In Makeni… 15 Lawyers For Ernest

 

The Director of Crime Services in the Sierra Leone Police Force, AIG Brima Jah has intimated the press that the police successfully obtained statement from the Chairman and Leader of the All People’s Congress (APC) party, former President Ernest Bai Koroma at his Makeni Lodge past Wednesday, 16th January, 2018.

He further disclosed that the APC Leader was represented by fifteen lawyers in whose presence he read and signed the statement obtained.

He especially commended the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, John Fitzgerald Kamara aka JFK and the party’s National Secretary General, Amb. Osman Yansaneh for keeping the irate APC supporters calm and for facilitating their meeting with the APC Leader. “We faced no threat in his compound,” he reported, although he confessed that outside, the atmosphere was hostile and threatening.

AIG Jah advised APC that they have legal ways to address their complaints instead of jumping into the streets which he said is discountenanced by the police. As such, he said they told the Ernest that as a party Leader and former President he must ensure that national unity remains his priority.

The APC leader became the subject of police interest after the party Secretary General issued a press release on the 28th December, 2018 that police said held the tendency to disrupt the peace and cause chaos.

In the lead up to the invitation of Ernest for questioning, police had summoned the APC National Secretary General and fourteen other executive members of the National Advisory Committee (NAC) to the headquarters of the Criminal Investigations Department in Freetown and statements obtained from them.

Police then ordered the APC National Secretary General to ask the party Leader to avail himself to the CID in Freetown for questioning, as according to the police, the investigation into allegation of conspiracy and sedition against the party leadership would be inconclusive without a statement from the party leader.

Commenting on the alleged offensive APC press release, AIG Brima Jah referred particularly to Paragraph 4 which he said spoke of tribal and regional divide and calling for former APC government officials not to subject themselves to a kangaroo court with reference to the pending Commissions of Inquiry into the activities of the former government from 2007 to 2018. Further down, he said the APC press release spoke of North/Westerners been sacked summarily from office by the current government. This, he said, has the tendency to bring animosity and chaos. That, he said, was why the police took interest and invited the APC National Secretary General to advise him to rephrase that particular paragraph.

AIG Brima Jah emphasized on the wording of the press release. He referred to a portion of it that spoke of the exemption of Permanent Secretaries and Vote Controllers from the Commission of Inquiry who the release said are the administrative and financial controllers of MDAs that the release said are politically protected because the majority allegedly come from a particular part of the country and belong to the ruling party.

On the issue of APC apparently breaking the law in the content of the press release, AIG Brima Jah read the portion that spoke of APC reiterating its position that its former government officials will not subject themselves to a kangaroo court that is clearly a witch-hunt against the APC. This, according to AIG Brima Jah is a recipe for chaos in the country.

Amb. Yansaneh in signing the release, AIG Jah said, did not act alone. So there was definitely some elements of conspiracy involved in creating what the police deemed as a threat to peace and security. He explained that Ernest was invited for questioning on the premise that as Chairman and Leader he was privy to the release; as such, police wanted to know whether it had his endorsement before it was published. Whether or not he was at the NAC meeting that reached the decision to publish the release, AIG Jah said Ernest was wanted for questioning because whatever decision that was made was communicated to him. Therefore, police wanted to know from him what his contribution to the press release was.

Giving his view on how he saw the police action, APC National Publicity Secretary, Cornelius Deveaux said the ‘halla-halla’ behind the police invitation was caused by the police. Giving the genesis of what he referred to as ‘halla-halla,’ (noise), he said, it was due to the government’s refusal to incorporate rules of evidence into the constitutional instruments setting up the approved Commissions of Inquiry.

He recalled APC which has the majority in Parliament voted unanimously against the bill when it was debated in the Well of the House. Deveaux said what was passed into law was a bad law as, according to him, it was in violation of Section 150 of the 1991 Constitution and that in the circumstance, the APC felt constrained to be bound by the law. He furthered that the SLPP Leader in Parliament agreed that rules of engagement were not included in the instruments but said APC was assured that they will be included before the inquiries start; only to their consternation for the government to announce that the process would start in January. Deveaux maintained that there is nothing wrong about expressing their fears, frustrations and concerns about the Commissions of Inquiry. Therefore, he said, the APC press release was far from being seen by the police as seditious as it only affirmed the party’s  position on the Commissions of inquiry:

  1. There has to be rule of evidence in the COI
  2. That certain people are being protected
  3. That APC remain convinced that they are been protected because they are SLPP
  4. That APC officials in the current dispensation have been maliciously targeted for sacking.

APC’s conviction, Deveaux said, emanates from the content of the GTT report which, he said, states that 71% of people that worked for the former government were APC, and that the report also alleges that APC targeted South/Easterners for sacking without reference to their contracts.

Deveaux said their press release does not highlight tribal and regional divide, that if the police think so it is their opinion. APC, he said, is a peaceful, law abiding party and its members, supporters and officials are also peaceful law abiding citizens. “There is no intention of APC to disturb the peace,” he said, whilst accusing the police of using scare tactics to give APC a bad name with the people.

Meanwhile, AIG Brima Jah vowed that if APC breaches the peace by coming out to hold demonstrations without police permission they would be arrested by the police as many times as they do so.