NGC Global Communications Team
Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 December 2017
Following Julius Maada Bio’s disastrous performance on BBC World Service’s Focus on Africa programme, the SLPP spin room has been on overdrive. They today released an inaccurate press statement about Bio’s visit to the UK House of Commons.
This visit has been erroneously reported as a meeting between Bio and UK legislators. The truth is that he and three other SLPP members attended an event organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption. This meeting was also opened to members of the general public. Julius Maada Bio did not attend the event as a special guest or contributor.
This is what the SLPP Press Statement says:
“The Chairperson of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption, Hon. Rupa Aisha Huq was very assertive as she introduced Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio as the next President of Sierra Leone to her fellow Members of Parliament, including former ministers of government at the cross-party group session on Anti-Corruption at the Westminster Parliament on Monday 4th December 2017.
“As a special guest at the cross-party group session on Anti-Corruption, the charming and smartly dressed former Head of State has always pointed out that corruption is one of the major reasons for the poverty which has pervaded Sierra Leone.
“In his short remarks to the session, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio called on the United Kingdom government to support Sierra Leone in strengthen financial integrity systems so that the United Kingdom is not used as a safe haven for politicians and others to hide corrupt and stolen wealth from Sierra Leone.
“Bio told the Members of Parliament that he is also committed that the next SLPP Government will ensure that financial crimes which aid corruption are tackled and appealed for coordination between efforts in preventing financial crimes and using the United Kingdom as a safe haven. Looking back over the years, Bio added that the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone has largely been used for harassment and intimidation of opposition members.
“Representatives of Transparency International, Global Witness and other anti-corruption campaign organisations, Members of Parliament who witnessed the session were very impressed with the call by an African politician, for the United Kingdom to take actions against corrupt politicians and others who used the United Kingdom as a safe haven to hide stolen wealth. Once again Bio has demonstrated that as President he will not only have zero tolerance for corruption but also work with countries used as safe havens abroad to keep corrupt and stolen.”
In response to this SLPP misrepresentation of the facts, Alan Luke – Interim Publicity Secretary of the NGC UKI, contacted the Rt Hon Rupa Huq, Transparency International and Global Witness to verify the content of the SLPP Press Statement.
The following response was received from Ana Baric of the All Party Parliament Group, who organised the event and from Dominic Kavakeb, Communications Manager from Transparency International:
Dear Alan Luke,
I am the policy coordinator for the APPG on Anti Corruption. I organized the 4 December anti-corruption discussion that Julius Bio and members of his party – as well as members of the public, NGOs, and various parliamentarians- attended.
Rupa Huq MP forwarded me the press statement you sent from the SLPP UK&I, which claimed that Julius Bio was introduced as the next President of Sierra Leone. This is inaccurate. He was introduced as a presidential candidate, but we have no view on the outcome of the elections. The official minutes from the meeting will be posted on APPG on Anti-Corruption website this week: http://www.anticorruptionappg.org/
Policy coordinator -APPG on anti-corruption
Thanks for your email. One of our staff was a speaker at this event and we understand that an individual from the SLPP was in the audience, as it was open to the public. It is TI-UK’s view that the UK is a popular choice for corrupt individuals from Africa, and indeed elsewhere around the world, to launder money and we continue to campaign against this.
Transparency International UK
Both responses published above, confirm that Julius Maada Bio and other members of the SLPP merely attended an event that was opened to all members of the public. No special invitation was afforded to him.
Furthermore, the response from Ana Baric, exposes SLPP lies and misinformation. The Press Statement released states: “The Chairperson of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption, Hon. Rupa Aisha Huq was very assertive as she introduced Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio as the next President of Sierra Leone to her fellow Members of Parliament including former ministers of government at the cross-party group session on Anti-Corruption at the Westminster Parliament on Monday 4th December 2017′. Ms Baric’s response to Alan Luke, makes it abundantly clear that this is inaccurate.”
Transparency International’s response confirms that the SLPP folks in attendance were merely members of the general public. From the response from Dominic Kavakeb, the Transparency Staff does not appear to have been aware who Julius Maada Bio was.
The Transparency International statement merely refers to “an individual from the SLPP” – hardly an acknowledgement of Julius Maada Bio, as the next President of Sierra Leone.