Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 October 2020:
Yesterday’s dramatic scenes outside the home of former president Koroma in Makeni, where thousands of his supporters formed a human shield to prevent Anti-Corruption Commission investigators from meeting with the former president, have been widely condemned.
Although advisers of the former president deny any involvement by the former president in organising those riotous demonstrations outside his house, critics say that he must have been fully aware of what was going on, and yet he did nothing to disperse the crowd to allow corruption investigators to carry out their work.
Yesterday, one of the country’s most respected civil society groups – Campaign for Good Governance (CGG), condemned what it described as the “Makeni standoff between the Anti-Corruption Commission and former president Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma”. CCG is calling for calm.
This is what CCG said in its press statement:
“Campaign for Good Governance (CGG) today unequivocally condemns the unfortunate incident that took place in Makeni city yesterday, Thursday 8th October 2020. We would also like to express our disappointment at all those whose inactions and utterances allowed the standoff to happen. We condemn the actions of citizens who took to the streets of Makeni to prevent a constitutionally mandated institution from carrying out its duties.
As advocates for accountability and the rule of law, CGG strongly believes that every citizen should be held to account for their actions and stewardship when in public office. We note and are wary of the growing political tensions in certain parts of the country and we expect citizens to be more responsible in helping to maintaining the peace and stability that others sacrificed their lives for us to enjoy.
We also expect citizens to act in conformity with the law at all times and to support constituted authorities and public institutions to implement their mandates peacefully and without fear of harm.
CGG is not oblivious of the fact that there is a serious collapse of public trust in governance processes generally across the country.
We have monitored and documented numerous instances of disregard for due process and the rule of law by those who ought to be effecting them and implementing same. However, we do not believe that should serve as an excuse for citizens to disrupt an ongoing accountability process. We therefore call for calm and respect for the investigation process to continue.
CGG would also like to call on the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to continue dialoguing with the former President and his lawyers, to find a peaceful, less publicized interaction to ensure that the investigations proceed without hindrance.
We salute the steps taken by the ACC to de-escalate the situation and to explore alternatives. We also encourage the ACC to continue with a pragmatic approach. We enjoin others to strongly urge that all respects and protocols due to the former President, are accorded him unreservedly.
To the former President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, we welcome the commitment expressed to abide by and cooperate with the investigations process. We believe that this is an opportunity to show beyond rhetorics, that there is indeed a genuine desire to account for your stewardship.
We implore you to publicly denounce violence and call for calm among your supporters while the investigation is ongoing. We would like to emphasize that it is not only what we do, but also what we fail to do, for which we are accountable.
CGG would like to commend the display of professionalism and restraint shown by personnel and officers of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP). If there are any lessons to learn from yesterday’s unfortunate incident, one of them could be how law enforcement is applied.
The professional performance by the police is a testament to the fact that law enforcement agencies in Sierra Leone have no excuse to exceed the bounds of their mandates. The imperative to follow due processes and international best practices is not an option, it should be a must, under all circumstances.
We therefore applaud the SLP for demonstrating that it is indeed possible to police public gatherings and demonstrations without resorting to use of excessive force that results in injuries and fatalities.
Finally, CGG wants to assure the public that we will continue to play our role in ensuring an amicable resolution to this issue.”
As condemnation of the supporters of the former president and his handling of the ugly scenes outside his home continues, the country’s Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) said this morning that it is “calling on His Excellency the former President, in both his personal capacity as a Senior Citizen and as Chairman and Leader of the All Peoples Congress Party, to make a public denunciation of those acts of lawlessness and to admonish the perpetrators (again who held themselves out as his and APC Supporters), to desist from such unwarranted breach of the public peace and obstruction of the work of the ACC, a legally constituted Body.”
This is what the PPRC statement says:
“The Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC), is appalled by the ugly scenes of rowdy and riotous youths and masquerades, that lined up the street leading to the Makeni residence of His Excellency the former President and Chairman and Leader of the All Peoples Congress Party, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.
“By the pronouncements of those bands of marauding rioters, they were out there to prevent the Anti-Corruption Commission Officials, from accessing the residence of the former President, for the purpose of obtaining a statement from him, on corruption related allegations. The marauders publicly claimed to be acting in the name of the former President and the APC Party.
“Consequent upon those Pronouncements, the Commission expected His Excellency the former President, both in his capacity as an elderly Statesman and Party Leader, to have come out and publicly denounced those acts of lawlessness and admonished the perpetrators that held themselves out as his supporters, to desist from same. The former President’s failure to do so, is very concerning and worrisome to the Commission.
“We therefore call on His Excellency the former President, in both his personal capacity as a Senior Citizen and as Chairman and Leader of the All Peoples Congress Party, to make a public denunciation of those acts of lawlessness and to admonish the perpetrators (again who held themselves out as his and APC Supporters), to desist from such unwarranted breach of the public peace and obstruction of the work of the ACC, a legally constituted Body.”
A statement was also published yesterday by the country’s Office of National Security, condemning the ugly and threatening scenes organised by supporters of the former president in Makeni on Friday. This is what it says: