1. The Rules and Regulations of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) for the election of its Presidential candidate for the national Presidential elections of 2012 stipulate the submission of prescribed documents and compliance with certain basic criteria by an Aspirant/Applicant. They include a sealed letter of declaration of intent, a profile of the Aspirant’s life and history of membership of the Party, and a statement of his/her Flagbearer fitness and contribution to the Party.
2. There is a relative overlapping of requirements and of elements or items from one prescribed document to the others. Two separate documents, one entitled Profile & Curriculum Vitae (as at 31st August 2010) and the present Statement of Flagbearer Fitness, are submitted together with my Letter of Declaration of Intent dated 31st August 2010.
II. Political Base
3. By virtue of the history of my place of birth or origin, my general upbringing and education, my professional life and preoccupations, and the incidental residential particulars severally and successively relating to them over the years, my political base may be said to embrace the entire geographical area traced by these engagements and incidents of life over my lifespan up to the present time. This covers mainly the Eastern and Southern Regions and the Northern Region and Western Area as well.
a). Birth, Upbringing and Education
(See Item B, pages 1 – 2 of Profile & Curriculum Vitae (P&CV))
4. I was born at Gbonimbu Moama, Peje-Bongre Chiefdom, Kailahun District, in the Eastern Region of Sierra Leone, on 7th May 1945, of my parents Kenei Buakei Jabbi (Father) and Mamei Hawa Kamara (Mother), who respectively passed away in September 1986 and February 2010. The first ten years of my life were spent entirely in the Kailahun District, during which my father, a local Methodist Church Leader, ensured both my pre-school learning of the Mende alphabet and basic scripting from himself (1948-51) and my primary school education at the Methodist Primary School, Manowa, in the Peje-Bongre Chiefdom (1951 – 56). He also ensured my inculcation of the native culture and traditions and my initiation into the male secret society before my entry into secondary school.
5. My secondary school education took place from 1957 to 1964. Firstly, in the Government Secondary School in Kenema, Eastern Region (1957 – 62), where I obtained Division One in the General Certificate of Education in 1962, which was reputedly the best O-level result nationwide at the time. Secondly, my sixth form education was at the Government Secondary School in Bo, Southern Region (1962 – 64), when I obtained a Special National Scholarship for my GCE A-Level result in 1964. I also won a national prize in 1963 for translating the National Anthem into the vernacular (Mende).
6. The periods 1964-68, 1969-70 and 1977-81 covered my acquisition of university higher education, obtaining an honours degree in English and Philosophy (B. A (Durham)(Upper 2nd Class)) from Fourah Bay College and M. A. in English and American Literatures from the University of Sussex in Brighton in the United Kingdom in 1970. And then after a spell of lecturing in English and Literature in Njala University College, University of Sierra Leone (1970-75) and the University of Sheffield in England (1975-77), I proceeded to pursue research studies in African Literature for the Ph.D (1977-81) and legal studies towards the LL.B(Hons) (1979-81) at the University of Sheffield (both of which degrees were respectively conferred in April and June 1981) and professional training in law at the Council of Legal Education & the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple in London (1981-82), obtaining the Utter Bar and being called to the English bar in September 1982.
7. Upon return home to Sierra Leone in September 1982, I continued lecturing at the Njala University College in Korie Chiefdom, Moyamba District up until 1986, during which time I also established and carried on a busy private legal practice in a wide range of legal services throughout Sierra Leone from the Bo epicentre (1983 – 86), including customary law and the jurisdictions of chiefdom local courts.
8. In all the foregoing processes, I lived, studied and/or worked in the Kailahun, Kenema and Bo Districts (1945 – 64), in Freetown in the Western Area (1964 – 69, 1986 – 2010), and in the Bo and Moyamba Districts (1970 – 1975, 1982 – 86), outreaching into the Pujehun, Kono, Bonthe, Bombali and Port Loko Districts with my legal practice (1982 – 86), with a fairly intense involvement in students union, national and SLPP party politics in the areas of my residence and neighbourhood.
b). Political Activity & Governance
(See Items C and D, pages 2 – 8 of P&CV )
9. I was a fairly active participant in student union politics and press journalism during the undergraduate years, writing under the personality-identified pen-name of “Viiviiwai” (1964 – 68). I was elected and served for two years as Secretary-General of the then newly founded National Union of Sierra Leone Students (NUSS), which embraced all the nine (9) institutions of tertiary education in Sierra Leone at the time (1966 – 68). As a student, I also actively monitored the wider national and party politics of the time, and took part in student delegations to the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) during the 1965 - 67 national election fever.
