Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 October 2020:
As political fallout continues, between the government of Sierra Leone and the main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party over the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry reports and the White Paper into corruption allegations against the former APC government led by president Ernest Bai Koroma, opposition National Grand Coalition (NGC) party has spoken. (Photo: Dennis Bright – Leader and chairman of NGC).
Writing in a statement published today, the Chairman and Leader of the NGC- Dr. Dennis Bright said: “The National Grand Coalition party (NGC) notes with great concern events within the past month that have raised very serious questions about governance in Sierra Leone and indeed put on the spot all three arms of Government: the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary.
“Notably, perception surveys which were conducted on the subject of corruption have revealed, among other things, how the people of Sierra Leone see and what they say about the institutions and people that govern them.
“The picture is not good. All the arms of Government are perceived by the people as being very corrupt. A large majority of citizens (69.1%) see the Police force as the most corrupt institution with 83.8% naming policemen and women as the most corrupt group of persons in Sierra Leone.
“Parliament is perceived as the fourth most corrupt institution and Parliamentarians as the second “most corrupt persons” behind policemen and women. The Judiciary is also viewed as corrupt by 43.9% of the respondents. These numbers are not good and are a serious indictment of the entire Governance system in our country.
“Parliament has reacted vigorously with the Speaker of Parliament describing the perception surveys as ‘a deliberately orchestrated and calibrated conspiracy to damage the good name and reputation of Parliament and Parliamentarians.’ The NGC however hopes that our law makers will eventually see the surveys for what they are, not allegations or accusations but perception, bearing in mind however, that perception of the people can be a potent force.
“The NGC is of the view that instead of needless rebuttals and attempts to cow critics to silence, these surveys call for serious introspection and a national conversation going forward. We have therefore advised our Parliamentary representatives to be at the forefront of advocacy for introspection, self-criticism and pro-active measures to clean up that institution of whatever defects may be giving it a bad name.
“As far as the Executive is concerned, Government has just published a White Paper on the three Commissions of Inquiry into “the assets and other related matters in respect of persons who served under the last regime. The report indicates that staggering sums of public funds were fraudulently diverted, misappropriated or simply stolen by officials of the State, sometimes in collaboration with non-State actors.
“The NGC has examined the White Paper and other documents and found the amounts allegedly stolen to be so dramatically high that they can easily fund an entire national development plan.
“However, as the decisions in the White Paper bear the strength of a High Court judgment, we are expecting appeals to follow, and it is only reasonable that the law is allowed to take its course. In fact, the fairness of the decisions and the integrity of the process are already being challenged by persons of interest, law firms, accounting firms, companies and at least one political party. The credibility of the appeals process will therefore depend on the ability of the Judiciary to uphold the Rule of Law and resist any attempt to make it a puppet of the Executive.
“The appeals process in the saga of the three Commissions therefore offers the Judiciary the opportunity to redeem itself from the people’s perception as being a corrupt institution. As Engineer Andrew Keili has said in one of his writings: “impunity must stop but it must be ensured that there is fairness in the process.”
“In conclusion, the NGC proposes that one way of avoiding the extremely expensive exercise of running Commissions of Inquiry to probe previous administrations and the attendant accusations of witch hunting and unfairness, is for Government to conduct investigations and punish corrupt officials in real time.
“Every year, the Audit Service, without the fanfare of televised trials, uncovers several cases of mismanagement and the same irregularities for which the three Commissions have now convicted public officials. The NGC believes it will be a more effective deterrent if the recommendations of the Audit Service are speedily acted upon and defaulters within the sitting government brought to book.
“The NGC therefore reiterates its total rejection of corruption in all its forms and supports any attempt to uproot it on condition that this is done with due regard for justice, fairness and the Rule of Law by a Judiciary that is independent of any influence from the other arms of the State.”
