When the Prince Johnson INPFL rebels captured Liberia’s bloodthirsty dictator, Samuel K. Doe in 1990 and took him to their camp at Caldwell, on the outskirts of Monrovia, one of the things they grilled the stunned, frightened former President about was the people’s money . As Doe sat on the ground pleading with his uncompromising captors, the question that kept ringing all over the place from the rebels was “Where is the people’s money ?” Doe wanted the ropes used to tie his hands behind his back to be loosened a little first to ease his pain and discomfort , but for the rebels , what mattered was the people’s money that Doe stole while in power. “Ma mehn, where is the people’s money ? “, they kept hammering him with questions.
In next door Sierra Leone, another former military dictator seeking the presidency is now facing the same question from the bespectaculed people. To say that the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP ) in cutting its nose to spite its face , selected not only a murderer but a thief as its Presidential candidate for next year’s elections!!!?
It seems so. American -born webmaster and publisher of the SIERRA LEONE WEB, now very much one of us Sierra Leoneans, Mr. Peter Andersen, who has thus far shown no political preferences, had this to report On the 13th September 1996, at a time when Mr. Maada Bio was not aspiring to be anything more in Sierra Leone. Also of note is the fact that the accusation was not made by an All People’s Congress (APC) member, lest it be said it is all politics. The accusation came from an SLPP member like Maada Bio, Mr.Solomon Berewa, who was Presidential candidate for the SLPP in 2007. In fact, Maada Bio carefully orchestrated the return of the SLPP to power by rigging the 1996 elections for his favourite party. The report, reproduced below, thus has much credence :
“Justice Minister Solomon Berewa said Friday that the government has enough evidence to convict former military rulers Captain Valentine Strasser and Brigadier Julius Maada Bio for defrauding the state of $982,000 on the sale of Sierra Leoneans passports to Hong Kong. Berewa said that a Chinese business man who had coordinated the sales in Hong Kong has agreed to testify. ‘We have enough evidence now to convict Captain Strasser and Brigadier Bio on this matter. Strasser and Bio deposited the money they received illegally in banks in Switzerland, the Channel Islands, and Ghana. The government now has copies of the accounts.’ The Chinese businessman allegedly paid Strasser and Bio in person and by wire transfer to the bank accounts. Shortly before the NPRC handed over power to the civilian government, military leaders passed a decree giving themselves immunity from prosecution. That decree is to come up before parliament shortly, and Berewa said there is a strong possibility that it will be scrapped. If so, the government will request Strasser and Bio’s extradition. Both are thought to be in the United Kingdom. Berewa said charges against former Foreign Minister Abass Bundu have been dropped after he repaid on Friday the $210,000 he received from passport sales.”
It is a disgrace the SLPP can hardly rationalize that they have chosen a Presidential candidate that does not only have a violent and murderous past but has a record for massive thieving when he was military leader. That Bio contrived , while leader of our nation, to steal and criminally sell our passports to Hong Kong , thereby spinning off $ 982, 000, is a shame the SLPP will never force Sierra Leoneans to forget, however much they link all the outrage over Bio’s selection to attempts to create confusion in the country. They want people to stop battering Maada Bio for his violent past .But how can our people keep quiet in the face of all these scandalous , shameful and disturbing facts about the man they want to give us as President ?
The people of Sierra Leone cannot and should not keep quiet. The SLPP is trying to impose on them a villain who did not only murder 28 innocent people but emptied our national kitty . It is on record that Bio brought his filthy lucre to the U.S. first , where he put himself in school , but was ultimately asked by the U.S. authorities to leave .He then went to Ghana where he tried to set up a car dealership but frittered away the loot on excessive womanizing and wasteful living. Is this the kind of person the SLPP wants to be President of Sierra Leone ? How low can we sink ? If the SLPP thinks that State House is a dumping ground for criminals , Sierra Leoneans are not going to accept. Let all the fake civil society groups manned by SLPP fanatics say all they want. The U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone, His Excellency Michael Owens, was spot on to pay a courtesy call on Michael Tommy and his bogus civil society group because he probably wanted to GET FIRST-HAND ASSURANCE that a civil society outfit receiving international funding from the U.S. and other organizations, had not started selling out so early. We hope Mr.Tommy meant what he told the distinguished ambassador.
The disturbing question assailing the minds of all patriotic Sierra Leoneans is : If within the short time that he was Military leader Maada engaged in such criminal practices , what irreparable damages will he not inflict on our nation if he rules the country for five years?
By criminally selling our passports to Hong Kong, Maada Bio jeopardized the security of the nation. He took a sacred oath to defend and protect the national interest of our nation . How could he have violated this oath by criminally placing our passports in the hands of foreign nationals whose expressed purpose for illegally buying our nationality was to rape and pillage our national and material resources. And people want Sierra Leoneans to keep quiet because it will raise the political temperature? Are these people for real ? When has the discussion of somebody’s criminal record become a national security issue ? If the killing of 28 innocent citizens and stealing of the nation’s $928, 000 did not bring chaos in the country, how will the discussion of these crimes do so?
Sierra Leone is not the fiefdom of anybody or any power. Sierra Leone belongs to the people of Sierra Leone. Therefore , the people of Sierra Leone reserve the right to examine the past of a man who wants to be their President. The Sierra Leonean people are forewarning each other now about the future. They do not want to make a mistake they will regret tomorrow. There is nothing wrong with discussing the past misdeeds of a presidential candidate. Leadership of a whoe nation is too important for aspirants not to be well screened.
Bio and the SLPP people dressing him in borrowed robes have a lot of explaining to do. First , it was the 29 people he killed for no good reason. Now, he has to answer the same question that Samuel Doe was lambasted with at Caldwell. WHERE IS THE PEOPLE’S MONEY ?
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s) and not do necessarily reflect the views of the AfricaFiles' editors and network members. They are included in our material as a reflection of a diversity of views and a variety of issues. Material written specifically for AfricaFiles may be edited for length, clarity or inaccuracies.