Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 September 2020:
President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone is now out of the country for over two weeks without any update from State House about his health, welfare or whereabouts. People of Sierra Leone are quite right to be concerned.
The last report about the president’s condition was a statement published by the Consul of Sierra Leone in Lebanon – Mr Hashem Hashem, writing on the Lebanese News Agency website, saying that:
“The President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, will be discharged from the American University Hospital in Beirut this evening, after he underwent the necessary examinations under the supervision of former Minister, Professor. Dr. Mohammad Jawad Khalifeh, and he is in a good health condition. President Bio will stay at Beirut’s Eden Bay Hotel for a short recovery period and will pursue his personal visit to Lebanon before returning to Sierra Leone.”
But that statement was made last week, and did not come from State House in Freetown who had informed the people of Sierra Leone that the president and his wife were leaving the country on a private trip to Lebanon. (Photo: The loving couple, president Bio and his wife at their wedding early this year).
Many understood that to mean, that the president was going on vacation – “a much needed rest” – some State House officials said flippantly last weekend.
Since then, the rumour mill has gone into overdrive as speculation continues about the president’s health and welfare.
Two days ago, September 7, 2020, the 57th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of States and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was held in Niamey, Republic of Niger, without president Bio taking part – not even remotely via Zoom.
As speculation continues, a retired foreign military officer who had served in Sierra Leone called the Sierra Leone Telegraph last week to say he heard that the president has been kidnapped in Beirut by bounty hunters.
As funny and ridiculous as that rumour may sound, the information vacuum unnecessarily created by State House, is without doubt being filled with stories ranging from – the president’s leg having been amputated in Lebanon, to receiving surgery to remove excess fat from his stomach to reveal his muscular six pack!
At the best of times, Sierra Leone is a country full of ironies – not least a president missing in action at a time leaders around the world are busy, struggling to manage a deadly COVID-19 pandemic that has taken the lives of almost 900,000 people globally.
In Sierra Leone, 72 people have officially been declared dead of COVID-19, although many suspect the true figure may be far higher.
Infectious disease specialists think that Sierra Leone may be on borrowed time before the transmission rate begins to rise exponentially after the rainy season.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Sierra Leone currently stands at 2,064, with 1,613 people having made a recovery.
So, where is president Bio?
Thats the question many are now asking, as he was expected to have returned to Sierra Leone last weekend.
This is what one concerned Sierra Leonean said to president Bio’s spokesman – Yusuf keketoma Sandi, on social media yesterday: