President Koroma has sternly warned against those civil servants who leak out to the press and public what he termed as "Governmentís Confidential Documents". He was speaking to a cross section of senior civil servants summoned to his office recently.
|Government Functionaries (shown at APC Convention) do not want all their dealings to be made public to citizens
The Head of State maintained that from now on civil servants found wanting in this direction will "face the full penalty of the law".
There is a law in Sierra Leone which makes it a crime for anyone to leak State documents and it is to counter this law that the Freedom of Information Bill (which guarantees access to information) is being strongly lobbied to be passed into Law. However, the latest threat from the Head of State has put question marks near his oft-professed determination to ensure Freedom of Information and Access to Information.
Many observers view the threat of "full penalty of the law" as a determined move to ensure that any embarrassing under-the-table dealing (yuki-yuki) of the Government does not get to meet the Public eye. It will be recalled that recently, leaked Government documents had been published in the press which caused serious embarrassment for the APC-led Government of President Koroma.
One such leaked document involved a recent duty-free waiver of almost one million dollars that was quietly granted to a company, Harmony Trading Ltd.
Harmony Trading is co-owned by (1) a Swiss company, Novel Commodities SA headed by a FOREIGNER named Mr. Njack Kane with interesting links to multi-identitied, amoeba-like corporate entity simply identified as ACE, (2) Liberian-Guinean FOREIGN businessman Bockarie Kakay and (3) a front unit simply identified as ROUBA which is itself co-owned by two indigenous cousins (majority shareholder named Koroma and minority shareholder named Sesay).
Pundits indicate that there seems to be quite a lot to report on in this direction of Novel-ACE-Harmony-Rouba-SierraCommodities if such a need should ever arise. For example, pundits indicate the existence of a leaked Government document that, by choice, was not published by certain journalists but which has a red-inked signature on it approving a breakdown of some financial figures that are similar to financial figures in NRA receipts submitted to the Law Courts some two months ago during a civil matter which ended with a spectacular scenario that involved people with private planes and hot connections to three international banks flying in to Lungi Airport and other people being pitch-forked straight from the Departure Lounge of Lungi International Airport back to the capital city to forcibly sit down and sign documents that empower a known Lebanese magnate S/H to assist a novice young man in the art of selling rice that were in forcibly commandeered warehouses [just like in AFRC junta days].
Pundits speculate that a possible existence of a shady involvement of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bankís name without any such overtly expressed Board approval in certain MOUs to the tune of four million dollars might also be a cause for some concern.
Anyway, Pundits indicate that people are already in possession of stacks upon stacks of leaked Government documents (not just on Novel-ACE-Harmony-Rouba-Sierra/Commodities issue) and that these leaked Government documents might be safely stored but which are not being published by choice and for no other reason but by choice.
Pundits repeatedly mention the names of numerous Law Firms and legal associates of certain Law Firms showing up in the Novel-ACE-Harmony-Rouba-SierraCommodities mesh alongside one Mrs. M. Sheriff simply described as an Accountant but who pundits indicate might have filed some papers at Roxy Building last year March 2008 in an improper (and illegal) manner for her brother and her cousinís interest. Papers that were originally drafted by a top Law Firm which did not actually get to do the filing at Roxy Building as Sheriff lady played a cool one on them.
Meanwhile, calling the Presidentís meeting with civil servants to order last week, Secretary to the President E.B. Osho-Coker said civil servants in the past have worked both inside and outside the country and earned laurels, and therefore called on his colleagues to recapture that past. He informed them that the President has been doing a lot with regards the performance of the civil service to create an impact for the development of the nation.
In his own welcome remarks, Head of the Civil Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, George Pessima said the President is injecting dynamism into the civil service as it is the instrument to translate policies into development. He observed that the negative attitudes of some civil servants who leak Government documents, accept bribes and go to work late are a major concern to the APC-led Government and therefore called for a positive change of attitudes in line with the Presidentís vision.
It remains to be seen if the Presidentís threats of Ďfacing full penalty of the lawí will yield dividend and stem the hitherto ceaseless flow of documents from patriotic civil servants to local fearless journalists. However, if pundits are to be believed, local journalists already have more than enough materials to release on a daily basis that will last the entire tenure of this regime. However, with an angry populace, Pundits believe that some very patriotic journalists do not wish to add kerosene onto an already flaming situation with the publication of things that would make the populace go even angrier.
Finally, some pundits believe that some journalists are true patriots who love this country very dearly but who, if continually provoked, might go berserk with a scorched earth policy of revelations should their chastity and sanctity continue to be mocked to no end by insensitive State functionaries and their hired pens. Pundits believe that a word to the wise is usually quite sufficient.