Growing condemnation of shielding of former president Koroma against Corruption investigators

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: 

23 Comments

  1. My fellow Sierra Leoneans, lets call the spade a spade. We need not blame the illiterate youths of Makeni simply because they did all what they have done out of ignorance. The blame should be casted on the former president EBK because he knows that his supporters are ignorant and highly illiterate people, and he didn’t come out to educate them that his meeting with the ACC will be peaceful. He didn’t do that. So it seems that he was behind the scene. let’s be honest with ourselves!!

  2. This is now a clear indictment of the lifetime leader and his handpicked stooge Dr. Samura Kamara that whenever they lose an election “they will make our country ungovernable by causing all sorts of problems for the SLPP government”. To achieve that destructive policy through parliament by voting against some of the policies of the opposition is legitimate, but using our youths and secret societies (mask devils) as human shields just to avoid facing justice is clearly “a war crime against humanity”. Calling out the lifetime leader and his cohorts is a positive move by these institutions which can be used as evidence for the future trial against them.

    The APC party is now implementing “the Scorched earth policy” by destroying anything that is useful to our citizens because they have realized that they are about to lose all their looting that occurred during their 11 years of misrule. This lawlessness is the product of the Attitudinal and Behavioural Change that he introduced which unfortunately created more lawless illiterates than any other leader in the history of our nation.

    Finally, it’s now an open secret that he was the brain behind all the unrests that have occurred since the voters kicked his party out of Statehouse. By the direction of the Almighty our young “David” (Francis Ben Kaifala) has made up his mind to face our “Goliath” (lifetime leader) and the only stone our ACC commissioner has in his sling is the LAW, which will definitely destroy this AYAMPI.

  3. Now it seems to me like we are approaching disappointment from H.E. Dr. Bio for not acting swiftly. We are not pushing you out to violate the rules of law, but at the same time you have to be disciplined. People calling SLPP criminals, you tell me which party has more criminal leaders compared to APC in the history of this country?

    Folks, this party (APC) ruled for over 26 years with an iron fist one party state, who can dispute that? Talking about tribalism, you tell me which party so self isolated in tribal cocoa yam like APC? My question is, why APC party people don’t want to be called “OPPOSITION”? We want Bio to act quickly.

  4. My dear! Nobody is hunting APC. The law wants to look into their past administration. Why is he refusing to appear? Hook or crook, he will appear before that court. Gone are those days for a president to enrich yourself with the nation’s resources and leave the country paralysed.

  5. Maada Bio is hands down the worst President to have ever ruled Sierra Leone, and it is because of his myopic mindset and loyalty to his tribal beliefs that we find ourselves languishing in the trenches of abject poverty and misery currently. I mean seriously, had he been on good terms with EBK today they could’ve solve most of our problems and grievances quietly in an atmosphere of mutual respect behind closed doors. But the man in State House is a disagreeable fellow that totally lacks reasoning and people skills – the ability to listen, to communicate and relate to others professionally is not something he is quite capable of doing.

    The SLPP criminal Cabal is looking desperately for ways to hold on to power and they have surrounded themselves with stooges, puppets and toy soldiers ready to do their dirty work. The former President should stay vigilant because we know for sure that wolves that have suffered a humiliating defeat do not give up too easily – they are now demoralized predators howling in the darkness as they strategize and plan their next wicked shadowy move – Be alert gentlemen and remain very WATCHFUL! Its not over until its over!

  6. What’s the main reason for EBK to be seen as above the law and not to report to COI for his alleged corruption investigation? Sierra Leoneans, do we have conscience? All you are worried about is 2023 polls. Tell me, who’s Ernest Koroma to reject ACC invitation, instead orchestrated street boys and APC party thugs to demonstrate? How would he have reacted if he was in power and Bio or another man behave stupidly like this?

    If Koroma feels he has nothing to hide, why would he behave this way? Are we not ashamed of ourselves? I just want to know what our country’s constitution says about the right of citizens. I hope someone will jumps in and make some clarification. EBK must understand this – I quote: “if war breaks out in Sierra Leone today you will be held accountable”.

    The Brazilian former President was charged and jail, also the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Why is EBK special? Mr. President H.E. Dr. Maada Bio, we need your help to rescue this country, that’s why they voted you in. Jerry Rollins the former President of Ghana was a powerful leader and a Military man, but after he left office he never interrupted his successor, because of the love he has for his country. Sierra Leoneans, indeed the APC party is not wise for this country. God protect our nation from evil.

