THE REAL MAADA BIONovember 22, 2012
An Authoritative Biography By Melvin Alusine Rogers Publisher’s Note: The following article was delivered to us on a pen drive in a sealed envelope. We hereby fulfill our obligation to publish based on verifiable facts, events timeline, names of persons and places, most of the works cited/referenced, footnotes and annotations. Please note that as a responsible publisher, we have investigated and verified the person(s) of anonymous submissions in the article.
We don’t take responsibility for its authors’ conceptual and theoretical content and desired conclusion(s). Read on: “A story of politics of treachery, viciousness, deceit and conspiracy in Sierra Leone spanning over 30 years” (Dauda Musa Bangura, Chief Executive and Managing Editor for The Owl Newspaper in Freetown) HIS EARLY LIFE Brigadier (Ret.) Julius Maada Bio was born on 12thMay, 1964 in Tihun, a rural town in Sogbini Chiefdom, Bonthe District, not far from Mattru Jong, in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone.
He is from a family of 45 members, his father and mother, eight step mothers and thirty-four brothers and sisters. His father was the late Paramount Chief Charlie Bio II of Sogbini Chiefdom who kept very over-extended family ties even by African standards. PC Charlie Bio II named Maada Bio after his own father [Maada Bio’s grandfather], who was paramount chief of Sogbini Chiefdom before him. Young Maada Bio attended the Roman Catholic Primary School in Mattru Jong and later the Holy Family Primary School in Pujehun.
Upon completion of his primary education at the Holy Family Primary school, Maada Bio enrolled in the Government Secondary School for Boys in Bo, commonly known as Bo School. His first taste with power could be traced back to his manifest-youthful over-exuberance with authority when he was school prefect at Bo School, where he completed sixth form in 1984. A junior class schoolmate of Maada Bio who asked for anonymity stated that “he employed heavy-handedness as prefect to terrify us [junior boys] at Bo School.” Bo School is one of four famous government boarding schools built in the provinces by British colonial administration for children of paramount chiefs, which still for the most part caters for children of special interest groups and persons in society.
There is conflicting evidence that Maada Bio applied and entered Fourah Bay College briefly and another that he applied to enter Fourah Bay College in 1985 at age 21 and changed his mind about going to college and instead enrolled in the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces cadet training at the Military Training Academy in Benguema, on the outskirt of Freetown. SLPP-MOTIVATED MILITARY CONSCRIPT “Considering my position as Head of Sierra Leone’s Military Intelligence for several years before the NPRC military coup, including the first twelve months of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) tribal rebel war, I was privy to reliable and credible intelligence reports relating to the coup plot.”
Colonel (Ret.) SIM Turay wrote for the New Vision newspaper in an article entitled, “The NPRC Coup”. And the secrecy he was privy to was a convoluted game of power politics and political intrigues so twisted that some of its corners bore the decade-long rebel war between 1991 and 2002, the military overthrow of a civilian government in 1992, and the extra-judicial killings of 29 Sierra Leoneans that same year, the palace coup of 1996 etc., events that actually gagged constitutional democracy in Sierra Leone. Under the spotlight of democracy in Sierra Leone today, is one of the major players, Brigadier (Ret.) Julius Maada Bio, who is now the presidential flag bearer of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) for the elections 2012. SIM Turay revealed that Maada Bio’s enlistment was part of the SLPP top leaders’ conspiracy to forcefully overthrow the All Peoples Congress (APC).
And he wrote: The eastern and southern faction formed the core of the RUF, together with Charles Taylor’s NPFL rebels, and an unspecified number of Burkinabe regular soldiers. However, the implementation of a second option within the military saw the emergence of the group of junior military officers. In order to facilitate this option, it became necessary to infiltrate the army once the tribal rebel war had begun, necessitating the recruitment of more junior infantry officers. Dr. AK Turay willingly obliged the SLPP when Momoh selected him to put together a team of lecturers from Fourah Bay College (FBC), University of Sierra Leone to set and mark the examination papers for the recruitment of Officer Cadets into the army. But Momoh was unknowingly playing into the hands of Dr Turay who was covertly SLPP.
Amongst the carefully chosen ones under that surreptitious arrangement to infiltrate the military were Julius Maada Bio, Valentine Strasser, Solomon Musa and Sahr Sandi all have south-easterner background except for Strasser, who many believed was not part of the SLPP conspiracy but had been called upon to execute the broader grand plan. And he ended up leading the group after the death of Lieutenant Sandi. SIM Turay stated further that “For this purpose, ethnic Mendes and Kissis, together with ethnic Konos were encouraged to join the army as Officer Cadets.
In order to facilitate their success in the Cadet exams, Dr AK Turay cleverly recruited Mende lecturers sympathetic to the SLPP.” The broader grand plan was a strategy by SLPP intellectuals to resurrect their Party [SLPP] in the mid-80s. They operated initially under the guise of a well-intentioned Pan-African Union (PANAFU) organization in Sierra Leone to veil and call meetings under its name to fool authorities. And they did so, on two tracks: The SLPP-influenced UN pressure on President Momoh to repeal the one-party system on condition of World Bank and American loan to a cash trapped government; and the formation of the SLPP-backed RUF rebel movement with which they hope to create mayhem and ensure a violent overthrow of the government. There were now two routes to overthrow the APC: The RUF or the SLPP infiltrators in the Army.
The ‘so-called’ PANAFU meetings were held in a house basement on Wilkinson Road in Freetown. Top scholars and historians have established those links between RUF formation and students’ demonstrations in Sierra Leone in the 80s. It is now also clear that in the embryo of the rebel movement were student activists. That plan was however aborted because of the successful UN intervention to pressure President Momoh to revert back to multi-party democracy in 1991. But recent research, examining the Alie Kabba-led student union uprising in the mid-80’s and the Revolutionary United Front rebel formation, however, posed compelling and disturbing links between current President Tejan Kabbah and Vice President Solomon Berewa, among other high-powered intellectuals.
Describing events related to the civil war in Sierra Leone, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Final Report (Volume 3b: Chapter 5) said of Kabba: “Then, in 1985, Alie Kabba, a keen member of several radical clubs, was returned unopposed as president of FBC student union on a platform of collective self-advancement that he referred to as ‘we-ism.’ “We-ism, according to the same report, is a leftist ideology that intrigues then was the unsuspecting Strasser who was not privy to the SLPP angle of the grand plan. There are compelling warfront stories that seemed to link the RUF and the NPRC. Maada Bio’s brother, Steve Bio was an arms and ammunition contractor for both NPRC and RUF in Sierra Leone.
At the same time, Maada Bio’s sister was a commando of the RUF who led rebels to an untold onslaught in Maada Bio’s home town of Tihun, which would later be dubbed ground zero for the indiscriminate murdering and house burning there. It was not uncommon to hear amazing stories from war-weary villagers that NPRC warriors, such as Maada Bio, and Colonel Idriss Kamara, Captain Edie Kanneh etc., entered into rebel territories and came out untouched with incredulous stories of how they massacred rebels in war vestibules, thereby mystifying the public with self-induced perception about themselves of possessing supernatural prowess.
Few years later at the Abidjan peace talk between Sankoh and Bio, Sankoh was observed talking to himself “these are my boys, and I instructed my commandos not to shoot at them, we indeed shared some amount of camaraderie at the warfronts from where they returned at night belly full.” MAADA BIO THE CADET OFFICER Maada Bio graduated from the military academy as second lieutenant in October 1987. At the military academy and by design, Maada Bio built close, friendly relations with his fellow cadet officers like Valentine Strasser, Solomon Musa and Sahr Sandi. According to military records, Maada Bio was directly under the command of Major Fallah Sewa, who was head of cadet trainings at the military academy. His very first posting as a soldier was at the Lungi Garrison in Port Loko district the same year he graduated.
