New rays of hope now glitter again for the Main opposition, All Peoples Congress (APC) that they would soon get justice from the court. The countdown for its gazette constitution has now gone thus far 7th March, this year, it the date the constitution will become a constitution.

Without any error or objection, the constitution which has undergone rigorous processes of amendment will become law with just six days more to go. Clauses which are sources of disagreements have been either deleted or amended. It is now hoped that the new constitution would stand the test of time since the party is seemingly desirous of progress. The desire for elections is well written on the faces of the young men and women of Sierra Leone.

Now that the party has a constitution in place, attention is now turned to Justice Adrian Fischer for judgement. The learned judge, on several occasions, has been accused or delaying the eagerly awaited justice as the party prepares for its lower-level elections. The legal maxim that justice delayed is justice denied is worthwhile here.

A reliable source within APC has told this press that it is better for the court to hand down a ruling after PPRC (Political Parties Registration Commission) might have given APC the go-ahead which is anchored on the reviewed constitution. PPRC is a body set up by law to regulate the activities of political parties.

Fischer is presiding over a matter filed by Alfred Peter Conteh who is asking the court to look into the legal existence of the current APC executive. The executive has former President Ernest Bai Koroma as its chairman and leader. Conteh’s lawyers have insistently argued that the Koroma-led executive is illegal and must pave the way for a new body. Since the lawsuit was referred to the court, an injunction has been placed on all party activities pending outcome of the hearings. This is the only question for which APC is waiting for an answer.

Whether the court’s judgement favours the party or plaintiff, APC has to have its officers intact by way of elections for the party to be a part with the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP). SLPP has conducted its zonal, ward, constituency, district, regional and national elections.

The ruling party has elected its chairman and other officers. President Bio has again been chosen as flag-bearer for 2023 elections although legal challenges are expected. SLPP members in the diaspora say they do not countenance President Bio as the party’s flag-bearer.

The do not agree with the method employed to choose the 2023 flag-bearer. To them, the model is orthodox. It did not follow conventional procedures of having a flag-bearer in a democratic and big party such as SLPP. Whatever the expected litigations, SLPP has gone far ahead.

They only wait for the dissolution of parliament and the declaration of campaigns. With only ten months more to go, APC has a lot to do as time is no longer in its favour. A senior APC member has informed Nightwatch that even if a ruling is handed down now, APC will still have problems along the way. Petitions of election results by aggrieved parties could not be ruled out. Such legal issues are normal in a democratic setting for anyone who does not agree with any act. Everyone is permitted to seek redress in the courts whenever one’s rights are trampled on. Petitions would be anticipated from any level of the elections process especially now that the party is in opposition.

Sierra Leoneans are quite aware about the snail-pace at which the courts handle the matters. Fears are rife that APC might catch up with time.

An APC member who prefers anonymity holds similar fears but pointed a finger of blame on former President Koroma for still holding the forte at a time he should have the stage. “If APC fails to put its house in order before the elections, it’s no big deal. Individuals and entities are created to fail,” the APC member said.

Other members pray for the party not to fail. The former President took charge of the party in 2002, and still remains its leader despite promises of stepping down after the 2018 elections. His continued retention of the post is the source intra-party conflicts in the APC.

Senior APC members have persistently called on the former President to leave. No doubt, the refusal of the former President to go caused the litigations in the party. Other APC comrades however wanted the continuous presence of the former President within the party. They hope that with President Koroma, they will enjoy the necessary guidance and direction for it to take back State House with ease. The former President’s popularity grows quite recently when officials of the diplomatic community in Sierra Leone met him in his hometown of Makeni, the northern capital. The meeting was close door. Ernest Bai Koroma recently raised hopes of members when he announced that he would step down for the sake progress.

He promised that by May this year, the party would elect its flag-bearer.

He called on members to support whoever emerges as presidential candidate. This is good talk, but it will become better if what the President promised is implemented.

It is always not easy for a party in opposition in African politics. Conflicts and disagreements are usually the outcome together to transact business. The lower cadre of the party, most times, point accusing fingers at ruling parties as those fueling the conflicts. APC as an opposition has lately relapsed to litigations since it went out of power in 2018.

The first lawsuit was filed by a group of APC young men and women who constituted themselves into a breakaway group called the National Reformation Movement (NRM). The movement is never in agreement with most of the clauses contained in the 1995 APC constitution which contains clauses NRM wanted to see their expunge.

Nightwatch Newspaper reports that, one of the most hated clauses was the one that had to do with selection of party officials. The clause confers power on the party leadership to handpick officials that should occupy positions of trust in the party including flag-bearer. The clause was utilised in the 2017 APC convention in the norther capital of Makeni where the former flag-bearer, Dr. Samura Kamara was handpicked by ex-President Koroma. The use of the clause in that convention was one of the deciding factors that led to Kamara’s defeat in the 2018 elections.