Alusine Sesay: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 February 2018
A wrongful dismissal case against President Koroma’s National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) is currently being prepared for filing and hearing at the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja, Nigeria. This will be another huge public humiliation for the Koroma government, after losing the Sam Sumana sacking case. (Photo: President Koroma and sacked Vice president Sam Sumana).
Concerned APC Ministers, former MPs, and other government officials say that this NATCOM case to be filed by Brewah and Co Solicitors, who are acting on behalf of the first Director General of NATCOM – Mr Mohamed Bangura, will be far more disgraceful for President Ernest Bai Koroma than that of his sacking of Vice President Alhaji Sam Sumana.
As this David and Goliath battle rages on within the APC party, it is with a 100% certainty that DG Mohamed Bangura would be reinstated by the ECOWAS Court of Justice, a ruling that would be delivered after the 2018 Elections.
A new elected president and government in the first year of its first term in office, would not want to go into any dispute with the ECOWAS at such an early stage, but would instead want to be seen to have respect for international law and human rights by reinstating the DG accordingly.
The legal bill for the Government and NATCOM will exceed US $1 million, with potentially millions of Dollars in compensation to be paid to DG Mohamed Bangura at a time the country will still be under economic austerity and a huge national debt left behind by president Ernest Bai Koroma.
The sacked DG will also be entitled to all outstanding salaries and benefits owed him since his dismissal on 25th March 2015. It is therefore incumbent upon President Koroma to take responsibility for his “mistake” while the DG’s job remains vacant, by reinstating him in order to avert unnecessary financial loss to the country.
We call on all Presidential aspirants for the 2018 Elections, one of whom will inherit this case if left unresolved, to persuade the President to conclude this matter without the need for an expensive court action.
With the help of former MPs (APC and SLPP), together with other concerned government officials, we have got our hands on most of the letters and related documents ever dispatched to Parliament by the DG in relation to his appeal against wrongful dismissal.
Our APC sources are very unhappy with the way the DG has been maltreated by President Ernest Bai Koroma for no apparent reason other than for being patriotic and refusing to be corrupt.
Having dissolved Parliament and many former MPs of both APC and SLPP rejected for party symbols, it is in the public interest that these letters are now published as a matter of major national concern to expose the high levels of injustice, wickedness, corruption, lawlessness, greed, selfishness, political hypocrisy and sacred cow system of governance that exist under the presidency of Dr Ernest Bai Koroma.
Using Character Recognition software, we have scanned and exported most letters to Word, PDF and Rich Text formats for ease of publication on print and social media. (See letters below).
Sierra Leoneans all over the world will find it hard to believe that DG Mohamed Bangura was fired from his job only because some members of the Board of NATCOM accused him of referring to them as: “Illegal Commissioners holding a Kangaroo court”. Nothing to do with any financial or procurement offence at all.
The above 6-word allegation obviously provokes the following questions for President Ernest Bai Koroma:
- Is such allegation serious enough to sack a Director General without any query or disciplinary hearing in blatant violation of Section 23(4) of the Sierra Leone Constitution and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights?
2. Is this 6-word allegation strong enough to warrant the forfeiture of his benefits of over Le 200 million (over US $25,000) when other former DGs who were sacked due to allegations of financial irregularities received their benefits in full?
3. Is this feeble allegation not a smokescreen for the DG’s refusal to be corrupt?
4. As the DG rightly referenced in his letter to the Ombudsman, is this allegation more serious to President Koroma than the embezzlement of millions of US Dollars of Ebola money for which he has never sacked anyone from his/ her job?Any honest citizen reading this story will conclude that DG Mohamed Bangura must have been fired due to some personal grudge held against him by President Ernest Koroma. Letters by the DG revealed that he bluntly refused to carry out an illegal task which led to his instant dismissal on 25th March 2015 by the President without any independent and fair investigation.The DG filed a complaint to the Ombudsman in January 2017 for wrongful dismissal by the Board of NATCOM after President Koroma and the House of Parliament failed to address his appeal for nearly 2 years. After over six months of investigation and legal deliberations, the Ombudsman invited the DG to a final meeting on the 29th of August 2017.
According to the letter from the DG dated 18th October 2017, Ombudsman Wilson gave him the good news that he had agreed with the recommendations by both the Legal Adviser and Investigator, who were assigned to the case, that his dismissal was unlawful and therefore entitled to reinstatement.
The Ombudsman promised to finalize his written report after consultation with Dr Ernest Bai Koroma. In an act of blatant miscarriage of justice, Ombudsman Wilson shamelessly compromised his integrity less than 24 hours later and dramatically changed the ruling on the dismissal of the DG from being “unlawful” to “lawful” in total disagreement with of his own staff.
We have a copy of the letter from the DG in response to the miscarriage of justice against him in which he requested a review and reversal of the recommendations by the Ombudsman. Written in extremely polite English and dated 18th October 2017, the DG succeeded in exposing and confirming newspaper reports published in May 2017 that Melron Wilson is a corrupt Ombudsman.
We agree with the DG in his letter that any attempt to fill his job will be illegal and therefore subject to reversal by the ECOWAS Court.
Ombudsman Melron Wilson (Photo) dramatically changed his promised recommendation for reinstatement to the corrupt decision that DG Mohamed Bangura must forfeit his benefits after 4 years of service at NATCOM.
It has been alleged that, the DG’s benefits of over US $25,000 have since been illegally claimed and shared between Chairman Momoh Konte, Ombudsman Melron Wilson and one Frank Manja who is said to be a member of the Board of NATCOM.
It is without doubt that H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma continues to use his presidential powers to block the reinstatement of the DG from behind the scenes. However, chairman Momoh Konte has smelt the rat and privately accepted that the reinstatement of Mohamed Bangura as the substantive Director General of NATCOM is now morally and legally unstoppable.
After the disappointment to select him as running mate for the APC party, Momoh Konte is hoping to secure a ministerial post under a Samura-Chernoh regime. It is therefore not surprising that he has switched his loyalty from President Ernest Bai Koroma to Dr Samura Kamara like most other members of the APC have done.
In a frantic bid to dress up his newly adopted ministerial looks, the chairman is currently on a mission to distance himself from all allegations of corruption at NATCOM and the wrongful dismissal of DG Mohamed Bangura which portrays him as a very wicked human rights abuser. Momoh Konte wants to be seen as an upright and compassionate chairman.
As court action against H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma (Government of Sierra Leone) and NATCOM is now imminent, the chairman insisted privately that he had only been working under the strict instructions of the President.
Momoh Konte said he never had any quarrels with the DG and only met him for the first time ever as a result of his appointment as chairman of NATCOM in January 2015. Swearing to his daily Islamic prayers, he said the dismissal of the DG in March 2015, less than 2 months after his assumption of chairmanship, had already been decided by President Koroma well before he was even tipped to become chairman of NATCOM.
Momoh Konte alleged that President Ernest Bai Koroma holds very deep personal grudge against DG Mohamed Bangura for various reasons, some of which are private and have nothing to do with NATCOM as a Government institution. He said passionately that he is always willing to work with even his worst enemy as long as it is in the interest of the country. Momoh Konte was implying that he has no problem with the DG being reinstated if there is legal justification to do so.
In a bizarre twist of account, the chairman claimed he tried to plead on behalf of the DG and deliberately delayed execution of the instructions to sack him hoping that President Koroma would change his mind. He said he was surprised that the delay caused President Koroma to file a verbal complaint against him to the former SLPP member of Parliament and Minority Chief Whip, Hon Tunis, during a secret meeting they had in Pujehun while on a presidential visit in early 2015.
Commonly known at NATCOM as the chairman’s PA, Tunis is a very close friend and ally of Momoh Konte in the last Parliament. Tunis was unreachable to confirm his meeting with President Koroma in February or March of 2015 and we therefore call on him to make a public statement on this very important national issue.
