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. Young4na, here is the logic you asked for: Let us assume that former President Koroma has several houses, several cars , a huge bank account in both Leones and foreign currencies and pieces of land in different places. Let us also don’t forget that he ran a business before becoming president. Now he faces the ACC. They question him about all his wealth/possessions, not forgetting to note his salary and other benefits while in office. The former President opens his brief case while his lawyer looks on, and present to Ben Kaifala and his team his legitimate and authentic files related to his wealth both before and after he became President. ACC examines them and discover no distortion or discrepancy, everything is in line based on the former President’s salary and business activities.

    You tell me why they should hold on to him. I can see them holding a press conference to lay to rest all suspicions and allegations of corruption associated with the former President. Earnest Koroma would then walk tall and big all over the place with an aura befitting royalty. I don’t know much about the American political scene. What I do know is that President Trump is in trouble about his taxes. Lawyers are bent on finding out why a multi billionaire like him only paid $750 in taxes while a primary school teacher paid more than him. If it were in Sierra Leone, the activities of the lawyers would come under the microscope of tribalism , regionalism and political party innuendos to throw spanner in the works.

    We should all desist from comparing ourselves to America in certain instances. America operates in a different world with strong democratic institutions with people that are more sophisticated than us. Because of this I understand that Mr Trump is in trouble with a rising number of his own party voters . We must eradicate corruption in our country.

  2. I want to thank this medium for making available the complete reports of the COI in a previous editorial which makes interesting reading about the depth of corrupt activities by public officials . I am not a fan of the current president but the recommendations upheld by the government in the whitepaper are all from these reports written by the respective commissioners themselves and not from the blues as some people want us to believe. The statement by the former president with all due respect is disgraceful and unfortunate one that is not expected from an elder statesman.

    If the intention is to characterise the process as a witch hunt then it has completely failed and should not insult our intelligence. Rather than issuing saintly statements like these he should be preparing his defence for the appeals process to explain how XinLin mining was invoiced for over $3.7 million dollars for his house in Makeni (according to the executive director of EACON the contractors) amongst many others and failing to declare this in his exit declaration. Let the former president wait to have his day in court.

  3. All we want is our money back. No ifs no buts. Enough is enough. No Sierra Leonean should be allowed to come from obscurity to greatness as a result of corruption. Amen.

  4. “A good name in a man or woman, dear my lord, is the immediate jewel of their souls: Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something,nothing;’twas mine, ’tis his and have been slave to thousands: but he that filches from me my good name,
    Robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed.(Great William Shakespeare) Totally agree! The ethereal beauty and intrinsic qualities of Truth are carefully interwoven like delicate threads on a weavers cloth, its bold and vibrant colours are courage, sincerity and timelessness – that is without doubt, an indisputable fact! The Former President has shown admirable restraint since the notorious SLPP assumed the reins of power. Day in and night he would shrug off insults and play down threats with an unruffled attitude that was firmly anchored in refined wisdom and tolerance.

    The criminal SLPP has been hard pressed for over two years now looking for diverse ways to tarnish and unsettle the Former President but he refused to be provoked and be drawn into a needless political fight by a scheming pack of wolves, knowing without a shred of doubt that these timorous bush rats were no match for an indomitable majestic lion. This crooked, obese old soldier is the most incompetent, arrogant and disagreeable person my honest eyes have ever seen. Their criminal party is overcrowded with throngs and throngs of con-men and fraudsters anxious to transform Sierra Leone into a MAFIA STATE.

    My advice to the former President is this: “Don’t cut down the branch you are sitting on”; Remain calm, unfazed as the leader of the APC for that is the will of our people – Use your position and influence to expose the atrocities of this authoritarian criminal government Sir and their shady charade and witch-hunt they are not ashamed to call a COI.(lol)

  5. ‘In accordance with the law’ is the buzz phrase in this saga. It is clear that this saga is anything but the law. The Commissions completed their inquiries and the government went through the findings and published a white paper that accepts the findings of the commissions. I don’t know the law that applied, but it is baffling that- it is only now the ACC is calling Ernest Koroma to give his own side of the story. This is a wrong application of the law. The ACC should have completed its investigations before the Commission of inquiry. This is Sierra Leone; where everything goes. It is astonishing that fully qualified lawyers are treating the law as an ass; instead of an app.

  6. It’s nice to fight against corruption, but problem is that, we don’t want another thing to happen in this country anymore my brother

  7. Is President Bio a saint when it comes to corruption? Absolutely not. Was the late President Tejan Kabba right? Absolutely Yes. So, let them leave our greatest President ever alone. Thank you very much Mr Bobson Mansaray for your brilliant comment. Only a future Sierra Leonean, who has never been President could oversee a transparent COI for corrupt officials in my view. No one could trust President Bio with that. He and his JUNTA regime plundered and raped our economy recklessly and left the country bankrupt. Thanks to former President Ernest Bai Koroma, that we started restoring our financial glory.
    See the mess with the shambolic so called JUNTA comic magazine.

    You can’t just set a thief to catch a thief. A thief is always a thief. Ladies and gentlemen read this article and judge whether the man in charge today has any credibility to oversee a COI on corruption.
    https://theorganiser.net/sierra-leone/938-bio-was-in-dubious-transactions-slpp-leader-tejan-kabbah-accused-president-bio

    I am glad that our former Commander in Chief of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, has sent a very strong, robust, determined political bullet and political missile signal to the Bio SLPP kakistocracy, expressing his determination to take on the former state criminals, who raped the country’s economy recklessly to the Caribbean and other places around the world. Our former President will come out victorious from the crooked dictators den. God bless Dr Ernest Bai Koroma. God bless the Republic of Sierra Leone.

    • The former president has been accused of privatizing public resources. True or false? It is really simple. He should immediately provide verifiable evidence to counter the COI report and bolster his case that all he owes belong to him. This public bluffing, huffing and puffing will not help him. He should know better than that.

  8. Mister, why do you people always want corruption to be highly endemic in Sierra Leone. No one can change the fact that the past Government was highly corrupt. The past Government was seriously in massive corruption which is known by everyone including you with or without commission of enquiry. But there is a thing about so called Sierra Leoneans like you that do not want any good thing to happen in this country. That will stop now. Why can’t people work hard and live within their very own salary, but instead prefer dipping into the country’s coffer? This must stop now. Bravo HE president BIO. May God continue to protect you in order to complete your good work.

  9. Who headed President Koroma’s Commission of Enquiry (COI)? I don’t think there was any COI at all. If there was indeed a COI during Koroma’s reign, why was there neither a report nor a white paper produced? May be he did not want to set up a trap for himself and his acolytes as they also hoped to have their sticky and itchy fingers on the national cookie? Every Sierra Leone Government is always found to be wanting at the end of any election cycle. The savvy members of those Governments tend to hide or launder their loot in opaque, inscrutable and unassailable offshore bank accounts masked as fake and fictitious companies such as P Banga Investment Ltd. The Channel Islands, the Caribbean, the US state of Delaware, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Mauritius etc will always wave the welcome flag to these leaches.

    Why did President Bio produce only a White Paper and not a full report? Is it to be selective in its interpretation and implementation? At least, he is ballsy and gutsy enough to carry through his promise or threat of setting up a COI and follow through its recommendations. Koroma did not have the fortitude to do that. A precedence has to be set and a line has to be drawn somewhere, even though process itself is not perfect.

    The way I know Sierra Leoneans inside out, these corruption accusations will not change an iota the decades-old entrenched political, regional and tribal affiliations in Sierra Leone and we will go full circle five or ten years down the line and see the present cohort of Government Officials dragged through the same process. For majority of Sierra Leoneans, their SLPP or APC is the best thing that has happened to the world since toast bread. Leh de case warm.

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