A group of aggrieved SLPP students led by Saidu Alie Lakoh yesterday stormed the Awareness Times offices to bitterly complain the violence and intimidation associated with the Maada Bio campaign that has now spread its tentacles to the Mokonde campus of Njala University.
According to the students, the present Njala University Students Executive of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peopleís Party (SLPP) is not only refusing to conduct fresh election following the expiration of its one-year mandate, but the Chairman and Secretary General, Michael Gainteh Aruna and Shualihu Badiru Sheriff respectively, are also intimidating fellow executive members and students suspected to be against the flagbearer bid of Maada Bio.
This latest report from Njala University, which has forced aggrieved students including executive members to forward a serious complaint against the Chairman and Secretary General to the SLPPís National Executive, did not come as a surprise to those who are already aware of the vindictive tendencies of Maada Bioís supporters.
Saidu Alie Lakoh told the Awareness Times that Chairman Michael Gainteh Aruna went on the rampage on the 20th¬†May and destroyed all the posters of flagbearer aspirant Rev. Joe Moiba, which were pasted on campus.
He said students who have refused to openly support the candidacy of Maada Bio are not considered as SLPP supporters. ďThe Chairman and his Secretary General only consider Maada Bio supporters as SLPP members; the rest of us are subjected to intimidations of various forms,Ē Lakoh alleged.
Lakoh and the rest of his team of students were also bitter that the Chairman has refused to summon party meetings since the start of the second semester. This situation, he said, is seriously hindering the progress of the party on campus.
The Awareness Times went further to contact the Assistant Secretary General Khalifa Konneh on the phone and he confirmed that the one-year tenure of their executive has expired. Konneh however blamed the Chairman and Secretary General for failing to conduct election.
According to him, the Chairman continues to forward unnecessary excuses for not conducting the election. Konneh accused the Chairman of not working in the interest of the party.
Similar sentiments were raised by Organizing Secretary, Sheku Jalloh, who described their current Chairman as a misfit. He said the Chairman is openly supporting Maada Bio at the expense of the progress of the party. ďThe Chairman and Secretary General are even sidelining and intimidating fellow executive members who have refused to openly support Maada Bio,Ē he disclosed, pointing out that even the weekly Thursday SLPP meetings on campus have been discontinued.
When contacted, Chairman Michael Gainteh Aruna denied¬† that he was openly supporting Maada Bio or intimidating students, but however confirmed that he was the one that destroyed the posters of Rev. Joe Moiba. ďNo student has the authority to paste posters of candidates on campus without duly informing me,Ē he emphasized. He described the aggrieved students as saboteurs of his administration.¬†
He also denied that the mandate of his executive has expired. ďThe newly adopted Students Act mandates a studentsí executive body to stay in office for two years,Ē Aruna said, but this assertion was robustly challenged by Organizing Secretary Sheku Jalloh. ďThe Act he is quoting has nothing to do with the SLPP students executive; we operate in accordance with instructions from the partyís national executive,Ē he disclosed, adding that the national executive only mandates one year to any students executive.
The Chairman confessed that he has not organised any meeting on campus since the start of the second semester, but was quick to add thus: ďThis was because of the present court case of the party. We will only organize a meeting on campus when the court case ends.Ē¬† The aforementioned excuse has been described by the Organizing Secretary as unreasonable, as according to him, the Chairman was supposed to organize meetings to inform the students on the progress of the court case.
Meanwhile, a total of sixty two (62) aggrieved SLPP students, including executive members, have signed and forwarded a strong worded letter to the national executive calling for the cessation of the present studentsí executive and the conduct of fresh election.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.