After presiding over the brutal killings of innocent men and women, some whose ears were cut off, others tortured and terrorised, and a pregnant woman assaulted inhumanely and left to die with her yet unborn baby, and the next thing you do is to vie for the leadership of that country, it becomes not only an insult to the victims of such despicable crimes, it is an affront to the values and tradition that make up the core of the spirit of that society. Julius Maada Bio is not your typical soldier, he was trained in rough combat techniques along with those who conspired with him to overthrow a sitting government. He also took part in military combat as war was waged on mercenaries and rebels who savagely tore through the hinterland of Sierra Leone, killing and maiming anyone on sight. Maada Bio taught himself how to kill ruthlessly - in order to survive not being killed in the war-front. Skills that would become invaluable, albeit in a treacherous way, as he took power by force from his comrade-in-arms after a palace coup saw power shifted – an event that will define the next chapter of the country’s brutal history.
Maada Bio’s killing skills were put to use when 29 people were massacred in cold blood after being accused of crimes they knew nothing about. It was claimed that during the NPRC era, substance abuse played a huge role in the erratic behaviour of some in the Junta, which culminated in the reckless pursuit of those who were considered ‘enemies of state’ – those who criticised the junta were considered such and became targets for fabricated offences, some as serious as treason. Charges and offences were trumped-up and mysterious evidences were produced in order to validate the summary execution of innocent men and women. Others were killed in the presence of those accused, in order to ‘set an example’. Kabasa Lodge, the official residence of the Head of State then, became a drug haven, and converted to a brothel – where young girls were introduced to calisthenics in bed, barracks-style. Cannabis Sativa was smoked in quantities that was medically unethical, and booze-culture took center stage as government business became an entertainment operation!
The state of Sierra Leone was in peril, Julius Maada Bio’s priority was never to run a government – it was to destroy the fabric of the Sierra Leonean nation. It was to loot the state coffers. It was to hand over fake contracts to family members and ultimately put to a halt the infrastructural development of the country. Maada Bio’s tenure as Head of State is not one that can be used as an example or model of good governance or statesmanship – some argue that he handed over power to a democratically elected government – well he had no choice – the transition process then was not of his own volition – he was under pressure from stakeholders to do so – and there were punitive measures looming – if he had failed to do just that.
Bio’s desire to once more vie for the Presidency is a clear case in point – that he was not genuinely willing to give up power. He merely succumbed to pressure! If not, why then is he still nursing the pathetic ambition to once more become Head of State? This reveals the naked ambition that he still thirsts for power. If his intention was to hand over power genuinely, why is he still interested in attaining power? This simply raises the important question as to why he is running for president. When you relinquish power genuinely to ensure a peaceful transition of government – it should naturally mean you are no longer interested in the trappings of what power brings. In Bio’s case he gave it up and now uses that as part of his credentials to seek power again! Could it be that he is only purely interested in what comes with power? The money; influence; and control? Or is Bio so broke and want to replenish his dwindling finances? Or was the gesture of handing over power then without a fuss, not genuine? These questions and thoughts are on every voter’s mind as the November elections draw closer.
The integrity of Sierra Leone as a nation should not be squandered! The business of running a country should not be left in the hands of criminals. Not only has Julius Maada Bio not answered to charges of human right abuses, summary executions, and the maiming and false detention of many of his countrymen and women, his record as Head of State is indeed not pleasant. He stole state funds! He engaged in criminal activities by selling the country’s passports to corrupt international businessmen! The brutal experience that Sierra Leone as a country has endured, does not make provision for such complacency again – one that would allow a mass-murderer the opportunity to assume power again! It is not a question of whether Maada Bio should be on the ticket in November or not, it is simply the fact that Sierra Leoneans will not trade the progress, development, and dramatic transformation that has put the country on course for economic prosperity since Ernest Bai Koroma took over as president, for a repeat of the playboy era of Julius Maada Bio!
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