10. Whilst serving as a lecturer in the University of Sierra Leone, I was elected & served as President of Senior Staff Association (NUC) & Alternate National President of the University Senior Staff Association (NUC & FBC), University of Sierra Leone (1984 – 86).
I have also always been a member of my secondary school alma mater organisations, the Kenema Old Students Association (KOSA) for the Government Secondary School, Kenema and the Old Bo Boys Association (OBBA) for the Government Secondary School, Bo. And I have been elected several times and served various tenures over the years as National President of KOSA for 1983 – 90 and 2001 - 04.
11. I was also a member of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) since 1968 and an active participant in national politics and political journalism since then. I attempted but was brutally prevented by APC violence from being nominated as an SLPP candidate for Parliament in 1973. But later on I successfully became a Member of Parliament for the Kailahun North-East Constituency for six (6) years during the one-party era (1986 – 1992) and a Minister of Government from April 1987 to April 1992. And during this period, I was from time to time appointed and served as Chairman or member of various public commissions, committees or Boards of Directors; or as Special Envoy of the President of Sierra Leone to various African Heads of State, or leader of delegations to conferences.
12. I was appointed in March 1991 and continuously served as member representing the Eastern Region of Sierra Leone on the Peter L. Tucker National Constitutional Review Committee, whose Report ultimately led to the enactment of the current Constitution of Sierra Leone, Act No. 6 of 1991, coming into force on 1st October 1991.
13. I had a real prospect of being appointed to the position of Secretary of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) after winning the All-Africa Region interview held in Harare, Zimbabwe, in February 1992 and attending the final world-wide 4-Region interview in London in April 1992. But upon returning to Sierra Leone on 26th April 1992 to await the final result, a military coup took place on 29th April 1992 and suspended Parliament, thereby dashing that prospect down.
14. Under the auspices of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, I was appointed Chairman of sustained monthly panel discussions from May 1993 to March 1994 on the new Constitution of Sierra Leone and the military junta situation in the country at the time, all held at the United States Embassy.
15. In April 1994, I judicially challenged in the Supreme Court orders made against me by the NPRC in a White Paper on the Report of the relevant Commission of Inquiry; but I was soon arrested and detained in the Pademba Road Prison from May to September1994 inclusive and thereafter into continuous residential house arrest or detention until 6th April 1996. Notwithstanding that, whilst still under house arrest, I re-issued in November 1994 the litigation commenced earlier, coupling it now with a fresh challenge to my detention and house arrest as a breach or contravention of my fundamental rights and freedoms under the Constitution. But the Supreme Court, even as guardian of the Constitution, ruled that it had “no jurisdiction” to adjudicate on the matters. In the end, however, the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), appointed by the succeeding elected civilian Government to review the NPRC White Papers, concluded that the orders made against me in the relevant White Paper ought to be nullified as it “could find no justification whatever” for them.
16. Since 1996, and alongside my general legal practice, I have continued active involvement in national politics and the affairs and activities of the SLPP. After being a Chief Patron member of the SLPP from 1996 to 2003, I then became a Grand Chief Patron member from 1st May 2003 up until 31st August 2010 (Membership No. 0005), and regularly fully paid up in that status and capacity by monthly contributions of Le.50,000 up to 31st December 2005 and of Le.100,000 since 1st January 2006; and I do intend to so continue. I often pay appreciable sums of money for various Party purposes: e.g. helping offset the outstanding 2005 Party Convention bank debt, contributing towards the 2009 APC-rape victim women of the SLPP, towards funeral donations for deceased members, and other ventures and concerns of the Party.
17. I have also been a long-standing active member of various ad hoc committees of the Party: e. g. the Constitutional Review Committee (1996-1997, 2006 – 2010), in each case helping to prepare a Draft Party Constitution for ratification; Peace and Reconciliation Committee (2005-2007, 2009-2010), the first one doing a lot of campaign work in problematic areas towards the 2007 general elections, sometimes at the members’ personal expense; the inconclusive Truth & Reconciliation Committee (2007-2009); the Publicity Committee (2007-2009); the Elders Council since 2004; the Legal Advisers Team; and others. I was also Chairman of the Party’s internal Electoral Commission that conducted the National Executive elections at the 2009 Convention.
