Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 December 2017:
The controversial former minister of lands in the Koroma government – Musa Tarawallie, and now an aspiring presidential candidate of the newly established opposition party – the Citizens Democratic Coalition (CDC) was arrested last night and detained by the Sierra Leone Police at the Criminal Investigations Department.
The reason for his detention is unclear. But there is growing speculation that his arrest may be connected with his conduct in office at the ministry of lands, when allegations of abuse of office and corruption were rife.
Musa Tarawally (Photo) was sacked as lands minister two years ago by president Koroma, who then, had promised a full investigation into the alleged illegal activities of the former minister.
Suspicions are growing tonight over his arrest. Many observers are suggesting that he may have been arrested because of his public declaration of interest in contesting the forthcoming presidential election and his formation of the CDC party.
Analysts say that his arrest may well increase his popularity as is usually the case when politicians are being hounded by the government.
According to the Awareness Times Newspaper, “this was how Charles Margai got an easy ride in 2005/2006 when the SLPP government detained him. Like Margai who was a top SLPP man who broke away to form the PMDC, the now detained Musa Tarawally was a top ruling APC man who held the top position of APC National Organising Secretary. Musa Tarawally has now broke away from APC to form the CDC.”
“Another school of thought is that the APC has actually sent Musa Tarawally on a ‘special operative’ mission to help loosen the grip of the SLPP within the South Eastern axis of Sierra Leone. If that is the case, then the detention of Musa Tarawally could just be a well-scripted effort to build up sympathy for Tarawally in the South and East. Such will help to draw sympathy votes for Tarawally in those parts. Tarawally hails from Moyamba in the South and has sway also in the East,” reports Awareness Times editor Abdul Malik Bangura.
“Other observers believe that Tarawally has upset APC chieftains with his recent show of strength amongst youths of Freetown who joyfully mobbed his vehicle in support of his candidacy. The APC is not comfortable with any attempt to sway youthful votes from its Freetown Western Area stronghold. Hence they are marketing Chernor Bah, a youthful-looking 46 year old gentleman to be the next APC Vice President”.
But the arrest and detention of opposition presidential aspirants by president Koroma is nothing new. While president Koroma may be working hard at rebranding his image as a clean and liberal democratic president, it should be remembered that he has arrested and detained several political opponents, including Mohamed Kamarainba, Charles Margai, Alie Kabbah, and now – Musa Tarawallie. (Photo: Musa Tarawallie and his Lawyer at CID).
Musa Tarawallie is one of the most colourful and controversial politicians in Sierra Leone, whose record of involvement in political violence was well documented by the Shears Moses commission of inquiry into political violence in Sierra Leone in 2009.
Has Musa Tarawallie’s past caught up with him at last?
The Shears-Moses Commission of Inquiry into incidence of political violence and intolerance occurring in Gendema, Freetown and Kenema was established by president Koroma, to review and determine the circumstances as well as establish the facts relating to incidents of political violence and intolerance that occurred during the month of March, 2009 in Gendema (Pujehun District), Freetown (Western Area) and Kenema (Kenema District); the roles and responsibilities of political parties, law enforcement agencies or other persons or groups in relation to the incidents of political violence and intolerance; to make necessary findings or conclusions that will provide a full understanding of the circumstances that resulted in such violence; and to recommend measures to be taken and mechanisms to be put in place to effectively prevent the occurrence of political violence in the future.
But it should be remembered that president Koroma had failed to fully implement key recommendations of the Shears Moses report, including the banning of the Mayor of Freetown from participating in politics; the sacking of the resident minister south – Musa Tarawallie; and the exclusion from politics and indictment of known violent APC party operatives.
In a State House press statement published in response to the recommendations of the Shears- Moses Commission report published on 23rd March 2012, this is what Attorney General Frank Kargbo said:
“The President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has received the Shears- Moses Commission report and is also satisfied that a White-Paper put together by his own Government has been made public……… The Government is also determined to ensure that the incidents of violence that characterized the actions of some politicians in March, 2009 should never be allowed again to reoccur.
“Government notes the recommendation that steps be taken against persons allegedly responsible for acts of violence in Freetown and Gendema to be relieved of their responsibilities and banned from holding public office for a period of at least five years.
“Government however regrets its inability to legally effect that recommendation as the banning of citizens from holding public office (other than by law) recommended by the Commission is not provided for in the laws of Sierra Leone accordingly;
(a) In the case of the Mayor of Freetown, Herbert George Williams, he was duly elected by popular vote for a term of four years. This mandate cannot therefore be overturned by the government through administrative action;
(b) Government notes the findings and recommendations of the Commission relating to the erstwhile Resident Minister, South, Musa Tarawallie, and assures the public that appropriate action will be taken in due course in that regard.”
But absurdly, Musa tarawallie was then rewarded by president Koroma with the post of minister of lands to the consternation of the media, civil society and opposition parties.
Is president Koroma now flexing his muscles to rein in Musa Tarawallie, in what is now being described as political convenience? Has the recommendation of the Moses Shears commission of inquiry caught up with Musa Tarawallie? Or is this another case of conveniently delayed corruption investigation?