Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank you all for gracing this Emergency Press Conference that has been called up at such short notice. I want to first of all start by extending on behalf of the Sierra Leone People’s Party, our heartfelt gratitude to loyal members of the press and mass media in Sierra Leone whom have been selfless in their service to Sierra Leone especially in the area of unearthing the real corruption that has permeated this country even as we are striving to fight corrupt actors.
I also want to use this opportunity to wish the new leadership at the Anti Corruption Commission, all the very best from the Sierra Leone People’s Party and we do look forward to having a much better engagement with this ACC Leadership than with the former one. In this light, I will soon be writing an Open Letter to the new Anti Corruption Commission Boss in which I will once again draw his direct attention to some of the corrupt practices being undertaken in this country especially by senior Government functionaries and by members of the President Koroma family who have been peddling their influence.
Now without wasting any more time, let me come to the crux of why the SLPP has called up this Emergency Press Conference this afternoon. It concerns a very grave issue that affects every single patriotic Sierra Leonean who is determined to ensure that the country’s money are not corruptly lavished on ruling party functions.
To be distributed at this Press Conference are copies of four documents. One of them is an article by a Sierra Leonean journalist named Abdul Karim Fonti Kabia entitled “DID AFSATU KABBA DECEIVE HERSELF? -PART 2”. In this article are very serious allegations that the President of the Republic and Fountain of Honour, during the corruption trial of the former Fisheries Minister Haja Afsatu Kabba, had held a secret meeting with the Accused and two of her lawyers at his residence late in the night during which an agreement might have been reached for justice to be perverted via a decision not to put up any defence against the serious allegations that 300 million leones was corruptly withdrawn from the Fisheries Ministry in October 2009 to host the ruling APC Party Convention.
APC APRIL CONVENTION & BUMBUNA NOVEMBER JAMBOREE
Before proceeding with this issue of secret meeting held by President Koroma in the middle of the night, I wish to draw your kind attention to the fact that the APC Convention was held in mid-April 2009 and not in October 2009. The shameful development which the SLPP wishes to expose today is that the 300 Million Leones corruptly taken to State House at the end of October 2009 was not for the APC Convention but was to fund the APC’s wild Jamboree party which President Koroma held up at Bumbuna Commissioning on November 6th 2009.
It will be recalled by those in attendance, especially you our valued journalists, that the Bumbuna November 6th 2009 Celebrations by the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) saw millions and millions of leones being splashed by President Koroma’s people as if cash was going out of style. Up at Bumbuna on November 6th 2009, the musician by the name of Innocent Kuti who sang a pro-APC song entitled “GEE DEM CHANCE” was so showered with multiple leone bills that the money had to be placed in cartoons. There was a lavish display of opulence by ruling APC members. The question to now be asked is WHERE DID THIS MONEY COME FROM? The SLPP has the answer! Which is why we have summoned this Emergency Press Conference today.
I am now informing the Anti Corruption Commission and the people of Sierra Leone of two vital pieces of information which will leave the world in no doubt that Sierra Leone currently has the most corrupt regime ever leading this country! Firstly, that the money which was splashed on pro-APC musicians and other APC partisans on November 6th 2009 and which was used to transport huge numbers of APC partisans from all over the country to Bumbuna to dance and feast and celebrate was the 300 million leones withdrawn on October 27th and October 28th 2009 for which Haja Afsatu Kabba was convicted. Secondly, that apart from the 300 Million Leones withdrawn to be spent on Bumbuna, there was indeed another corrupt withdrawal of One Hundred and Fifty Million Leones made on behalf of funding the APC Convention of April 2009! Please continue to stay with me and I will show you how recklessly corrupt this Ernest Bai Koroma Government truly is!
SLPP today informs all Sierra Leoneans that we have closely studied the 36 paged Judgment of the Honourable Justice Samuel Ademosu against Haja Afsatu Kabba and what has come out very clearly in the words of the judgment as read out by the Honourable Judge himself, is that there were at least Two Huge Withdrawals purported to be made on behalf of State House which location is the Office of the President and Leader of the All People’s Congress. One of these was described as being of the sum of One Hundred and Fifty Million Leones which witnesses state were withdrawn earlier in 2009 whilst the other, according to Justice Ademosu was for the sum of Three Hundred and Ten Million Leones withdrawn at the end of October 2009.
BANK OF SIERRA LEONE
SPECIAL FISHERIES ACCOUNT
Let us proceed. We have the second set of documents being distributed today to be Page 8 and Page 9 of the Bank Statement of the Fisheries Account that was tendered in Court during the Afsatu Kabba trial. I want to draw your attention to five withdrawals on Page 8 made on 31st March 2009 totalling a grand sum of One Hundred and Fifty Million and Five Hundred Thousand Leones. This withdrawal of One Hundred and Fifty Million Leones was made shortly before the APC Convention which was hosted in mid-April 2009. Our information, which we would like the Anti Corruption Commission to immediately launch their own investigations into in order to prove or disprove these allegations, is that those withdrawals were for corrupt purposes as demanded for the use of the APC’s Convention. Our President is the Leader of the APC which is corruptly running Sierra Leone to the ground. Turn to Page 9 of the Court document as tendered and turn your attention to five withdrawals for the total sum of Three Hundred and Ten Million Leones which is what Haja Afsatu Kabba has been convicted of withdrawing for “urgent” purposes at State House. As was asked by Journalist Abdul Karim Fonti Kabia and also by the Stand-Firm Newspaper in their ‘Tiffy Tiffy APC’ Commentary published a few days ago, Haja Afsatu Kabba did not take the corrupt loot to her residence but to President Koroma’s office after “urgent” demands for this. The Le310Million was withdrawn for use by the APC to splash on musicians and waste lavishly on themselves as they celebrated up at Bumbuna on November 6th 2009, barely one week after the money was corruptly withdrawn.
WHERE ARE WE HEADING?
Ladies and Gentlemen, People of Sierra Leone, under Ernest Bai Koroma, Sierra Leone is faced with the worst possible type of corruption that this country has ever experienced. Ernest Bai Koroma is a corrupt man as evidenced from the mouth of even his own appointed Government Spokesman Alhaji I.B. Kargbo who recently revealed that the President possesses a Slush Fund from which he funds illegal activities like the financing of the PMDC party. Where does the President get all the monies he has been wasting? It is now clear from the evidence and Judgment of Justice Ademosu that One Hundred and Fifty Million Leones of our money was corruptly withdrawn from Fisheries Ministry on March 31st 2009 purportedly on behalf of President Koroma to help finance the APC Convention of mid-April whilst another Three Hundred and Ten Million Leones of our money was corruptly withdrawn at the end of October 2009, again purportedly on behalf of President Koroma to help finance the jamboree of the APC at Bumbuna on November 6th 2009.
Ladies and Gentlemen, where is our country heading under Ernest Bai Koroma? This man is worse that both Siaka Stevens and Joseph Momoh combined as far as corruption goes. The kind of bare-faced corruption that him and his family members have been engaged in since he took over office is unprecedented in the History of this country. Never under President Stevens or President Momoh let alone President Tejan Kabbah, did we have family members of the sitting President so deeply engulfed in corruption and peddling of their influence as is the case today in Sierra Leone under Ernest Bai Koroma.
COMPARISON BETWEEN SLPP & APC
I now want to make a revealing comparison between the APC of Ernest Bai Koroma and the SLPP of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. There is still another document which the SLPP is releasing today. It is a page out of the May 26th 2010 edition of Awareness Times Newspaper and it reproduces the Fisheries BSL Account for a period of three years from January 2007 until January 2010 as tendered in court. This is the same Bank Account from which Ernest Bai Koroma’s State House, the Court of Justice Ademosu was told, corruptly withdrew two huge sums of One Hundred and Fifty Million Leones and Three Hundred and Ten Million Leones. This is a Statutory Account set up for a specific purpose which is only to fund Monitoring and Surveillance activities and nothing else. Now, I want you to closely study that document. It is self-explanatory!
You will realise that the SLPP-led Kabbah Government Fisheries Minister Dr. Chernor Jalloh from January 2007 until he handed over to APC-led Ernest Bai Koroma Government Fisheries Minister Dr. Moses Kapu in October 2007, did not make a single withdrawal from that Account. Please note that it was an elections year and the SLPP, has been accused by APC, without proof, that we were a corrupt Government. But not a single corrupt withdrawal was ever made from Fisheries Bank Account. Rather, it will be noted that huge deposits were made into that Account thus totalling the sum of Le95,809,200.00 handed over by the SLPP to the APC.
Now, as soon as Ernest Bai Koroma’s APC took over that Le95,809,200.00, they started to chop it. Carefully study the reproduced Statement. From January 2007 until October 2007, no withdrawal and no chopping. But as soon as APC takes office, it was chop-chop time. They chopped and chopped and chopped and chopped. In just two months of 2007 alone, they chopped 18 (eighteen) illegal and corrupt withdrawals amounting to millions and millions of leones. The evidence is in your hands. That is your evidence of the comparison between the APC and the SLPP. The SLPP of Tejan Kabbah was a prudent Manager whilst the APC of Ernest Bai Koroma is a Chop-Chop Corrupt entity.
This is just one Account at the Fisheries Ministry. Ladies and Gentlemen, can you imagine how much more such corrupt activities are taking place and have been taking place with monies left behind by the SLPP? All the Billions of Leones we handed over to the APC in 2007 have been chopped! Finished. Right now, we are once again in deep debt reportedly to the tune of US$722 Million United States Dollars! The SLPP left Sierra Leone free of all external debts with Debt Relief we negotiated. All the Debts left by Siaka Stevens and Joseph Momoh were wiped clean by the SLPP and we gave a clean slate to Ernest Koroma to develop this country. What has he done? He has chopped and chopped everything in corrupt jamborees.
PERVASION OF JUSTICE
The article by Abdul Karim Fonti Kabia contains some very serious postulations that President Koroma, in a bid to pervert justice, hosted the indicted Accused Haja Afsatu Kabba in a secret meeting at his residence late in the night during the height of her corruption trial. At this meeting, it is believed he gave some form of assurances which might have misled the two lawyers and Haja Afsatu Kabba not to put up a defence against the serious allegations of corruption. Pervasion of justice is a very serious issue especially when it involves the people of Sierra Leone finding out the truth about the corrupt misappropriation of their money. Money which was for the enjoyment of the President’s political party at Bumbuna November Jamboree and also Makeni APC Convention.
We, as a party, have also done our own investigations into this issue and the alarming confirmation we have received is that indeed Haja Afsatu Kabba and her two lawyers named in the article were indeed late night guests of President Ernest Koroma at his residence. What was discussed? Why were the lawyers and Haja Afsatu Kabba summoned up to see the President? Why in the dark of night? Why not openly at State House but secretly in the middle of the night? These are the questions that need to be urgently addressed by the President himself. Why did he invite Haja Afsatu Kabba and her lawyers for secret talks in the middle of the night?
APC’S I.B. Kargbo & PMDC’s Charles Margai Justify SLPP’s Statement
SLPP’s Statement that President Koroma is the most corrupt leader that this country has ever had the misfortune to live under was justified by no less a person that the APC Government Spokesman himself Alhaji I.B. Kargbo and the APC Alliance Partner PMDC Leader Charles Margai who have revealed to us all that President Koroma illegally doles out “huge” sums of monies to fund the existence of either the PMDC political party headed by Mr. Charles Margai or the upcoming PUP political party to be headed by Mr. Mohamed Bangura. These Slush Funds financial allegations have not been denied by either President Koroma himself or by Mr. Charles Margai. The only denial from Mr. Margai has been that he did not blackmail for the money nor did he misappropriate the monies he has been receiving from President Koroma. Neither Margai nor Mohamed Bangura have denied receiving cash from President Koroma as stated by APC Government Spokesman. Where has the President been getting all these sums of monies from which he has been using to bankroll Charles Margai’s PMDC’s continued existence and Mr. Mohamed Bangura?
The Answers lie in the documents you are currently holding in your possession. President Koroma is leading a very corrupt regime which, unlike the SLPP which took out a Bank Loan in 2005 to finance our Party Convention, this corrupt APC Government believes in looting monies from State Coffers to finance their APC Party Convention and even worse, to finance their wild jamboree parties like the one held up at Bumbuna on November 6th 2009; Sierra Leone is today suffering under the most corrupt leadership that Sierra Leone has ever had. However, come 2012, we will redeem our people once again through the Ballot Box. I will now take your questions.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.