Thursday was the scheduled date the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) was to meet with former president Ernest Bai Koroma. The atmosphere was not friendly enough to accommodate a peaceful interview, as alleged secret societies took over Makeni town. People have been blamed, accused of machinating the parade of the secret traditional societies in the Makeni Township.
We heard Colonel Tucker, in his press release, saying that the peace of the state will never be compromised, and out rightly condemned the Makeni issue. We believe such announcement should have come from the police as Sierra Leone is not a military state headed by a military man. Again no one is saying Ernest Koroma should not be interrogated.
Already, he has a case to answer in the government White Paper in relation to the Commission of Inquiries. According to the government White Paper, the unsatisfied are free to appeal their cases to the Supreme Court. They are waiting to appeal and not to be further interrogated by the ACC. The ACC is still insisting on interrogating former president Koroma. Interrogating him on an issue he has to answer on the Supreme Court? If the intension is to make Ernest feel nervous and suppress his freedom awaits the time. The former president in no way attempted to flout the ACC query.
Together with his team of barristers he waited for the ACC but to no avail. In a situation like this, former president should not be blamed. There is no evidence that he personally mobilized his townsmen to create any embarrassing situation for the ACC. Ernest Koroma we all know to be a law abiding citizen and will never subject himself to such a ridiculous situation. He indeed spoke with the Inspector General of Police, on a cellphone, with regards the episode in Makeni. He out rightly informed the IG that he never prevented the ACC interrogation on Thursday.
The flop of the interrogation has necessitated the arrest of certain individuals considered to be behind the coming out of the secret societies in Makeni on that fateful date. The authority said that the secret societies prevented the interrogation of former president Koroma by the ACC, and that they have arrested those they considered responsible. Yes, they have been arrested and what is the significance of this arrest?
Indirectly they would say those arrested are responsible for all that happened in Makeni on that day. But one big question, are these the actual people who instructed or consented for the coming out of the secret societies? Government should be more responsible to attain the facts. It is possible that these people were innocent and have no case to answer in that direction.
If the coming out of the secret societies obstructed the interrogation, it is good for the government to sound their warning that such behaviour is unacceptable. Arresting individuals is not the solution. The secret societies are part of the cultural heritage of the country. Talking to them will be of great importance than to threaten them.
Absolutely, Ernest Koroma has no control over them and he cannot take responsibility. He is innocent and patiently waiting to receive the ACC.
Arresting suspects is escalating the situation. Talking to the secret societies is more preferable as they are part of our social structure. We need them in the development process as major stakeholders. They are constituents of their local communities.
The Makeni issue needs to be resolved. Those arrested should be unconditionally released. You cannot continue to hold these people to allow the process of interrogation to go on with Ernest Koroma. Holding them will trigger more hate and more resistance by those not arrested.
The issue on the governance of president Koroma is already in the government White Paper which, robustly, he is prepared to challenge in the Appeal Court. One may like to ask, why is the ACC challenging this case with Ernest Koroma? By virtue of the government White Paper, Ernest is believed to answer his case at the Appeal Court and not with the ACC. Bringing the ACC to the issue shows government’s intending position to molest the former president. For long former president Koroma has kept quiet over all forms of accusations levied against him. He has broken his silence to say enough is enough! If the rule of Ernest is questionable, by the judgment of the present SLPP government, the SLPP needs to wait for his appeal in the Appeal Court.
The other day we saw the findings of the GTT report, incriminating the Ernest Bai Koroma-led APC government. There is no distinction between that report and the Commission of Inquiries. The GTT report already pronounced the culprits guilty before the Commissions. Their only defense lies in the Appeal Court. If these people are waiting to make their cases, then it is good to give them the audience to succinctly put forward their cases.
Majority of them were not legally represented in the Commissions, as majority protested on the lack of the Rule of Evidence. Former Attorney General, Dr. Priscilla Schwartz, tailored the premises of the Commissions, which were followed. Dr. Schwartz has been relieved of her responsibility, which could probably rest on her incompetence to handle such office in the dispensation of justice in the eyes of the government.
Again, we saw what happened in the case of Palo Conteh and the blunders of the then Attorney General, causing the sensational case to end up the way it ended. The focus should be diversified. It should not be centered to molest or disgrace an individual. The government is for all not for the few. Therefore, the interest of the government is based on the security of all. In as much as government tried to protect itself, the same enthusiasm must be used to protect the citizens of the nation.
Nobody is found guilty until he is proven beyond all reasonable doubts. The innocence of the individual is disapproved or approved by the court. He remains a suspect until he is found guilty by a competent court of law. It is the expectation that all those named in the government White Paper are innocent. They can be made guilty or innocent by the Appeal Court if the justice system remains politically unimpeded.
For now all those arrested for the Makeni incident are innocent. They cannot take responsibility to control the secret societies. Holding them is nothing but an ill political motivation. We cannot kill our secret societies to satisfy political gains. These are cultures we met and must be allowed to prevail. It is good to engage them than to threaten them. These are cultural heritages, which have constituted to the growth and development of our local communities.
The door, to accept the ACC by former president Koroma, is open, and he is waiting. This should not bring any social misconception with the authorities. Convincingly, Ernest Koroma is always prepared to receive the ACC at any time.