Sierra Leone opposition politician Alie Kabba is to be granted bail – but at what cost?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 December 2015

Alie Kaaba 2After spending almost thirty-six hours behind bars on false arrest in Freetown as a prisoner of conscience, the authorities in Sierra Leone have decided to release Alie Kabba on bail.

His release comes after a worldwide call by SLPP supporters and the Sierra Leone Telegraph demanding his immediate release. But the bail conditions are nothing short of a gagging order, aimed at silencing the presidential hopeful.

Sources in Freetown say that the bail conditions include the surrender of his US passport and all other travel documents. He has also been ordered not to make any public statement, comment or give an interview.

These conditions provide clear evidence of the Koroma government’s determination to silence the opposition and the media in Sierra Leone.

Since arriving in Sierra Leone two weeks ago to start his campaign for the opposition SLPP presidential flagbearship, Alie Kabba has been speaking publicly about the government’s failings and the culture of corruption in high places.

Chief Somano Kapen2The release of Alie Kabba has been facilitated by the good efforts, resolve and determination of members of the SLPP national executives led by chairman Chief Somano Kapen (Photo) and lawyers representing Kabba.

It is not yet clear what sums of money may need to be paid by those acting as sureties for Alie’s bail, but this is expected to run into hundreds of millions of Leones.

Alie Kabba was arrested yesterday morning, Wednesday 23rd December, under a trumped-up false claim of bigamy.

But supporters and friends of Kabba say that his arrest was politically motivated so as to damage Alie’s chances of contesting the presidential election that is due in 2017. They are calling for his immediate and unconditional release from jail.

Commenting on the arrest of Kabba, criminal lawyers in Freetown say that they were surprised that he was arrested by the police, given the fact that there is a matrimonial case in court brought by the local government minister, who alleges that Kabba has committed bigamy.

law courts building freetownLegal observers also say that Kabba must be treated as innocent of bigamy until proven guilty by the court. And until such time, the police have no business arresting Kabba on the orders of so called powers from above – a euphemism for State House.

Sierra Leone currently faces a huge problem of credibility and image in the international community. The arrest of journalists and opposition politicians will further damage any goodwill the country has with the international community.

Can the international community continue to trust a president and his ruling party that is becoming ever increasingly like the Chinese Communist Party, to which senior members of the ruling APC have sworn allegiance?

Sierra Leone needs $1 billion handout from the international community to help rebuild the country’s economy and health systems that have been destroyed by decades of neglect, corruption and poor governance.

The return of Sierra Leone effectively to a one party state by muzzling the opposition and media, will make it very difficult for the government to continue to receive foreign aid and investments.

No honest investor wants to put their capital in an unstable and politically volatile country like Sierra Leone, where political repression and the curtailing of civil liberty is increasing at an alarming pace.

Sierra Leone army deployed in Kono - Dec 2015last week in Kono in the east of the country, ruling party supporters burned down the house of the opposition SLPP party chairman before voters went to the polls in a by-election that was marred by violence and intimidation.

The election was won by the ruling APC with a majority of over 60%.

President Koroma is looking to change the country’s constitution next year through a referendum, so as to allow him to contest presidential election for a third term in office.

But the political risk of pursuing this personal ambition at the expense of the country’s stability is very high.

Recent events in Burundi have shown what people’s power can do when a president abuses his constitutional authority in office, to pursue his selfish ambition of extending his stay in power. Hundreds of people have so far died in Burundi with the rise in political and ethnic violence.

The ruling APC in Sierra Leone does not have a very good track record of peacefully accepting electoral defeat at the polls, and there are fears that the 2017 general and presidential elections will be bloody.

3 Comments

  1. The arrest of Alie Kabba epitomises the extent to which politicians in Sierra Leone are prepared to go to undermine national institutions, the rule of law and our fledgling democracy in their desperate attempts to hold on to power, despite miserably failing the people of Sierra Leone and are doing so, being aided and abetted by the Sierra Leone Police.

