When a private matter becomes public interest – the president of Sierra Leone must take note

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 December 2019:

A few days ago, a press statement was published by Mr Quinton Terry, accusing the President and First Lady of Sierra Leone of breach of property lease agreement and abuse of power (see below).

This statement has gone viral on social media, and has the potential to damage the offices of the president and the First Lady, and by extension – the credibility of the government – especially in the eyes of the international community and foreign investors, if not properly managed with the sense of responsibility the complaint deserves.

While public and elected officials are entitled to their private lives, there is a very thin and slippery line of demarcation between their private lives and the code of conduct which informs their standards of conduct in public life.

And whilst the property lease agreement for which allegations of abuse of office are being made by Mr Quinton Terry against the President and First Lady, took place before the President was elected in March 2018, it is a matter that ceased to be private in March 2018.

If it is therefore the case that the President and First lady purchased the property as alleged from another party, knowing fully well that they could not have received clean title deeds to the property for transfer of ownership, then there is prima facie a case to answer.

Whether it is possible that the President and First Lady may not have been aware that the person selling the property to them, did not, or could not have had the legal authority to sell the property, is itself of no legal standing in law. The principle of ‘caveat emptor’ (let the buyer beware) applies.

However, legal experts that have perused the legal documents regarding this case, have concluded that while it is a matter for the Courts in Sierra Leone to determine the facts based on evidence, and arrive at a judgement as to who owns the property – and who is indebted to who, care must be taken by the President and First Lady to comply with the laws of the land so as to avoid being accused of abuse of office for personal gain.

So, what do we know about this case that is now of keen interest to the public, amid growing claims of Krio land and property being grabbed?

This is what Mr Quinton Terry told the Sierra Leone Telegraph (which we understand is consistent with the complaints he filed with the Anti-Corruption Commission for action, and was rejected):

“I, Quinton E. Terry, holder of “Power of Attorney” for Property of the late Mr. Terence M. Terry situated at 32A Juba Terrace, Juba Hill, Freetown, entered into a lease agreement with Mr. Julius Maada Bio and Mrs. Fatima Maada Bio (Tenants) on 20th July 2016. The agreement was to expire on 30th June 2019.

“The Power of Attorney for the said property and Lease Agreement were prepared by Lawyer Yada Williams Esq., and Lawyer Leon Jenkins-Johnson Esq. respectively.

“The first yearly payment of USD 20,000 was paid to me by president Julius Maada Bio and Mrs. Fatima Bio, and USD 5,000 retained by me (the lessor) for yearly repairs to the property as agreed.

“But for whatever reason not made known to me by the president and Mrs. Bio, the second and third payments for 2017 and 2018, were not paid to me in accordance with the signed lease agreement. Numerous attempts to contact the president and Mrs. Bio by phone, messaging and in writing were to no avail. I got no response from them.

“In July 2017, I shockingly received a copy of a receipt of payment from my niece in London by the name of Diane Terry, purportedly being payment for the second year that she received from Maada Bio and Fatima Bio. Upon receiving this receipt, I showed it to Lawyer Leon Jenkins-Johnson who was the preparer of the Lease Agreement to take action.

This was a few months before Lawyer Leon Jenkins-Johnson was appointed as the country’s Ombudsman by president Bio.

“It would appear in my view that this is a fraudulent act between the Tenants and Diane Terry, my niece who is a signed witness to the lease agreement but not authorized to receive payments from Maada Bio and Fatima Bio.

“No action was taken by Lawyer Leon Jenkins-Johnson to address the situation. Eventually, I was advised to write directly to Maada Bio and Fatima Bio, informing them that the second year payment has not been paid to me directly in accordance with the signed lease agreement.

“Since then, I have not received the third and final payment which was due on 1st July 2018, preceding the end of the lease agreement in June 2019.

“Furthermore, the Lease Agreement stated that Tenants wishing to extend the agreement shall do so in writing six months to the end of the lease agreement. No such intent to extend the lease has been received from the president and Mrs. Bio.

“They are still in possession of the property despite the fact that the lease has long expired. All efforts have been made to reach them through third party contacts, but to no avail.

“The president and Mrs. Bio have breached the Lease Agreement after failing to make payments totalling $40,000 for the last two consecutive years. And appears also that they have taken possession of the property. I consider this to be a serious abuse of their powers as Head of State and First Lady of Sierra Leone respectively, and call upon them to settle this unfortunate matter immediately.”

Mr. Quinton Terry has made several attempts to pursue this matter through the Anti-Corruption Commission, but was told that it is a private matter and therefore outside the scope and authority of the Commission.

On the 12th of February, 2019, Mr. Quinton Terry published this Public Notice in Freetown and Worldwide:

Public Notice

Property of Terence M. Terry (Deceased) At 32A Juba Terrace Juba Hill Freetown

Following an audio clip making the rounds on social media insinuating that property belonging to the deceased, Terence M. Terry, situate and lying at 32A Juba Terrace, Juba Hill, in the Western Urban Area of Freetown has been sold or is in the process of being sold, the family of Terence· M. Terry wishes to state categorically that such purported sale or arrangement to sell said property is false, baseless and without merit.

Be it known that said property is under a lease agreement for a period of Three Years ending June 30th, 2019. The family of Terence M. Terry is gravely concerned that misleading and false information about said property is jeopardizing the authority and responsibility placed on the family of Terence M. Terry, deceased.

The public is hereby notified that all and any matter/s regarding the said property should be directed to Mr. Quinton E. Terry (Custodian of Power of Attorney for said property) on +232 76 710095

Dated: February 12, 2019

SIGNED: Quinton Terry

Mr. Quinton Terry also issued this press statement last week, dated 6th December 2019, informing the media about his allegations against president Bio and Mrs. Fatima Bio:

 

Editor’s Note:

All efforts to get the president’s side of the story have failed. Despite several requests sent by the Sierra Leone Telegraph and phone calls made to senior government officials, including the presidential spokesman to get information from the president’s office about these allegations, there has been no response. They remain quiet.

13 Comments

  1. “Please go to the local courts. This is a civil matter. Which school of law did attorney Quinton Terry go to?” – there goes our PROLIFIC RESIDENT PAOPA GREENGO Tamba Komba again with his lack of understanding of the issues here. Lol

    Look, get your facts right in this noble platform Sir. Lol. Mr Quinton is not a lawyer. He has power of attorney. Please go and look up the difference and stop embarrassing yourself GREENGO. Lol

  2. Thanks so much Mr. Komba. There is a one thing about Sa.Leoneans – their onesidedness, they do not weigh things and quick to come to conclussions. I too was very disappointed when I read the Article as was put to us, but after having read some other points above, I do not want to accuse the Pres. of anything.

    He has paid 2 installments, as far as I can remember and now he has not for reason known to him. It would be vary disappointing if he would not keep to his promises of New Direction. Let us give him some Chance.

    So please let us observe things how they unfold, otherwise it’s like “Putting the Cart before the Horse”. We all know that the majority want Bio to fail, but sadly forget that if he does, S.L. is doomed to collapse. What Kind of People are you?!

    Did you ever know that S.L. can survive from proceeds from local Revenue. She was doing extremely bad (Austerity) in 2017 with all export earnings.

  3. You are right Mr. Conteh. I do not know how much the salary of presidents, ministers etc. should be.

    My opinion is, that their income should not be higher as 10-15 times of the average income of the people of one country (without this overpaid profit-footballers), and the discussion of all these problems must be made public as it is in France, Lebanon, South America. This very good reader’s forum is not enough, for only few people will read it.

  4. See,this is exactly one of the reasons why the people of Sierra Leone will forever remain shackled and chained in abject, humiliating poverty. Mindless, unchecked, extravagance by government has become an acceptable norm and that my friends, truly bothers me.

    There’s a time to speak up and make your voices heard – Good people of our beloved nation, this is one of them; raise your voices and and let your grievances and concerns be heard! No President, government minister or Public official deserves to be paid more than 50,000 dollars a year in our poor, miserably backward, undeveloped Sierra Leone. No one!

    Tell them straight to their faces Saidu Conteh said so. This President and future ones to come, all need to take a sizeable salary cut until our struggling fragile nation matures and becomes able to stand gallantly again on its own, without borrowing loans and depending on hand outs for its survival.

    Sierra Leone, my only home – One of the poorest nations in the world, still cannot tell the difference between her knees and her elbows; still doesn’t know the meaning of thriftiness, frugality and prudent spending. A damn shame! Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  5. Dear Mr. Abdul Rashid Thomas,
    Thank you for this tip. I shall try to contact the statehouse, although maybe I shall get problems if I want to visit your country again and need a visa.

  6. The goverment with the new direction promised to intensify the anti corruption fight, more democracy, more transparency, more free speech, more employment etc.. wonderful. But till now the majority of the Sierra Leone people suffer.

    Who can pay $20.000 $ for house rent a year? Only a few, a small elite. This is the normality?
    Therefore and if it is disturbing, I want to ask again, what is the income of the president, the ministers, the MPs etc.
    Is it not possible that a newspaper like the Telegraph can publish these facts in the name of transparency?

    • One thing I know according to GOOGLE is that, the Salary of former President Ernest Bai Koroma in 2017 was $12000 a year.
      Let’s say President Bio had a pay rise of one hundred percent when he took office, then he will be on a gross salary of $24000 a year. If the information according to GOOGLE is correct, you can make your own judgment.

      I believe that the monthly salary of the President is not only the salary he gets by law from the TAXPAYERS, but the SECRET BENEFITS, BONUSES or MR PERCENTAGE from the UNDERWORLD DEALS. The latter can run into MILLIONS OF DOLLARS before the President leaves office. Also, it is always difficult to have a clear picture of this SECRET TOP UP and BOGUS SELF-PAY because of the COMPLEXITY on how the money is taking out of the government coffers and transferred. It’s just a COMPLEX and STINKY type of ROGUE SYNDICATE. Let’s call a SPADE a SPADE.

      I hope you will soon know the monthly salary of the President of our country Mr. Reinhard Weicha. Finally, I will categorise the salary of the President of our country in two words “HORRIBLE PEOPLE”. GOD BLESS YOU Mr Reinhard Weicha and may GOD help all of us know the full salary of our President. Both the monthly taxpayers SALARY according to law and the SECRET TOP UP BOGUS BENEFITS from the UNDERWORLD.

    • Mr wiecha, we do not have the latest figures for our president’s salary. However, a story published by the Sierra Leone Telegraph a few years ago about the salaries of senior ministers and former president Koroma in the APC government, stated that the president was earning no less than £100,000 (One Hundred Thousand Pounds) a year – greater than what the British Prime Minister earns.

      We do not know exactly how much president Bio currently earns, but we estimate his annual salary to be in the region of about £150,000. You can write to State House for the exact figure under the Freedom of Information or Right to Access Information laws. Good luck.

    • Hallo Herr Wiecha,
      Can’t you contact State House to get this information first hand?
      There has always been the hardship you are writing about. No one will change it in 2 Years! Let us be considerate and focus on the topic at Hand (Land Issue)

  7. I am not a legal minded person. But from what I can deduce from this article – including the commentary accompanying it – I think the Bios have fraudulently claimed ownership of the said premises. Can someone with a legal mind give us some clarification on this matter. This is very serious … it sounds like CORRUPTION to the highest degree.

    • It is indeed a corrupt act, one has to get ready before leasing someone’s property. No one wants to know about his earnings; they have to stick to what is written on the lease. They are just tenants. When he flee out Sierra Leone he wasn’t thinking of coming back till now. He can build his house in his home town Bonthe.

      Rather than abusing their power, he paid the first instalment, and went on to corrupt two members of the family to skip payment and intend to live free in someone’s house. These things can only happen in Africa. Because both Mr and Mrs know about tenancy agreement – it is pure abuse of his power as president and he is not above the law.

      He needs to be dealt with. It is an advantage. There is nrthing wrong to build your own house in your village to stay there. But if you want to lease in Freetown they need to pay their rent like anybody else. No favours at all.

  8. Interesting comments.Patricia fired :’I feel there is more to this than meets the eye’. And Mike Chelan intelligently pondered:’I am however perturbed that the Bio’s can lease a house for only three years costing them over $60,000/= when they could have constructed theirs’.Alusine Fallay WOWED it all, and went on: “This is really ridiculous.” But Saidu Conteh lanced ‘And remember it was arrogance, pride and lack of respect for authority that caused our lawless old soldier to join forces with Strasser and overthrow legitimate Power. It didn’t end there: with bold faced disloyalty and aggression he flipped like a coin, showing his evil side and overthrew his Boss Strasser again’.

    Legitimate Power??? Evil? Hmm, I don’t know. Disloyal? Hell no!!… When a crime is committed. But Barrie Abubakarr cautioned:’Let us wait and see the other side of this story’. And Bilal Coleman intellectualized: ‘It is a classic example of corruption fighting back. And the wise Saa Mattui laments: ‘GOD BLESS the truth’. Ha ha! The truth will set us free! Yes,… The truth, the truth! Did I hear Seton During say ‘Lawlessness deters investors!’. Please bro’ say it again.

    And Reinhard Wiecha asked:’ What is the monthly income of the president of Sierra Leone?’ I thought transparency and declaration of assets was done long time ago. Oh well.But also, Tom Fogbawah gave us some food for thought ‘I advise proper investigations about whose name was on the property, before casting blame on the president for any wrong doing.’ And Logician S.J.Koroma pitched ‘If the President could have afforded to pay BEFORE he was President, why crack your Brain about what he earns a month?’ These are all legitimate concerns/arguments. Let the debate begin.

    • I believe the president should be sued after he leaves office except if it is a state crime then state officials should pursue him forthwith.I do not see any criminal action here.Please go to the local courts. This is a civil matter. Which school of law did attorney Quinton Terry go to? I do not know his intent, but that case has nothing to do with anti-corruption and so it was justifiably kicked out.You know what? … When your ancestors were making these bad laws and corrupting people all-over the place, you guys did not cry foul. Now, it has come to bite you in the butt.

      The former supreme court justices that aided and abetted in a gross constitutional crime against the state of Sierra Leone should equally be blamed. (A book will be out sometime with their names and their crooked judicial philosophies). A precedence was set—Case Law. Where were Quinton Terry and the Sierra Leone’s lawyers’ association?

      What resistance did the lawyers’ association erect for the gross violation of the most sacred document of Mama Salone? This is very important because it is what you (Terry) practice on. Now attorney Terry wants to be a human rights’ lawyer seeking a digital attention to promote international and human rights’ law in a much subtle way? Yes, content on digital space is being consumed more than ever but please, spare us your nonsense and not-so bright-thing-to-do.

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