Opposition APC criticises political and civil society’s response to the Makeni ACC standoff

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 October 2020:

After receiving widespread condemnation for his supporters’ behaviour last Thursday outside his home in Makeni, where hundreds of angry youths staged protests and blocked the road leading to his house, to prevent Anti-Corruption Commission investigators from meeting with him, former president of Sierra Leone – Ernest Bai Koroma is today enjoying the support of his party – the All People’s Congress Party (APC), who yesterday issued a statement.

The former president is accused by the Commission of Inquiry into corruption, mismanagement, and abuse of power by his government during his two terms in office – between 2007 and 2018, involving hundreds of millions of dollars.

This is what the APC National Secretary General – Alhaji Osman Yansaneh said in his statement:

“The All People’s Congress is appalled by the flurry of press statements coming from supposed democratic institutions in regards to the incidence in Makeni on 8th October 2020 when the Anti-Corruption Commission was scheduled to meet with the former President, H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma.

The statements hurriedly condemn the gathering of residents of Makeni who were out to show solidarity with the former President in respect of several instances of intimidation, name-calling and harassment against his person. The APC is particularly dismayed by the fact that these institutions are overly selective in their condemnation of acts in the current state of affairs in Sierra Leone.

While we detest every act of lawlessness and every threat to the peace and stability which our party has sustained in Sierra Leone throughout our tenure in governance we must register our disappointment over the failure of state and some non-state institutions to denounce the endless spate of human rights abuses, violation of constitutional rights of expression and assembly, abuse of processes and victimization perpetrated by the government of H.E. Julius Maada Bio since his assumption of office in 2018.

Sierra Leone enjoyed peace and political calm for almost two decades since the end of the war, and much of that dispensation was superintended by the APC Party. Former President Koroma’s administration had all the hallmarks of democracy, peace and stability. There were no political prisoners; opposition politicians suffered no form of harassment while the rights of expression and assembly were guarded with utmost candour.

Sierra Leone excelled in international rankings on peace and tolerance and the former President received global attention for his demonstration of statesmanship. We conducted Presidential elections in 2018 without any form of intimidation of the opposition and handed over power peacefully despite the blatant irregularities that attended the results.

Since this government entered State House our party officials and supporters have become the object of countless incidences of oppression, incarceration, killings and trumped-up legal charges. As a political party we have made several petitions to the Supreme Court on issues ranging from elections to the conduct of the Commissions of Inquiry but all of them were discountenanced with criminal arrogance. Yet none of these institutions bothered to denounce this as recipe for chaos.

The government on several instances has used both police and military forces to stifle peaceful protests of citizens, and in most cases live rounds of ammunition were fired at unarmed civilians. Many have died and many more injured by this show of brute force by state security personnel.

Senior members of the APC who were either Ministers in the former administration or current Members of Parliament have consistently been arrested and molested by officers of the current government. One such case is Alfred Palo Conteh’s matter.

The former Minister of Defence, Minister of Internal Affairs and head of the National Ebola Response Centre was incarcerated for several months on bogus treason charges. He was later acquitted of the said charges but he is still behind bars despite several attempts by his lawyers to bail him pending the determination of his appeal against other less serious charges.

The Anti-Corruption Commissioner has on a number of occasions ordered the detention of people who were already persons of interest and were being investigated by the Justice Biobelle Georgewill Commission of Inquiry on the same issues raised by the latter.

Sierra Leoneans are witness to the National Electoral Commission’s rogue handling of Bye Elections across the country and how the former Chief Electoral Commissioner would in one instance announce results declaring the APC candidate winner and later reverse his declaration in the interest of the SLPP candidate.

In another instance (in Constituency 110) the Commissioner’s refusal to announce the victory of the APC candidate even though the results indicate a clear victory only reveals a trait of ineptitude attendant with blatant disregard for democratic processes in a fashion that is out of place in the civilized world.

We need not mention that in each of these elections SLPP rented thugs led by senior officials of their party who are also government ministers have showed up to disrupt the voting process, harass peaceful citizens and destroy voting materials in the full glare of the police. Neither arrests nor investigations were made to look into these several acts of violence.

Additionally, while there is a ban on secret societies and masquerades Sierra Leoneans have witnessed on several occasions when masquerades show up at gatherings and occasions organized by government officials and sometimes no less a person than the President would be seen dancing with them. No press statements were made to condemn such acts of lawlessness.

The APC is wondering how long will state institutions turn a blind eye to all of the horrible acts of injustice perpetrated by the government only to issue out statements to condemn the gathering of people who have lost confidence in the institutions that are constitutionally mandated to protect them. For how long will this lip service to democracy and the rule of law continue?

President Koroma has, through an official press release and a leaked audio on his conversation with the Inspector General of Police committed himself in very clear language to the ACC probe and any action that promotes the rule of law. This is in keeping with his demeanour as a respecter of the law.

In conclusion, while we call on our numerous supporters to be peaceful and abide by the rule of law our resolve is strengthened to guard against any collusion by state institutions to cloak the truth and to work within the confines of the law to defend against campaigns of calumny executed by the SLPP government against the former President and members of our party.

By this release we call on our development partners and the international community to note the level of hypocrisy displayed by these supposed democratic institutions of the state and some non-state actors. We remain undaunted.

God Bless Sierra Leone. Long live the APC.

Signed: Amb. Dr. Alhaji Osman Foday Yansaneh, National Secretary General – APC.”

1 Comment

  1. This is an unfortunate statement coming from the APC party Secretary General. Attacking our institutions during this critical moment in our democracy is a testament that the former president and the lifetime leader of the APC party was “running the country as his personal business” and believed our institutions were his personal enterprises. Civil society organizations are the backbone of our democracy after our 11 years civil war, and they are also the barometer of the country since the 2018 presidential election.

    They have been carefully watching by sitting on the fence hoping that the current political tension will calm down just as in 2007 when late Vice President Solomon Berewa’s acceptance speech of the election outcome which helped to strengthen the peace and stability during the 11 years of APC misrule. On the contrary, the APC party still believe that their lifetime leader is still our president so they are using all necessary means to distract the current government from serving the people.

    But the Makeni incident was the final straw for our institutions because that spectacle didn’t only make us the laughing stock in our region but also threatened our fragile peace and stability. The majority of our citizens are now exhausted from the constant incitement and insults from the social media which has carefully targeted our vulnerable youths that have been brainwashed that violence is the only answer to our problems and are even willing to be used as “ Human Shield”. I hope that the APC party will understand that out of 7.3 million people, only 131 has been accused of corruption which also includes some current government officials even in the office of our Vice President.

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