• September 4, 2023


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By Olivette Marie Jebeh Blango (The Netherlands)

Of priority public concern in the last few days and going forward is the courteous invite from the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC- of Justice) Karim Khan QC and our putative President and Commander-In-Chief President Julius Maada Bio.  It is chiefly the position he continues to occupy, coupled with the fact that such an invite to a sitting President of Sierra Leone is unprecedented that lends significance to the weight of that invite. So the dimension of the ongoing debate on the matter should perplex no one.

At this point there is no need re-inventing the wheels on the debate. So I will ignore the initial denials and or rebuttals from the corridors of power. That was not unexpected among sycophants and idol worshippers among who are the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) “Cash and Carry” Civil Society Acolytes and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), upon noticing that the powers, image and reputation of their mortal deity stands challenged, and on the brink of a free fall.

I will also ignore their distractive SLPP Party Newspaper headlines as if nothing of importance is happening,  as well as that the wiser ones among them like the Institute of Governance Reforms (IGR) and Center for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL), the Human Rights Commission Sierra Leone (HRCSL), the entire Security Sector and other key government agencies who have actually been goading Bio through the Valleys of the Shadows of ICC in the last five years, but who have now preferred to craftily lapse into involuntary hibernation while the debate rages on. As far as I am concerned what cannot be denied is that the President is in deep shit, and there’s no way he can escape culpability for bearing the greatest responsibility for all of us will be charged against his administration.

I shall therefore focus instead on the “pros” and “cons” of the public debate with unabated excitement, the latter fuelled of course by wild but justifiable speculation theories. And in that regard I see nothing wrong in using the reaction of Miss. Basita Michael as my starting block.

First off as a renowned mover and shaker of public opinions, I can vouch that Miss. Michael is inarguably a legal luminary whose measured iconoclastic opinions have always been valued as pushing reasoning beyond parochial limits. Regrettably I find myself disagreeing with her unapologetically (and for the very first time) for the contents of a piece attributed to her and captioned: “Unfounded Speculations Surrounding ICC’s Outreach to President Bio”.

This is because by its very content, she emerged as guilty of exactly the same thing as she was warning the public to safeguard themselves against to wit: “Unfounded Speculations”.

But you see it is all boils down to the proverbial matter of “knowing where the shoe pinches”, and about which only the wearer could complain. So in a country where:

  1. Citizens have been consistently short-changed justice delivery, to the extent that tens of thousands of them have had to be waiting in pain and seemingly in vain for judicial redress.


  1. The aura and personality of the Commander-In -Chief and Head of State (and his spouse)  have emerged far bigger than, and subsuming the National Constitution, all other statutes and extenuatingly engulfing all appurtenances of government and governance (Military, Police, Judiciary, Parliament, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Fire Force, ONS, Schools, Colleges and Universities etc. under State Captured


  1. The lives of uncountable numbers of family members have continued to be extra judicially terminated – snuffed out – sometimes nocturnally from the privacy of their homes, or  from within the maximum confines of government security throughout the country, and their corpses further extra-judicially disposed of between April 2018 to date under gun point – without criminal charges, legal convictions, forensic/autopsy reports or even so much as their surviving family members confirming their identities prior to burials, or whether in fact what they were asked to  follow for burials in unmarked graves were the mortal remains of their allegedly family members

It is in the light of all above and much worse experiences over the last five uninterrupted years under President Bio that public exuberance and the justifiably wild speculations over the letter of invite from the ICC to him should neither be unexpected nor downplayed as unfounded. It is in their jubilation and seemingly unfounded speculation that their hope is embedded. The hope that by his encounter with the Chief Prosecutor, President Bio (and indeed Sierra Leone and other African Leaders) would be challenged for a change in their governance trajectory as would guarantee respect for humanitarian rights and laws.

And the best part of that embedded hope is that per the ICC invite, the meeting will be taking place “…….Outside the fringes of the UN General Assembly (UNGA)……” where his “Presidential Immunity” cannot be exercised, and in the remote hope that the ICC may not even allow him to return.

As of now it is a possibility exists that many do not know that most of the aberrations that this Bio government has been glossing over with impunity can extenuatingly constitute the circumstances for Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against humanity, or that they can lead to charges for all or more than one of each such crime.  For example:

  1. A Head of Sate issuing unwritten and unconstitutional directives to the Chief Electoral Commissioner countermanding and or varying extant National Constitutional guidelines and laws for the conduct of National Elections to his advantage, as well as for the same National Chief Electoral Commissioner to have strictly adhered to and implemented those same unconstitutional Presidential Directives without the requisite legal amendments, even where they were so profusely cautioned against doing so by the Hon. Speaker of Parliament Hon. Dr. Abass Bundu.


  1. A Head of State and Fountain of Honour consistently branding the entire membership of the main opposition political party as “Terrorists”; “Unfit for purpose and not even for themselves” or “incomplete Sierra Leoneans” because of their ethnicity and or political persuasions.


  1. A Chief Electoral Commissioner to abrasively proceed to announce a winner midstream the conduct of national elections whilst counting of ballots was still in progress and with total disregard for the provisions of our extant electoral laws regarding the tallying and displaying of provisional results.


  1. Falsifying public elections results to declare a winner on a clearly stolen electoral mandate.


  1. A Chief Justice of a Judicature being consistently biased in favour of a sitting government by equally consistently refusing to assign cases of the opposition for hearing, or by informing the opposition that his/her Judiciary does not have the necessary manpower to assign their own cases for hearing


  1. A Chief Justice making it a pattern that only a dedicated Judge within his Judiciary should be handling all cases against opposition party members


  1. A Judiciary directing the replacement of nine (9) opposition Members of Parliament from the Legislature without following the requisite constitutional guidelines for bye-elections to replace them


  1. Under the purview of the Head of State, Fountain of Honour and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, the main opposition party members are openly and forcibly prevented from exercising their political franchises on account of their ethnicity and or political affiliations, right in the presence of heavily armed Police and Military personnel with impunity, within the entire South-East perceived stronghold of the ruling SLPP government before, during and after the June 24th multi-tier elections.


  1. Where there has been too much bloodletting and unnecessary loss of uncountable lives within the past five years that go unnoticed by the government or cannot be addressed by the Judiciary or the investigations into them remain protracted and inconclusive.


And for crying out loud President Bio seem so satisfied with the successful exploits of his marauding  SLPP thugs in those localities that in compensation, he has appointed one of them a.k.a “Chalkie” as a Resident Minister with Cabinet Rank. That I supposed was done in the hope that if not checkmated by the ICC during their meeting with Bio, their next exploits going forward will be worse than “Blue Murder”.


10.The security sector spearheaded by the Presidential Guards running a series of unprovoked attacks at the main opposition Party Headquarters leading to loss of valuable lives, but which matters are still un-investigated


  1. Attempting more than once to assassinate/snuff out the life of the leader and flag bearer of the main opposition APC Party Dr. Samura Matthew Wilson Kamara

All above aberrations can constitute genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the event their outcomes lead to actual internecine strife, war and carnage.

All above reasons are legitimate concerns why the APC should continue their governance boycott until they hear the outcomes from the ICC/Bio meeting.

It is also on account of all above postulations that it will be incorrect for anyone to define the euphoria of the suffering masses as they jubilate over news of the ICC invite to President Bio as unfounded speculations.

Miss Basita is on record as always being on the sides of God, the law and history that even from a distance I will appeal to her to continue on those convictions of truth and justice, and not to dither probably because she is a lawyer and a friend of the Courts.  Otherwise unless they are checkmated, held to account and jailed by our international moral guarantors now for committing crimes against humanity, nothing will stop another version of Mohammed Konneh and SLPP from becoming more brazen and even directing that the rest of the country either accepts their next Presidential winner based on sample elections randomly conducted only in their SLPP South-East strongholds, or face extermination.

As far as many of us are concerned, a clear dichotomy exists between the ICC and the UNGA –  in the same way airplanes and bridges do not connect, which I suppose was all the more reason why the meeting with Bio was scheduled for “…..outside the fringes of the UNGA……”. Unless of course SLPP spinners wish us to believe the contrary.

Still I will be personally happy if the Bio/Khan meeting transcends the casual: “How are you my friennnnnnnd…” level, and that its outcomes will address most or all of those incontrovertibly gory, grisly and graphic evidences caught on videos, audios and written reports on the ICC desks, that would seem to have irretrievably torn us apart in the last five years, and for which the SLPP cannot escape culpability.

Finally as the ICC/Bio encounter is a matter of public interest (like the matter of the State of Sierra Leone Vs. Saidu Nallo and four others including Dr. Samura Kamara in Re: New York Chancery Building Renovation), I would be too pleased to also see Mr. Bio on camera effusively expatiating his “Tok and Do” traits as he fully co-operates with his ICC hosts by proceeding to name and surrender all those initially identified by the ICC as Persons of Interests (POIs), until the bigger fishes are netted subsequently through following the typical Krio adage of: “U Draw Rope: Rope Draw Bush: Leppet Cam Na Togn” manner. So that going forward, justice in this country will begin to roll down like waters.

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