  7. This whole COI is politically motivated and has few key objectives: 1. Put APC on Constant defensive mode…distract them until 2023. 2. Embarrass, demonize and shame them to the voting public until the public loses confidence in the party hierarchy. This strategy has been effectively used by the SLPP since the days of Momoh whom regardless of his achievements was portrayed as an imbecile, drunkard and incompetent president.

    3. Destroy the financial backbone of the APC…with a general focus to annihilate it completely. 4. Specifically dent the soaring good image of President Ernest Bai Koroma to the international community. Cut off all his important contacts which he has massively established before and after his presidency. Its all part of a plan to force him to leave party politics.

    Some of us may be young, but we are too smart not to have read this script long ago. The call for accountability is an essential ingredient for a thriving democracy but you cannot spend millions to fight a vice that is cloned in pettiness and malice.

  8. Mr Josephus Tenga, please withdraw your absurd and sarcastic remark before I engage with you in any meaningful discussion. This is your remark which I believe is out of topic, odd and again sarcastic – “Ernest deployed and encouraged Krio as an official ‘lingua franca’ in our public discourse. You tell me where in the whole world, Krio would provide any leverage to our young and upcoming”. Until you withdraw this sarcastic statement, don’t expect me telling you anything about Krio to provide leverage to bla, bla, bla. Thanks Mr Josephus Tenga and may God help you.

  9. Where were these organizations when the government was bastardizing the constitution, and committing mass killing everywhere. We never heard their press release but when it comes to humiliating the former president they are ready to throw their support. In fact the corruption charges are baseless because according to the white paper the matter has to be taken to court.

  10. This could have been a show of statemanship on the part of the Former President Koroma. The international community is closely watching.

  11. My brother you are totally right. The civil society advocates for good governance, where were they seating when the so called president Bio and his government destroyed lives and properties in our country? The chief minister was accused of 1.5m dollars; where did president Bio get the money to buy late Fadika`s mansion house at Bureh beach; where did he also get the money to build a mansion at Bar junction in Goderich? President Bio never worked before. Former president Koroma was an international businessman and he worked for 10 years. Do you expect him to be a poor man?

    • Mr Sesay – I have taken the liberty of editing your comment to remove all your profanities. You are on notice. You will be expelled from this forum if you post anymore comment with profanities. Please watch your language, if you want to stay here.

  12. Both parties are enmeshed in political posturing for the attention of their supporters. Otherwise, there are other peaceful ways and quiet approaches that the ACC could have used, without drawing the full attention of the public, to investigate and extract information from the former president especially so, to avoid wasting this much time and resources, knowing fully well the investigations have already been misconstrued by the base of the former president. Makeni city is bitter with president Bio and for good reasons I need not elaborate, for we all know and the ACC should know or should have known about the Generator machine protests and the fall of the Makeni real (5)five.

    However, experience is the best tutor. It is now abundantly clear that the former president and his party are not going to sit arms akimbo in their own backyard and submit to what many of them have strongly challenged to be witch hunting and attempt to destabilize the APC. Honestly speaking, if the process is to work, Ben Kelfala has to be more tactful, diplomatic with dialogue to avoid any potential showdown because, lets face it the entire process has been politicized from the GENESIS.

  13. For heavens sake what did the ACC expect from the people of Makeni? I know that the APC Party colour is red, and i bet there are quite a good number of red carpets in homes and other establishments in Makeni. But given the recent bloody confrontation in Makeni when the generator plant there was being commandeered, it is inconceivable that red carpet(s) will be rolled out by the people for a tete – a – tete between the ACC and former President Koroma.

  14. Sincerest thanks, Mr Bobson Mansaray for bringing to my knowledge and attention that former President Tejan Kabba was banned in the 60s from holding public office because of Corruption in Sierra Leone. Wow! Being a child of the early 90s, that was almost three decades before I was born. See, this is exactly my point; such a man was the one behind the scenes that connived, conspired and manipulated the system until Maada Bio the tribalist became leader of the SLPP. Now look at the mess he has dragged us into – a traumatized, lost and confused nation at odds with itself, desperately grasping at straws in search of a glimmer of Hope.

    Sincerely, I knew Tejan Kabba was corrupt to the bone and marrow when he became President but didn’t have the slightest clue at all, that corruption had long been sousing and marinating in his aging SLPP bones. (lol) I thank you once again Sir for your insightful comment!

