Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 June 2021:
Sierra Leone’s Bank Governor, Professor Kelfala M. Kallon, the man that many in Sierra Leone had pinned much hope on, of helping the government turn the economy around but has so far failed, is in deep trouble with the judiciary after accusing the country’s Judges of taking bribes in a media report published in the Awoko newspaper.
The Bank Governor has tendered unreserved apologies to all Justices of the Court of Judicature and the Judiciary who describe his media comments as ‘scandalous and defamatory’.
“I am very sorry. My intention was not to paint the Judiciary bad. My comments about the Judiciary were historical interpretation as presented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I profusely apologise and I am very sorry. It was a mistake but let me say that I was misinterpreted,” Professor Kallon said.
The Bank Governor says that the content of Awoko’s publication was a direct misrepresentation of comments he made at the Raddison Blu International Conference Center.
Last Thursday, 10th June 2021, Chief Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards summoned the Bank Governor to a meeting with Supreme Court Justices to discuss his remarks.
The Chief Justice who departed Freetown to attend the 5th High Level Meeting of Chief Justices and Heads of Constitutional Courts in Africa held in Cairo, Egypt, was unable to chair the meeting with the Bank Governor which took place on Friday, 11th June, 2021 to discuss the Bank Governor’s comments published on the front page of Awoko newspaper – Vol. 28 No. 98 with a banner headline: ‘Bank Governor Blames Judges for Non-Recovery of Bad Loans’.
The Wednesday, 9th June, 2021 Awoko edition quoted the Bank Governor, Professor Kallon, as saying: “if you have a private sector that people who go to borrow don’t want to pay, when you put their collateral they go and bribe judges. The Bank of Sierra Leone never wins a case in this country, you know why, because the Bank don’t bribe.”
Denying the newspaper report, the Bank Governor told the Supreme Court Judges: “I am very sorry. My intention was not to paint the Judiciary bad. My comments about the Judiciary were historical interpretation as presented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I profusely apologise and I am very sorry. It was a mistake but let me say that I was misinterpreted.”
But the Judges do not seem to have believed a word that the Bank Governor (Photo) told them in his defence.
Justice Miatta Maria Samba said the Bank Governor’s statement was an incitement to the public against the Judiciary. “Your statement is similar to what the journalists do. You do the harm and apologise but let me say that I feel very hurt by your comments,” she told the Bank Governor, who the Sierra Leone Telegraph understands is now fighting to save his job after this newspaper gaffe.
The President of the Industrial Court, Justice Sengu Koroma said that the Bank Governor’s remarks about the Bank not winning any case were incorrect.
Justices Deen Tarawallie and Alusine Sesay expressed similar sentiments and said they were utterly shocked at the Bank Governor’s remarks.
The Acting Chief Justice – Nicholas Browne-Marke who chaired the meeting with the Bank Governor, said evidence are there to show that about four commercial banks have closed operations not because of the Courts, including ProCredit, IBTI and Meridian Banks.
However, he said that he appreciated the Bank Governor’s immediate apology for his ‘unfortunate statement,’ and encouraged the Central Bank to continue to repose confidence in the Judiciary to build a better Sierra Leone.
Concluding the meeting which was also attended by Justice Eku Roberts, the Supreme Court Judges told the Bank Governor that he will be invited to another meeting at which the Chief Justice would be present, so that the position of the Judiciary will be made clear about any possible line of action or resolution.
Responding to the Bank Governor’s statement that the content of Awoko’s publication was a direct misrepresentation of his comments made at Raddison Blu International Conference Center, this is what Awoko newspaper said:
“Our attention has been drawn to the press release issued by the Judiciary in which the Bank Governor claims that we Awoko Newspaper quoted him out of context. We wish to inform the Bank Governor that we have him on tape and we would have shared the audio publicly on all social media platforms.
“We will however not do that, not because we want to protect the Bank Governor’s integrity which is already soiled, but out of respect for the Judiciary and the work they so selflessly do which most times goes unheralded.
“We reiterate that at Awoko we hold ourselves to the highest standards and we do not publish to destroy people’s character, but we cannot be held responsible for senior government officials who make flippant statements in public forums which might go to harm the country’s image abroad.
