FIRST PUBLISHED BY
AWARENESS TIMES NEWSPAPER
ON THURSDAY 4TH SEPTEMBER 2008
Freetown, September 4th 2008: Lawyer Tunde Cole Esq., the Solicitor General in the Law Officersí Department of the Republic of Sierra Leone, has yesterday Wednesday 3rd September 2008 unwittingly exposed the Ernest Bai Koroma Government as having lied to the people of Sierra Leone through the Spokesman and Minister of Information, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo.
Earlier that morning, either out of ignorance of the facts or a deliberate attempt to mislead the populace, Minister I.B. Kargbo, uttered blatant untruths over the nationwide United Nations Radio. The minister was attempting to defend the Governmentís decision to pay a highly disputed amount of 75 billion leones to a Lebanese merchant Mohamed Kamel Wanza.
According to the minister, the current Government was being "forced" to pay Wanza that stupendous amount of disputed money in the midst of widespread local poverty, because the erstwhile Tejan Kabbah led SLPP Government had made no attempt to challenge the claims of Mr. Mohamed Wanza at the ECOWAS Court.
This is what Kargbo said:
"The fact is that we came to power as a Government when the President Ernest Bai Koroma took over; we found a case in the ECOWAS Court in Abuja and the past Government did not challenge that Mr. Wanza in Court," I.B. Kargbo confidently said over the UN Radio adding, "we discovered that it would be very, very embarrassing for us to continue to go to the court and especially since we did not challenge this matter earlier on. I wish the former Government had challenged this matter in court but they did not. By the time we came to power, the verdict was almost given."
However, as posited by Awareness Times on August 19th this year, not only did the erstwhile Tejan Kabbah Government make a very robust defense against Wanzaís claims but it was actually the current Ernest Bai Koroma Government that treated the court matter with levity and careless abandon.
Our position was re-inforced yesterday by the Solicitor General Tunde Cole in his office when he endorsed that he had indeed filed a Defense against Mohamed Wanza during the days of the erstwhile SLPP Government. Two staff members of Awareness Times had gone to Lawyer Tunde Cole to request for a copy of the said defense he had filed. Abdul Karim Kabia and Bampia Bundu introduced themselves to him and then proceeded to ask, "Sir, we are here to request for a copy of the Defense that you filed against Mohamed Wanzaís claims on the orders of the past SLPP Government."
Here is what Lawyer Cole responded:
"You think I will hand over that Defense I sent to the ECOWAS Court to Awareness Times of all papers? Awareness Times? Me? Me? If you want my defense, go to the ECOWAS Court and get it from there," Cole said in a rather rude tone of voice as he showed the two gentlemen out of his offices.
Later, the Publisher, Dr. Sylvia Blyden telephoned him on his direct Zain mobile phone line to discuss his rude treatment of her staff. Lawyer Cole, to his credit, did not conduct himself rudely over the phone line to Blyden. He was very polite as he explained that he had been busy which was why he brusquely ushered the two journalists out of his offices. He fervently denied sarcastically telling them to go to the ECOWAS Court if they wanted his Defence filed against Wanza during Tejan Kabbahís Government. Instead, he attributed that comment to a junior counsel though he refused to name the counsel.
Of worthy note is that the Solicitor General Tunde Cole, again confirmed to Sylvia Blyden that he indeed appended his signature to the Defense filed by the erstwhile Tejan Kabbah SLPP Government against Mohamed Wanza on behalf of the people.
"Does that therefore mean you are directly contradicting the official position of the Ernest Bai Koroma Government which was stated to be that no defense was ever filed against Mohamed Wanza?" Blyden queried to which the Solicitor General mumbled an answer that was not coherent. Still persisting, Sylvia Blyden pointed out to the Solicitor General "Sir, this means you have just exposed the APC Government to be lying as the APC Government is saying no such defense was ever filed and you have just confirmed that indeed such a defense was filed against Wanza at the ECOWAS Court by the past SLPP Government of Tejan Kabbah".
"Em, em, yes, I signed the defense filed by the last Government against Mohamed Wanza last year but, em, em, it does not mean that I authored it," Tunde Cole defensively hedged before quite politely asking to be excused off the phone.
¬© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.