Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 April 2018:
A serious row has broken out between the ruling SLPP and the former president of Sierra Leone Ernest Bai Koroma, after the SLPP National Publicity Secretary – Lahai Lawrence Leema, yesterday accused the former president of holding a secret meeting in his home town of Makeni with a group of senior military officers.
Mr Leema did not say what the secret meeting was about, but writing on social media, this is what the SLPP National Publicity Secretary said: “The attention of the SLPP National Publicity Secretary has been drawn to a secret meeting of some senior military officers of the RSLAF with the former president Ernest Bai Koroma in Makeni city.
“If this is anything to go by, then let me remind the RSLAF chain of command that the commander-in -chief of the Republic of Sierra Leone (RSLAF) as stipulated by the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone is His Excellency Rtd. Brg. Julius Bio, you either respect the people’s mandate or you quit the RSLAF; to venture any unprogressive path in this country now will be counterproductive.
“You don’t serve to (sic) masters. It is against the military law and codes for three officers to have a secret meeting without the approval of the CDS. So whatever you are up to, I advise you drop it with an immediate effect.”
A month ago, at the height of the general and presidential elections campaigning, Mr Leema made similar accusation against the military, when he said that senior army officers were plotting to assassinate the SLPP leader and presidential candidate – Julius Maada Bio.
But yesterday’s allegation by Mr Leema, who himself is a former military officer, “is one step too far,” a senior executive of the SLPP party told the Sierra Leone Telegraph.
“Our party is now in government, but it seems we have forgotten how to switch off the opposition button we have become accustomed to for the past ten years sitting on the opposition benches,” he said.
Last month, the Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio who is in London this week , attending the Commonwealth Heads of State conference, was elected as president of Sierra Leone.
But three weeks on, the economic woes inherited by his government continue, amid worsening intermittent electricity blackouts across the capital Freetown and shortage of cash to run his government.
The Bio government has a huge mountain to climb, if it is to begin to tackle the economic and financial difficulties facing the people of Sierra Leone. Hence spending time behaving like a government in waiting, lashing out at the outgoing Koroma government is unwise and counter-productive.
Responding to the allegation made by the SLPP against the former president and senior army officers, this is a statement issued by the office of the former President Ernest Bai Koroma:
“The attention of the Office of Former President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, has been drawn to a very wild allegation authored and published on social media by the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Lahai Lawrence Leema, claiming that military officers of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces held a secret meeting in Makeni City, Northern Sierra Leone, with the former President after he was no longer President.
“The Office of Former President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma wishes the public to know that such an allegation by Lahai Lawrence Leema against the Former President and in which the Military has been linked, is baseless and dangerous for the peace and security of the State.
“The facts are that since the new SLPP dispensation of H.E. President Bio was ushered in, the former president has not even moved out of Freetown let alone to be present in northern Makeni City to hold secret meetings with soldiers.
“For the avoidance of all doubts, we hereby state that the former President, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, has not held any secret meetings with military officers here in Freetown, in Makeni or anywhere else. We therefore condemn in the strongest of terms this errant attempt to bring the name of the former president to disrepute.
“This Office further notes that such unfounded allegations have brought sad memories of how innocent Sierra Leoneans were in the past, implicated on trumped up allegations of Treason resulting in unimaginable, extra-judicial consequences for them and their families.
“Against a backdrop of ongoing harassment of various citizens by armed vigilantes of the ruling SLPP, this Office will like the general public and the international community to note the latest unfortunate and dangerous gimmick by the ruling SLPP.
“During Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s tenure as president over a period of ten years, he worked assiduously to ensure Sierra Leone enjoys unprecedented peace and quiet.
“Our collective efforts under his leadership, ensured our country Sierra Leone was ranked as the most peaceful nation in our region and one of the most peaceful in Africa and the World. It is therefore incumbent on us all to maintain our enviable ranking.
“Meanwhile, this Office hereby demands the immediate retraction by the SLPP of such an unfounded allegation by their official National Spokesman.”
Listen to Lahai Lawrence Leema defending his allegation:
Listen to former Defence Minister Palo Conteh condemning the allegation on 98.1 FM:
While senior SLPP executives will be hoping that this new row is nothing but a storm in a teacup, it does not bode well for the Bio government that has promised a different and better way of doing politics in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone is one of the poorest nations in the world, with most people living on $1 (one dollar) a day; over 70% are unemployed; fewer than 20% having access to reliable supply of electricity; and 60% struggling to access safe and clean drinking water.
With such problems in the country, the SLPP government must now switch off from opposition mode and go to work.
Five years in office is less than sixty months away. Last month the people of Sierra Leone voted for change which brought the SLPP into power. The people have shown they can do it again in 2023, if the SLPP government fails to address the deep seated economic and social problems that are causing early childhood and adult deaths in Sierra Leone.
I think the partisan thinking will continue to affect our reasoning for a very long time from now until we realise that our country should come first before a political party. Its like a religion or practising politics from the time we are conceived.
People have to realise that the APC and SLPP have destroyed our country through their ethnic political parties. They dont have the answers to the problems of our country but they continue to make promises and voted into office by their ethnic alliances.
Someone born in the southeast will automatically become a ‘born-SLPP’ and vice versa from the other side of the ethnic divide. Do you call this politics? If the APC or SlPP were to fail in finding a candidate, the ethnic following will still vote for a stick wrapped in red or green in the end. This I think is the main reason why our leaders dont do anything serious in the end because they know voters will surely cast their ballots for them.
My brother Sheku said APC will never rule Salone again because they are too corrupt. If you really love salone I think you should encourage competetion for power because it make the country better. Its a good thing for the APC or any other political party to take governance in order to keep the SLPP on its toes.
Please remember that more than 4 billion dollars was pledged for the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement after the war and according to news more than half of that amount was passed on to the previous SLPP government. Most of that money was never accounted for. So do not forget that the SLPP is not corrupt-free and are egually responsiple for the currnt state of Salone.
Lahai’s coments are unfortunate and I think the government has to re-think his position as a party spokesman because he simply does not know how to manage such sevsitive information. Only peoplee who think SLPP first will hail him because they will never see any wrong-doing of the SLPP.
We have to put Salone first if we are to move forward and try to minimize the influence of our ethnicities in nationl politics. We can make it happen if we try to leave the past behind us and turn to a positive and objective way of thinking for us to actually make our politicians listen to us and not to be taken for granted.
Thanks for reading
I really cannot fathom any wrong done by the SLPP Publicity Secretary for making such genuine allegations against former President Ernest Koroma knowing who he is, knowing his past records and what we believe he is capable of doing. Equally also mindful of the unprofessionalism of 70% of our military personnel.
Almost 90% of the Police force are still blindly loyal to former President Koroma and his cronies, while also recalling the incident of alleged assassination attempt on our President – then Flag Bearer Candidate in the Presidential election race. Hence with all these in mind and many more, the SLPP government have to be very much alert and concerned about security matters in this country.
One thing I want to inject into the minds of the APC is that they are no longer in governance and that it is the SLPP that is now in governance and that they MUST, I MEAN MUST accept and respect this fact. If they think because they have stolen all our money and made themselves filthy rich and as such they should not accept that they are no longer in governance, then they are making serious blunder and stupid of themselves.
Let then understand that all the wealth that they have illegally acquired over the last 10 turbulent years of their failed regime, will surely be brought before the court of justice. This should be their worries rather than distracting the minds of the people of this country and the determination of the current regime to see that justice is done and seen to be done.
Please leave our National Publicity Secretary alone to do his job. Thank you Leema and keep it up for job well done.
I have no doubts that SLPP has switched off the opposition mode and it is APC who refuses to accept President Bio as President. The Supreme Court Judges had to point this out.
Indeed the SLPP needs to switch off its opposition mode. Such allegations or concerns if true, should be channeled through our intelligence and judiciary organs and not on social media where fake and unfake news are competing against each other.
Be professional in conducting your duty as National Publicity Secretary of the SLPP; and bear in mind that the APC members have the right as citizens to live in peace. We expect you to adhere to the democratic principles that should prevail in our country.
Please note that there is no such” office of the ex president ” in Sierra Leone or in Sierra Leone constitution.
Very serious allegations. I hope the security agencies mandated to investigate the source will come up with a position statement for the peace and stability of the country. No individual is bigger than Sierra Leone.
In my opinion Palo Conteh sounds defensive and some of the reference he made about the incident which took place in 1992 is uncalled for. I’m really shocked to hear that he doesn’t even know the resident of Ernest Koroma in Makeni. As a retired soldier I believe he was hanging out with some of his colleagues, which does not mean that he was planning to overthrow the present government.
But based on what happened to the late president Ahmed Tejan Kabba with reference to Johnny Paul Koroma, the SLPP has a valid reason to be concerned. But WhatsApp and Facebook are notorious for fake news. So Leeman’s posting should be treated with a grain of salt.
Mr. Leema, let nothing weaken your ability to carry out your duty properly. Definitely you are a strong man. Our country’s constitution was about to change. If not for God and Bio, Koroma would have become a prime minister and his puppet Samura would have been his soaked cat president. Then Sierra Leone would have become a province of China. APC will never rule this country again. They are one of the corrupt gov’ts I have ever seen in my life time.
Yes of course Mr. Leema Lahai Lawrence has all the right to publish this news so that it will stop immediately. I believe these people wanted to try H.E.J.M. Bio who is not a coward and takes no nonsense. I was laughing this morning when I heard the former Defense minister Paolo Conteh saying he never went to and does not know the former President Ernest Bai Koroma’s house in Makeni.
This man is a former defense minister. He was even appointed as Director of the Ebola Response Centre to mess with the Ebola program. Paolo, surely you never been to Koroma’s house or residence, after serving him for 10 (ten) years? Well if that is fact, thank you.
This is all to mess up the country more, so that President Bio cannot control it. At any rate, I trust him for all that had happened before. I am 100% sure he can deliver. Please brothers and sisters, stop mingling into politics, which somehow you do not quite understand.
Sierra Leone is second to Nigeria in terms of the military intervening in politics. Let us all be rest assured that our brother president Bio knows this. We cannot inherit what the APC have left in power. The military under the APC has just been working for the president Dr. Bai Koroma. Please stop tampering in today´s administration.
Your ministers have left behind a lot to think about and do, such as eliminating the debt burden the new president has inherited from the APC government. We must work with him to clean the country of rouges. President Bio we all depend on you and all those who go about beating the bush shall never prosper. May Allah guide and protect you from these bad people. Amen.
Lahai Lawrence Leema should never have put such a sensitive issue on social media. Goodness me, if this is true, then it is such a big problem that it should not be trivialized. Has he got a recording of the meeting? Has he got photos of the military men leaving or entering the ex-president’s house?
If yes, then it should be sorted by subtle diplomatic means and through the right channels. You do not take it upon yourself to do as you wish. There is too much to be done in the country and so the last thing we need is instability.
President Maada Bio, the people have given the reins of the country to you, so please steer it well and PLEASE control those around you. If this meeting did take place then EBK should be ashamed of himself. Your time is over. Please leave the present government in peace to sort out the mess you left the country in, after ten years in power.
Seriously SLPP! I hope you guys can put your house together and start thinking about the mess you have inherited. What you are doing is exactly what the APC would want you do so as not to concentrate on the more important issues. Time as they say flies.
Brigadier Bio was sworn into office on 04 April 2018 (not last month as the author of this article stated above). It is exactly 14 days today (two weeks). There are 52 weeks in a year. So you better start working now before the people start to wane their patience.
Mr. Leema, if you have such an intelligence report, as a ruling party, shouldn’t you first discuss this with the necessary authorities to authenticate the veracity of the information and / or do you have to go first to Social Media and become a laughing bird when it is proven that your information is false?
Please president Bio, try to put your men under control before they start losing the plot for you. The army should not be irritated. Rather, as a former military man yourself, do everything within your power to gain the trust and love of your fellow officers. It is again said that “he who controls the soldiers controls the throne”. Please take heed.