18. During the pre-2007 election period, I also personally rendered over one hundred million leones (Le.100,000,000) worth of development assistance to various towns, institutions, and women and youth groups in the four chiefdoms of Constituency 8 in Kailahun District, e.g. putting up a big public community barrie in Mamboma Jowu, giving tens of bundles of zinc and building materials to various villages for reconstruction of public structures, donations for religious feasts and ceremonies, etc.
19. Even though I did not win the SLPP symbol for my home-based Constituency 8 towards the 2007 parliamentary elections, yet I resisted all temptation and pressure to contest as an independent candidate and continued instead to actively organise campaigning for the SLPP presidential and parliamentary candidates there in order to ensure their success. And, as it turned out, the constituency probably polled the highest votes nationwide for the SLPP presidential candidate.
20. Apart from direct political involvement, I also performed other public services over this period. I played various roles in the Lome Peace process around 1999 to 2002, including delivering conference and consultancy papers within and outside Sierra Leone (See Item D (3)(g) of P&CV). I also continuously served as member of the governing Board of Directors of the Bank of Sierra Leone (1999 – 2002) and of the overall regulatory body of the mass media in Sierra Leone, the Independent Media Commission (IMC) (2000 – 2004).
b).Electoral, Party, & Media Litigation(See Item E, Pages 8-10 of P&CV)
21. In addition to my general legal practice and consultancies, I have on several occasions acted as Counsel, alone or with other colleagues, for the SLPP or its members in matters of a political nature or origin in order to defend them, protect their rights or interests, or otherwise pursue fair-play and justice to their benefit. Members, groups, sub-committees and even executive members have also on occasion consulted me or otherwise sought my assistance as a lawyer in respect of party and other political issues.
22. I was Lead Defence Counsel for the 1st Accused (Samuel Hinga Norman) before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (2004 – 2007) in the international criminal law trials of the Civil Defence Force (CDF) kamajor leaders who had helped speed up to an end the 11-year civil war in Sierra Leone by 2002.
23. In 2005 – 2006, I was Counsel for Samuel Hinga Norman in applying twice to the Supreme Court seeking declarations and injunctions concerning the election for the 2007 Presidential election, the objective being to ensure the Party’s consistent compliance with the joint force and effect of relevant mandatory provisions of the national Constitution 1991, especially sections 35(4) and 76(1)(h) thereof and 14(1) of the Political Parties Act, taken together.
24. Mid-way in the announcement of polling station ballots by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) following the Presidential run-off election in September 2007, and as Counsel for the SLPP, I prepared and filed an injunction application in the High Court for suspension of announcements until the irregularities discovered in the counting and release of results were cleared; but the application was botched up by seeming indecision within the Party itself.
25. As sole Counsel for the SLPP, I have since 2007 been successively pursuing in the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court (but so far inconclusively), judicial review of the legality or otherwise of the conduct, performance and decisions of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and its Chairperson in the run-off Presidential election of September 2007, especially their invalidation of all votes cast at 477 polling stations, a matter that has since stood for over a year now merely pending for substantive hearing in the Supreme Court, with the ruling on an already fully argued preliminary jurisdictional point being itself still outstanding since early July 2009.
26. In 2008, as sole Defence Counsel in three election petitions brought by the APC against the only three SLPP Members of Parliament elected from the Northern Province at the 2007 elections, I successfully defeated all three election petitions in both the High Court and Court of Appeal, and the three MPs are still safely in Parliament today.
27. As Counsel for the SLPP, I am at present pursuing an appeal in the High Court against the Independent Media Commission’s “banning” of the SLPP’s Unity Radio in July 2009 even after violent and highly destructive attacks upon it by APC hoodlums and its unlawful suspension by the Acting President in March 2009. My final legal submissions were made in July 2010, and judgment is being awaited.
28. The foregoing demonstrates some forty (40) years or so of my continuous active participation in the affairs and activities of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), with a respectful part of it in general national politics and governance. This has included active involvement and leadership roles in student politics, intense and sometimes risky political journalism, some six (6) years of direct parliamentary representation and ministerial tenure in governance, a wealth of experience and expertise in national democratic constitutionalism, and in international affairs and relations.
29. Above all, an altogether clean and perfect public life and image render me as a leadership specimen that will appeal to the national public and international community alike, and against whom not even the other side of the national political divide can raise any issue (whether spurious or otherwise) that may dent or impair the efforts and prospects of the Party under my candidature for the Presidency.
Dr. Bu-Buakei JABBI
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.