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Two Chiefdoms’ matters

Two Chiefdoms’ matters

The ministry of local government and community development is also in charge of chiefdom administration. While affairs in most chiefdoms are running smoothly, in a few others there is uncertainty and concern either because the people do not understand the government’s policy or position on them. Ministers of local government are sometimes put in an unenviable position by the actions of their subordinates, which actions are hardly ever in the interest of good administration and government. It has now been a long time since the ministry through the National Electoral Commission completed a series of Paramount chieftaincy elections countrywide. Many of those elections were accompanied by unnecessary interference mainly by vested political interests. These happened despite warnings from both the government and Parliament against the practice. Sadly nearly all those allegedly involved were highly placed members of the ruling APC. (Photo: Dr. Sama Banya)

I listened to part of the discussion pertaining to the apparent stalemate in the Lokomassama chiefdom elections, which matter is now said to be before the Court of Appeal following the granting of an injunction in the High court to one of the parties in the disputed election. All this was disclosed in David Tam-Baryoh’s governance programme over the weekend.

As I listened to the discussion, my mind went back to two chiefdoms where matters appear to be hanging in the air as the inhabitants of the chiefdoms wait for government ruling. The more straightforward but very baffling one is Kissi Teng chiefdom in the Kailahun district. There a woman candidate had been refused a symbol merely on account of her sex, similar to the situation in Sewafe chiefdom in the Kono district. Is there a law or tradition which prevents women from being crowned Paramount chief in the East, or is the rule only applied in selected chiefdoms? While the Sewafe election has taken place, the one in Kissi Teng remains in limbo. The question is WHY? Are the authorities holding on until the chances of the APC favoured candidate improve? Could it be true as is being speculated that this could only happen after the deposed substantive minister of health Sheku Tejan Koroma would have won his appeal in the Supreme Court and then reinstated to his portfolio? The argument in favour of this scenario is that the minister still drives an official vehicle with full security while the position of minister of health remains vacant. Who can tell whether the sacked minister is not receiving his full monthly remuneration with all allowances included?

The case of Biriwa chiefdom in the Bombali district is mind bungling. This chiefdom is dominated by the Limba ethnic group which has carried the staff almost continuously. The minority Madingo tribe established their entitlement to the crown from as far back as 1942 when the Sheriff family began to contest every chieftaincy election in the chiefdom. When it came to the 2005/6 election, the majority Madingo group boycotted the pole on the grounds that the Madingos had no right to contest. The case went right up to the Supreme Court which saw no legal reason to overturn the election result. Then followed the 2007 Parliamentary and Presidential elections which the APC won and that was when the current impasse began. During the election campaign the support of the Limbas was allegedly sort on the promise that the chieftaincy election result would be overturned if the APC came to power. Shortly after that the pro government newspaper the new citizen began to refer to Biriwa as “BIRIWA-LIMBA” chiefdom.

Paramount chief Mohamed Sheriff was one of those the APC earmarked for a commission of inquiry. But there were legal obstacles as under the 1991 Constitution Paramount chiefs may only be removed from office for SERIOUS MISDEMEANOR. The APC government side stepped that with an administrative inquiry which didn’t produce the desired result. In the meantime the Paramount chief was suspended from office while a Commission of Inquiry was set up under Justice Fofana .  The Commission has completed its deliberation and the learned chairman handed his report amidst media publicity to his Excellency the President. That was in March 2010. It is now the end of July. Since then there has been a total news blackout. What were the commission’s findings? How long will the silence on the matter prevail? My brother Dauda Kamara ought to come out with a statement on this and on the delayed and overdue Kissi Teng election. That is good governance.

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