Why president Koroma must resign or be impeached

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 April 2016

Freetown Poverty - Courtesy of National Geographic

It is now two days since serious allegations were made about president Koroma’s real connection with the Panama corruption papers, following the publication of information concerning Koidu Holdings by Bloomberg on its website. (Photo: Poverty-stricken Freetown suburbs).

It is alleged that president Koroma is not only serving as the president of Sierra Leone, but is also and contrary to the country’s Constitution, registered and acting as the President of Koidu Holdings – the largest diamond mining company in Sierra Leone.

Koidu Holdings is one of the companies listed in the Panama corruption papers, involved in dodgy offshore investment dealings.

The information which appeared to have been published on the Bloomberg website, but now thought to have been redacted, named three executives for Koidu Holdings SA: Jan Joubert – Chief Executive Officer; Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma – President, and Ibrahim Kamara – Chief Communication Officer.

Diamond export data, obtained by the African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR), show that from 2012 to 2015, Octea – the parent company of Koidu Holdings, exported more than US$330 million in rough diamonds.

But the company is alleged to be more than US$150 million in the red, with dozens of creditors – including president Koroma’s government, waiting to be paid.

Workers-at-a-diamond-mine-007The mining agreement signed between the government of Sierra Leone and Koidu Holdings, states that Koidu Holdings would pay a US$200,000 annual lease every year, with a 3% increase from the prior year; income taxes of 35% would be deducted from Koidu’s net profit; the government would impose an 8% royalty rate for exceptional diamonds valued at more than US$500,000 per stone, with other diamonds priced on received sales value.

The agreement also stated that a government valuator would oversee the company’s sorting and pricing process and grant the company the right to deploy armed security forces throughout the concession. It also stipulates that on or before the 15th of each month, data concerning weight, value, size and categories of diamonds must be provided to Sierra Leone’s director of mines and the Central Bank.

The data leaked from Mossack Fonseca, confirms a secretive financial structure connecting Koidu Holdings and Octea to wholly owned Steinmetz entities in Liechtenstein, the British Virgin Islands and Switzerland.

John Sisay and president Koroma - sept 2015According to the Sierra Leone 1991 constitution, Section 46(3); “The  President shall not,  while he  continues in  office as  President,  hold  any  other office  of  profit  or  emolument  in the  service of Sierra Leone or occupy  any  other  position  carrying the  right  to  remuneration  for  rendering  services.” (Photo: President Koroma – right, and the man thought to be positioned to succeed him as president – John B. Sisay, the CEO of Sierra Rutile). 

Koidu Holdings - Bloomberg deleted infoIf proven that indeed at any time in the past nine years, president Koroma has held any position or directly involved in the running of Koidu holdings or any other private entity, he would have been in serious breach of the country’s constitution. (Photo: Bloomberg appears to have redacted the Koroma evidence on their website).   

Such violation will tantamount to ‘gross misconduct’, and Section 49(1) of the constitution states that: “The office of president shall become vacant where the incumbent ceases to hold that office in pursuance of section 51 of this Constitution.”

This provision is clear, and can only apply where there is ‘gross misconduct’ by the president and fifty-percent of parliamentarians have signed and handed a petition to the speaker of parliament for his impeachment.

Section 51(1) states that: “If notice in writing is given to the Speaker signed by not less than one-half of all the Members of Parliament of a motion alleging that the president has committed any violation of the Constitution or any gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office, and specifying the particulars of the allegations and proposing that a tribunal be appointed under this section to investigate those allegations, the Speaker shall:

(a)if Parliament is then sitting or has been summoned to meet within five days, cause the motion to be considered by Parliament within seven days of the receipt of the notice; or

(b)if Parliament is not then sitting (and notwithstanding that it may be prorogued), summon Parliament to meet within twenty-one days of the receipt of the notice, and cause the motion to be considered by Parliament.

(2) Where a motion under this section is proposed for consideration by Parliament, it shall meet in secret session and shall not debate the motion, but the Speaker or the person presiding in Parliament shall forthwith cause a vote to be taken on the motion and, if the motion is supported by the votes of not less than two thirds of all Members of Parliament, shall declare the motion to be passed.

(3) If a motion is declared to be passed under subsection (2):

(a)the Speaker shall immediately notify the Chief Justice who shall appoint a tribunal which shall consist of a Chairman who shall be a Justice of the Supreme Court and not less than four others selected by the Chief Justice, at least two of whom shall hold or shall have held high judicial office;

(b)the Tribunal shall investigate the matter and shall within the period of three months from the date on which the motion was passed report to Parliament through the Speaker whether or not it finds the particulars of the allegation specified in the motion to have been sustained;

(c)the president shall have the right to appear and be represented before the Tribunal during its investigation of the allegations against him.