  15. His Excellency Former President Koroma these are desperate unpredictable times in our beloved Sierra Leone ;Since Old Stevens finished a good work here and was transported with great speed on a massive arrow of light to the Elysian fields, delightful, peaceful and hopeful times have been becoming as rare and as scarce as natural unpolluted fresh water. And then like a silver crescent moon gazing behind moving unruffled clouds in Ramadan you appeared with a magnetic gentle smile and brought stability, love and equanimity to our beloved Sierra Leone.

    What a blessing! Such a blessing! Now remember the ghastly polluted throne on which vultures and wolves are now sitting, feasting with pride and arrogance on the flesh of the weak and innocent was once a sanctified place where you gladly anointed men with the oil of empathy, forgiveness and kindness because power is a blessing considered sacred to you. Now the aim of these wolves now running the country is to discredit you completely in the eyes of the world so that they will have a clear and easy path towards implementing authoritarian rule – You are the only obstacle standing in their way! Stand firm Sir! Hold the Line!

    Do not attempt to break ranks with the people of Makeni and the majestic indomitable, vigilant roaring lions surrounding you. Its time to wear the armour of Solidarity – an awareness of shared interests, goals, and sympathies with the masses. The world knows you are a man of Peace, so do not allow anyone to coerce or trick you apologizing for their poor sense of judgement in Makeni – do not break ranks with those who stood devotedly by your side against a two-faced delusional dictator.

  16. I think the former president has to say something to his supporters so that this ugly incident will not be repeated.

  17. I don’t get it. Where were the GGC and the PPRC when our politicians were being harassed all over the place? Where were they when our prisoners and prison officers were killed at Pademba Road Prisons? Where were they when the APC party headquarters was attacked? Where were they during Makeni I? The list goes on and on. Oh poor GGC and little PPRC. Do you want to be seen as neutral or condemn the evildoers outright? Please prove me wrong GGC and PPRC. My advice to the President is to make a cabinet reshuffle and put credible, skilful, hard working and experienced SLPP party champions in place.

    SLPP party champions who were elected by their people should join the President to help him get out of this super cute mess.
    Surrounding yourself with disgruntled individuals, some of whom were holding flags and banners demonstrating against former President Ernest Bai Koroma and his government all over the globe, to get favour of being a minister or head of a government department or institution, have led you and your government into this excellent mess.

    What happened with the interrogation process of the APC Leader Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, is a complete failure and incompetence of the ACC, which is directly under State House. The ACC boss should be sacked just like the poor former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Ms Priscilla Schwartz in my view. Terrible and disastrous failure by the ACC, leaving IG Sovula to hastily and skilfully salvage that explosive and catastrophic situation, with exceptional professionalism in mater of seconds. God bless IG Sovula.

    • Mr. Matturi,

      1. The onus of proving “not guilty as charged”, lies with President Ernest Koroma. If he has nothing to hide, he should come out without any further prompting, to declare his innocence and restore his name and that of his family. No demonstration or protest action by any supporters will do that. 2. As an elder statesman who nurtured the ACC, Ernest should be a man of his word by his actions. The ACC observed protocol and accorded him a visit, instead of summoning him to Freetown as they normally do. He violated this invitation by allowing his supporters to mount an unnecessary show of obstinacy and disregard for constitutional authority of which he has been a major player.

      3. Sierra Leone cannot grow as a country on a bed of institutional and endemic corruption. When you look across the West African sub-region, the difference with our neighbors is stark. Ernest deployed and encouraged Krio as an official ‘lingua franca’ in our public discourse. You tell me where in the whole world, Krio would provide any leverage to our young and upcoming. 4. The list is endless. But Ernest is not above the laws of the land. He must answer for his stewardship and his years in the presidency. The people demand no more, no less.

  18. No one is above the law in true democracy. So let the commission do their job correctly. If the former president is guilty or not – let justice be done.

    • MR Tenga in case you are not aware of our history, I urge you for the sake of engaging with the truth, the whole truth but nothing but the truth to go back to school and read the history of the trans Atlantic slave trade and how after its abolition FREETOWN WAS FOUNDED. MAYBE YOU WILL FIND OUT WHY FREETOWN IS CALLED FREETOWN. The slaves in the cotton plantation in the deep south of what is now called the United States America were promised freedom if they fight on the British colonial authorities side during Americas war of independence. The British were defeated and those slaves that fought on their side ended up in Nova scotia in Canada.

      So a combination of those freed slaves, the maroons of Jamaica that rebelled against their slave masters which again the British managed to put down and was looking for a place in Africa to resettle them in Africa and the third group is the run away slaves that came and settle in Deptford in South London, and the slaves ship with their human cargo that was intercepted by Naval war ship after the abolition slave trade Act was passed by the British Parliament that brought about the founding of Freetown for freed slaves. With that came the Krio language.

      Please next time don’t insult the intelligence of majority of Sierra Leoneans that speak the Krio language . Clearly you suffer from what I could call “KRIOPHOBIA” May God bless Sierra Leone.

  19. Better late than never. Finally the CGG have come out of their egg shells to voice their opinion. Having sat for months and watched our country descend into chaos, its about time the organisation that prides itself in campaigning for good governance, stop sitting on the fence looking at all sides to see which way the winds are blowing, before they jump. That to me is dereliction of duty of the highest order. And a whiff of hypocrisy on their part. They should have come out months ago to condemn the violence by trigger happy cops that killed unarmed civilians at Pademba road prison, Lunsar, Tombo and Makeni.

    As an organisation campaigning to uphold our democratic values and the rule of law, maybe if they had come out earlier and voice their concerns as President Bio and his men trampled on citizens’ rights, their concerns would have made more sense to the unemployed youths of Makeni that feels their town and its surroundings is a giant prison camp, run by Bio’s heavies and some members of the Sierra Leone police force, that are acting like private militia for Bio and his government. Yes EBK is not above the law. No one is above the law. We want all the people that steal from the state to repay their ill gotten wealth. And the same rules that applies to them, should be seen to apply to everyone regardless. If EBK is corrupt he should be punish. But the problem then becomes why should he be told to obey the law, whilst families of those killed in the STANDBY GENERATOR GATE are still waiting for an explanation from their president – Not even a public statement.

    In the absence of any explanation for those responsible for killing or instigating the killings not held to account, you can see why the people of Makeni came out in their hundreds to defend their own man. Its not right and acceptable but you can see why. Dr Bylden was right in her piece. Dialogue and someone listening to their concerns is the only way forward. The people of Makeni think the state has declared war on them. May God bless Sierra Leone.

  20. Is there any chance for the ACC to interview the Ex-President via video link, if doing so in person poses a safety and security risk? Use of video link for interviews, court hearings and sentencing will soon become ubiquitous in our post-Covid world. The infamous, nick-named “The Beetles” of The Islamic State accused of beheading foreign hostages in Syria were on video link yesterday in the US for their first court hearing after their extradition from Turkey. Considering their heinous crimes, you would expect them to be frog-marched into a court room.

    After the recent heavy-handed and egregious events in Lunsar and Makeni, the bastions of the former President, it is a dereliction of duty by the ACC not to have foreseen the unfortunate incident that unfolded in and around the President’s house on the 8th. Former President Koroma is also without blame even if actions of supporters are to be taken as spontaneous. I hope a credible interlocutor will intervene before the tinder is set alight and the powder keg ignited. All is not well in the Motherland. The festering and simmering tensions are at a boiling point. The gaping chasm between the North and The South continues to increase from election cycle to the other. Our demographic fault lines continue to split us unabated into fairly homogenous sub-groups, entrenched, unwavering and unflinching in our green or red-tinted-glass views of salient and pertinent national issues. We are wedded and glued to our tribes and regions.

    I bet my last penny that, if it were possible for Ernest Bai Koroma to have a shot at the Sierra Leone Presidency again, all these corruption allegations swirling around him will, rather than put off his APC base, supporters and sympathisers, give him a fillip with his supporters and tribesmen rallying behind him and huddling together in a pack mentality ready to defend him and the group and snare away the perceived aggressors from the other pack. Recent history has seen the likes of former President Kabba, despite being discredited and banned in the 60s from holding public office because of corruption, was hero-worshipped in the 90s and catapulted as leader of the SLPP. And in 2018, voters dismiss any notions or accusations of financial impropriety by the SLPP flagbearer in his last days at the helm of the NPRC. The accusations came from no less a person than his successor in 1996. So as a nation, we are only concerned about corruption if members of our party or tribes men are not in the firing line.

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