“We advise them to engage proper and professional media handlers to guide their appearances and save our country from embarrassing gaffes.”
Political observers are now saying that the Bank Governor’s job is hanging on a thread after this newspaper gaffe, as well as his inability to help stem the declining value of the Leone against major global currencies. The Leone has lost 40% of its value since President Bio took office three years ago.
“It is vitality important in a democracy that individuals judges, and the judiciary as a whole are impartial, and independent of external pressure and of each other. So that those who appear before them, and the wider public, can have confidence that their cases will be decided fairly and in accordance with the law”Now anyone, even a layman that practically have no knowledge of the law , will agree with this statement. It appears unless of course hou happen to be one of the corrupt judges, that have taken the independence of our judiciary to the dry cleaners.The reaction to this misspoken words, never mind whether our Bank Governor was speaking in good faith, but that is beyond the point . Hell, and highwater has no limits. Even though he came under pressure to retract his statement, the public is all too familiar with his story. The Bio government that came to power with the aim of fighting corruption, has proven to be the most unapologetic corrupt lot that can claim a degree of legitimacy. A point was made, and point taken.
The fact remains, there is no somke with out fire. Our straight talking bank Governor, no less appears to have ruffle few judges feathers, or my lordship wigs for better use of words, in discribing some of our politicised judges of being corrupt to their bone marrow.Thanks Mr Kallon, for reminding us. As every Sierra-leoneans that fall faul of our justice system, can attest to what our Bank Governor is saying. He just happened to be speaking his mind . What this shows, we should not give up in the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone. After all there are few good men left. The truth as we all know is hidden in plain sight. And no one can argue with that. So right now prefessor Kallon is in the cross hairs of our angry mob of our lordships. The die is cast. What a state of affairs our country have degenated to. Even our Bank Governor, can’t escape the fury of our not so independent judiciary.Under such circumstances, what hope have the average man, and woman stands, if they found themselves in front of our angry leraned judges accused of corruption?
Are we to conclude, given the reaction of the judges, the idea of a man asscued of a crime is innocent until tried and found guilty in a court of law, not in a hotel conference room. With our judges that principle is dead in the water. Our bank Governor has to be dragged in what can only be discribed as a kangaroo court, to be precise , Hotel suit and verbally tortured, until he was forced to make a confession, and apologised unreservedly about his statement he made to Akowo Newspaper. But as far as the other judges are concerned, the trial is not over yet. He owes another apology to the Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, then to Bio himself. The fountain of Honour. The way the Kangaroo Courts works, they are going to ensure any sentence they pass on the Bank Governor, has to include eating his words. What a load of horse sxxt snd miscarriage of Justice.
Of course, it is not a hidden fact that the present set of the Judiciary is corrupt to the core, with respect to all aspects of life in the country. Just ask the APC party; there would not be any shortage of account pertaining to the unscrupulous and unconstitutional activities of these so-called learned outfit. In fact, one would compromise on authenticity if you are inclined to accept the present existence of a moral and ethical Judiciary in the country. Simply put, it is more like an auxiliary clique to the executive arm of an autocratic or totalitarian government.
The Central Bank Governor, Professor Kelfala Kallon may not be a great champion of many, but seems to be very explicit in his thinking here; although disappointingly he lacks the nerve to stand by his words. However, it is not uncommon for top officials to behave in such a manner, especially if they are on a six-figure salary. All in all, the danger is, there is a high probability that the present cohort of the Judiciary, if they continue to function in their present make-up, they will risk the security and stability of the country. It appears no one seems to remember the dreadful sacrifice made by the country for its democratic dispensation.
The truth they say is a bitter pill. It appears the judiciary leaders are getting jittery by a factual utterance from the Bank Governor. Of course, with the exception of a few, majority of our sitting judges are corrupt and do take bribes from time to time. Though it is an open secret regarding to how our judges can be easily manipulated by politics or money, my younger cousin who is practicing law in the nation, has confided in me during numerous of our conversations, giving me a bird’s view on how rotten and corrupt our judiciary system is. So i am not really sure what the fuss is all about by these judges, pretending to be clean when in fact they hold the keys to the many impasses our nation is undergoing.
You eat back your words for saying the right thing due to pressure? What a country?
The judiciary must do what is right. We are not fools.