discuss this specific matter with him and also use the opportunity to further discuss the way forward on discipline and unity in our Party. Let me also use this medium to state that I will always endeavor to avail myself to discuss with Mr. John Benjamin or any other senior member of the party on the way forward on the discipline and unity in our party. Notwithstanding, I have since then taken an internal disciplinary measure based on my investigation.
You further requested that I identify the unruly elements and throw them out of my camp. Let me state again that I do not have any camp other than the SLPP. As an ex-military officer, I take disciplinary measures against those close to me and do not encourage unruly people to come to my residence or private office. I again implore you to encourage the national executive to address acts of indiscipline against fellow Party members. For those I know and close to me, I promise to take necessary actions against anyone found wanting of violence be it verbal or physical.
Once again, let me use this forum to condemn all forms of violence, verbal or physical, against Party members or members of the public. I am confident of my popularity and the integrity of the SLPP delegates to again vote me through free, fair and transparent elections as the next Flag Bearer of our great Party. Let me reiterate my commitment to peace, unity and democracy. Those who have worked with me know I do not have problem with opposing views. After all, it is normal for some people to dislike someone no matter who that person is or what that person does. What I detest is a calculated smear campaign and hate messages against fellow members which is a common practice of unpopular politicians who lack attractive messages for the people. Smear campaigns and hate messages are provocative and are the root causes of most of the intra-Party violence. I call on fellow contenders to cease smear campaign and hate messages as they are divisive and do not in any way benefit our people.
I once again urge my supporters to restrain themselves. I would like to inform them that there are calculated moves to stop us from achieving our goal through negative publicity and calumny campaign. As we move towards the next election of Flag bearer, people opposed to me will do everything to provoke them with a view to using the opportunity to portray me as a violent person, a strategy that has not worked well for my opponents so far. Finally, I again urge the National Executive to re-constitute the Disciplinary Committee and meet regularly on all acts of indiscipline in the Party.
Once more, let me thank you for your continued support to our Party as well as your wish for peace and unity in the Party and the country. Let me also assure you that I am always available for your advice and wise counsel which I have always benefitted from. I am sure you know I have always taken such advice seriously.
One Country One People
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