From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

J.J. Saffa Breaks Silence on Tejan-Cole Saga - Fully Supports John Benjamin
By Sylvia O. Blyden
May 20, 2010, 17:12

The dynamic National Secretary General of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peopleís Party has contacted Awareness Times yesterday May 19th 2010 to clarify his position on the interview given by one John B.S. Tucker (aka J.T. Tucker) to the Concord Times newspaper against the SLPP Leader John Oponjo Benjaminís views on resigned ACC Boss Abdul Tejan-Cole. According to J.J. Saffa, he had "personally telephoned up Tucker to reprimand him over that interview he gave to Concord Times of 17th May 2010". Saffa also confirmed that he was at the May 18th 2010 meeting where "it was unanimously resolved that disciplinary action be levied against Tucker". Saffa thus debunked widespread allegations that he was one of the persons undermining the authority of the Party Leader using Tucker as a stooge.

"Only persons with rat brains will say I am against the leadership of John Benjamin. Anyone who thinks so or says so has a rat brain and you can quote me," Saffa asserted adding "John Benjamin is my Boss in the SLPP and the two of us share a wonderful working relationship. I am a very loyal person as shown by my dedicated service to the SLPP since 2007 when we lost the Elections and I stayed very vocal and loyal to the SLPP so my loyalty to my Leader should never be questioned. I support John Benjaminís leadership 100%. We do have differences of opinions on issues but we have always found a common ground between ourselves."

Mr. Saffa also insisted that as far as he was concerned, what John Benjamin said over the BBC about Abdul Tejan-Cole was the position that he and John Benjamin had consulted with each other upon. He insisted that long before Abdul Tejan-Cole resigned, many within the various tiers of the SLPPís hierarchy down to the grassroots level had also shared the opinion that Abdul Tejan-Cole did not want to prosecute sacred cows in the APC despite evidence of their glaring corruption staring him in the face.

Mr. Saffa insists that people with different agenda were trying to force their opinions upon the party but they were being rejected and it was this frustration of their rejection that was causing them to make up all these allegations.

"I did not wish to say anything on this issue before but now I am going to make my position clear both as an individual and as the SLPP Party Secretary-General. My position is that in the view of most SLPP members, Mr. Tejan-Cole was not only incompetent for the job but he connived with the APC to practise selective prosecutions whilst leaving the real corrupt APC people untouched. So let me now be quoted on record that I and many within the partyís rank and file, are in total unambiguous support of the position of the SLPP Leader on this issue," J.J. Saffa said.

It will be recalled that last month in an international interview with local IPS stringer Lansana Fofana, Mr. Tejan Cole had stated that he was enjoying his work without any interference. It remains to be the most recent exclusive interview by the resigned ACC Boss and was given to Lansana Fofana of the IPS News service and published on 17th April 2010 which was less than three weeks before the shocking resignation. In that interview carried in an article entitled as "Anti-Corruption Campaign Nabs Top Officials", Tejan-Cole had assured:- "No one tells me what to do, who to arrest and prosecute or how to conduct my investigations. The ACC is totally independent and we are guided by our mandate, which is to expose and fight corruption in whatever form".

However, the IPS reporter Lansana Fofana had clearly stated in that article that: Notwithstanding this success story, the countryís opposition claims the presidentís anti-corruption crusade is being exaggerated and that the Chief Executive is practicing what it brands as "selective justice."

Fofana had quoted Jacob Jusu-Saffa, as saying: "Our party raised key issues... bordering on governance and these include members of the presidentís family been protected from prosecution. The presidentís sister has been benefiting from untendered contracts and his brother getting duty waivers, of goods imported, running into hundreds of thousands of US dollars... We see this as corruption. Period."

In that same article, it was reported that having presented documentary evidence supporting its claims, the SLPP insists there is more to be done by the Abdul Tejan-Cole led Anti Corruption Commission. "Why has the ACC not gone after members of the presidentís family that we have exposed as been involved in corruption? Are they sacred cows?" Saffa had questioned just three weeks before Tejan-Cole resigned.

Mr. Saffa yesterday reminded Awareness Times that in light of his stated words in that IPS interview, there was no way the party was going to change its stance overnight concerning the selective justice that was practised by the ruling APC in connivance with Abdul Tejan-Cole. So, he expressed "consternation" over people now trying to molest the Chairman and Leader for "merely repeating what is our partyís position".

"Infact, I was up in Pujehun when the Chairman and Leader gave the interview over the BBC but I was not surprised because there is nothing that John Benjamin does concerning the SLPP which he does not do in consultation with me. Mr. Benjamin runs a very transparent system and consults with me all the time; even when I am not in town, he would telephone me and consult with me. If we have that rapport, why will I need to go through JT to make a point to my Boss? It is only fickle-minded, rat-brained people who will say so but it is good that they are saying so as anonymous cowards as that exposes the type of characters they are," Saffa ended.

It will be recalled that Mr. J.J. Saffa has been one of the main forces behind the continued existence of the SLPP as an opposition party. A political strategist, Saffa has been using his excellent rapport with media houses, including this one, to promote the SLPP over the past three years during which he has convened three National Executive Council meetings and two National Party Conferences which all ended successfully leaving the party even more strengthened than before they lost the 2007 Elections. The election of John Benjamin as National Chairman and Leader in March 2009 has added even more lustre to the SLPP Team thus making it one of the most attractive political entities in the country at present.

As a result of the hard work of John Benjamin, JJ Saffa and others, many are now clamouring to be the flagbearer who will take the party into Elections 2012 but it is an undisputable fact that if Benjamin and Saffa had not spent sleepless nights and tireless days working all over the country and around the clock, the SLPP would not today be the attractive party that it is. It is also a fact that persons close to John Benjamin will inform that the financial input from his personal funds that goes into the daily operational running of the SLPP party has been astronomical since he took over office last year. Yesterday, many of his colleagues in the SLPP National Executive as well as ordinary senior members described him as not only a selfless leader but probably the best SLPP Leader of modern times.

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