Sierra Leone government chief minister Francis in an alleged $1.5 million corruption scandal

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 November 2019:

Sallieu Tejan Jalloh – the managing editor of one of Sierra Leone’s newspapers – Times Sierra Leone, was yesterday evening arrested by armed police officers and locked up in detention at the CID in Freetown, after publishing a statement promising to reveal evidence of a $1.5 million bribe, allegedly paid into the Bank account of the government’s chief minister – Professor David Francis by a mining company.

According to the BBC’s Umaru Fofanah, commenting this morning on social media on the arrest: “Police in Sierra Leone have confirmed the detention  last night of journalist Sallieu Tejan-Jalloh of the Times newspaper. The head of CID, Chief Superintendent John Alpha told me that it was in connection with an SMS the journalist sent to the county’s Chief Minister Prof David Francis, enquiring about an alleged payment of $1.5 million into his private bank account by SL Mining which had its license cancelled recently by the state. Police are now at Ecobank seeking to confirm the alleged payment, the CID boss told me. The Chief Minister could not be reached for his comment.”

The arrested journalist is reported to have planned to publish full details of the bribery transactions today. (Photo: Sallieu Tejan-Jalloh).

It is understood that the SMS text message sent by the journalist to chief minister Francis, was simply to request confirmation of the source of the $1.5 million allegedly paid into the chief minister’s Ecobank account in Freetown.

Critics say that the arrest of the journalist last night, was aimed at silencing the journalist and to prevent him from publishing the evidence.

It is believed that the journalist had received warnings in the last few days to back off from publishing that evidence.

The arrest of yet another journalist by the SLPP government raises questions about the seriousness of the government’s intention to repeal the notorious 1965 Public Order Act, which successive governments have arbitrarily used to harass, intimidate, arrest and detain journalists in the country.

If the corruption allegations against chief minister David Francis are true, then this will be the first high profile corruption scandal to hit president Bio’s government, since he came to office last March.

According to details of the SMS text believed to have been sent by the journalist for the chief minister to comment on the allegations before deciding whether to publish the evidence, it would appear that the country’s Financial Crimes Intelligence Unit (FIU) had discovered the $1.5 million in the minister’s bank account in their investigations.

“Good evening sir, please be informed that we are currently investigating an issue of financial crime allegedly involving the Chief Minister. It was alleged that the FIU discovered the sum of USD1.5 million which was paid on diverse dates in your account at the ECOBANK. There are issues of alleged bribery from a mining company that also requires your response. We are already concluding our investigation and we would therefore need your own side of the story before publications. Thanks and we look forward to hearing from you.” That was the content of the SMS text sent to the chief minister by the journalist arrested yesterday.

The police in Freetown are yet to make a statement about the arrest of the journalist, who from the above SMS text message, does not appear to have committed a crime by merely trying to cross check his allegations with the chief minister, before going to press.

Chief Minister Professor David Francis is the most powerful minister in the Bio-led government, and possibly the most unpopular minister in the country. If he has abused his powers and influence over the police, by ordering the arrest of the journalist, then his role in the government must now be untenable.

Many believe that the role of  chief minister is an unnecessary duplication of the vice president’s role, and must be scrapped to save the government hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

These bribery allegations, if proven to be true, will test the commitment and conviction of president Bio and his fight to end corruption in high places in Sierra Leone. Will chief minister Francis be regarded as a sacred cow? Only time will tell.

11 Comments

  1. Movie Producers have been known to use puppets in television programs that have grossed billions of dollars;the Muppet show, Sesame street, and the Dinosaurs are just a few of them. Truly admirable! Ventriloquists and comedians have become rich and famous overnight, using puppets to entertain in award winning stage performances worldwide – wow! Remarkable,is it not? Renowned fashion designers sometimes use puppets, alongside mannequins to showcase their latest costumes – brilliant,no doubt!

    Again, Scientists and Car manufacturers have shown a preference for using puppets in dangerous experiments – ingenious,that’s for sure! Indeed,puppets can be very useful to mankind,but not in the case of the Sierra Leone Police – Nope,they are a disgraceful bunch of string tied, good for nothing puppets in the notorious hands of the SLPP. (lol)….Release Mr Jalloh – loosen your criminal grips and let him go free, from those shady, corrupted hands of yours…Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  2. How can a mininig company be ordered to pay the sum of $1m to govt but refused and instead paid a bribe of $1.5M to an individual? This is APC dirty politics. Chief Minister is the guy who championed the commission of inquiry and the APC hates him for that, I will not be surprised if they can use one of their paid journalists in order to blackmail the man.

