Concerned Sierra Leoneans call for the indictment of the Bio government by the ICC

Concerned Sierra Leoneans: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 March 2021:

We write to formally draw your attention to our growing concerns with respect to the unmitigated violations of human, civil and political rights, and the industrial scale corruption within the echelons of the current government led by President Julius Maada Bio. Bio’s government came to power on the back of firm promises to, inter alia, fight corruption and lawlessness; to foster peace and tranquillity by ensuring full respect for, and the protection of, every Sierra Leonean’s civil, political and human rights. However, the reality on the ground today cannot be further from the literature in Bio’s election manifesto.

Having registered a series of complaints and warnings, by way of public press releases, about the spate of violence, political intimidations and egregious infractions, perpetrated by the Bio led administration, but to no avail, we are thus compelled to formally inform all stakeholders locally, nationally and internationally for a swift intervention to mitigate this looming disaster that, if left unchecked, would spiral into another civil conflict.

Since assuming power on 4th April, 2018, the Bio Presidency has turned its back on good governance and best democratic practices as per international standards and, instead embarked on the path of: intimidating political opponents, endemic corruption, arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions, violent suppression of dissent, in order to protect corrupt high ranking officials, including himself and his wife, the first lady, Mrs Fatima Jabbie Bio, from scrutiny.  We have in our possession video and documentary evidences to this effect.

Below are few disturbing instances of the government’s measures in curbing dissent and public scrutiny of their indiscretions:

  • The Africanist Press, a U.S. based investigative newspaper, headed by a Sierra Leonean named Mr Chernoh Bah, revealed with documentary evidences of endemic financial corruption within the echelons of power, including the office of the president, the offices of the Chief minister, the First lady and others. In an attempt to muzzle Mr Bah, the government has threatened Mr Bah with a law suit for libel and defamation as reported by AYV Newspaper, captioned: “STATEHOUSE HIRES TOP LAWYERS TO SUE CHERNOH BAH AND THE AFRICANIST PRESS”. Meanwhile, their supporters are threatening Mr Bah by phone calls, vowing to lynch him whenever and wherever the opportunity arose. We have also received classified information of threats on his life by some officials in the President Bio led SLPP administration, whose names appeared in the revelations of corruption and misappropriations of public funds.
  • A prominent opposition party leader (the ADP party), by the name of Mr. Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray, who is an outspoken critic of the Bio led-government is languishing in jail on trumped-up charges of raping a minor in order to keep him silent.
  • The arbitrary arrest and illegal detention of a prominent female journalist and presidential aspirant named Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, who was later released without charge.
  • The government has also developed a strategy to deflect the public’s attention from these infractions by invoking COVID-19 emergency laws to create unnecessary chaos – recently, a night curfew was declared in the guise of mitigating the onward spreading of the coronavirus. On the night in question, gangs of government supporters aided by security personnel went on a looting spree and destroying market stalls at the Jui community in the east end of the capital. A few days later, the same action was repeated in broad daylight at the ‘Belgium’ trading centre in the west end of Freetown. These events, in the government’s calculations, would deflect the public’s gaze on the endemic corruption at the apex of power exposed by the Africanist Press.
  • In a recent leaked letter, purportedly alerting Interpol, the government declared as wanted, prominent personalities – the likes of Dr Sylvia Blyden, Mr Amadu Koita Malako (comrade Koita) and others – who are vociferously critical of this government’s excesses, irrespective of the fact that the named individuals were, and are, still within the confines of Sierra Leone. These are some of the several intimidation tactics deployed by this government to muzzle dissent.

Against this background, Concerned Sierra Leoneans have resolved to the following:

  • To formally file a lawsuit against the government of Sierra Leone to the International Criminal Justice (ICJ) for crimes against humanity such as state-sanctioned murders and destruction of properties; the erosion of civil liberties; the political intimidations leading to the disenfranchisement of perceived opponents and citizens at large as a continuation of the complaint already at the ICC.

Sierra Leoneans have lost confidence in the Commissioner’s ability, integrity and neutrality. He is an alleged SLPP paid-up member and a close friend with the likes of the Chief Minister and the First Lady – a clear conflict of interests. This conflict of interests has compromised his impartiality as an Anti- Corruption Commissioner. Such compromise is manifested in Mr Francis Ben Kaifala’s failure to probe the first of a series of allegations against the Chief Minister, Prof David Francis. In April 2020, a Journalist by the name of Mr Salieu Tejan Jalloh exposed a $1.5 million bribery allegation involving the Chief Minister, Prof David Francis. Yet, the Commissioner, Mr Francis Ben Kelfala took no action. Subsequent corruption allegations against the Chief Minister were also not investigated. He has also indicated no interest in probing the excesses of the First Lady, who is implicated in the corruption practices exposed by the Africanist Press. The people of Sierra Leone are calling for Mr Francis Ben Kelfala’s immediate resignation or removal from office.

The aforementioned government excesses have eroded public confidence in this Bio-led administration. The ubiquitous democratic deficit in Sierra Leone, induced by political negligence, corruption and state repression; the resultant hardship on the citizens, are there for all to see, as was noted by the newly elected President of the United States of America, Mr Joe Biden. In his recent state address, President Joe Biden stated that, “people in countries like Sierra Leone are living in their countries like refugees and thus, fleeing in droves, due to government repression, high handedness, victimization and arbitrary use of force on the civilian population…” This is a clear indictment on the Bio governance system and, therefore, Concerned Sierra Leoneans are imploring the relevant international authorities/bodies to act on the following recommendations on behalf of the citizens of Sierra Leone:

RECOMMENDATIONS

We recommend that the International Anti – Corruption/ National Crime Agency, on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone, conduct investigations into allegations of rampant Corruption, Money Laundering and gross Human Rights Violations of the SLPP Government officials articulated below; President Julius Maada Bio and his wife, First Lady, Mrs Fatima Bio, the Chief Minister, Professor David Francis, Dr Kelfala M. Kallon, Bank Governor of Sierra Leone, Dr David Sengeh, the Minister for Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Mr Jacob Jusu Saffa, Minister of Finance, Lahai Lawrence Leema, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister, Mr Joe Demby, Presidential Advisor on Economic and Financial Policy, Ms Fatmata Sawaneh, SLPP Women’s Leader, Dr. Patrick K. Muana, Policy Advisor and State House Strategic Communications Director, Dr Marda Mustapha, Executive Director of The National Investment Board (NIB), Mr Paul Sobba Masaaquoi, the ‘Maada and Fatima Bio Foundation (1154091)’ Trustee and Executive Director of Sierra Leone Martime Administration and Ms Phylis Kapu, the ‘Maada and Fatima Bio Foundation (1154091)’ Trustee.

We further recommend that, as most, if not all of the aforementioned individuals have close ties in Europe and the U.S.A., that a travel ban be imposed and an international arrest warrant declared on them, including their close allies. Moreover, we request the U.S. government impose the Magnitsky sanctions on them, which allows the U.S. government to apply a global sanction on foreign individuals it deems to be human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering the U.S. Similarly, we request that the U.K. government to apply the Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) on them.

We also implore the UK Home Office and the US State Department investigate their allies residing in their countries for possible money laundering, which is in violation of their visa and naturalization conditions.

It is also submitted that, the Charities Commission UK should investigate the Fatima and Maada Bio Foundation on allegations of financial malpractice, money laundering and corruption. According to information received, the charity is registered in the UK and Sierra Leone with Reg. No.1154091. The current trustees of the said Foundation/Charity are Paul Sobba Massaquoi, Phylis Kapu and Fatima Bio (First Lady of Sierra Leone). This Foundation is used as a conduit through which, stolen money from our consolidated funds and donor funds meant for programs such as the ‘Hands Off Our Girls flagships’ championed by the First Lady, Mrs Fatma Jabbie Bio, are diverted into private personal accounts.

Above all, we recommend that, an international moratorium be placed on all financial assistance to Sierra Leone as your collective philanthropy does not reach the intended recipients – the poor and needy Sierra Leoneans.

Your positive responses are highly anticipated at your soonest convenient time, and we thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation.

