From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

NEWS
Sierra Leoneans Decry their Anti Graft Commissioner Abdul Tejan-Cole
By Awareness Times
May 8, 2010, 21:24

The Leader of Sierra Leone’s main opposition SLPP party has blasted the recently resigned Anti Corruption Boss Abdul Tejan Cole (pictured) as a selfish man who placed his personal interests above that of the country and whom, he lamented, had worked hand in gloves with the ruling APC party to suppress legitimate corruption cases that should have been sent to Court long ago. Mr. Benjamin recalled how Tejan-Cole as recently as less than three weeks to his resignation of Thursday night, had given an international interview in which Tejan-Cole "unduly praised" President Koroma’s supposed non-interference in the ACC. Benjamin also recalled the lofty words sang lustily by Tejan-Cole last November at the Investment Conference in which “he poured undue praises on the APC Government”.

 

Benjamin then contrasted the above observations with the attempt by misguided persons to separate Mr. Tejan-Cole from the selective justice being practised by the APC led Government’s fight against corruption; John Benjamin insists that as far as the SLPP was concerned, Tejan-Cole was a part and parcel of the APC’s selective justice.

 

Mr. Tejan-Cole is yet to state the reason(s) for his resignation but according to the BBC’s Umaru Fofana, the contents of Mr. Cole’s Letter of Resignation to President Koroma made no mention of any reason for his resignation. Apart from Mr. Umaru Fofana, no other journalist has yet set eyes on the Resignation Letter of Mr. Tejan-Cole. Fofana is a close ally of Mr. Tejan-Cole.

 

Government Information Minister Alhaji I.B. Kargbo has reflected that Tejan-Cole and the APC Government might well be on the same page when he told the BBC yesterday that the APC Government, “continued to have great confidence” in Abdul Tejan-Cole.

 

"Quite clearly, we have and we will continue to have great confidence in Mr. Tejan Cole. He has brought new life into the Anti Corruption Commission but of course, if on his own volition, he wants to have a go at some other thing elsewhere, there is no way by which we can stop him," the Government Information Minister said.

 

Whilst I.B. Kargbo was effusively heaping laurels on Tejan-Cole, the opposition SLPP Leader John Benjamin in contrast told the BBC that Tejan-Cole was a disappointment who only used the country’s prominent ACC Boss job to position himself for a bigger international assignment of greater benefit to him. In so doing, Benjamin said Tejan-Cole placed “his interests above that of the country”.

 

"Well, I saw it coming. I am not surprised. He started well but I think along the way, he got confused. I am told that he actually had used the office to expose himself to bigger opportunities. He's now got a job; he's landed a job so his interest is above that of the country and that is where I am disappointed in him. He could have sacrificed his individual interests to serve this country well," John Benjamin told the BBC.

 

Senior journalists report that in an exclusive telephone chat this Saturday evening from Blama in the Kenema District where SLPP party had just won a Local Government elections seat, John Benjamin went even further to describe both President Koroma and the recently resigned ACC Boss as “hypocrites who both plotted to fool the Donor Community that the country was serious to fight corruption whilst in reality both of them were just being hypocrites to the outside world”.

 

John Benjamin told journalists that “several times without number”, his party brought serious corruption issues to the attention of Mr. Abdul Tejan-Cole but no action was taken by Tejan-Cole on those issues because they involved members of the President’s family and persons he referred to as “the APC’s sacred untouchable cows”.

 

“All what Ernest Koroma and Tejan-Cole have been doing lately was to pull the wool over the eyes of the Donor Community otherwise why did the country not see some of the clear-cut, indisputable corruption issues charged to court for a conviction?” Benjamin asked adding that “the NASSIT ferries involving President’s cousin Edmund Koroma and Foreign Minister Zainab Bangura, the Million Dollars waiver to President’s brother Sylvanus Koroma and the Indian Rice disgrace again involving the President’s brother, the Foreign Minister and her husband at the State Commercial Bank never got due attention just as all the mis-procured contracts given to the President’s sister and brothers.”

 

John Oponjo Benjamin firmly stated that the resigned Anti Corruption Boss should not expect to get any sympathy from the opposition SLPP because the ACC Boss had worked hand in gloves with the ruling APC party and the President to suppress the prosecution of selected corruption cases.

 

Meanwhile, the most recent exclusive interview by the resigned ACC Boss was given to Lansana Fofana of the IPS News service and published on 17th April 2010 which was less than three weeks before yesterday’s shocking resignation. In that interview carried in an article entitled as "Anti-Corruption Campaign Nabs Top Officials", Tejan-Cole had assured that “No one tells me what to do, who to arrest and prosecute or how to conduct my investigations. The ACC is totally independent and we are guided by our mandate, which is to expose and fight corruption in whatever form”.

 

The above words were uttered less than three weeks ago by Abdul Tejan-Cole in Freetown to which he had added, "These strategies are proving very rewarding because there is now more public awareness about the fight against corruption in the country".

 

However, the IPS reporter Lansana Fofana had clearly stated in that article that: Notwithstanding this success story, the country’s opposition claims the president’s anti-corruption crusade is being exaggerated and that the Chief Executive is practicing what it brands as "selective justice."

 

Fofana had quoted the secretary general of the SLPP, Jacob Jusu-Saffa, as saying: "Our party raised key issues to the president, bordering on governance and these include members of the president’s family been protected from prosecution. The president’s sister has been benefiting from untendered contracts and his brother getting duty waivers, of goods imported, running into hundreds of thousands of US dollars. We see this as corruption. Period."

 

In that same article, it was reported that having presented documentary evidence supporting its claims, the SLPP insists there is more to be done. "Why has the ACC not gone after members of the president’s family that we have exposed as been involved in corruption? Are they sacred cows?" Jusu-Saffa had questioned just three weeks ago.

 

The BBC is meanwhile reporting that the resignation of Abdul Tejan-Cole continues to produce “indignation” from several citizens who denounce the resignation being done right in the middle of a high profile case he took to court against Haja Afsatu Kabba. One such citizen, Dauda Kallon, a political ally of embattled Fisheries Minister Afsatu Kabba told Awareness Times that some Sierra Leonean Youth Activists were considering writing to George Soros, who has allegedly given a job to Tejan Cole in New York, during which they will be asking for the Soros job for Tejan-Cole to be placed on hold so he could return to Sierra Leone to complete the prosecution of what many are now firmly convinced to be a witch-hunt of Haja Afsatu Kabba that has now backfired as a result of diligent media exposures and highlighting of the intricacies of plots and plans by Haja Afsatu’s detractors; some of whom were highly placed powerful figures from right within the ruling APC party itself.

 

“Tejan-Cole should come back here and finish his term as ACC Boss. No-one drove him away so why has he run away? Let him come back. He signed the Indictment of the country’s most popular female politician so he should wait until the prosecution is completed and his shenanigans get exposed with him right here with us. He should not have run away,” Dauda Kallon stated.

 

Many citizens who had initially derided those who insisted the ACC’s chase of Haja Afsatu Kabba was a political witch-hunt, have made no secret of their current turn-around positions. The BBC News, which came under serious criticisms for their biased and untruthful coverage of the initial molestation of the embattled female politician in February this year, proved their newfound objectivity in the matter by broadcasting the following: “Sierra Leone's Anti Corruption Commissioner, Abdul Tejan-Cole has resigned. His reasons are still unclear but the move has already caused some waves within the country's diplomatic community. His resignation comes at a time when critics were questioning the way he's been dealing with the case of the former Minister of Fisheries who lost her job following corruption charges; accusations that the former Minister, Haja Afsatu Kabba has vehemently denied,”

 

The above were the words that the BBC broadcasted repeatedly over the international radio air waves as their top African news story for yesterday Friday May 7th 2010.

 



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