• May 8, 2023

Killing Confession… BIO LET THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG

Killing Confession… BIO LET THE CAT  OUT OF THE BAG
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“We don’t kill any more, violence will go away,” sounds a factual declaration of guilt of extra-judicial killings by the government of former president Julius Maada Bio in the last five years.

Bio, being the leader and presidential candidate of the failed and unpopular Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) for the June polls, looks desperate and worried. And the SLPP presidential hopeful is busy seeking north-westerners’ votes from every geopolitical community in the country to meet his re-election dream by all means.

That they the SLPP would no longer kill, are saying goodbye to violence and political intimidation and claiming to have opened the political space is deceitful amidst the highly militarized and tight democratic space in Sierra Leone. There has been nothing like an open political and democratic space in the last five years. It is untrue and a big fake claim that the last Bio government opened the political space.

Bio’s declaration of guilt of state-sponsored extra-judicial killings is a self indictment and guilty conscience of wrongdoing of crime against humanity.

According to the United States Department’s 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Sierra Leone, “Significant human rights issues included credible reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by government or on behalf of government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly” among other rights violations.

The document, among other rights abuses researches, unearths several credible reports which recorded that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. The Independent Police Complaint Board (IPCB), an independent civilian oversight mechanism that investigates security forces’ killings and makes recommendations on prosecutions to the Sierra Leone Police (SLP), also exposed similar acts of human rights violations carried out by the state security apparatus. It would be recalled that officers of the Sierra Leone Police, on 10 August 2022, during a peaceful demonstration that turned violent, shot and killed over thirty vulnerable protesters, mostly unarmed youth, in Freetown, Makeni and Kamakwie. Six police officers were also killed by protesters, the report notes.

Bio’s confession also backs records of killings of innocent civilians since 4 April to date. The social media video hasn’t done much good to his public image or relations; rather it clearly presents the SLPP’s presidential candidate on stage with a microphone in his hand telling the world that they had stopped the killings and that there is no more violence. The public confession that “We have stopped the killings and we say goodbye to violence” also indicates that the ruling SLPP and their leadership have been strongly behind all the state-sponsored killings and politically-motivated violence.

To the public and the world at large, Bio’s confession seems good and honest on his part, considering the level of widespread extra-judicial killings that took place under his watch, from 2018 to 2023. Such loss of lives Sierra Leoneans have witnessed under the Bio regime continues to breed more hate and division in the country not to talk of the heavy hearts and minds that have been developed in relatives and loved ones of the victims of rights abuses and violations. And the price for those unbearable crimes against humanity must be paid by ensuring that the perpetrators   and leadership of the regime are made accountable and penalised for their heinous acts in a bid to end the culture of impunity.

The specifics of the quantum of deaths, the places or scenes of killing occurrences, and the victims and perpetrators involved, as well as the statement of former president Bio, explain that all the killings were done by state security officers who applied high-handedness in the use of firearms directly targeting vulnerable civilians in the name of enforcing law and order.

Bio appears to have finally taken full ownership and responsibility for all the killings perpetuated by state security forces in their inhuman law-enforcement approaches. And with the world watching Sierra Leone, such a confession of the former president and SLPP presidential hopeful has made him to be more culpable for crimes against humanity.  Hence Bio must therefore be ready to face the International Criminal Court.

Knowing well that extra-judicial killings were part of his government’s modus operandi, Bio made his guilt of declaration either by slip of the tongue or with the intent of trying to be honest to Sierra Leoneans and development partners. And the truth being what it is, Bio has in full consciousness made it known to the world that his political administration is guilty of extra-judicial killings. Thus, for former president Bio, a leader who is aspiring for re-election, to come out publically and say that they have put killings on hold means that there were indeed state-sponsored killings during the last five years under his regime, for which he must take full responsibility.

In the largely inciting social media video, the ethno-geopolitically divisive SLPP presidential hopeful reveals the truth by telling all and sundry including development partners that they would no longer kill. That means that he was behind all the killings perpetuated by state security forces.

The clip in diverse ways exposes the last administration’s killings of innocent and vulnerable people. It is exposing in that there were hundreds of state-sponsored extra-judicial killings perpetuated by state security personnel on orders from above. For all we know and which FORUM will continue to inform the world about is that orders from above in security terms in Sierra Leone public service exactly means instructions and directives from the presidency – the Office of the President and top security commanders.

“We have opened the political space. We are not going to kill again,” Bio partially confesses in his desperation to win the hearts and minds of Sierra Leoneans. Indeed this is the most bizarre and crazy confession made by one of the miserably failed politicians in the history of Sierra Leone. It is widely observed that Bio’s confession about the killings of civilians is a coming event of probity. Killings under his hegemony are neither new nor surprising to many because of the military junta background of a man he has been and how he has displayed that cruelly during the era of the former National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC). Killing was the order of the day during Bio’s NPRC dictatorship.

For the records, Bio’s killing confession has confirmed, bolded and sealed the indelible mark and legacy of human rights violations and widespread killings of innocent civilians his regime perpetrated and carried out in so many parts of Sierra Leone.

Killings were perpetuated in the northern city of Makeni for protest against the unlawful transfer of that city’s thermal plant to Lungi by the Electricity Distribution Supply Authority (EDSA).

Killings of civilians were also carried out in Tonko Limba, Kambia, Mile 91, Tonkolili district, and Tombo in the Western Rural district.

Bio’s forces also massacred lives of hundreds of prisoners on 29 April 2020 at the Male Correctional Centre at Pademba Road in Freetown.

On August 10 and days after in 2022, Bio’s forces and party operatives again shot and killed unarmed civilians who protested in Freetown and other parts of Sierra Leone calling for a redress of the economic hardship in the country  under his regime.

These heinous extra-judicial killings are crimes against humanity for which any one or group of people who commit them must be brought to book and made to face the penalty.

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