I will robustly defend my reputation – former president Ernest Koroma tells Bio’s government

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 October 2020:

Former president Koroma of Sierra Leone has received an order from the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to attend an investigation at their office in Freetown next Monday.

According to the ACC, the investigation will probe into allegations of corruption and abuse of office, made by the Commission of Inquiry in their report and the government’s White Paper published last week.

The ACC says it is investigating a number of allegations of corruption involving the former president, including his link to a Chinese mining company named –  Xin Lin, the procurement of 100 public service buses, a NASSIT funded market construction project, and several properties believed to be owned by the former president.

The ACC investigation comes on the heels of a travel ban on the president and scores of his former ministers and government officials, imposed by the Attorney General early this week.

It is not clear whether the president who currently resides in Makeni – northern Sierra Leone will travel to Freetown for his appointment with the ACC next Monday, but what needs no second guessing is the former president’s response to the Commission of Inquiry Report and the government’s White Paper.

Writing in a sternly worded public statement issued yesterday, Ernest Bai Koroma reacted angrily to what he referred to as – “the government’s relentless heckling around me” that “has reached undue and unacceptable levels…”

The former president warns the government – “I will muster all available legitimate and democratic means to robustly defend my reputation which is being tarnished so mindlessly.”

According to the former president of Sierra Leone, this is his “preliminary statement on the release of the reports of the Commissions of Inquiry, the White Paper and other hostile government actions”.

This is what he said:  “I have learned with utter disappointment about some of the defamatory contents of the Reports of the Commissions of Inquiry and the White Paper thereto pertaining to some of the activities I undertook while  exercising my official functions as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. I have also noted with utter dismay the Government’s hostility against me and some officials who served in my administration.

“While it is apparent that the allegations against me are without merit and are a politically motivated charade calculated to impugn my hard – earned reputation, I further believe that the government’s relentless heckling around me has reached undue and unacceptable levels that amount to political harassment.

“For ten years, I served my country diligently, fairly and with honour and integrity. My government was widely recognised for its robust fight against corruption, for consolidating peace, rebuilding the country’s battered infrastructure, for improving the lives of our people in many ways and for the peaceful, smooth democratic transition I superintended.

“It is unfortunate that the government has chosen this route to unduly tarnish my reputation because of politics. Such ridiculous political witch hunt does not only scare good and well-meaning citizens from getting involved in governance; it also has the propensity of undermining peaceful democratic transitions on the continent as current leaders following these unfortunate events in Sierra Leone might find it difficult to readily hand over power, especially to opposition political parties.

“On my part, whilst I will always support the fight against corruption and the quest for accountability in public office, I will muster all available legitimate and democratic means to robustly defend my reputation which is being tarnished so mindlessly. In that vein, I will once again defer to my lawyers to look into the Reports, the White Paper and the series of maligning actions being instituted against me; to advise on my next course of action.

“Sign: Ernest Bai Koroma, Former President of Sierra Leone.”

Sierra Leone is once again at crossroads, sitting on what can be described as a political landmine which the Bio-led government must defuse very carefully while ensuring that those accused of corruption are held accountable and given a fair chance to prove their innocence at the court of appeal in the next few weeks.

However, what the government must avoid by all necessary means, is to use the Commission of Inquiry Report and its White Paper, simply to humiliate those accused in order to score political points that could result in heightening tension, chaos and violence in the country.

There is no doubt former president Koroma should be investigated by the ACC in pursuit of justice  – if there are holes in the evidence put forward by the Commission of Inquiry, but this should be done with common sense and political expediency.

11 Comments

  1. When the Sudanese telecom Billionaire, Mo Ibrahim set up the five million dollars prestigious award for good African leadership or governance, his main objective was to encourage our leaders to retire in dignity. And when they ultimately hang up their boots, they will not die in want and servitude. Most importantly stop them from stealing from the state before they go in to retirement. If they ever do like Museveni of Uganda, Paul Biya of Cameroon, two of the weakest links in the ECOWAS region, Alpha Conde and Alhassan of Ivory Coast.

    To qualify for this award, you most have shown during your time in office, to have respect for the rule of law, free press, promoting peace and stability and above all else looked after the welfare of your people. Right now, the way president Bio is carrying on, he won’t have a look in or even be considered to be in the main hall of the award ceremony. We all want to see the back of corruption in our country. It is the responsibility of everyone to fight it, including that keke driver who refused to bribe the traffic police officer at PZ. There are telephone hotlines for that misdemeanour from a public official. You took an oath to serve your country and not to be served. Bottom line is, we are all in this together.

    But in fighting corruption, our president should not use it as a political witch hunt tool against former APC stalwarts. Surely there must be former or present serving SLPP officials that need to open up their finances to the public as well. A lot of commentators are suggesting that what goes around, comes around. But it will never happen to Bio. This president and his fanatical tribalistic advisers are working on a script. Come 2023, this rubber stamp parliament would have passed a law granting Bio as a former president or even his corrupt ministers immunity from prosecution. More like having his cake and eating it.

    EKB is spot on when he talked about African leaders wanting to stay in power forever. Bio is just re-enforced that belief. Why else should Nigeria, once the Mecca of the most corrupt state in the world, still allow their former leaders to be treated with dignity in retirement and elder statemen who are still allowed to voice their opinion on national issues? I HOPE THE PRESIDENT LEAVES THIS MATTER OF INVESTIGATIONS TO THE ACC and our own very corrupt Judiciary. The president should concentrate in bringing our country together, not to tear it apart by his actions or the lack of it. May God bless Sierra Leone.

  2. Santigie Sorie says — “ On a more direct note, all the former President has to do is face ACC with all valid documents pertaining to his wealth and their acquisition. Surely if ACC finds a parallel relationship between the former President’s earnings and his wealth it will leave him alone”. Honorable Sorie sir, if I may ask, could you walk me thorough your logic, in suggesting that a former president’s net worth MUST be commensurate to his/her actual SALARY ALLOTMENT during his tenure, else he/she is guilty of being corrupt? Since when did we start to equate an influential leader of any nation around the globe, including western democracies, net worth to his/her actual SALARY COMPENSATION?

    I will actually love to hear you name just one world leader, either former president OBAMA or another western leader, that can be categorically designated as having a net worth commensurate to his/her actual salary allotment during his/her tenure. I am all about rooting the cancer of corruption within the fabric of our nation, however, we can only succeed this fight if we do so within the confines of the law, setting aside any personal or political vendetta, while following established democratic principles. Above all, if we are going to right the course of history, we must do so within an indispensable framework, crafted and ratified by all affected citizens, not merely a certain class of politicians, who by all indications are only concerned about settling scores.

    • “Above all, if we are going to right the course of history, we must do so within an indispensable frame work, crafted and ratified by all affected citizens, not merely a certain class of politicians, who by all indications are only concerned about settling scores.”
      Absolutely Brilliant!!Now I can truly see that glowing incandescent light, red hot in its nature, emitting all colours of mesmerizing brilliance that the “Great Sayedna” was proudly talking about. Bravo, Young 4na!

  3. In as much as we all do NOT condone TIT FOR TAT – Yes it is true that you do not want to hold previous officials accountable just in the interim or in case the same will be done to you. If that is the LOGIC, THEN such UNACCEPTABLE corruption will continue FOREVER. The country suffers and honestly EVERYONE SUFFERS one way or the order. It is hard to root out ZERO CORRUPTION, but to allow and turn blind eye to such SATANIC CORRUPTION like what happened in the EBOLA and others will be a GROSS MISTAKE, and a BLATANT SIN. Let the officials pay back as much as they have to the POOR people of Sierra Leone hoping that the CURRENT govt will learn from the adverse, grievous, frivolous and greedy actions of their predecessors.

  4. Former president Koroma, this is not a joking matter. Look at the amount of People that have been killed because of your sake. The rule of law and order died in Sierra Leone. Do not depend upon lawyers, because the judiciary is defunct and dead. Do not go the way of Mr. Palo Conteh. Ever since the fraudulently ascendency of these lawless people to power, they have not known peace at all. Vandalism, hooliganism, lawlessness, thuggery, killing of innocent people, tribalism, regionalism, have become Sierra Leone’s day to day life for our people. And nobody has ever stood up to challenge their useless nature.

    There’s no correct functioning judiciary in Sierra Leone today. You and your party are a living Testament. Cases brought against this lawless government have never been delegated to any judge at all. So where is the court you will be sending your lawyers to president Koroma? Sierra Leone is now a complete mess.

    I think it’s really time for you to do what you never intended doing. You and APC do not have many options. But be careful President Koroma, this not time for honeymoon, joke, diplomacy. Deep down within their stomach, these people want to see you down. Don’t go the way of Palo Conteh.

  5. The people of Sierra Leone need peace, better socio-economic livelihood and healthy living. They no more need violence. I would have preferred the government of sierra Leone focusing on those thematic areas as it is our desired goal.

  6. For how long this can continue? After the 2018 general elections, we are now on the blink of ending the 3rd year after Bio was inaugurated into office. Sierra Leoneans let us talk to the president to embrace all Sierra Leoneans so that we can develop our nation. As the motto of the SLPP “one country, one people”.

    We need good health facilities, good water facilities, good and quality education, restructure our economy. We need a lot of developmental facilities. There are many ways to deal with one who has been accused of theft, but we need to see the plans of how to develop this nation. The former president tried infrastructure development and some areas of health – it is visible to all Sierra Leoneans in his first five year tenure of office. God guide our leaders to rule and govern well.

  7. This statement from the lifetime leader of the APC is a clear manifestation that he is suffering from “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. He has orchestrated and funded most of the “ terrorist activities” that have occurred in our country since the launched of the COI hoping to “ Make our country ungovernable”. He has used innocent citizens (including youths) as political pawns and even though some lost their lives and many still in prison for rioting and lawlessness he never made any public or official statement about those incidents.

    He was given an opportunity to testify his innocence just like the former President Zuma of South Africa who was also allegedly corrupt and appeared in Court, but unfortunately the lifetime leader of the APC believe that he is above the law. Now that he has no option but to report to the ACC commissioner on Monday October 5 2020, and now has a “tracking device” strapped around his neck to prevent him from escaping. Now that he is gasping for survival from the choke of our stolen monies, my only advice for the lifetime leader is to stop all the barking and just Cough Up our stolen monies.

    Finally, President Bio has “lost his spirit of fear” (unless the Almighty) when they kicked out the previous one party dictatorship APC party that destroyed our country for 25 years under the leadership of late President Stevens and Momoh. He introduced democracy which we are still enjoying, so threatened violence will be counter productive for the APC because the leadership is not afraid to defend the innocent people through the laws of the land which is not humiliation.

  8. Bio is on the verge of failing as a president. I have advised severally that Bio should focus on development of the country and give the people a better life than wasting his energy on running after previous government. It is very wrong. Remember what goes around comes around. One day he will face worse.

    He should not allow some idiots to mislead him. Bio is a gentleman. Some of his party members want his downfall and they keep directing him on that path. Sierra Leone as a country does not need all this now. The masses want good water, electricity and good hospitals. These are the things that Bio should focus on. Corruption is everywhere – all over the world. There is no country that is free from that. Mr president rethink. This is wrong.

  9. Let me repeat myself again: We ordinary people and voters should leave SLPP and APC to fight it out to the bitter end, after which we shall move in to pick up the casualties and give the politically dead a decent burial. Common sense should inform all of us that the Commissions of Inquiry were unquestionably wrong in their conclusions or findings. Former President Koroma is now playing victim, forgetting that as leader he bore/bears ultimate responsibility for what took place under his leadership. He knew what was taking place but did nothing to stamp it out; in some cases he directly encouraged it. For example, Logus Koroma and Afsatu Kabba were caught in corruption. He sacked both of them only to bring them back through the revolving door he had constructed. He made Logus minister of transport and aviation and sent Afsatu Kabba to Nigeria as high Commissioner. The nation’s bank became a “piggy bank“ for ministers and others under Earnest’s watch according to one of the jurists on the Commissions of Inquiry.

    On a more direct note, all the former President has to do is face ACC with all valid documents pertaining to his wealth and their acquisition. Surely if ACC finds a parallel relationship between the former President’s earnings and his wealth it will leave him alone. He has the unique advantage of being a former President and so the international community will be watching for any unfair play, starting with the regional body ECOWAS. The nation is at a critical and delicate juncture. A new course has to be plotted that should deliver us from the shackles of corruption which has held us back for six decades. We don’t want to be telling the same sad story four decades from now when we shall clock a century of independence.

    The current scene implies that a future APC government will probe SLPP – down to a needle they bought inappropriately. Does this not mean that Bio and his gang must do the right thing? They should become familiar with the trail of APC ruthlessness. May Sierra Leone prosper out of the scene now being set by the Bio government.

  10. They’ve crossed the mark with a shambolic piece of literature and now the fight for the truth begins. As I said earlier on, you don’t just assemble together and make what I believe in my view as an unconstitutional procedure to incriminate and tarnish the reputation of people like the former Commander in Chief of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces and Sierra Leone’s most successful and greatest President in modern history with all sorts of bogus information. He will surely defend his reputation. No doubt about that.

    Let me be clear and succinct. No one supports corruption, but anyone found guilty of such crimes should be prosecuted according to law and not by the political back door. It’s sad, disgraceful and disgusting that many Sierra Leoneans see this whole shambolic process as useless and waste of government funds. God bless the former and most respected Commander in Chief of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces ever, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma. TBC.

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