Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 February 2022:
President Bio of Sierra Leone has once again shown that neither he nor his chief of police – Ambrose Sovula respects the country’s constitution, civil liberty, freedom of speech and human rights, after throwing Mr Sidi Yahya Tunis – spokesman for the country’s main opposition APC party, behind bars yesterday.
According to the police chief, Mr Tunis was “invited to answer to questions” relating to statements he had made on national radio about the forthcoming elections, which Mr Tunis is alleged to have said that his party would ensure that their supporters do everything within the law to oust the ruling SLPP from office.
But, as in previous so called “invitations” granted to opposition politicians by the police, Mr Tunis was thrown into a cell barefooted and locked up among groups of inmates without charge, where he spent last night.
There is public anger this morning, especially among supporters and members of the main opposition APC who in the last four years since the SLPP won elections in 2018, have shown a lot of restraint despite provocations and harassment from supporters of the ruling SLPP and worse – police intimidation and arrests.
President Bio’s lack of respect for human rights, civil liberty and freedom of speech does not come as a surprise to many who continue to accuse him of killing dozens of people, after leading a military coup against the government in 1992.
He is a retired military brigadier who was given a chance by the people of Sierra Leone at the last elections, to prove that he can be trusted to respect democratic freedoms and the rule of law, enshrined in the country’s constitution.
Mr Tunis’s name has now been added to the long list of opposition politicians that have been unlawfully arrested by the police chief for alleged “incitement conduct or statements”.
There are fears among political analysts that sections of the military may uprise against the government as seen recently in neighbouring Guinea, Mali, and Burkina Faso, to help restore political stability and order in Sierra Leone.
You can listen to APC Secretary General – Osman Yansanneh speaking this morning on 98.1 FM about Tunis’s arrest:
APC Yansanneh speaking on radio 98.1 about the arrest of Tunis
As a layman, I know that only an Active officer in the military can be considered as a deserter or has derelicted his duty but not a retired officer.
Finally, dozens of military officers have resigned or retired from the USA military during the 20 years war in Afghanistan with HONOR.
With regards to President Bio who has been appointed as not head of the Manor River Union or ECOWAS but has taken the quantum leap as Chairman for the whole of AFRICA.
The scripture states that “Blessed are the Peace Makers” and “ Who Jah, God or Allah bless, no man curse”.
Abdul Rashid Thomas, you even called for the then President, Ernest Bai Koroma. rightly so, to be impeached. You were doing a good job then and you are doing a fantastic job now. Political epochs are ephemeral but the state of Sierra Leone, which you and most of us patriotic and nationalistic Sierra Leoneans are firing for, will be everlasting.
It is in the best interest of everyone in the country, including Maada, to keep the peace. The last time i checked, when all hell broke loose: we saw soldiers deserting the war front; some doing a Burkinabe – refusing to fight and going AWOL at the war front and taking the seemingly easy option of staging a coup; some becoming sobels – soldier by day and rebels at night; some scurrying away to faraway lands as refugees; some losing life, limb and property. The fighting only stopped because of the altruism and intervention of certain foreigners. who some cynics would accuse of simply interested in being fire-fighters rather than fire engineers pro-actively designing-out any potential conflagaration .
Bio, once a leading member of a military regime that made lofty promises and failed miserably, in bringing an end to that last atrocious war, should not be counted on to do otherwise if we we ever go down that route again.
I am definitely not holding my breath. Our sub-region sits right on top of the faultlines of shifting technonic plates of political instability in Africa . Our President and his former chief minister were once peace studies scholars in Bradford- in the heart of the UK’s county of Yorkshire – so one should have expected more wisdom.
Risk assessment is a powerful modern management tool which West African leaders do not bother to include in their tool boxes.
West Africa drifting back to the bad old days of vogue military coups should therefore come as no surprise.
Any interregnum in Sierra Leone that does not dump both the SLPP and APC into the dustbin of History is a futile exercise.
We are being told that freedom of speech has limits. If so, what are those limits? And who for? Perhaps more importantly, who has the authority – moral particularly – to impose them and on what grounds, specific or otherwise? My claim is that freedom of speech is front and centre of the workings of any self-respecting democratic state, which our country currently is not. We either have freedom of speech and so live in a democracy or we do not have it and so live in an autarchy, smacking of Hitlerite Germany, Stalinist Russia or Kim Jung-Un’s North Korea. Sierra Leone on Bio’s watch is rapidly degenerating into an autocratic nightmare. Its claim of being a democracy is just that: a claim devoid of substance.
Debate, dissent, argument and controversy are the fuel that powers the engine of democracy, allowing it to roll on unimpeded for the general good. Robust and indeed fiery exchanges between competing political and ideological formations are therefore very much in order. It is through debates, arguments and controversies that a truly democratic state seeks and finds solutions to its problems. This is why we have opposition parties in Parliament, whose members are chosen through multiparty elections. No single party and its leader can embody the totality of the dreams and aspirations of a country as ethnically and regionally diverse as ours. Nothing therefore justifies denying an opposition party its right to say loud and clear at a time of its own choosing what its aims and ambitions are in the short, medium or long term.
The declarations made by Mr Sidie Yahya Tunis on radio are thus an open secret. Opposition parties aim above all to defeat and remove from power the ruling party. This is in the nature of the democratic political game. Mr Tunis is not calling for an armed insurrection. He is simply stating what he thinks and believes – kicking Bio and his regime out of power a year from now. He has every right to say so. Whether that aspiration of his will materialise or not is a completely different thing. The Sierra Leonean electorate will decide in the fullness of time whether to vote him and his party back into power or not. He has committed no crime and should therefore not be subjected to intimidation and brutalisation for simply doing his work., which is opposing a government he and his party hope and aim to remove from power. To think and argue otherwise is to condone and promote political intolerance and violence – a sure path to military coup or a civil war or both.
“As a Brigadier, he was in command of four battalions during the war. He was there at the battle of Freetown in 1999, he liberated Kono in desperate hand to hand fighting, respected by his troops and a paragon of virtue. An officer and a gentleman. There is only one problem, the Brigadier was absent from 1996-2007.” Leo Africanus
Is this supposed to be a satire? To all intent and purpose it seems satirical. Brigadier Bio left the army in June 1996. A month later he left the shores of Sierra Leone to pursue further education. So it is ironical that Mr. Africanus states that Brigadier Bio’s resume has one problem, “he was absent from 1996-2007”. The last sentence in Mr. Africanus comment above exposes why he sees the President Military resume as a satire and not honour. If you want to know about Brigadier Bio’s past Military experience and honour, I will refer you to read an article written by one retired Colonel Bashiru Conteh which was published I thinks sometime in 2016/17. And perhaps read some transcripts of testimonies at the TRC.
There is no doubt that Brigadier Bio was one of our finest fighters who was among the first crop of officers sent to Monrovia to fight the NPFL. When the war started in Sierra Leone he was among the first crop of officers sent to the border line in Sierra Leone at the front lines. At that time many sacred cows in the army under President Momoh who had never tested wars were protected to stay in the safety of Freetown Far away from the front line. Some were even hurriedly sent to pursue further studies in the UK because of their relationship with former President Momoh and the influential EKUTAY cabals just to avoid going to the front lines. If you want to know how Bio became Brigadier General, you have to read . But just to give you a gist, Captain Strasser had to promote then Captain Bio to Brigadier General to take over the command at the front line when the war first came close to the Western area, and this was because of the confidence the army had in him as a strong battle tested commander. So insinuating otherwise by anyone who do not have the time to do a bit of research or read articles on our war in the 90s, is ingenious to the people of Sierra Leone. But what can we expect!!!!!!
Mr Samura, I need to understand your perspective.
Are you implying that a Brigadier and and a fine officer, to quote your words, left the army in the middle of a civil war to further his studies abroad.
That is patriotism at its finest. Pardon me, I am not as intelligent as you, I thought officers are not allowed to resign their position in the middle of a war.
I understand that during the bitter battle for Freetown in 1999, the honoured Brigadier was eating Macdonald’s and living it up in the states.
You have contradicted yourself sir, from your reasoning, one would assume that the Brigadier did the same thing as the A.P.C by sending himself to further his studies.
Colonel Bashiru Conteh is an officer and a gentleman who was there during all the war. I did not see him going to further his studies abroad.
Brigadier General Maada Bio (Retd). That has a nice ring to it. Now he is president, what an achievement. As a Brigadier, he was in command of four battalions during the war. He was there at the battle of Freetown in 1999, he liberated Kono in desperate hand to hand fighting, respected by his troops and a paragon of virtue. An officer and a gentleman.
There is only one problem, the Brigadier was absent from 1996-2007. If your country is at war and a brigade commander is absent, some people would call it desertion, dereliction of duty, behaviour unbecoming of an officer of the Republic. Alas in Sierra Leone, he is elected president. There are Sergeants in the army with more military experience than our honoured president.
