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APC rejects Richard M’Bayo claim for political asylum

APC rejects Richard M’Bayo claim for political asylum

The letter from the APC: Dear Professor Richard M’ Bayo,

You have applied for political asylum to the All Peoples Congress Party (APC) and asked to be recognised as a refuge under the 1991 Sierra Leone Constitution relating to section 26(1) as follows:

‘’except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of assembly and association, that is to say, his right to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to any political party, trade unions or other economic, social or professional associations, national or international, for the protection of his interests’’.

On the basis that it would be contrary to APC’s obligations under the Sierra Leone Constitution for you to be removed from or required to leave the APC. You claim to have a well founded fear of persecution in the SLPP.

Your application for political asylum has not been considered by the President Ernest Bai Koroma personally but by the APC acting on his behalf.

A person will be granted political asylum in the APC if the Secretary General is satisfied that: substantial grounds have been shown for believing that the person concerned, if the person returned to the party of origin, would face a real risk of suffering serious harm and is unable, or, owing to such risk, unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that party. 

In your interview or letter to the media of the 29th January 2011, you said: ‘’This is my story, in a nutshell. It is left with you now to make your own judgment about me. There is much more to say, but I do not see the need to respond to every stone thrown at me now’’.  By your own request for us to make a judgement on your clams for fleeing the SLPP, therefore consideration has been given to whether or not you qualify for a grant of political asylum.

We note that you had difficulty explaining the reasons you claim to have suffered persecution from the SLPP. You claim to have suffered persecution because you are descended from the Diaspora. In the alternative it is because you are the son of the Kono, and a friend of President Koroma and brother of Vice President Sam-Sumana, both from the APC.

You claim to have suffered persecution because of your dual American citizenship and that the SLPP had problem with people from the Diaspora who want to be president.  You also claim that the SLPP delegate model has been transformed into an elaborate and institutionalized system of corruption, designed to extract money from vulnerable flagbearer aspirants in lieu of serious debates over policy matters.

In your own case, particularly, you agonized in painful silence over many of these issues. But, that at the district level, party functionaries betrayed you. At the national level, you suspected a heightened anti-diasporan sentiment among some key members of the SLPP.  You said quite a number of them are simply dishonest and fraudulent. They are predators without conscience, and they prey on vulnerable aspirants. For that alone, you did not think any of them can be trusted to protect the interest of Sierra Leone as president.

It is noted that in your screening interview you named Ambassador Patrick Foyah, Ambassador John Leigh, Hon. Ansu Kaikai, Professor Septimus Kaikai as your friends from the United States in your struggle for democracy through the Coalition for Democracy in Sierra Leone (CODISAL), as you all insisted upon an uncompromising stance on the promotion of democratic principles and culture in the wake of the coup that toppled President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in 1997, with the SLPP being the greatest beneficiaries. 

And that you met Johnny Paul Koroma through a friend and Valentine Strasser in a Sierra Leonean community event at Howard University where you gave the welcome address.

It is considered that even the basic personal information you have provided above about your fear of persecution in the SLPP and relations in the Sierra Leone community is inconsistent and therefore casts doubt on your entire claim for political asylum.

It is further noted that you have failed to provide receipts of all the huge financial expenditure you claim to have incurred and membership card of the SLPP or other documents that might be expected to prove you were a genuine member of the SLPP.  

You   failed to provide evidence that other members of the SLPP including Margai left the SLPP and formed the PMDC; and also, why Dr. Lansana Nyallay left and joined the APC, Dr. John Karefa-Smart, also once left the SLPP and joined the APC for fear of being persecuted by the SLPP.

You also failed to show medical or police reports to justify your asserted allegations of all the stones thrown at you while in the SLPP. In fact, our consultant— an internationally acclaimed health expert in the United Kingdom, Ajan Fofanah, himself had cast doubt over your medical claims.

While it is accepted that political asylum seekers may have difficulty producing documentary proof, you claim to have many close supporters and a campaign team in the SLPP who could easily provide you such evidential documents, for you  to  be able  to convince the APC that you were indeed persecuted by the SLPP.

Because of your disagreement with some members of the SLPP you claim to have narrowly avoided being killed when the SLPP warlord called Joe Kallon ordered the slaughter of the all ‘spies and moles’ in the party. It is noted that some SLPP information sources confirm that such an event took place.

However, your claim to be the intended victim is untrue. If you had been the intended victim and Joe Kallon was as powerful as you claim and with all the stones thrown at you, then you would be dead by now. It is implausible that you could have escaped in the way that you claim. This aspect of your account is rejected as being implausible. This further cast doubt in the credibility of your claims. It is considered that you have fabricated your story to enhance your calm for political asylum in the APC.

It is noted that you and your supports fled SLPP’s territory by your own accord. If you were a genuine refugee you would have claimed political asylum in the other parties instead. You maintained that your detractors have already said a lot of negative things about you. Your failure to mention the names of your detractors or persecutors including those who took bribe or paid delegates for vote in the SLPP, also casts further doubt on the veracity of your claim.

You claim to have been involved in a number of extremely implausible events, including you never spoke even once with President Koroma or with Vice President Sam-Sumana, or with anyone in the APC about your campaign or the internal matters of the SLPP in the last three years, and throughout your campaign, and that your friends in the APC were following your movement through the media. Your representative, a qualified and accredited spiritual leader from the APC, submitted that these miracles are allegorical and are in fact complex metaphors.  These aspects of your claim are rejected and undermine your general credibility. It is noted that you claim that these events exacerbated your persecution. As the events are rejected; so too is your claim to have been persecuted because of your disagreements with the SLPP.  

It is noted that you claim to have travelled to and fro the US to Sierra Leone via Nigeria on a number of occasion to run your campaigns in the SLPP, and  that  you spent some $100,000 from your own money from years of hard work and personal savings. As your distracters conceded the amount simply do not add up, as you did not provide any receipts for the said expenditure or proof of income.

Further, if you had known that Margai previously left the SLPP for fear of persecution you have not explained why you did not terminate your membership in the SLPP earlier. If you were genuinely in fear of your political life because of your disagreement with some SLPP stalwarts, it is reasonable to have expected you to claim asylum at the earliest opportunity. This casts further doubt on the veracity of your claim.

It should be noted that by your own admission, you have stated that there were no physical attacks on you or your supporters. It is considered that if you were being persecuted to the degree that you describe by the SLPP militia because of your imputed political opinion then a far more consistent pattern of persecution would have occurred.

 It is considered that if you were genuinely suspected of being an ally of the APC or collaborator, you would have faced far graver consequences. The fact that SLPP did not take more drastic action against you leads to one of two possible conclusions, either that they were satisfied that you were not of adverse interest to them, or that you were not of adverse attention to them in the first place. Your fear of persecution from the SLPP is therefore not well founded, and it is not believed that you ever received threats from them. 

It is not considered credible that after going through all the trouble of attacks in the SLPP, the party would have then allowed you and the rest of your supporters to stay in peace for the past number of years until they perpetrated the next attack. 

If you were to receive an unpleasant verdict on your candidacy as presidential aspirant for the party, although we accept that political conditions in the SLPP are poor, the objective evidence also suggests that conditions have improved over recent years owing to the intervention of the party chairman, John Benjamin and Secretary General, Jacob Saffa.  

Therefore, on the totality of the evidence, we find that if were you were to be returned to the SLPP, there are no reasonable grounds for believing that you would suffer ill-treatment. 

It is further noted that your fear is of the opposition party (the SLPP). They appear to be non-state actors. It is therefore considered reasonable that you could have relocated within the PMDC; another division of the SLPP where you would attain a refugee status in the first place.

 Further, it is considered that you have failed to avail yourself of the protection of the police and therefore that you will have a sufficiency of protection if you are returned to the SLPP.

You also claim that Joe Kalloh ‘washed his hands’ of you but this does not indicate an inability on the part of the general membership of the SLPP to offer protection, the test established in the case of Charles Margai, when he boycotted Solomon Berewa and formed his own party ( PMDC).  

In the light of all the evidence available it has been concluded that you have not established a well-founded fear of persecution from the SLPP and that you do not qualify for asylum in APC. Your asylum claim is therefore refused.  It has also been concluded that you have not shown that there are substantial grounds for believing that you face a real risk of suffering serious harm on return to the SLPP and that you do not qualify for Humanitarian Protection either. 

In these circumstances, your claim for political asylum in the APC is rejected. You are requested to leave the APC now! If you do not leave voluntarily your departure will be enforced.

However, you now have before the next general election by 2012 to make an appeal against the decision to remove you from the APC. The   appeal is an opportunity for you to state your reasons for appealing, as well as provide documentary evidence to substantiate your claims for your fear of persecution in the SLPP.

To ensure speedier processing, all notice of appeal forms are now sent directly to the Secretary General of the APC, Mr. Victor Foe. Please note that while you are appealing, you do not need to leave the APC.

You are allowed to stay and help the party wins the next elections. In the event that our party wins the election, you would be given an indefinite leave to remain in the APC, and perhaps appointed in the government.

Yours etc
By Messeh Kamara

The author, Messeh Kamara, 23, is a scholar of law and politics, currently studying and living in the UK.  He’s Executive Director of the Centre for Civic Innovation (CCI). Email: presidentfor2037@yahoo.com

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