LONG LIVE FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY, JUSTICE, PEACE AND EQUALITY!

Sincerely Yours

Concerned Sierra Leoneans

CC

  1.     First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs,UK
  2.     Minister for Africa, UK
  3.     Home Office, UK
  4.     Secretary of State for the Home Department
  5.     Charities Commission, UK
  6.     National Crime Agency, UK
  7.     International Criminal Court (ICC)
  8.     UN Secretary General
  9.     Amnesty International, UK
  10.  ECOWAS President
  11.  UK High Commissioner, Sierra Leone
  12.  US Ambassador, Sierra Leone
  13.  African Union
  14.  US State Department
  15.  Her Majesty Opposition Party leader
  16.  Harriet Harman, Chairman of the UK Human Rights Committee,  UK Parliament
  17.  Neil Coyle MP
  18.  Secretary of State for International Development, UK
  19.  President of the UK Supreme Court
  20.  European Union
  21.  IMF

 

14 Comments

  1. “Some men are wise some otherwise”. This is the country where human rights and the rule of Law are really seen at play. But let me inform you “Concerned Sierra Leoneans” as you call the group, that there are likewise other concerned Sierra Leoneans yearning for the growth and good health of Sierra Leone. Your concerns are noted and if we are honest with ourselves and the findings you have published as a concern, where is the issue? I think we are here for a reason. Today with modern technology and awareness, people are well informed of the day-to-day activities on the ground. If I am to comment serially on the points raised by this group of concerned Sierra Leoneans, I shall thank them first for maintaining the peace and writing their concerns on paper for it to be looked into. I do believe this is how a civilized nation should look like. Before the law there is no rich, no poor but common people fighting a common cause.

    To start with, the Africanist press in my opinion placed the cart before the horse. Provided his claims were correct, the pressman Mr.Bah would have been a very good source for any of the opposition members or party when a call for inquiry would have arisen. But if his claims are not correct then such a person is serving as a recipe for chaos and disorder in any nation. Therefore, it is right for him to be taken to court for legal action. Let him prove the facts there. With regard the ADP chairman case, he is a Sierra Leonean like any other Sierra Leonean and therefore has to be treated equally before the Law. A good number of high profile public servants and citizens are in prison for the same crime that Mohammed Kamarainba is alleged to have committed. Let him prove his innocence. Major (Rtd) Paalo Conteh is now a freeman, united with his family under the leadership of President Dr.Julius Maada Bio’s amnesty.

    We all have known or heard about the history of unlawful arms present at State House since 1968. If Dr. Sylvia Blyden was arbitrarily arrested and detained under the 1965 public order act and other statutory laws, that should not be an issue. Thank God for the leader we have and the current parliamentarians for repealing the 1965 public order Act. A good number of people had suffered from this Act including Sylvia. So accept it as a fact. Because the Act was not good, that is the reason why my president, your president our president and his government with the joint effort of our sober minded, well placed and educated parliamentarians repealed this Act. Thank you all.

  2. So called “Concerned Sierra Leoneans” – where were you for eleven years, when corruption was the order of the government? Corruption has destroyed and killed more of our brothers and sisters than your fantasy claims of the present government. Donor countries and financial institutions abandoned S.Leone because of it; it led the Koroma government to declare austerity measures on the innocent citizens, whilst they were building mansions and living it up. Oh by the way, just to remind the “so called concerned Sierra Leoneans” that our country is measured in the bottom index when it comes to life expectancy, because of corruption – it is time to pay up.

    Folks are paying up and their mansions are being confiscated; cant wait. This is the first time in the history of our country that public servants are being called to give account of their stewardship. We know some folks will fight back, because they have used our country’s resources as their personal piggy bank. Please, who are these concerned folks, come out of the shadows, instead of painting all S. Leoneans of endorsing a partisan nonsense.

  3. I am just wondering why the names of the people in this group called “Concerned Sierra Leoneans” are not published. Credible reporting requires specificity about the who, what, when, where, and how. Who are the people behind this petition? Where are they based? What specific evidence do they have, beyond quoting a secondary source about violations of rights and corruption?

  4. Great suggestions, but I am afraid I have to disagree with sending President Bio and his friends to Den Haag. And if anyone could ask me if I support sending President Bio or any of his righthand men, including the First Lady, to Den Haag, I will categorically say NO! We will continue to shame them when they do unacceptable things. They won’t bother, but we will continue our campaign to make hell out of the 2023 elections. First of all, they are all Sierra Leoneans, and President Bio was elected to office of the President democratically. We respect our democracy. I prefer the next government, decide whether to send them to Den Haag for the crimes they committed.

    We do not need the US or the UK right now. We will need the UK and the US if we defeat President Bio in 2023 and he refuses to leave. This President must not leave by illness, death, indictment, COVID 19 or military coup, God forbid whilst in office. We have all the political tools and campaign ammunition in our political armoury to defeat President Bio in the next elections. What is wrong with that, ladies and gentlemen? With all his political woes, scandals and failures, orchestrated by his lack of leadership, he has to go. I would like to see what President Bio will tell the people of Sierra Leone on the debate stage, why they should vote for his re-election in 2023.

    Finally, I thank GOD that all the SLPP party champions I know were not listed in the article. Sadly, those champions are quiet today because they have no political party voice, and they are the weakest link in the party. The SLPP party has been hijacked and no longer exists, in my view. SAD. I believe these champions will become a responsible opposition after the 2023 elections. Every country needs a responsible opposition. We will help them achieve that goal which will make them just happy. God help and protect the SLPP party champions. May God bless the Concerned Citizens for their article. Amen and Amen. Father God.

  5. Thanks Dr Tunkara, with all due respect you completely missed my point I was trying to make. When I say faceless individuals, I am right in saying that. Dr Blyden a champion of democracy in Sierra Leone, has never shied from airing her views. So is Mr Bah of Africanist Press r Adebayo? If you want to challenge a government, there are risks involved. Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr, Lumumba and many other leaders of libration movements. Some go to prison for their beliefs and others even pay the ultimate prize. Like Thomas Sankarah that was critical of the French government. I know if you read my previous posting, You can clearly note that I am not an apologist of this government. I have always highlighted the human rights abuses under the Bio government. My first posting on this forum was in reaction to the killing of unarmed prisoners in Pademba Road, which I condemned and called for investigation and justice for the families. The ICC will never indict a president that is supported by the western powers. That is the USA, UK, France Germany and others. On the other spectrum, the Russians and Chinese will always use their veto power to block any decision-making critical of governments under their umbrella, for example Syria. More than eight hundred thousand people have died in that country but no one was brought to justice. When Apartheid ended in South Africa, instead of persecuting the Apartheid leaders, the African National Congress and the Black majority were told to precipitate in peace and reconciliation with their former oppressors. Look I lost some members of my family in the RUF war. I have always been critical of Bio and his government. No one wants our country to go back to those bad old days, because war only means one thing – destruction.

    So let us say Bio is indicted, then vice president Juldeh Jalloh becomes president, you really think he will hand Bio the ICC court? Yes we will all like to see that, but at the moment it will not happen. Let us be honest with ourselves, we all want change in Sierra Leone. If our judiciary was independent none of this will be required. I will love to see Bio and others who ordered the killing of those prisoners in Pademba road, Makeni and Lunsar persecuted for their crimes. Now even when those killings took place, no one heard the United Nations Security Council call for a meeting even to condem the deaths of those innocent people. We might think our country is independent, but there are always international powers playing behind the scenes. The best we can do is to strengthen our justice system, respect the rule of law and Free Press, so that people are held accountable for their actions.

  6. Aren’t Sierra Leone an independent country? Some may ridicule my question but my reason for such question is that, reporting your own government for corruption and money laundering to 21 international bodies, including a member of parliament in UK and not to any member of the Sierra Leone parliament, totally relates to this saying – “selling your birth right” to a stranger.

    Why can’t we solve our home problems. Depending on outsiders and only outsiders know the answers to solve the Republic Of Sierra Leone’s problems, this is totally a colonial mentality at play. Allegations of corruption and money laundering needs to be dealt with accordingly in one’s own country – Sierra Leone. With the Human Right allegations, yes, that can be convey to international bodies with facts and records. We need to trust in ourselves, and Mama Salone will do the rest and listen to us Sierra Leoneans. It is only us that can make Sierra Leone a better nation, not outsiders. Divide and rule is their order of the day with the African continent. For history says so. Lonta.

  7. Mr Abraham Amadu Jalloh – If I were you, before even jumping to conclusions and entrenching myself deeply in an all out attack position against citizens with troubling legitimate concerns, I would make it a priority to critically and attentively listen to what they have to say and then assess without partiality – whether their grievances and complaints are valid or far-fetched. As far as I know, the concerns that have all been listed above have been presented in good faith. Let me quickly add also say that it is for security reasons some people have chosen to write under a pseudonym, like “Concerned Citizens”, “Patriots of our Sierra Leone”, etc, etc.

    Please do not try to diminish their courageous, and sincere efforts Sir. Let me emphasize also that if crimes against humanity have been committed by Mr President and they are investigated and found to be true, then people like you Mr Jalloh and others who are complicit with his authoritarian tendencies, must know that he will have a day to answer to those charges at the Hague. The days of shrugging things off and walking away sheepishly from fights against injustice are long gone. Today, if a pin drops, many of us would like to know why. And do you seriously think if 40 unarmed prisoners were killed in the dark of night, we wouldn’t care to know why? Wrong! I thank you sincerely for your attention Sir.

  8. I do sometimes wonder about the motive and intent of some of these faceless organisations that you can’t pin down the organisational structure, address, leadership, or any thing that we know about a political organisation or a pressure group of this status, that can come up with such a dead in the water idea. To call for Bio to be put on trial before the ICC. Which planet are these organisations living in? Stop wasting your time because it will never happen. After the second world war, the Nuremberg Trials was set up to prosecute top Nazi officials. The statute of the ICC was adopted by the UN General assembly on 17th July 1998. A spinoff of the aims and objectives of the Nuremberg protocols established to investigate, and where necessary tries individuals charged with the GRAVEST concerned to the international community. GENOCIDE , war crimes, crime of aggression and crimes against humanity, like rape, enslavement, pillage.

    And since its establishment in 2002, many African countries have threatened to withdraw from it, because they see the court as a blunt instrument used against mostly African leaders. Example – Where is the Syrian leadership? Well they have the support of Russia in the security council. The recent military take over of Mayarnma and killing of protesters. They are protected in the UN security council by China and Russia. More like you can commit all sorts of crimes against your people, as long as you are protected by any one member of the UN security council, you will get away with it. And the threshold set for prosecution is really high. And since the main sponsors of the court are almost all members of the United Nations security council, and right now the Bio government is in their good books, don’t hold your breath.

    You will never see Bio in the dock in the Hague. So stop stirring problems. We just want peace. You could do well by working with opposition parties to hold this government to account. And the real opposition in Sierra leone is Chernor Bah – leader of the APC. And Dr Bylden. Talking of which – where were your outrage when she was detained? And Major Paolo Conteh. Or your protest to the killings in Makeni and pademba Road. During those dark days we never heard any of you raised the issue even with Amnesty International to give political detainees under Bio the status of prisoners of conscience. Stop your hypocrisy.

  9. Really do not know if this will be allowed, as some of my postings have not seen the light. However, here goes: It is a real shame for us to be begging the colonial masters to put our brothers in jail. It shows that we are indeed a banana republic, with no serious institutions.

  10. They passed the MCC. All who gave those marks must lose their jobs, as they are incompetent to hold such roles, or are corrupt entities themselves. Their Masters or PhDs should not suffice. They have destroyed lives.

  11. And you really think people will take you seriously? My friend stop fooling yourself. Whoever is paying you is just wasting their money- Anyway this is what you do for a living. Stop wasting your energy. Nothing is going to come out this rubbish you have written. Just take the back seat. WE MOVE…

  12. So indeed this is the level at which corruption is fighting against the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone, led by people who have already accepted guilt for corruption.

  13. And we will underwrite the cost of getting a successful indictment by the concerned Sierra Leoneans. Kudos to them.

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