Although I agree with most of the responses from the Chairman and Leader of the NGC party, in my personal opinion, comparing the White Paper which was based on the REALITY from past Auditor General Reports, Foreign Forensic Auditors and the COI reports from two foreign Judges and a Sierra Leonean to a PERCEPTION SURVEY. The timing of the release of this survey is a bit suspicious because most people knew about the constitutional time limit required for the release of the white paper. To juxtapose a White Paper Report to this survey is somehow MINIMIZING the hard work of all the efforts that have been invested by our institutions to enhance Transparency and Accountability. Even in the USA which is the beacon of democracy, there is corruption in the Congress and even the Executive Branch, but the people still respect their institutions but hold corrupt individuals accountable like Rep. William Jefferson a Democrat from Louisiana who was accused of accepting about $ 500, 000 in bribes.
The FBI found $90,000 in his freezer and was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Even late President Nixon was accused of corruption but eventually resigned during his impeachment process. As a country, we must try to educate our citizens about the importance of our institutions, and not because few traffic police officers are taking bribes means that our police that are still protecting lives and properties are entirely corrupt. The same thing goes for our Lawmakers, Judiciary and Executive branches.
Finally, the idea that the ACC commissioner should hold corrupt officials accountable during the act instead of waiting till they leave office is definitely the best solution, and I hope and pray that they will continue to hold current corrupt citizens either from private or government institutions accountable before using the stolen monies in completing their mansions or laundering their looting to domestic or foreign banks.
I also commend that kicking corruption in Sierra Leone is always a good idea however, the process should not look for specific individuals only while in the White paper key names who served previously are missing. Accountability is never a bad move, but the rule of law should be followed to its core and all the tools should be included in doing this.
Lets also note that when one wants to do this you must first be an example for the general population to know that you are indeed ready to do as planned. In the current dispensation we have seen that government officials fail to declare assets, failure of parliament to endorse accountability for Covid-19 budget and even accountability for the president’s traveling. These are all indicators of corruption.
Mariama Jabbie says —“ The government should hold each other ACCOUNTABLE as well. Not to wait until one government leaves and the other comes in to hold those accountable. IT IS FUTILE. DO IT AS YOU GOVERN. I am cautiously optimistic that the Bio led government will do that. If not they would have produced the “white paper”. The last government set up a commission and there were no results from it; nothing came out of it. I am also sure that the Bio led government knows the people are watching and the world is watching as well.”
I am sorry madam Jabbie, but it appears you have been living in another planet all these while for you to have naively make that assertion. Please take time to ask around about the 2018 audit report and the over 140 billion Leones unaccounted for under the current Bio regime. Also find time to ask around about the over 50000 bags China rice meant for school feeding and later got stolen by SLPP officials. Oh yeah, don’t forget about the 1.5million dollars that chief minister squandered over the twinkle of an eye. Upon all these corrupts acts, tell me exactly who has been held accountable. Wake up madam Jabbie!!
Where do we start fighting this corruption? Now or never. Countless number of people don’t want a probe into past corrupt officials and some are calling it witch hunt or tribal or party arrangement. Fast forward I know this government is at advanced stage doing the same.
Do we have a precedent to hold them for the same when they are out of power? I am worried if this fight against corruption is lost now looting will follow. I have seen regimes from Pa sheki to JS Momoh, STRASSER, TEJAN KABBA, J.Paul, and now JM Bio. Are things for the common man getting better? I doubt it. The country is retrogressing. Both parties are fully in gear to make things worse for us all. The story continues…
Unfortunately, I disagree with the listing Mr Abdulai Othman Bah. It’s, Pa sheki to JS Momoh, STRASSER to Maada Bio, TEJAN KABBA, J.Paul, Tejan Kabba to Ernest Bai Koroma and now JM Bio. This is the correct listing in my view. Correct me if I’m wrong. Thank you very much Mr Abdulai Othman Bah for your contribution on this glorious platform.
Mr. Fillie touched on a tender spot; the mentality that corruption acts occurring during the life of a government, perpetrated by the welders of authority or office holders in power, should be ignored and shelved for future administration to deal with, is plainly pampering corruption in my view. It shouldn’t be. Every ruling government should deal with its own mess and punish corruption instantly. That is accountability government so to speak. Otherwise, where best to set an example for an administration that prides itself in fighting corruption than in its own backyard?
But what strangely obtains in our small republic, is the idea that prosecuting our own man, regardless of their scale of corruption is strongly viewed as inimical to the party interest or like the erudite Kenyan academic PLO Lumumba succinctly puts it in paraphrase, we don’t deny our man is a thief, but he is our own thief.
