We believe that the President is really concerned about the structure and eventual outcome of the pending Commission of Inquiry (COI), set up to investigate ex-President Koroma and key members of his Administration. Judging from recent utterances, Bio seem to have backed himself into a corner in which he is now trying to find wiggle room to buy a get out of jail card for himself at the end of his Administration.
We are equally convinced that the corruption fight by this government is a big distraction that will yield no dividend for the country. The instruments crafted to establish the Commission Of Inquiry and eventual proceeding will prove; very costly, not in line with criminal proceedings as inscribed in our legal books because the Commission is not bound to rules of evidence and it is not time bound, a root cause for political divisions, and frightening economic instability!
President Bio is highly compromised in this corruption fight. We know that his conduct has been questioned and brought to severe critic for corruption as recent as at the National Presidential Debate last March; where the APC Presidential Candidate, Dr. Samura Mathew Wilson Kamara informed voters that President Bio funneled $18Million of taxpayers funds out of State coffers. It is believed that Bio used a complex finance scheme through international front companies and off-shore bank accounts to hide the transactions – he is yet to give a full account, to voters, of the circumstances around these charges!
The late President Kabba, in a blistering speech on January 2, 1997; laid serious corruption charges against then Junta leader Maada Bio, for high crimes and corruption. In the ensuing years, local press reports documented banking transactions and details of contracts in which President Bio is said to have bilked the State in Millions. The APC and the international community are quite aware of these shortcomings.
And it is disquieting to note the pains the ruling party, led by President Bio, has gone through to ensure that key members of his cabinet and ‘Inner Circle’, are cut out of any investigation by the Commission Of Inquiry.
But there he was! The Grand Ayatollah of Corruption himself, perched at the Speaker’s throne orchestrating the biggest hoax of all time on behalf of President Bio. A man who only recently traded his corruption turban for a Speaker’s wig, Dr. Abass Bundu – A former APC operative who was ordered by a prior Inquisitor, to refund embezzled funds to State coffers! The jury is still out as to whether Bundu refunded to the State as ordered by the courts! Of what faith and confidence are we to have in this Commission Of Inquiry when the Government Transition Report that paved the way to the Commission Of Inquiry was unprofessionally written by SLPP operatives without the presence of independent organisations? We question the sanity of this charade? Surely, there is a better way to fight corruption and still keep social cohesion intact!
The President’s council of advisers should have punctuated the push for a Commission Of Inquiry with a careful review of instances where Inquiry Commissions have been instituted the world over and in Sierra Leone in particular! The results have been abysmal!
Evidence shows that the prosecution, seizure and jail term for ‘corrupt politicians’ only appeases the current batch of crooks and thieves that are in power. The moment the opposition gets back in office, all assets seized are returned, pardon issued and reversal of judgment/criminal charges sanctioned by the highest court in the land.
A quick study of Israel, Pakistan and other emerging economies is replete with such reversal of fortunes for former jailed Politicians. Netanyahu of Israel is still in office as Prime Minister after decades of court battles of corruption charges; Nawarz Shariff of Pakistan was recently jailed again just to clear the political landscape for current President Khan to become President. Decades earlier, Shariff was jailed and his assets seized – but all was returned to him by the Supreme Court and he was allowed to come back and serve as President of Pakistan for well over eight years! In Brazil, President Silva De Lula will eventually be freed and with present popular support he is likely to make a comeback in politics. Similar circumstances swirls around Zuma of South Africa and Jammeh of Gambia. The latter is also expected to make a strong showing in Gambian politics.
Sierra Leone is about to go into the same type of political circus – And Bio knows this very well; because the APC is bound to come after him as soon as he vacates office. APC will attempt to have him thrown in jail and seize his assets; as he is attempting to do right now of his opponents. That is the reason why he is trying to recalibrate his position by coming out in front of the findings of the Commission by suggesting that he only wants to have assets returned, jail term is not his preferred option.
We are yet to find out if his supporters are aware that it is not only the APC, but Bio’s keister is also on the burner too! President Bio has to make a call which way he would like to have it cooked – Medium, Well done or Rare!