(4) If the Tribunal reports to Parliament that if finds that the particulars of any allegation against the president specified in the motion have not been substantiated, no further proceedings shall be taken under this Section in respect of that allegation.

(5) Where the Tribunal reports to Parliament that it finds that the particulars of any allegation specified in the motion have been substantiated, Parliament may, in secret session, on a motion supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the Members of Parliament, resolve that the president has been guilty of such violation of the Constitution or, as the case may be, such gross misconduct as is incompatible with his continuance in office as president; and where Parliament so resolves, the president shall thereupon cease to hold office and a vacancy shall then be deemed to have occurred in the office of president and subsection(4) of Section 49 of this Constitution shall apply accordingly.”

Diamond mining Sierra LeoneIt is highly unlikely the parliament of Sierra Leone will find the political courage and strength to bring forward a motion, calling for the impeachment of president Koroma, if these allegations are true, because of the huge control of the parliament by his ruling APC party.

President Koroma’s influence and control of the country’s judiciary is also crucial in matters of State justice in Sierra Leone.

He is responsible for appointing Judges, including those presiding at the highest court in the land – the Supreme Court. President Koroma appoints the Chief Justice.

What the leaked information allegedly published on the Bloomberg website revealed also, is that the man appointed by president Koroma to help police and monitor all mining companies in the country – Mr Ibrahim Satti Kamara as the Director of Community Affairs and Communications at the National Minerals Agency in Freetown, is also serving as Communications Officer of Koidu Holdings SA.

It is now more than twenty-four hours since the Sierra Leone Telegraph contacted the attorney general, the NRA, State House, and Mr. Ibrahim Kamara of the national minerals agency for comment about the alleged involvement of president Koroma in the running of Koidu Holdings.

No comment has been received to refute or clarify the allegations.

Such blatant violation of the constitution of Sierra Leone by senior government officials, including the head of State, cannot be acceptable.

And it is for these reasons president Koroma is being asked to go now or be impeached by parliament.

The Koroma government has recently been strongly criticised by international agencies, including the IMF, for granting tax concessions and exemptions especially to mining companies, valued at more than $200 million a year, which could help save thousands of lives lost, due to poor healthcare and lack of proper sanitation in the country.

9 Comments

  1. Quick Questions: When are we going to have overpass roads connecting to others in Sierra Leone? When will a bridge linking Lungi and Freetown be constructed?

    When will the University of Sierra Leone be really independent without being politicized further? When will tribalism end and be replaced by brotherly LOVE in Sierra Leone?

    When will Sierra Leoneans become each other’s keeper and stop the character assassination in the country? When will the human and mineral resources of Sierra Leone be efficiently utilized for the benefit of ALL the people? When? When? When?

    Please let me know your sincere answers to these questions, if any. For we are the Sierra Leone Family. God bless you. Amen.

    • A nation is strong when economic development is inclusive and stretches to the disadvantaged sections of our community. And whatever it is, that decision will form an important precedent regarding the president’s power when it comes to national security issues.

  2. Careful consideration must be given to the serious allegations being made against the President of Sierra Leone, as it was corruption and the obsession with controlling the lucrative diamond industry that created the conditions which led to the brutal civil war that devastated Sierra Leone for eleven years.

    Under the rule of Ernest Bai Koroma, Sierra Leone is reflected in major worldwide governance indicators as one of the poorest countries in the world. What a shame to President Koroma. Where are his ethics and patriotic values?

    Last week, I read with repulsion and disgust, a Sierra Leone journalist raining praises on the President and the Minister of Justice.

    Journalists and reporters of that ilk must either forget about Journalism or change their chips and start copying the likes of Edward Snowden and the hundreds of journalists behind the Panama Papers.

    • Why should Sierra Leone be labelled one of the poorest countries in the world despite being a country blessed with valuable natural resources?
    • Why is the country’s judicial system placed in the hands of a man appointed by the President?
    • Where does the money come from that pays for the extravagant lifestyle of Earnest Bai Koroma?
    • Where does the money come from that pays for all the unnecessary thugs, bodyguards and advisers to the President?
    • Where are the roads or improvements promised for Kono where the diamonds come from?
    • Why is Koidu Holdings in serious debt with the government of Sierra Leone reported to be owed over $13 Million? Is it because the President of Sierra Leone is also the President of Koidu Holdings?