The NGC proposal of punishing suspected or proven corrupt officials, shouldn’t be kicked to the long grass. Tackling the problem as it is identified is the best way forward. That is why we have an auditing system. If it needs more powers so be it. I recall in the days of president Momoh, when his government was wasting our little resources on ghost teachers through the ministry of education. Although in assuming power, his first act was to declare a state of economic indiscipline, in civilian terms, it means war against corruption. That was in 1985.
Just like Bio, Momoh the then head of the military was hand picked by president Stevens as his successor. He came with all the fanfare, touring the country, to legitimise his succession. And like Bio, making all the right noises. He promised us heaven and earth that he will transform Sierra leone to an economic miracle and tackle the most urgent problem holding our country’s development, corruption. Here we are thirty to almost forty years, later, we are embroiled in the same predicaments, with the security of the state up in the air.
Momoh never succeeded because soon after, he was outsmarted by the tribalistic elements around him, and in the process rendering him effectively a LAME DUCK SITTING PRESIDENT. Similar to Bio. They are in power, but incapable of exercising power. I think this military men should stay in the barracks and leave the running of state to people who have our country at heart. Failing which, we should adopt the broken window policy. If you punish low level officials for corruption, then the big players will think twice before they embark on such misdemeanours against our country. May God bless Sierra Leone.
As Dr Bright has wisely said that the SURVEYS WERE BASED ON LOCAL INDEGENOUS MASSES PERCEPTIONS ABOUT THE CURRENT THREE ARMS OF GOVERNMENT. I will say to Dr Abass Bundu-THE CURRENT Speaker of the current parliament and the current Chief minister comments about the sample sizes and reliability of the perception survey conducted. I thank Dr Dennis Bright FOR HIS comment and advice to his NGC party to take the survey introspectivel and try to see where the weaknesses or problems are in the survey and try to improve and find meaningful solutions tor such perceptions identified.
This good advice that Dr Bright has implemented should be the milestone of a great example that other party leaders should copy and implement for their individual political parties. This is the time that our elder statesmen like Dr Abass Bundu should ponder and reflect about his diabolic and doggy corrupt practices during the military takeover – of the NPRC era when he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Relationship.
Can I remind you Dr Bundu of the US$150000/00 CHEQUE to be paid from your USA BANK ACCOUNT THAT YOU GAVE TO THE THEN SLPP LED GOVT ATTORNEY GENERAL AND MINISTER OF JUSTICE THE LATE MR. SOLOMON BEREWAH THEN AS YOUR RESTITUTION AND OUT OF COURT SETTLEMENT for you NOT TO BE INDICTED FOR CRIMINAL CHARGES/crimes BECAUSE OF YOUR SELLING OUR PRECIOUS PASSPORTS TO FOREIGNERS WITHOUT THE COUNTRY BENEFITING FROM SUCH TRANSACTIONS.
And you are now the current speaker of the mama Salone parliament and in just 2 and half years of your leadership the masses perceptions of your leadership is disgusting and shameful and nothing good to write home about. And instead of you changing your diabolical tricks, ways and leadership style you are now trying to persecute non-governmental organisations doing their job for the socio-economic benefit and development of mama Salone.
Bravo, Mr. Boima; at last you are standing up for mama Salone instead of a corrupt bunch of politicians hiding behind a political party you dearly love.
True. The then NPRC Junta head and Dr Abass Bundu, were the official state’s businessmen behind the commercialisation of our passports. Argue or deny. Why did they not face the COI during the reign of the late President Tejan Kabba’s regime? That is what I have always been saying. Clean up your mess first, before exposing and cleaning up the mess of others. The other way round is just drivel. I hope they get it. Dr Abass Bundu is a very cunning political operative. From APC, to NPRC and now SLPP. Where next? Remains to be seen. Oh, old cunning “cross carpeter” Dr Abass Bundu. God help Dr Abass Bundu, with his cunning thoughts in re-joining the APC after 2023. “All man yone”. Can you imagine?
Thank you very much Young4na for your observation. The SLPP party has been hijacked by a group of outsiders forming the Bio SLPP kakistocracy. The true SLPP party champions are passive. They have been silenced. But that is what happens when you outsource your party to unknown political operatives forming a kakistocracy. Now, the SLPP party has a very hard political hurdle ahead, which is going to ignite a civil war between the SLPP party and the Bio SLPP kakistocracy for political might and recognition in my view. God bless Young4na.
The NGC party’s position regarding the White Paper, as registered by Dr. Bright, is not novel. The party has proven time and again that, it stands for fundamental fairness and the rule of law, regardless of which party is affected and which crimes are alleged. The NGC takes no lectures on the issue of corruption, for its stance is loudly clear “e do so”.
However, as well meaning citizens who are dreaming and yearning for a transformed Mama Sa. Lone, as appreciative as we are for the fight against corruption, a disease which is continuing to break the unfortunate majority and make a fortunate few people place their hands on the levers of power, we must never forget to be fair to ourselves, to respect the rights of the accused and dispense justice justly. The perception of the silent majority of Sierra Leoneans about corruption has been clear on both sides, there are conspicuously, no saints.
Therefore, we must be sincere to ourselves to throw politics out; to conduct a just investigation to regain the loot, if need be, allow the courts to determine without interference the guilt or innocence of the persons of interest. The NGC position is a warning in line with fairplay and due process.
I agreed whole heartedly with the recommendations of the NGC. Added to some of those recommendations is to pay the police men and women a little above their current salaries, meaning pay them well, provide incentives for those who do well, to keep the nation safe and hold those accountable for corruption and other violations. A good pay is an incentive for deterrent to corruption..Low paid salaries that cannot meet current cost of living is an incentive for corruption and even violence.
Sierra Leone, should Sierra Leone Be Governed with NO ACCOUNTABILITIES and Continuous Stealing of International Donor Monies and Local Taxes?
Absolutely NOT, but CHARITY begins at home.The government should hold each other ACCOUNTABLE as well. Not to wait until one government leaves and the other comes in to hold those accountable. IT IS FUTILE. DO IT AS YOU GOVERN. I am cautiously optimistic that the Bio led government will do that. If not they would have produced the “white paper”. The last government set up a commission and there were no results from it; nothing came out of it. I am also sure that the Bio led government knows the people are watching and the world is watching as well.
How he holds those around him accountable will speak volumes of his genuine seriousness to curb out corruption for real. It is time that mama SALONE can feed herself again, instead of always relying on handouts. She wants hands up so she can go out from the bottom ladder of POVERTY AND SUFFERING. I am very OPTIMISTIC that, this is the intention and ultimate goal of the present government, but he needs the cooperation and collaboration of EVERYONE. Please Do NOT use the SALONE people as a bargaining chip. It will NOT be good. Work with the government.
Whoever does that will be favourably looked upon as good and has the country at heart not just their own interest to get into power. Thanks!
Bottom line, the office of the President is the third most corrupt institution in the country, which is a very disgusting problem and super mess. This is sad, unprecedented and really unacceptable. How does President Bio and the Bio SLPP kakistocracy want Sierra Leoneans to believe them as referee for any COI? With such an excellent position in terms of corruption, the President and State House are just not credible.
This is what the NGC said “The NGC therefore reiterates its total rejection of corruption in all its forms and supports any attempt to uproot it on condition that this is done with due regard for justice, fairness and the Rule of Law by a Judiciary that is independent of any influence from the other arms of the State”. This statement is just common sense and that was what many Sierra Leoneans including myself have been calling for. Instead of doing the right thing, we saw them putting the cart before the horse. Just imagine them asking Sierra Leone’s most progressive, peaceful and respected former President ever to go before the ACC, which is of course under the umbrella of the excellent third most corrupt institution in Sierra Leone to answer to what, I don’t know. Why did they not do that before the COI? Just a disgusting, disgraceful and silly idea. Typical Bio SLPP kakistocracy EH?
Why not just ask all those involved to appeal their case. Simple as that. God bless our greatest and most respected former President and Commander in Chief of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, Dr President Ernest Bai Koroma. God bless Mr Dennis Bright for his straight talk.