Swearing again to his daily Islamic prayers, the chairman defended himself that the sacking of the DG was President Koroma’s idea and was carried out by the President himself during a meeting they had with him at State House on the 25th of March 2015. The chairman said he only forwarded the letter of dismissal signed by the Secretary to the President, E.B. Osho Coker. Both letters of dismissal dated 25th March 2015 seem to corroborate his account of events.
On the issue of the Ombudsman’s compromised report, the Chairman claimed he was “out of town” when NATCOM submitted a reply in response to the complaint by the DG. He said neither he nor the only lawyer among Board members, Sonia Osho-Williams, or Aminata Kallay was consulted prior to submitting the response from NATCOM that was signed by one of the Board members, Dr George Komba Kono.
Chairman Konte (Photo) further alleged that the response from NATCOM that referenced the fictitious “Kangaroo court” allegation, upon which the Ombudsman based his report, did not receive Board approval prior to submission.
He emphasized that the Board of NATCOM would never take responsibility for the dismissal of DG Mohamed Bangura, if the matter goes to court and that he has the written instructions from State House to back up the Commission’s defence. We call on other Board members of NATCOM to issue a public statement on this matter.
The legal reality is that, chairman Konte doesn’t seem to understand that, NATCOM being an independent Commission, he is not supposed to be taking direct instructions from the President.
Moreover, the DG was appointed by the Board of NATCOM and not the President. Being a nonpresidential appointee, the DG is therefore subject to the disciplinary procedure of NATCOM and not that of the Office of the President.
It is therefore unlawful for the chairman to carry out the President’s instruction to sack the DG, especially in the absence of any fair investigation or enquiry being conducted prior to his dismissal as already ruled by the ECOWAS Court of justice in the case of VP Alhaji Sam Sumana.
Chairman Konte emphatically denied bribing the Ombudsman to compromise his report on the DG’s complaint. He boldly alleged that his suggestion to pay the DG’s benefits of over US $25,000 as a way of mitigating the suspicion of bribery was angrily rejected by H.E. Dr Ernest Bai Koroma.
Momoh Konte further commented that Melron Wilson was recommended to the President by his Secretary, E.B. Osho Coker, for the post of Ombudsman. He alleged that “all arrangements” with the Ombudsman in relation to the DG’s complaints were carried out by Osho Coker and not him as he was even out of the country for most of that time.
Ombudsman Wilson has resorted to victimizing his own employees who worked on the DG’s complaint for refusing to be corrupt. He is currently not on good terms with over 80% of his workforce in Freetown and threatens to layoff or transfer most of them to the Provinces. He intends to replace them with employees who are known to be corrupt and ready to compromise, all as a direct result of his alleged corrupt handling of the DG’s case.
Ombudsman Wilson, who is supposed to protect government employees against maladministration is himself now guilty of perpetrating the same offence on a much bigger scale than any public institution in Sierra Leone.
We therefore call on President Ernest Bai Koroma to sack Ombudsman Wilson with immediate effect. Otherwise, we shall launch a campaign for his dismissal under a new government almost immediately after the 2018 Elections.
It must be recalled that Ombudsman Wilson published his report on the case between Law Students and the Law School on the same day he signed it. Publication of his report on the DG’s complaint signed on the 30th of August 2017 is now nearly 6 months overdue for publication.
We therefore call on President Ernest Bai Koroma and all Ministers, all Presidential candidates and their running mates for the 2018 Elections, Lawyer Francis Gabiddon (first Ombudsman), the Bar Association, and all Media Houses to request publication of this report in newspapers and social media, if he truly believes he has not compromised his integrity in dealing with the DG’s complaint.
In return, we shall publish the full 12-page response by the DG together with the ‘unauthorized’ reply from NATCOM as alleged by the chairman, copies of which were sent to Parliament. Other related documents, including the letters of dismissal, shall also be published. Over to you – Mr Ombudsman, Melron C. Nicol-Wilson Esq.
Read oficial letter here: