By Amin Kef Sesay
Majority of concerned delegates from different football associations and Premier League clubs who were slated to participate in the Sierra Leone Football Association Congress in Kenema on 31st January and 1st February 2020 but was aborted, convened a Press Conference on Friday 7th February 2020 at the Sierra Leone Association of Journalist Hall on Campbell Street in Freetown to make known to members of the Fourth Estate and other relevant stakeholders certain burning concerns and frustration over what they referred to as illegalities on the part of the Sierra Leone Football Association that culminated into not having a successful Congress.
Highlighting their dissatisfaction they mentioned how the legitimate appointed delegates were rejected entry into the hall on weak and illogical pretexts by the General Secretary who used Policemen and specially hired thugs to intimidate the said delegates.
It was also pointed out that the budget presented did not comply with the requirements of Article 41.2 of the Statutes, as the Finance Committee is not in existence, and as such could not have been approved for presentation to the FA Secretariat and Executive Committee for examination which prompted them to reject it.
“However, in a manipulative move a skewed hand count was done in favour or not in favour of adopting it and it was endorsed by the FIFA representative Solomon Medege who by all intent and purpose was to observe the process,” they underscored furthering that the General Secretary counted observers as delegates but could still not achieve the 500/0+1 simple majority.
They again expressed disappointment that the said budget was scanty and without budget notes and it also lacked details thereby depriving members the opportunity to deliberate and scrutinize specific items of the budget noting that the budget was flawed in many areas, for example, the P.A.Y.E. TAX, which is automatically deducted from the employee’s salary, under the laws of Sierra Leone, was a separate budgetary item. They stated that similarly budget items like accounting software, player’s data base software, and hired vehicles all have bloated prices looking at the prevailing market prices.
They also noted that the new constitution was never deliberated during the Port Loko Congress and as such could not have been approved at any level. “But however, it was only presented during the Kenema Congress proceedings and when properly scrutinized there were grey areas and conflicting articles such as Articles 12.c and 12.g,” they intimated adding that the list of nominees was also tampered with as the Agenda and documentations were circulated only days before the Congress and is in violation of Article 28.
The concerned delegates pointed out how the Executive Committee and the FA Secretariat handpicked the nominees in violation of Article 12.c which clearly dictates that the right to nominate/propose is the exclusive responsibility of the members/association but it was done in a shady manner.
“To crown it all, Article 34 which clearly defines the powers of the Executive Committee does not mandate that Committee any privilege or power to nominate members to the Judicial and Independent bodies. The nominations of such members fall within the purview of the membership as enshrined in Article 12c,” they continued revealing that in protest on the grounds of illegality and unconstitutionality that was rejected in an uncompromising way by the Chairperson of the Congress (President Isha Johansen).
They again noted how the voting process was again falsified with observers voting as delegates amidst protests that a good number of nominees on the list were not qualified on the grounds of belonging to clubs, working for Government institutions, facing Commissions of Inquiry and for corruption matters, which raised questions about their integrity.
They strongly maintained that known legal representatives of Isha Johansen and members of the hitherto FIFA Task Force were all on the list and other nominees for the chairmanship of certain committees do not meet the criteria of being lawyers and as such their nominations were invalidated.
Against that backdrop they are calling on FIFA to nullify the entire process with immediate effect stating that the budget must not be considered as approved and the list of nominees must also be disregarded.
In addition, they would like to officially express their disappointment over the conduct of the FIFA representative, Solomon Medege, whom they say inadvertently or deliberately, got involved in domestic football politics in several ways during the process.
They again maintained that they are no longer comfortable with representatives of FIFA registering how Madam Johansen is a committee member and as such is very influential and for these representatives coming to resolve issues in Sierra Leone, where Isha is a clear key player defeat the principles of “fair play”.
They recommended that more independent and fairer individuals be sent who would ensure a levelled playing field.
“Our potential actions could lead to the withdrawal of all clubs from all leagues, an injunction to halt the mismanagement of the association and a legal process to CAS, but it is our intent that your office will act within the shortest possible time to review or investigate the entire process,” they said was part of a communication to FIFA.