May God Almighty forgive the chief minister – Op-ed

Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 November 2019:

Professor David J. Francis – the Chief Minister of the Republic of Sierra Leone, has spoken on the universally recognised Human Rights to privacy and good reputation.

He was specifically referencing his rights to protection of any data concerning his banking details, when a press release from his Office stated that the Chief Minister “wishes the public to know that he has instructed the bank to waive his data protection rights should the bank wishes to make any official statement on the allegation”.

This means Chief Minister knows banking details are private and can only be publicised if one waives one’s right to data protection.

Francis also said he “has built his reputation over several decades through hardwork, integrity, humility, transparency and high moral values”.

He said he decided to serve as Chief Minister “because of his love for country and passionate commitment to transform Sierra Leone…”

This writer empathises with ostensibly palpable pains that Chief Minister purports to feel. In that vein, I want to draw the attention of the Chief Minister to his July 2018 Governance Transition Team Report, as well as to some recent happenings at the Commissions of Inquiry – where other citizens, just like him, had to suffer the indignity of being labelled most egregiously.

Some had their private banking details publicly read, cheaply without any judicial merit – when they never waived their data protection rights.

I want Chief Minister to know that the exact same way he is feeling today is how many of us are also feeling, over the actions of an unfortunate set of events that they steam-rolled against us – just because we had chosen to serve, out of the same good motives as he now proclaims for himself.

May God Almighty forgive the Chief Minister for the pains his actions have caused so many patriots. Amen.

About the author

Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden OOR (Former Cabinet Minister in Former APC-led Government).

9 Comments

  1. Joe Koroma,thank you for your honest reply,particularly your admission that you are not on the ground to garner first hand information on the whole affair.Let me assure you that even if you were on the ground you would have had to cope with such a high level of obfuscation that you would have found it impossible to discern the entire truth.Our politicians are dexterous in generating unfathomable doubt when caught in a situation which carries the possibility of tarnishing their name.

    The behaviour or reaction of the Chief Minister upon the breaking out of the story can hardly be associated with a man with his level of education and sophistication; and leaves a trail of more questions than answers.Why did David Francis have to ring up both The Criminal Investigation Department[CID] and The Anti Corruption Commission [ACC] when he was contacted by the journalist,Sallieu Jalloh,to get his own side of of the story involving $1.5 million if he were completely innocent.

    A man of his standing in society and supposedly brilliant mind would have tempted the journalist to publish his story, knowing that both he and his medium were heading for disaster.The moment his dialogue with the journalist ended he would alert his personal lawyer and seat tight to wait for the story to be published.Once this was done the Journalist would be trapped,he could not retract anything anymore because it would be in writing.

    The chief Minister would then summon a huge press conference with his lawyer sitting by his side to deny all allegations and explain in plain English how he came to be associated with the money in question.He would end the press conference by emphatically letting the nation know that everything about the whole affair was/is legitimate and that his lawyer would now start legal action against Sallieu and his newspaper.

    Surely in the ensuing court battle the whole nation would have come to know whether or not APC were responsible for the whole debacle since the journalist would be forced under withering questioning to reveal his source.But for the Chief Minister to have contacted both CID and ACC so fast suggest panic and shock, something we don’t need in any of our leaders at this critical juncture in our nation’s history as President Bio is fighting to wipe our corruption.This makes him and the ACC boss,Kaifala, victims in this embarrassing affair.

    I detest both APC and SLPP,but I like President Bio Politically because of his determination to exterminate corruption in our dear nation.He does not need any of his top officials to be connected to any shady dealings – dead or alive.

    To you Momodu Njie,I first have to say that I am SANTHKIE not SANTIGIE because I am Thaimne. If I were Limba,Loko,or any of the other ethnic groups that have various versions of the same name I would probably be called Santigie. I urge you my brother to please read my comment again.If you do you will see that I made no allegations but merely asked a number of questions.Had the Chief Minister held a press conference to clear everything there probably wouldn’t be any need for such questions.I have never met David Francis and I have no grudge against him,what he does as one of the nation’s servant is all I am interested in.In this context mother Sierra Leone is first and last to me.Even though I like President Bio this will never stop me from critising him when in my opinion I consider him mistaken.

  2. Joe Koroma, I thank you very much for the update. You see, elements of the case surrounding the Chief Minister are moving so thick and fast that it is hard to keep abreast with them. Added to this we have other breaking news which divert one’s attention. For example the current headline in the Telegraph is about tourism, a potential economy booster, creating jobs for our restless population who are a danger to society because of lack of hope.