    • Why did Ernest Bai Koroma try to get rid of Mayor Emerson Lamina of Koidu City?
    • Why did the President get rid of the Vice President Sam Sumana illegitimately?
    • Where are the hospitals meant to be built with the Ebola funds?
    • What about sanitation?
    • What about the manipulation of the Census?
    • Why does the President generously reward some of his outspoken enemies?
    • What about the decline in education in Sierra Leone today?
    • Where are the improvements done to make Sierra Leone a potential tourist destination?
    • Why did Ernest Bai Koroma fail to show up in London in February to sell the investment potential of Sierra Leone to British companies and investors?
    • Why is Ernest Bai Koroma selling our country to foreigners?

    Sierra Leone’s economy relies heavily on its abundant mineral, marine and natural resources, including rich diamond mines, timber, gold, bauxite, which represent a substantial portion of the country’s export earnings.

    If the President of our country is only committed to plundering the substantial portion of the country’s export earnings, what remains for the future of Sierra Leone?

    Is it true that Ernest Bai Koroma, with the help of unscrupulous foreigners, is mining the mineral resources of our country solely for himself?

    With the deteriorating state of Sierra Leone and Sierra Leoneans dying of hunger, lack of medical facilities and sanitation, does he deserve to be referred to as the “Pa” or the President of our country?

    Is it true that all his money amassed through corruption is outside the country, ensuring it is not used for any form of development in the country?

    This is the time for all patriotic Sierra Leoneans to stand up and immediately do all we can to impeach Ernest Bai Koroma, along with the bunch of corrupt ministers recently appointed by him, if the allegation against him is confirmed to be true.

    Ernest Bai Koroma´s abuse of entrusted power for his private gain is unpardonable. Let us stand up for out rights.

  3. I just wanted you to know that Brazil voted yesterday Sunday April 17 to impeach their President Dilma Rousseff for worst recession in decades and hiding a budgetary deficit to win re-election in 2014. They also hold her accountable for a massive bribery and corruption scandal that has engulfed dozens of politicians in the Workers’ Party and Coalition Government.

    Of course, this is no different from the lackadaisical and corrupt Government of President Ernest Koroma. It is about time for the Members of Parliament in both APC and SLPP political parties to rise up above favoritism with due diligence and impeach Ernest Koroma for tampering and violating the tenets of the Constitution of Sierra Leone. Amen.

  4. With these recent corruption allegations on MambaTV and Bloomberg, it behooves President Ernest Koroma to step down respectfully and let a PATRIOTIC Sierra Leonean lead the country forward. For all I know, Sierra Leone is by no means safe under EBK.

    I have been calling on his resignation for a long time through The Sierra Leone Telegraph. But, all to no avail. However, not this time around. He has to pack his bundle and go now; and very quickly. Thank you Sir.

    Please remember this: “Sierra Leoneans are not upset that President Ernest Koroma lied to them, but that from now on they can’t believe him.” ― cf Friedrich Nietzsche. Shame on EBK!

    And this is what Kabs Kanu, who left Sierra Leone for donkey’s years, had to say on cocorioko.info

    “Fake News Alert: Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Koroma Not Named In The Panama Papers published on April 6, 2016.

    “Some Sierra Leoneans dislike their own country so intensely that whenever there is an international index by monitoring organizations, if their country is not given a poor rating , they become very unhappy. Similarly, if an international scandal breaks out and Sierra Leone is not part of it, some patricidal Sierra Leoneans will look for every means to hook their country or President to it.

    “While the Liberian , Nigerian and Ghanaian media are going out of their way not to link their country to the recently leaked Panama Papers, Sierra Leoneans, out of mischief, hatred , unpatriotism and perfidy have linked President Ernest Koroma to these infamous papers, though in truth, nowhere is the President named in the scandal…All the credible and reputed world newspapers that have researched the Panama Papers so far mentioned nothing about President Koroma…Also, over 40 countries were named whose leaders and relatives were implicated in the financial scandal, but Sierra Leone was not among them…The Sierra Leone media loves to take advantage of the gullibility of the public to peddle all kinds of lies and propaganda against President Koroma and the Government.” (Cocorioko Newspaper).

    Shame on you too LYING Kabs Kanu. Please learn to speak the truth in your life time, even if little, at least to the people of Sierra Leone. And especially in the pulpit. Amen.

