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London resident sends an open letter to Sierra Leonean Presidential Candidate Mada Bio

Dear Mr. Maada Bio,
RE: YOUR STANDING AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
Under normal circumstances I would have started by congratulating you on your election as “FLAG BEARER” of the S.L.P.P. for the next President of our Republic. I cannot however because I have serious doubts as to whether even your nomination is not inimical to our country’s interest. My concern is not because of any special interest in the S.L.P.P. but I view every Presidential candidate as a potential President of Sierra Leone.
I would like to point out at the outset that I am neither a member of the S.L.P.P, the A.P.C. nor any political party in Sierra Leone. But as a Sierra Leonean, like you, I have a vested interest in our having a leader who will reflect a direction that will improve the condition of Sierra Leoneans and the way we are perceived in the international community. With this in mind, I shall try not to get entangled in any party political controversy.
I have had the privilege to read what purports to be your MAIDEN ADDRESS TO THE NATION by courtesy of the AWARENESS TIMES on line newspaper. I must admit it contains many laudable principles that I believe will be good for any government to follow, But I disagree with you on a number of issues which I shall point out hereunder.

In the address you said the “2012 elections are going to be about issues, not about personalities”. I think you are wrong and you do not seem to be convinced about this very important point. Later in the address you said”makes no mistake, personality and regionalism does matter in our body politic but they do not and cannot dilute the fundamental differences between our two parties”. I do not think regionalism in a small country like ours should be an issue but personality should. We seem to have one thing in common and that is respect for H.E. Tejan-Kabba. I make this assessment by the tribute you have paid to him in your address.
I note that in your address you denied “personal involvement” or “personal responsibility” for what the TRC described as “extra judicial killings”, what the ordinary man will describe as “cold blooded murder”. They however held you collectively responsible together with your colleagues of the NPRC for those summary executions. You may recall that at the time the N.P.R.C. put out a statement that they were executed following a judicial trial. This turned out to be a deliberate untruth. No judge at the time was aware of the trial and the N.P.R.C. Attorney General at that time Mr. Arnold J. Bishop-Gooding told the Bar Association that he was not aware of any trial of those executed. I think it is sad that after your denial of responsibility you said you felt “morally bound” to express deep regret for the wrongs committed by the N.P.R.C. and also expressed profound sympathy to the families of the victims concerned. To me, your apology sounds insincere, patronizing and opportunistic. The moral compulsion you felt to make the apology for the N.P.R.C. should give you the courage to accept your share of responsibility for those executions. It is my view that if you bear any responsibility for those extrajudicial killings personally which you deny, or collectively which have not denied, it will be difficult if not impossible for many Sierra Leones to proudly uphold you as their president if unfortunately you are elected.
I note with dismay that you have in your maiden address you completely ignored the very serious assertions of H.E. Tejan-Kabba contained in his speech on January 2, 1997 during the lunching of the Gunboat and Landing Craft donated by the government of China. In his speech which I feel sure you have read, he alleged that during the tenure of the N.P.R.C. “a number of individuals and business interests entered into all kinds of dubious transactions with that regime in the name of national defence. At the time the N.P.R.C. regime left office, hundreds of billions of Leones and over a billion dollars had been paid out from Government funds on such contracts and as of today’s date similar sums are still owed by and are being claimed against Government. A number of these contracts are at best dubious and the beneficiaries of some of them are either members of the N.P.R.C. top hierarchy, or their relations or business associates.” I am sure you will not deny that for these you bear “collective responsibility”. But H.E. Tejan Kabba went on further to put right at your door step allegations of serious misappropriation of state funds and I will quote that part of his speech in full.
“Another instance of the reckless and irresponsible manner in which the affairs of State were conducted by the N.P.R.C. regime is in the granting of a general power of attorney to Steven Bio, the brother of the erstwhile Head of State and government, to conclude all and any defence and military contracts anywhere in the world and at his sole discretion, as the accredited agent of the Government of Sierra Leone. By virtue of such unusual authority, Steven Bio concluded contracts running into tens of millions of dollars. There is no evidence that most of those contracts have been performed but Steven Bio has already been paid millions of dollars on them and he is claiming further amounts as arrears of payments. Furthermore, in his capacity as Chairman of the NPRC, 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 the firm had purportedly entered into with government for the supply of spare parts for the replacement of helicopter engines which did not belong to Government. 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.”
I am sure you will agree with me that these are grave allegations against you and your regime. It is therefore very surprising to me and a number of persons I have spoken to that not once in your maiden address did you mention any of these allegations contained in H.E. Kabba’s speech either to deny them or to apologise with a promise to return the funds and not to do so again if you are elected. Especially so as in your maiden address you spoke strongly against corruption and extolled the virtues of a leader with integrity when you quite rightly said “we need a leader who teaches our youth honesty…” and later said inter alia, “we will not engage in dubious contracts to fleece this country and squirrel the loot away in foreign bank accounts or buy luxury homes abroad”. Your failure to deal with these very grave assertions against you and your regime by a very senior member of the S.L.P.P. is serious and I am sure it will make it difficult for any objective voter to heed your call for assistance to take you back to State House.
Your omission to address these points I have raised above might be over sight. But it may not be too late to address them. I hope you will feel morally obliged to make a public statement answering the assertions contained in the address of H.E Tejan Kabba mentioned above so that the citizens of Sierra Leone who you aspire to lead will be given answers to enable them make informed choice of a leader with the virtues you so eloquently described in your address.

Yours sincerely,          (published verbatim)

R. H.O. ROBBIN-COKER
LONDON
P.S. – I am circulating this letter on the internet.

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