Sierra Leone’s top and best-selling newspaper, The Awareness Times, is reporting that Julius Maada Bio, the recently defeated presidential candidate for the opposition SLPP party, while as head of state during the NPRC junta regime in the mid-nineties, fraudulently sold the country’s passports to rogue Asian businessmen and had the monies diverted to his personal off-shore account in just seven days.
And this is the man who wanted to be president of Sierra Leone! And it is simply disgraceful that some international media houses and reputable institutions like the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, could grant such a criminal the opportunity to be heard as he embarked on destroying the image of the country and the reputation of those who serve with distinction to lift the state out of the mess he dragged it into.
Some corrupt diplomats assigned to the country, also connived to covertly support the opposition leader/party by making misguided statements leading through to the elections, in an attempt to influence the outcome of the vote. These diplomats who represent some of the most influential western countries and organisations around the world, should now hang their heads in shame for directly interfering in the democratic process of a sovereign nation. These acts of sabotage have no place in the country’s virgin democracy and it does not reveal good intentions of those the country refers to as ‘friends’. The actions of some of these diplomats have created an atmosphere of suspicion, and may not augur well in the corridors of power, thus affecting the cordial relationship that once existed. And these diplomats knew what they wanted to achieve – mortgaging the future of the country to a bunch of criminals who were hell bent on looting the state coffers once more.
The belligerent attitude of Julius Maada Bio in refusing to concede and accept the outcome of the recently concluded presidential elections, despite the vote being given the seal of approval from reputable international observers, is indeed a clear manifestation of his greed and thirst for power. And his claims that the vote was rigged is simply preposterous coming from a man who has lost his moral compass and has no place in the politics of the small West African nation. The election was conducted with standards unheard of in the African continent, and the Sierra Leone president should be applauded, being the incumbent, to preside over such a free, fair, and transparent election process, something the even Mo Ibrahim would have no hesitation to commend.
We have decided to reproduce the excellent piece by Dr. Sylvia Blyden, the publisher of the Awareness Times newspaper, below, in its original text:
Back in April of this year, Awareness Times publicised contents of an SLPP Government Cabinet Paper prepared for discussion in September 1996. It was prepared by then Attorney-General Solomon Berewa’s Office. It concerned misappropriation of sales of the country’s passports as discovered by SLPP Kabbah’s Government when they took over from NPRC’s Julius Maada Bio. A section of the Cabinet paper reads as follows:
“The proceeds of the sale of the passports were to be deposited in an Investment Account in Hong Kong to be operated by the Government of Sierra Leone for investment purposes… To effect the programme, an agent was appointed by NPRC whose business was to sell the passports…”
Furtheron, President Kabbah’s Government (SLPP) Cabinet Paper then states:
“At that time, the agent was Mr. Frank Yiu, a national of Hong Kong, who has already worked out a number of investment programmes in Sierra Leone. He had planned to establish in Sierra Leone enamel and battery factories and a high quality television station”.
Unfortunately, according to SLPP Kabbah’s Cabinet Paper by Solomon Berewa,
“All these prospective investments did not materialize because the authorities did not give the programme a chance. They made incessant demands on the agents to pay them cash or transfer monies into their respective foreign accounts”.
As can be seen on this page, in just 7 days in December 1994 alone, Julius Maada Bio received three payments squirreled into his offshore bank accounts in the UK’s Channel Islands. Thus SLPP Kabbah Government’s Cabinet paper was quite correct to speak of “incessant demands”. Indeed, this aspect of the ongoing Squirrelgate saga has been dubbed as the SEVEN DAYS WONDER.
$20,000 + $30,000 + $50,000 = $100,000 squirreled into Bio’s Bank Account in just 7 days. This was from mere passport sales. Julius Maada Bio during the NPRC could actually squirrelUS$100,000 from sales of Sierra Leone’s passports in just seven days. Now in 2012, Sierra Leone is rolling in rich Iron Ore and has struck possible oil. If he could squirrel the little proceeds from our passport sales, what will NPRC’s Maada Bio do if he gains presidential access to our Oil and Iron Ore?
Food for thought as we still eagerly await Mr. Bio’s explanation to us as to why we should trust him with our country’s brand new Oil and Iron Ore industry? As our Elections date of November 17th 2012 looms, we are yet to hear whatever Julius Maada Bio has to say.
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