  5. Mr MARGAI, for the indigenes of so called SIERRA LEONE, the land as constituted will forever be a poisoned chalice!!

    So called SIERRA LEONE was not brought about by an agreement with north-westerners and south-easterners. It was and remains a product of the slave trade, assault, looting, plunder, land grabs, invasion, murder, rape, occupation and then pacification.

    SIERRA LEONE was set up to benefit international gangsterism. What do you think EMPIRES are all about? Hmm? The local elites, whoever they may or might be are merely facilitators in the looting and rape of the resources and peoples of the land.

    Until our land is agreed and settled by its indigenes and properly named (that is, in an African context), we will have neither self-respect or an authentic rule of law that brings about peace and prosperity.

    The issue is not BAI KOROMA or the north-westerners!!!

  6. According to Transparency International (TI), since 2008 to 2015, Sierra Leone is listed as one of the most corrupt countries on the Global Corruption Barometer in Africa and around the world.

    Transparency International ranks countries according to the perception level of corruption. Hence one year after Ernest Koroma’s APC forceful assumption to political power, Sierra Leone has held that retrogressive, inhumane and shameful position in the world and the northern-led APC is proud of their leadership role in that appalling category by naming him “The World’s Best.”

    Ernest Koroma, a Limba/Loko power-drunk from the north is anti-development, anti-education, undemocratic, a shame to human civilization, modernity and decency, he is a hater of South-easterners, a threat to the development of Sierra Leone and a materialistic person.

    He is a seasoned tribalist and a divider. He is a complete opposite of civilized leadership, he has turned Sierra Leone into a laughing stock thereby bringing shame and indignity to every Sierra Leonean.

    He is the worst leader in the history of Sierra Leone and his only motive to political power was and is to crumble Sierra Leone, force every citizen into poverty and secondary slavery. Sierra Leone under Ernest Koroma’s APC led government, is qualified to be a case study whenever failed and disastrous examples is required. The Koroma government is an example of terrible and incompetence leadership.

    Under Ernest Koroma’s APC led government, education is completely dead, intimidation and violence have increased, and they have deprived the people of basic human freedom and the tools to reach their individual potentials. Any society wherein criminals are in charge of everything is tantamount to failure.

    No wonder the world does not respect us and uses Sierra Leone as an example of a failed, retrogressive and disastrous society. The so-called capitol city (Freetown) looks like a garbage tank and is one of the worst and dirtiest cities in the world.

    Under Ernest Koroma’s APC, drug dealers have turned Sierra Leone into a gateway and safe heaven, to use, buy and export drugs to neighboring countries. As if the failed, inhumane and disastrous leadership of Ernest Koroma is not enough, he continues to spread hate, seasoned tribalism, division and malice.

    He continues to make lives very difficult for every Sierra Leonean by naming himself and his family members as CEO of every cooperation and mining company.

    That brings me to the meaning of a strong, nationalistic and competent leader. Strong, competent and nationalistic leaders do not divide their citizens or spread hate, racism/tribalism or force their people to obey them.

    They have a reservoir of ideas to improve the lives of their people and develop their countries; they bring people together and not divide them but tap into their individual potentials. They instill pride and confidence in their people, encourage them to be responsible citizens and to have love and pride for their country.

    Strong, competent and nationalistic leaders build on past development and make a strong foundation for the citizens to develop themselves and their country.

    Is Ernest Koroma a strong, competent and nationalistic leader? Does he love Sierra Leone and its people? Is he proud of Sierra Leone?

    After 8 years in power, I asked twenty Sierra Leoneans from different regions on whether or not they are hopeful and proud of their country – nineteen of the twenty people I talked to, said they are not hopeful and are not proud of their country.

    The biggest human mistake some Sierra Leoneans (especially tribal-driven northerners) made, was the right they gave Ernest Koroma to rig elections, spread corruption, hate, tribalism and sack or exclude every South-easterner from prominent positions, as if northerners have monopoly over ideas in Sierra Leone.
    Hence Sierra Leone has been turned into a family run organization thereby bringing shame and indignity to every Sierra Leonean.

    It is a complete disgrace and embarrassment to all Sierra Leoneans, Continued corruption and international begging attitudes of the Ernest Koroma’s led APC government have brought Sierra Leoneans hopelessness, embarrassment and disgrace. We don’t respect ourselves so the world does not respect us either.

    Does Sierra Leone deserve to be recolonized and re-educated about good governance and human responsibility to society?

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