    We learnt that Alie Kabba’s wife and senior government minister – Diana Konomaniyi, has petitioned the courts for a divorce, on the grounds of bigamy. He is then invited to the Criminal Investigations Department to answer charges of bigamy. He is detained for more than 36 hours, before release; and his release conditions include barring him from speaking publicly as well as surrendering his US passport.

    In the light of what we know, it is necessary to ask the following questions of the GOSL and the Sierra Leone Police:

    1) If a petition for divorce on the grounds of bigamy is before the court, did the presiding judge issue a warrant for the arrest of Mr Kabba and if not, on whose instruction were the police acting when they invited Kabba to court?

    2) With very serious crimes of violence being perpetuated in Sierra Leone every day, not forgetting the corruption within the GOSL, is an allegation of bigamy the most serious issue facing Sierra Leone, necessitating the involvement of very senior police officers?

    3) Are the actions of the Sierra Leone police, i.e. the gagging order and the request to surrender Alie Kabba’s US passport in any way proportionate or relevant to the allegation of bigamy? Why is a gagging order necessary and why is he asked to surrender his US passport?

    4) If the police attended his home and escorted him to the Criminal Investigations Department, presumably they must have sufficient evidence to charge him. If no charges have been brought against him, why was he detained for more than 36 hours and why is he required to surrender his US passport and been given a gagging order?

    The APC GOSL of Ernest Koroma is undermining our hard won freedoms. These actions are reminiscent of the repression under the Siaka Steven’s era when Pademba Road was crammed with political detainees and the ISU, the RSLAF and thugs carried out a reign of terror to force the people of Sierra Leone into silence.

    We have news for you APC – those days will not be allowed to return. We must stand up against tyranny and repression by APC power elites who want to keep our people in poor and desperate conditions. APC have no solutions to the problems and challenges which successive governments have created.

    This arrest of Alie Kabba is an attack on all Sierra Leoneans and it reflects the desperation of the APC. They cannot sell the ‘More Time Agenda’ to Sierra Leoneans because their failure of leadership and their corruption is evident for all to see, with Ebola, environmental disasters and economic ruin as their track record.

    The attempts by APC to weaken the opposition SLPP is being seen for what it is. The SLPP is beginning to rally round, and events like this will only strengthen the resolve of the SLPP leadership to make a stand against the attacks of the SLPP on their flagbearer aspirants.

    Those flagbearer aspirants who see the APC for what it is, i.e. “not an example of effective leadership” will triumph over the opportunists within the SLPP who take a contrary view.

  2. I do not understand why Alie Kabba has been arrested on a charge of bigamy before being found guilty by the courts?

    This has nothing to do with bigamy. The police is an arm of government and they have arrested this man on ‘orders from above’. Ow, de pa de fraid Alie Kabba ee mot?

    So are you going to silence him now till the elections are over in 2018?

    Sierra Leone – the land of polygamy – is arresting a man for bigamy’ – this is laughable.

  3. Sierra Leone may be heading back to the old Siaka Steven’s APC communist days. I quite remember one of vice president Victor Foh’s comments on local media, when he said “APC will not give up power again unless they brought another Rebel war”.

    To me, Its was like a joke but now I understand. Mr. Foh was later elevated to VP. Recently, he scared the People of Kono into voting. On voting day, majority of the opposition SLPP voters ran into the Bushes because of violent, while calls were for the APC voters to come out in full force to vote. The voting turn out was very low.

    It was reported on local and International media that two US Citizens of Sierra Leonean descent were arrested at Lungi Airport and were detained for criticizing the Police as corrupt.

    The two Men were escorted to a Police Station as soon as they landed in Freetown on Monday. It all started in Casablanca where the two men were traveling with the Sierra Leone Deputy Inspector General of Police Chief Richard Moigbeh who ordered their arrest.

    Moigbeh’s statement was that the two men stood in front of a crowd in Casablanca while they awaited a flight to Freetown and preached that the Police and Judiciary were the two institutions that have held the country’s progress back and that if they are not got rid of, Sierra Leone will not progress.

    Is Sierra Leone heading back to the APC Communist days?

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