  3. It is preposterous to believe that a senior government Minister will be embroiled in a bribery scheme in a government that has vowed to fight and eradicate corruption in our country. And to deposit such amount into his personal account without realizing that there will be a blow back is unbelievable. I think that all these allegations are meant to discredit our Chief Minister, after so many trials by the APC party and their operatives to smear and discredit him.

    For someone who has been very vocal in the fight against graft and corruption, it will be a disappointment to his boss and the entire SLPP party if it turns out there is even an iota of truth to this allegation. But the question that begs answer, is why would a company that has refused to part with a penny over the disagreement about their mining agreement be willing to part with a substantial amount such as $1.5 million to appease a single minister?

    This story does not hold water and I am sure the subsequent investigation will unearth the diabolical machinations of the APC and their paid up journalist to dig up dirt on the SLPP party for their pay masters.

  4. The last three paragraphs of this article sum up the intentions of the author. He claims that the chief minister is unpopular and that the position of chief minister is redundant to cabinet requirements. A necessary inference is that since president Bio has refused to sack the chief minister, efforts will be made to embarrass the president and his chief minister.

    This notwithstanding, the news about the chief minister’s alleged corruption is being released at a time that the former APC ministers have been called to declare their assets. Hmmmmmm sounds like one of the 99 tactics of the APC. Doesn’t it? If a public official is to deposit a stolen loot in a bank, is ECOBANK going to be that bank?

    Sierra Leonean journalists, with a few exceptions, are corrupt. If journalist Sallieu Tejan-Jalloh was arrested by the police, then there must be a solid reason fr his arrest. Hopefully, the public will soon know. But how many times have these brown envelope journalists in Freetown not attempted to tarnish the image of honest and hardworking Sierra Leoneans only to turn around and offer an apology?

  5. This is a classic example of corruption fighting back. The Chief Minister has been the major target since he accused the past APC government officials of massive corruption. I have seen this so-called journalist over the AYVTV several times having a shouting contest because he never said anything constructive but just defending the corrupt Chairman for life and his corrupt officials. It’s a pity to see this young man being reduced to that level especially when he has the potential to be a credible journalist.

    How did he get the telephone number of the Chief Minister to even start harassing him with bogus allegations about a corrupt mining company that has been closed by this government? Is this multi million dollar company trying to conspire with a bank by undermining the almost concluded commission of inquiry ( COI ) and the government out of anger and disappointment from the closing of the mining company?

    If the allegation about the Chief Minister is credible why can’t this so-called journalist just publish the article instead of resorting to blackmailing? I personally believe this is the reason why the members of parliament are dragging their feet in repealing the criminal libel law that President Bio has already tabled to be repealed by the House of Parliament.

    Respectable and responsible journalism is what we need in Sierra Leone and not political propagandists, but since this is just an allegation, it’s now left with the police and possibly the ACC which I guess is the wish of the APC to investigate the investigators just to definitely undermine the credibility of the COI.

  6. Well,where there is smoke,there also will you find fire – the cock doesn’t crow at dawn just for nothing,its a signal that daylight is fast approaching.(lol) Lets wait and see,how this turns out. Arresting a journalist for trying to do his job clearly shows you the kinds of good for nothing puppets the Sierra Leone Police,have become in the hands of the SLPP.I told y’all,times without number,that these people were nothing but a bunch of corrupt,shady,con artists but your gullible minds just wouldn’t listen.

    Let me reiterate,they are all dirty – all of them,knee deep in corruption.They belong to the incongruous, secret SLPP Cabal,with ringleaders like Francis,and Saffa running the show,discreetly,spoon feeding the President criminal ideas,like a hungry toddler behind the scenes(lol) How can anyone not like,and admire journalists who are as bold as Mr Jalloh? These kinds of men are examples of what real patriot look like – not Freeloaders like Francis,Saffa,Pratt, Kpakima and others. Liars,liars,their Corrupt pants burning furiously with fires of inordinate desires, while the poor masses struggle,and suffer quietly in tears….Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

    • Arresting a journalist for trying to do his job clearly shows you the kinds of good for nothing puppets the Sierra Leone Police,have become in the hands of the SLPP. You will never stop surprising people. Is this the first time this has happened in Sierra Leone? Obviously the answer is a big NO. If I can vividly remember David Tam Mbayoh was arrested for doing his job as a journalist during reign of EBK.

  7. If it is true, I strongly believe Prezo Bio for uprooting any weed found amongst the developmental crops of the nation. No matter how mighty the weed is.

  8. Lets see whether President Bio would spare the country’s Chief minister as a sacred cow. The fight against corruption in Sierra Leone has intensified.The world is watching the ACC whether it is a selective fight.

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