Brima Michale Turay (BMT)

Sierra Leone has gone through a period of serious social, political and economic challenges in the last five (5) years. The citizens and the socialists would blame the government. The economists would blame the global economic crisis. And the politicians, especially the opposition, would place the blame squarely on the ruling SLPP government. Every one of these sectors has strong reasons to advance for their claim. But one thing is certain, and that is, there are claims and unanswered questions that the President of the Republic, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, must clarify to the people of this nation as a starting point to lasting peace.

The opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party has been blaming the ruling SLPP for a number of atrocities committed in various parts of the country, ranging from the election-related violent killings in Tonko Limba, the alleged killings by the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) in Mile 91, in the fishing community of Tombo; the power-plant related protests and accompanying killings in Makeni by the SLP, the August 10, 2022 killings of both civilians and police personnel, and the destruction of government property in several parts of the country. The Pademba road prison massacre cannot be excluded either.

But there are certain pointed allegations made by the President of Sierra Leone, Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, that are very striking and that call the attention of all Sierra Leoneans.

Immediately after assuming the office of the Presidency of Sierra Leone, President Bio set up a Transitional Committee to look into the activities of Ministers and heads of Departments and Agencies in the Ernest Koroma-led APC government. The report submitted by the said Transition Committee stated, in part, that some individuals in the government of President Koroma misappropriated State resources of a greater magnitude for which a Commission Of inquiry was recommended. The head of the Transition Team, Professor David Francis, was in record in his description of these State Functionaries as *THIEVES, RACKETEERS*, and many other nomenclatures of demeaning proportion. The President himself, in many of his public addresses across the country, had described the former President, Ernest Bai Koroma and his Ministers, as celebrated thieves known in our local parlance as “*ANYAMPIES*”.

Again, The President, who is the custodian of every secret of the land, and who is also the *Commander In Chief* of our Army, and the *Fountain of Honour*, had openly pronounced the opposition APC party as a Terrorist Organization in his speech to the nation following the Pademba road prison massacre. How would someone, who does not reside in Sierra Leone, and does not know the dynamics of our politics, not believe President Bio? How can any investor, who understands the intricacies of risk mitigation, come and invest in a country where its President has openly declared that a *Terrorist Organization* exists?

Quite recently, in at least two occasions during his election campaign rallies in Port Loko and Kailahun, President Julius Maada Bio openly stated that former President Ernest Bai Koroma, is behind all the problems that Sierra Leone has faced in the last five years, and further stated that he has proof of what he is claiming or alleging.

The People of this country have suffered loss of lives of their loved ones in each of the incidents mentioned above. Civilians have been gunned down by police in separate occasions. Police officers have been brutally murdered in cold blood by civilians in the last few years. The government and individuals have lost property to rioters worth Billions of Leones. Investors have abandoned this country because of a claim by the President that we have Terrorists in our country in the name of the opposition APC party.

Sadly, to this day, no one has ever asked President BIO to produce the evidence of all his claims and allegations. Neither the opposition APC party nor the boisterous Civil Society organizations, in and outside of Sierra Leone, have ever taken the President to task on these serious allegations that have affected the nation so very gravely.

I have a duty to myself and to my country to draw attention to the parts of our Constitution that make it a duty of the citizen of this country to point out some of these things.

In *Section 13* of the Sierra Leone Constitution of 1991, under the *Rubric* – *Duties of The Citizen* – it states: “Every citizen shall:

*(A)*  Abide by this constitution, respect its ideals and its institutions, the national flag, the national anthem and authorities and offices established or constituted under this constitution or any other law.

(*B*)  Cultivate a sense of Nationalism and Patriotism so that loyalty to the State shall override sectional, ethnic, Tribal or other loyalties.

(*C*)  Protect and preserve public property and prevent the misappropriation and squandering of funds belonging to the government, local authorities or Public corporations.

(*D*)  Help enhance the power, prestige, and good name of the State and to defend the State and render National Service as may be required

(*E*)  Respect the dignity and the religion of other individuals and the rights and interests of others

(*F*)  Make positive and useful contributions to the advancement, progress, and well-being of the community, where he resides;

(*G*) Work conscientiously in a lawful and chosen occupation and abstain from any activity detrimental to the general welfare of others;

(*H*)  Ensure the proper control of its children and wards;

(*I*)   Participate in and defend all democratic processes and practices;

(*J*)   Render assistance to appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order.

This is the law of the land as contained in our country’s constitution and must be respected and abided by. Any violation of this sacred law should warrant immediate probing and execution of the appropriate penalties. If this is so, President Bio owe it to this nation to come out clean and share the evidence of his claims and allegations with the people of Sierra Leone.

The anger and frustration of the Sierra Leonean people has been recently escalated by an alleged twit in the Twitter page of the Judiciary of Sierra Leone that 45 files bearing the transcripts of the reports and findings of the Commissions of Inquiry (COIs) that were in the custody of the COI Secretariat, could not be found. They have disappeared into thin air. If this is true, how can the judiciary of a country treats its people in such a reckless and disrespectful manner after millions of dollars have been spent to constitute the commissions of inquiries with foreign Judges included?

Every Sierra Leone, regardless of political party affiliation, should feel the shame and humiliation that this act of impunity has brought unto this nation. Our sense of PATRIOTISM must be proven at this point and we must come together to demand justice and fair play in the business of running our nation. You can accuse me of anything you want, but the truth remains that the average Sierra Leonean deserves the truth and must be given correct answers to these questions of great national imperative.

If you are a sympathizer of the SLPP, of what use would it be for your party to remain in governance if it cannot live up to the expectations of the people of this country? If you are a member or supporter of the opposition APC party, of what use would it be to you if your party is seriously accused of being a terrorist organization by the sitting President but the leaders of your very party are not saying anything about it? Silence means consent, for the most part. 

If President Bio made the allegations against the APC and against former President Koroma just to score political points or gain votes or appeal to the emotions and sympathy of the electorates, how can you, as a member or supporter of the SLPP party, feel proud of such a Presidency? Why does it seem like both the ruling SLPP and the opposition APC party are merely acting a film in which we the audience are blindfolded and conditioned to accept things as they are in the name of party loyalty/affiliation?

Some Sierra Leoneans are currently behind bars, as a result of the cybercrime laws, for making statements that they do not have concrete evidence of. And now, our President Bio has made similar allegations for which he has not shared any evidence with the people of this country, and no one is saying or doing anything about it. Why would laws made by a country not apply to everyone regardless of their status in society?

We have to be very careful in this country. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was set up after the eleven (11) years civil war in this country discovered, in part, that most of the atrocities arose from denial of justice and fair play. We have enjoyed peace and relative quiet for a long time. We want to maintain the same going forward. We always yearn for peace but advertently or inadvertently disregard justice. As we look forward to the proposed mediation over the political impasse between the ruling SLPP and the opposition APC party, let justice reign in all its forms. Those who must take action should step up and do something about this. These are no longer just the opinions of one man. They are opinions and views shared by millions of Sierra Leoneans in and outside of the shores of the land that we all love – our Sierra Leone.  

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