    In updating and correcting me however, you did not go all the way in your clarification. Please help me and others with answers to these questions:
    1. Which bank was used to deposit the $1.5 million associated with the Chief Minister?
    2. Doesn’t the said amount exist at all?
    3. Who gave the order for the journalist, Sallieu Tejan Jalloh, who broke the story, to be arrested and locked up?
    4. What was the initial response of the Chief Minister in his nervous and shocked state?
    5. If the Chief Minister was unquestionably sure that it was an attempt to soil his name, shouldn’t he have deployed efficacy by suing Allieu Jalloh and his medium for what they own now and what they will own in the future – in other words bankrupt them?
    6. Is it not probable that the moment the news broke that David Francis, in his powerful capacity as Chief Minister instructed Ecobank to delete all records bearing his name?
    7. Joe, if you are sure that it was an APC smear campaign, don’t you think the Chief Minister has the tools to mount an exemplary investigation to clear his name?

    I urge you Joe not to trust any of our politicians on sentimental grounds whatever party they belong to. If APC had not been dislodged from power in 2018 do you sincerely believe that all the revelations coming out of the Commissions of Inquiry would be possible? Let us allow our patriotism to supersede everything else to make all our public figures nervous all the time, otherwise our country is doomed. I am sure you know of many cases when our big diamonds have disappeared between State House and Lungi Airport. The last one was when Earnest was in power. I thank you very much for responding to me. Many thanks also go to the Telegraph for creating our little parliament as a source of educating each other.

    • Brother Santhkie Sorie, thanks for your keen interest in this story. Like you, I detest corruption and support any investigation that would lead to unearthing the vice no matter where that investigation leads. I have been following the allegations against the Chief Minister since it started to unfold. I did so simply out of patriotism. I am not an SLPP member and even if I were, I will not support any member of that party breaking the law. Having said that, let me state that I am not going to respond point by point to your questions due to time constraint.

      I am not on the ground, so all my information comes from people on the ground who have been following the investigations surrounding this case since it was initiated. My sources tell me that the Chief Minister does have an account at ECOBANK, the bank that was identified as where the money was deposited in the Chief Minister’s account. In fact, I will add that that money ($1.5 million) does not exist. Both the CID and the ACC have confirmed this.

      Further, the Chief Minister did not give an order for journalist, Sallieu Tejan-Jalloh to be arrested. It is my understanding that the Chief Minister contacted the CID and ACC to report an attempt by Mr. Jalloh to blackmail him. Thus, the CID arrested Mr. Jalloh on their own volition for attempting to blackmail the Chief Minister.
      The Chief Minister has not yet disclosed a recourse. But sources intimate that the journalist will be sued for damages.

      I think we must be careful if not suspect of information disseminated by APC media houses. The desire to disrupt the Commission of Inquiry has always been palpable. Yes, public officials should be monitored. But attempting to smear the character of an innocent man is a hit below the belt. Those who know the Chief Minister have vowed for his integrity. This notwithstanding, how can a man who has spent so many years living in Europe order a corrupt mining company to deposit such a large amount of money in an account that bears his name at a bank in Sierra Leone? It makes no sense to me. If that had happened, given the large number of APC stalwarts in the banking industry in Salone, this case would long have made its way in the mainstream media.

    • 1. Which bank was used to deposit the $1.5 million associated with the Chief Minister?

      Santigie, you are making the allegation and you expect the denying party (or innocent party in this case as per police, ACC and the Eco Bank’s replies to this frivolous allegation).

      2. Doesn’t the said amount exist at all?

      Santigie, see, the response in question 1 above and tie the nuts. You can likewise help us with the answer to this question as you are the alleging party. Note that although it is said that journalism is literature in a hurry, Hearsay when not investigated for evidence or collaboration, does not make good journalism.

      3. Who gave the order for the journalist, Sallieu Tejan Jalloh, who broke the story, to be arrested and locked up?

      The Chief Minister has said that he reported a case of blackmail to the CID. He forwarded the exchange between him and the Journalist to the CID. The CID is supposed to be a professional force with its head Frank Alpha having been enlisted into the police in 1989, has had training at a top British police academy etc. He should know when an offense warrants an arrest without a warrant and when it is not. No police man worth his salt would commit an offence for a politician. When somebody dies in police cell it is the arresting officer and not the complainant that is investigated. By the way, do you know that at the time of this incident, the Chief Minister was in France and not in Sierra Leone?

      4. What was the initial response of the Chief Minister in his nervous and shocked state?

      His response was to see a case of Blackmail and thus reported to the investigating authorities. That is the Police and ACC. Was he nervous, only people who look at everything form a political lens would tell us that.

      5. If the Chief Minister was unquestionably sure that it was an attempt to soil his name, shouldn’t he have deployed efficacy by suing Allieu Jalloh and his medium for what they own now and what they will own in the future – in other words bankrupt them?

      No blackmail is different from libel. You are talking about libel and the chief Minister did not sue for Libel. Now consider a simple matter like this, you have made so many inferences not believing any of the parties involving as long as they are not saying what you would like to hear, what effect could a suing for libel have on your ilk? Besides no libel was committed, the Chief Minister is saying that he as blackmail. Let us wait for the police report to confirm if the elements that constituted blackmail was committed or not.

      6. Is it not probable that the moment the news broke that David Francis, in his powerful capacity as Chief Minister instructed Ecobank to delete all records bearing his name?

      Now you are talking about probability. In criminal investigations even circumstantial evidence is not based on probability. Ecobank is a private entity answerable to its shareholders. Most importantly, it is not an indigenous bank. Why do you think a profit making bank that deals in hundreds of millions of dollars would soiled its name for a politician who would come and go? But I have forgotten that I am talking to a typical Sierra Leonean who sees no risk in smearing his or her reputation.

      7. Joe, if you are sure that it was an APC smear campaign, don’t you think the Chief Minister has the tools to mount an exemplary investigation to clear his name?

      That is why he has reported to the appropriate authorities. You want him to take his case to God/Allah? By the way only God/Allah is a Christian/Muslim.

  3. Since news about the $1.5 million broke we have been led into a murky world of conflicting narratives,insinuations,innuendos and more,with the Chief Minister right in the middle of everything and there is no respite in sight.Sierra Leone is indeed undergoing a revolution of sorts – thanks,in no small measure, to the advent of social media. Chief David Francis is finding out for the first time that there are Sierra Leoneans in sensitive places whose patriotism is second to none and are ready to reveal damaging information on public figures,especially those who claim to be super clean.

    We must all reflect on the fact that the Journalist – Sallieu Tejan-Jalloh, who shoved the Chief Minister into the sticky morass in which he finds himself,together with the embarrassment it carries,does not work for Eco Bank. Clearly,therefore,a patriotic official within the bank must have leaked the information to the journalist. Henceforth, all public figures will become extremely wary of using the banking system to launder their loot, thereby denying ordinary Sierra Leoneans from benefiting from what actually belongs to them.

    Now the Chief Minister is so confused that he is at loss to explain away how and why the $1.5 million reached his account. One moment Chief Minister Francis claims not be aware of the said money finding its way into his account definitely deposited by somebody who does not know his bank account number. At another moment it is suggested that his sister deposited the money into his account. And yet at another moment it was a debit card transaction. Can somebody please explain to the doctorate holder Chief minister that a debit card account only holds money deposited into it by the account holder or an authorised person and such an amount cannot be exceeded in any transaction? The poor chap is in sixes and sevens.

    It is hard to tell Dr Blyden’s state of mind while writing her piece. But I detect cold blooded sarcasm to draw the Chief Minister’s attention to the immediate aftermath of his party’s poll victory in 2018 when, as head of the transition team, kicked off the Commissions of Inquiry in which APC are now being chewed alive.

    David Francis has been caught with his trousers down. The veterans in corruption [APC] from whom he should have learned invaluable lessons in the art of covering one’s tracks after a heist, are at daggers-drawn with him.

    • Santhkie Sorie, It appears that you are not following the news as it unfolds. ECOBANK has long issued a statement that the Chief Minister, David Francis, does not have an account with their bank. This followed a thorough investigation by the CID. The Chief Minister is a victim of an APC smear campaign. The poor guy is innocent.

  4. Thanks for responding Patricia. I am patiently waiting for a communique from the Financial Crime Unit just like the one from the Chief Minister and Anti Corruption Unit. But for now I will personally treat it as a destructive propaganda against the Chief Minister who has spent most of his life to lecture on Peace and Security around the world. I hope and pray that the APC party will leave him in PERFECT PEACE to change our nation for the better.

  5. I would suggest you direct all your questions to the Financial Crime Unit who have been investigating the finances of our Chief Minister.

    But I also want to ask the government why the Chief Minister should allegedly have $1.5 million in his pocket, but the ordinary citizen should not transact any business in dollars or any other foreign currency. This is double standards.

    • Patricia, I hope I am not lost in this. I have checked and asked questions about the so called Financial Crimes Unit you are referring your readers to. The closest to it that I found is the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU)- https://fiu.gov.sl/

      Be it was you want us to erroneously buy into your cheap propaganda, can you help us with the answers instead of referring us to a ghost institutions. The FIU I have been told is not investigating the Chief Minister or any of his siblings. So please, help us to get the answers to this important issue as it is about mama Salone.

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