• April 20, 2023

Is Leema Guilty of Extra-Judicial Killing?

Is Leema Guilty of Extra-Judicial Killing?
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The Special Investigation Committee (SIC) which was set up by government to investigate the deadly 10 August 2022 nationwide protest has presented its report to President Julius Maada Bio.

In the report, the name of the Deputy Ministry of Internal Affairs, who also double as the Public Relations Officer of the governing Sierra Leone People’s Party SLPP, Lahai Lawrence Leema. Leema’s name was mentioned by the SIC report as one who refused to attend to the call of the Special Investigations Committee.

Speaking on the African Young Voices television talk show Wakeup Salone, the Chairman of SIC, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai Esq. explained his version of Report especially, on the part dealing with Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Lahai Lawrence Leema.

During the interview with lawyer Abdulai anchors called the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and the SLPP Public Relations Officer for explanation on why he didn’t attend the investigations committee’s hearing? The Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs acknowledged receipt of the Special Investigation Committee set up by President Bio to investigate the August 10 episode. In his reply Leema informed that he received a call from one Col Ghuttor from the SIC who invited him to attend the sitting of the committee. He alleged that the colonel was very unprofessional, but he was able to manage the conversation. He claimed that he was not notified before the call and was engaged in an office meeting. Leema continued with Colonel Ghuttor on the phone that he will make himself available if the said meeting is rescheduled either after his meeting in the office or some other time. The SLPP Public Relations Officer said after Colonel Ghottor’s call, he received another call from the Coordinator of Office of National Security (ONS), Mr. Abdulai Caulker fondly known as Aviahma. He said Mr. Aviahma asserted that he was informed of the SIC sitting but he refused to show up. Leema replied that he was called to be informed by Colonel Ghuttor, who is like urging him, “na you we dae wait for.” He said, he asked him why you are waiting for me. The Colonel asked him, whether he was not aware of the SIC meeting.

He sustained that neither Avaihma nor Colonel Ghottor rescheduled a time for him to show up to give his own account of what happened during the protest on 10th August 2022.

The Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs said that his submission that, the ploy of the SIC Report is to make him look bad in the eyes of the public and President Bio. He said for those who calculated that action of smearing his character have failed in that direction. Leema maintained that there is no loyalty you can show to President Bio greater than what he did on August 10. He disclosed that he came under personal attack from the insurgence crowd on 10th August, pointing out that the windscreen of his vehicle was smashed, and his security guard was killed. He reiterated that, he encountered roadblocks from Wellington to Up-gun and came under tremendous attacks.

When asked by one of the AYV Wakeup Salone anchors, whether he receive any letter from the committee he vehemently denied receiving any letter of invite from the committee. He continued that, the Chairman of SIC is a lawyer by profession but failed to do due diligence, and yet could published a report without getting back from somebody probably he thinks is germane to the course of investigation and publishing such report. He maintained that it is unfortunate that SIC Chairman Abdulai as a lawyer and should know what service means, and when you required the presence of somebody to give his own testimony on account, you should know the effort to apply.  He said he has never received a letter or a text message, even though he demanded for a rescheduled of the meeting. He highlighted that the whole issue is based on the principle of natural justice. “Not because you cannot get my own side of the story, does that warrant you building an innuendo on my family name around my image to undermine my own very good work. Is that the reward I get for doing that?”, he grieved.

He alleged that lawyer Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai has been trying to mess up his name in a corruption saga. He said, he tried it with Francis Ben Kaifala, the Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner but that didn’t work. “I got the intelligent. This is exactly what has been exhibited. I am still very humbled and committed,” he fumed.

The anchors continued with Lahai Lawrence Leema that, during the curfew time he was engaged in dubious activities leading to extra-judicial killings. In response, Leema said he is a professional retired military officer, a graduate with legal knowledge and with seven years of experience in the army, he understands what the rule of engagement is. He said he has never involved in taking anybody’s life innocently. He lamented that it is a ploy to tarnishing his name and to undermine the good relationship between him and President Bio. He considered it a failed course, as he is still committed to give his own side of the story. He claimed to have worked very hard on that day to salvage the situation. He said, probably the August 10 protest was orchestrated to take away his life and continued that the Report is a ploy to destroy is good image. “I am a Christian, I know the implication, and I have never involved in taking innocent life,” he said.

Special Investigation Committee Chairman, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, insisted that on the 6thJanuary a letter was sent to the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Leema inviting him to attend the sitting of the committee. The letter was received and signed for by one Temba Sam. Lawyer Abdulai continued that since the committee did not hear from Minister Leema, another letter was sent on the 10thFebruary. Again, it was received and signed for by the same Tamba Sam. He said thirty-eight letters were sent to thirty-eight people and were received and showed up at the sitting. He mentioned the name of former Mayor of Freetown and the opposition All People’s Congress mayoral candidate for the approaching election, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr and the leader of the Unity Party Femi Claudius-Cole respectively, who showed up at the sitting without answering any question from the committee. He said that the weigh book can verified the letter sent to Deputy Minister Leema, which he deliberately refused to show up.

The reaction of President Bio on the Report awaits the answer on Leema’s deliberate refusal to attend the SIC sitting.

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