During his teenage years, President Julius Maada Wonnie Bio followed his “ Spiritual Instinct” to sacrifice his precious life to join the military and defend his country. He and some patriotic soldiers kicked out the destructive APC party dictatorship from power after 25 years of misrule which resulted in our Civil War. Thankfully, after 29 years (1967-1996) then Retired Brigadier Maada Bio returned our country to democracy after initiating peace talks with late Rebel Leader Foday Sankoh which resulted in the Lome Peace Accord.
The Citizens gave President Bio another opportunity in 2018 based on the first that he is a man of his words ( Talk and Do Bio) when he promised to rule for only 3 months during our 2 nd revolution, he did. Currently, he is now the Chairman of the African Union within 31/2 years after restoring our nation’s credibility in corruption, governance, Education, Sports and Entertainment.
Finally,” while freedom of speech is a fundamental right,it is not absolute, and therefore subject to restrictions.” Which is the reason for the ongoing investigation of the January 6th event in the USA. I hope and pray that the destructive APC propaganda secretary will explain about their third opinion that they are plotting against President Bio, since the first two ( the one in Western Area and Northern Province) has been unsuccessful.
Kudos to Radio 98.1 for exposing this information to the public. As Dr. Sylvia Blyden stated in Krio, “ the Sass Wood is working “.
Mr Sahr Kemoh Brima, with all due respect, I totally disagree with your interpretation of what some members of this forum are trying to warn against. And your suggestion that we are encouraging members of the Republic of Sierra-leone armed forces to step in and remove Bio our elected leader because as you pointed out we are sitting comfortably in foreign countries wishing such outcomes to our country is wrong . Lets don’t forget majority of Sierra Leoneans that left Sierra Leone and seek safty abroad, is because of the failure of the government of Sierra-leone to provide the first duty of any government, security of life and safty of its citizens. Secondly, the reasons why Foday Sankoh and his men initially launched the RUF war was to fight against corruption, tribalism, regionalism and corruption. Unfortunately they lost their way before they got to the capital Freetown in January 1999.
We have to raise the alarm because we are witnessing the same tried and failed policies that brought us war being pursued by Bio’s government. I pray you never lost members of your family in that RUF war, but for some of us that were unfortunate to lose some family members, because the State of Sierra Leone completely collapsed due to corruption and bad governance, and in honor of our dead, it is our duty to remind those in power about the effects of their policies on our country’s security.
Even if you live in Alaska, or the Antarctica, or in a Cave in the Congo forest, what happens to Sierra Leone matters to all of us. Sierra-leone doesn’t belong to one tribe or one person. It belongs to all of us. No one is calling for the Military to take over. They should stay in the barracks and let the people of Sierra Leone decide who their elected leaders should be. President Bio is our President. We need to constantly remind him where our country is and where we are heading. No one hates Bio. We just want him to do the right thing. Maybe for you our country is on the right track. But for some of us we are still not out of the woods.
A leopard will never shed its spot. Today is Mr Tunis expressing his opinion about how he and his APC party expect to marshal their supporters and vote Bio out of power in the upcoming 2023 Presidential elections, which is almost a year away from now. Although on paper, Sierra Leone is a multi party democracy, where the opposition by law is allowed to express their opinions, to oppose government policies that they think is counterproductive to the welfare of the state, what we are now witnessing in Sierra Leone, is like a throw back to the 1970s and 80s when the country was effectively governed under the banner of a one party state. Sometimes, I really wonder if Bio understands what’s going on in the west African region.
Five military coups in space of two years one of which Guinea Bissau, an attemp was made two weeks ago. It says much how governments are fragile in the region. The same policies that Bio is pursuing, like the suppression of the freedom of speech, trampling on the rights of individuals opposition members, and total disregard for the rule of law, and free press, is the same reasons given by the military strongmen of Burkina Fasso, Mali, and Guinea to step in and overthrow just like Bio the elected civilian leaders of this countries. Bio and the inspector General of police must be brain dead to repeat the same carbon copy policies pursed by the civilian government before they were ousted by the military. And Bio got the brass neck to sit in this emergency ECOWAS and more recently African union meetings condeming this military take overs.
To prevent military take overs in Africa, the regional bodies like ECOWAS and the African union and the United Nations and our international development partners needs to come out and condem this witch hunt policies, that sow the seeds of instability and economic upheavals that creat the necessary conditions for the military take overs. No sane person wants the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed forces interfere with our democracy. Is counterproductive and won’t get us anywhere. At the same time our elected leaders, should not create a sense of insecurity and the Sierra Leone population feeling they are being govern by psychopaths, that keeps repeating the same mistakes year iin year out. ECOWAS needs to shape up or disband . They cannot wave the banner of excuse, that ” We don’t interfere in the internal affairs of our member states only when it applies to civilian dictatorship. But are quick to impose sanctions on military juntas” Sometimes prevention is better than cure.
Maada Bio and his team are very scared as they feel power slipping away from them; they now see enemies everywhere, and are ready to pounce at everybody and everything, including shadows. This makes them extremely dangerous, for they are ready to kill if that’s what it will take to retain power in 2023. The detention of Mr Tunis for just declaring that the opposition would do everything within the law to win in 2023 should send shivers down the spine of the nation as an example of the extremes to which SLPP are ready to go to hold on to power.
Chicken and spineless Ambrose Sovula, who tries to pass himself off as a trained police officer, is anything but. He cannot even calm down a fight in a bar between two drunks who cannot throw a forceful punch. But this is what we have come to expect from the police force, it is more of an extension of SLPP than anything else. Former chief minister, David Francis, had a journalist arrested and locked up for simply wanting to ask him question about the sum of $1.5 million that appeared in his bank account. In Bio’s and SLPP’s understanding, the executive, legislator and judiciary are one and the same. Since some of us are not all that bright (myself included) can someone brighter tell us whether this is not what is called dictatorship as they had it in Stalinist Russia? That’s what they have in North Korea too, where people are executed for not singing the praise of President Kim.
Bio is a first class hypocrite. By way of the diplomatic community in Sierra Leone, he tries to convince the international community that he carries impeccable democratic credentials when in fact he is the worst denier of personal freedom and epitomises the worst kind of political violence in modern times. To avoid the prospect of another civil war Sierra Leoneans should vote in NGC and Dr Yomkella in 2023. The bad blood between APC and SLPP should summon our collective common sense to discern that were APC to return to power in 2023, they would spend three years rounding up and torturing the upper echelons of SLPP, and two years rekindling their old ways of corruption while the country continues to perish.
“There are fears among political analysts that sections of the military may uprise against the government as seen recently in neighbouring Guinea, Mali, and Burkina Faso, to help restore political stability and order in Sierra Leone.” The Sierra Leone Telegraph. Wow, I did not know that people sitting in the comfort of their Western homes in Europe and the USA can have such sad and bad thoughts and feelings because what they want – a military coup or an interregnum in Sierra Leone to rid of a democratically elected President has not happened. If this is not a WISTFUL thinking, I don’t know what else it is?
There have been four military coups in West Africa since 2020. Mali and Burkina Faso have had theirs because of Perpetual wars (and we all know that Military Governments have never been able to finish a war), Guinea Conakry had a coup because of a president tampering with the constitution to impose himself on the people, and recently, in Guinea Bissau because of the government’s fight against drug cartels and their patrons in the army some hooligans in the army thought they can get rid of the President who like Bio is a former General in from the army. None of these factors for the aforementioned coups or attempted coup are akin to Sierra Leone, and yet the above statement from the Editorial Board of a Paper we all love and respect has sent shiver up our spines.
Sierra Leone will go to the ballot in 2023. The people of Sierra Leone would have the opportunity to either extend the mandate of the current president or give someone else the chance. The very thought of entertaining the thought of a coup on this widely read online paper is chilling to say the least. Why would anyone want the military to usurp the right of the people to elect their leaders something which they know has the propensity to breed violence and likely civil war? Is this how far we can go because we do not like a leader?
Whiles some of us are not fans of the current President, but we are fans of democratic principle including voting for our leaders. Therefore, let it be known that we will not be cowed by such wishful thinking and intimidation by some of our country men and women no matter who they are or where they are.
Mr Brima, unlike you and your military turncoat president and despotic police chief who will arrest anyone that criticises the govt, and lock them up without charge, here in Sierra Leone Telegraph we will not even consider deleting your comment or ban you from posting. We respect your freedom of speech which you seem to want to deny the editorial board of the Sierra Leone Telegraph.
Its sad that you dont seem to think that journalists and policy analysts have a right to highlight or discuss every issue of interest to the public. Indeed you do sound like someone who is benefitting from the corruption and poor governance we are witnessing in Sierra Leone today.
Where were you when the Sierra Leone Telegraph was advocating for regime change before the 2018 elections because of the failed policies of the Koroma government. We even accused the APC of trying to orchestrate a coup so as to extend its stay in power.
Please take note that we do not take lessons from the likes of your ilk. If you dont like what you read here, you dont have to come back.Peace.