Maada Bio was moved to Kambia district as part of the Economic State of Emergency Unit, created by President Joseph Momoh to combat currency haulage and other financial crimes. In 1988, before Maada Bio’s posting to Benguema as a platoon commander he was re-posted to Lungi to be trained by the United Nations forces in aviation security. According to ECOMOG peacekeeping forces and RSLAF records, Maada Bio, Strasser and Solomon Musa were deployed in Liberia to fight in a Civil War that had broke-out there as part of Sierra Leone’s contribution to ECOMOG peacekeeping forces in 1990 for one year. After a year in Liberia as an ECOMOG soldier, Maada Bio and other members of the Sierra Leonean army serving in Liberia were ordered back to return to Sierra Leone to be deployed in Daru Army Barracks in Kailahun District as a part of a 600-man battalion of soldiers to squash an insurgency by RUF rebels that had just begun in southern and eastern villages in March 1991. Top scholars and war records now show that President Momoh played into the hands of careful planners of the rebellion in an army in which he was Commander-in-Chief against the advice of his military loyalists including SIM Turay.
Very notorious amongst the 600-man battalion at Daru, were the future coupist. At the warfront, Maada Bio and others tormented and mystified their fellow warfront warriors to disillusionment. MAADA BIO THE 1992 COUPIST “On April 29, 1992, Bio was one of a group of six young Sierra Leonean soldiers that included Captain Valentine Strasser, Lieutenant Sahr Sandi, Captain Solomon Musa, Captain Tom Nyuma and Captain Komba Mondeh that toppled President Joseph Saidu Momoh’s Government. In a gun battle with ECOMOG forces, Sahr Sandi, the prospective leader with a diabolical plan of tribal annihilation was killed according to SIM Turay’s account which is opposed to an allegation that he [SIM Turay] actually shot and killed him. Lieutenant Colonel (Rtd.) Kahota M.S. Dumbuya, Major (Rtd.) M.C. Jalloh, Captain Hanciles Bangura, Mr. Chernor Jan Jalloh, Mr. S. Samba, Sieh Bangura, Sub Inspector D.T.S. Lebbie, Mr. Salami Coker, Mr. Victor Jarret, Ms. Salamatu Kamara, Bangura Mohammed, Mr. Emmanuel E.Mani, Mr. Sorie Bangura, Mr. Yapo Conteh, Sergeant Conteh A.F., PC 6819 Bangura, Sergeant Saffa J., Corporal Lavalie W., Mr. Moses Davies, Mr. Emmanuel Koroma, Mr. Foday Turay, Mr. Sieh Turay. In an attempt to ensure impunity, the NPRC regime published in the Indemnity and Transition Decree Supplement of the Sierra Leone Gazette Extraordinary Vol. CXXIII, no. 60 on 16th, September 1992: No action or other legal proceeding, whether civil or criminal, shall be instituted in any court or tribunal for or on the account of, or in respect of any act, matter or thing done, whether within Sierra Leone or without, during the period extending from 29th April, 1992 to the commencement of this decree by (a) any member of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone and (b) the national Provision Ruling Council established by the Proclamation entitled ‘the Administration of Sierra Leone (National Provisional Ruling Council) Proclamation, 1992, or any member thereof or (c) anybody or person acting directly or indirectly under the authority of – (i) the National provisional council; or (ii) any member of the armed forces of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Recently in an interview with Audrey Brown on BBC Focus on Africa, Maada Bio admitted to collective responsibility of the extra-judicial killings. But the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) had granted those who committed crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone before 1996 a blanket amnesty. Mr. John Musa, a legal scholar in Freetown wrote for the African Young Voices (AYV) newspaper, “Before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Julius Maada Bio never testified that he tendered his resignation or the NPRC High Command offered him a free vote or an agreement to differ with his colleagues on grounds of being a conscientious objector to extra-judicial killing of 29 people roused at dawn to die for nothing.” A legal practitioner explained that Maada Bio is squarely culpable in the absence of “a free vote or an agreement to differ”. The Lome Peace Accord, which was ratified by the Parliament grants pardon to all combatants of the civil war, while one of the “Ten Commandments” (imperative recommendations) of the Truth Commission reads, “Release of person held in safe custody/ detention. Never again resort to safe custody detention.” Nonetheless, detaining and trying those allegedly bearing “the greatest responsibility” for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone by the Special Court contradicts the aforementioned provision of the Lome Peace Accord and the recommendation of the truth commission. (http://worldpress.org/Africa/2702.cfm Voices From Confinement: Former Warriors Declare Their Support for the PMDC in Sierra Leone by Karamoh Kabba, March 5, 2007) A well-placed statesman in society, who was a leading journalist at the time of the NPRC extra-judicial killings recounted in great despair when he explained “I was called upon by one of the junta leaders to State House. He asked me do you know that they wanted to overthrow us?’ He was referring to the NPRC junta regime. I asked him by whom? He answered, ‘Bambay Kamara and others.’” The statesman said he wanted to laugh but was afraid of being arrested. “Mr. Bambay Kamara was at the Pademba Road Prisons at the time,” he said and explained further that “the officer took out a recorder that he played claiming to be Mr. Bambay Kamara’s voice stating that ‘In the Name of Allah, we the…’ I could not bear but laughed at that, because, Mr. Bambay Kamara was a devout Christian. I asked about their where-about, my junta officer said, ‘We have killed them.’ I broke down and walked away without making further comment. MAADA BIO THE 1996 COUPIST A popular Krio maxim says that monkey nor dae lef ee black hand, meaning that the Monkey’s palm will forever remain black. Oh well; the monkey does not use bleaching lotion. Figuratively, once a criminal will most often always be a criminal. The fact is there is a higher tendency for people to relapse into old tricks. Evidently, Maada Bio was quoted in 2007 as saying he would “overthrow a new APC government if the APC won the 2007 election. According to Bio, this was taken out of context, and he said that if the ‘appalling’ conditions that existed in 1992 were to return, he would seize power.” On January 16, 1996, Maada Bio led another military coup, a palace coup this time when he ousted captain Valentine Strasser “following a division within the Governing Supreme Council of State (SCS) over whether to seek peace with the RUF before multi-party elections, planned for March 1996, or go ahead with the election notwithstanding the ongoing war in the country, and the conditions for participation (or disqualification) of junta members in the elections.” Maada Bio’s palace coup was very popular amongst “many high-ranking NPRC soldiers including Colonel Tom Nyuma, Lt Colonel Komba Mondeh, Lt Colonel Reginald Glover, Lt Colonel Idrisss Kamara, and Lt Colonel Karefa-Kargbo” but the most powerful support came from the backing of the political ‘invisible hand’, the SLPP intellectuals. The unsuspecting Strasser was “handcuffed at gunpoint by his own military bodyguards who were supposed to protect him and was immediately flown into exile in a military helicopter to Conakry”. MAADA BIO THE POLITICIAN To the SLPP, Maada Bio enjoyed the financial prospect, which was associated with power politics, and they knew he was a mere soldier of fortune who could be activated and deactivated by the whims of the intellectuals at the head of the grand plan. But once maturity kicked in and Maada Bio became politically aware, he “officially became a member of the Sierra Leone People’s Party in 2005.” All the time, he had been doing his masters’ bidding and in the process ascended to the grand prize. The SLPP knew then that it had a problem at hand. First, Maada Bio’s assignment was to remove Strasser who was not a part of the SLPP conspiracy of the grand plan and therefore not fit in that arrangement. In ensuring a perfect transition from NPRC to SLPP and nothing but SLPP, Maada Bio, the SLPP lapdog was activated against Strasser to serve as a placeholder leader. But once he tasted power in that short period in the run up to elections, SLPP was jittery that Bio would not honour the schedules of the planned elections. The SLPP had to act fast and very fast to keep Maada Bio on track with the programme. Political analysts have suggested that the sudden rise in the build-up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) at that time with members, all from south-eastern background, save for Campaign for Good Governance and National Commission for Democracy was an SLPP strategy to pressure Maada Bio out of power. It was this sector of the body politic of Sierra Leone that rose against Maada Bio’s reluctance to hand-over power and gave way to the first elections since the war began in 1991. Maada Bio exited the political stage in Sierra Leone amidst major controversies. There was the gunboat, passport-gate, money laundering etc. Maada Bio, however, left for the United States, but had to return home in a hurry – he violated US laws against domestic violence and was asked out of the country on a voluntary deportation order. This became very clear when he was refused re-entry visa into the US last month where his supporters had raised funds and prepared to welcome him. “At the handing over and launching of a Gunboat and Landing Craft that was donated by the Chinese Government, on the 2nd January 1997, former President of Sierra Leone Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah had this to say about Mr. Julius Maada Bio: ‘This contract was entered into between the NPRC Government and a local firm for the supply of a 35 year old naval patrol boat at the price of US$5,500,000…’” Mr. Kabbah went on to state that, “Brigadier J.M. Bio himself on the 1st February 1996, few days before he left office, caused the Government to pay into the account of his private firm, P. Banga Investment Limited the sum of Le235, 000,000 in respect of contracts that his firm had purportedly entered into with Government for the supply of spare parts for the replacement of a helicopter engine which did not belong to the Government.” On the issue of the passport-gate, the former president explained that “Incidentally, it was into the account of this same firm in the Channel Islands that Brigadier Bio paid his own share of US$400,000 from the passport deal which was disclosed recently.” In all of these, President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah was locked in the shadows of the ensuing political intrigues. Many would think his rise to power was a windfall on a statesman with a strong UN background. Well, it is now apparent that former President Kabbah was the leader of the SLPP intellectuals.’ He waited patiently for the grand prize. It was not by luck that he served as adviser to the NPRC. In retirement, the former President reminisced on some of the stuff in his quiet time when he wrote in his book, Coming Back from the Brink in Sierra Leone, that “it was ironic that the attempt by the NPRC military regime to use the same pretext to postpone the 1996 elections did not also succeed.” That pretext the former President referred to in his book in the preceding quote was President Momoh’s delaying of the multi-party elections slated for 1992 because of the rebel war. Whether President Momoh’s was a genuine reason or a pretext, former President Kabbah, who was at the head of the grand SLPP conspiracy, had this to say about Maada Bio, “…the NPRC regime grudgingly yielded to the holding of elections only after persistent outcry from civil society and others.” And those CSOs were the late comers in the grand plan. In 2005, Maada Bio sought the leadership of the SLPP at its National Convention in Makeni on September 3 and 4, 2005; “he took a third place, with 33 votes, behind Vice President Solomon Berewa, who received 291 votes, and Charles Margai, who won 34 votes. In the Sierra Leonean press, Bio was quoted in 2007 as saying “he would ‘overthrow a new APC government if the APC won the Again, this time in an SLPP National Convention in Freetown which tilted towards Maada Bio based on the support of an extremist ethnic fringe within the SLPP who intimidated and tormented moderate and other liberal minded members of the SLPP to vote for Maada Bio on the 31st of July 2011. Maada Bio openly ran his flagbearship campaign on violence and intimidation of his opponents. He also employed fear tactics that the elections in 2012 will be very violent and that he is the only candidate with the capacity and ability to meet violence for violence. Now, he is faced having to work on his human rights abuse records first, his moral disposition and ethical problems second, the inevitable baggage that came along with being the foot soldier of the grand plan. One social commentator stated that “I know of born again Christians, but born again democrats?” While the APC is running high with Maada Bio’s marred human rights and moral records, the people need to be attentive to the simple fact that it was a democracy, wherein all political parties had been invited to participate in pending elections in 10 1992 that Maada overthrew “by the barrel”. Now, he is running for State House “by the ballot,” so he said, but should he be trusted?