Opinion

Julius Maada Bio’s Report Card

8 November 2012 at 17:20 | 4004 views

By John L. Musa, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

The Open Government Initiative (OGI) has completed a Citizens Report Card (CRC) of His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s stewardship of the last five years. The CRC measured progress in the Strategic Priority Sectors in the Agenda for Change in all the 149 chiefdoms and the Western Area. The President was adjudged successful in all areas. The remarkable thing about the Report Card is that this is the first time in the history of our nation that Government has subjected itself to scrutiny from the citizens.

It is now time to subject Julius Maada Bio to an examination of his public record. We shall draw on the record of the NPRC, the statements and philosophy of Julius Maada Bio to ascertain his fitness to serve as President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. We shall call on President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, Vice President Solomon Ekuma Berewa and Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu, a principal advisor to assess whether hs claim that he is the father of democracy in Sierra Leone or whether he is even fit to be President after serving for 73 days as unlawful head of state designed by a military coup.

In the following Report Card, the various aspects of Julius Maada Bio’s political career and character become evident. This political character took the form of betraying his oath of office as soldier and committing treason, engaging in power struggles leading to another coup, having a role in extra-judicial killings, selling passports, instigating violence, getting caught up in corruption, delaying the handing over of power to civilians and falsely claiming he is the father of Sierra Leonean democracy.

SLPP CANDIDATE - THE WHITE ELEPHANT

It was once believed that an earthly king who possessed a white elephant would have the godlike powers to bring power, harmony, wealth and well-being to the kingdom. The Sierra Leone Peoples Party chose Julius Maada Bio with the implicit motive that his NPRC experience as plotter of coups makes him the White Elephant Candidate who would bring them to power.

But Julius Maada Bio may also be too expensive to keep in politics because he is freighted with excess baggage from his NPRC years. Between the milestones April 29, 1992 to March 29, 1996, the political character of Julius Maada Bio was formed. Based on this character, Julius Maada Bio would unlikely be qualified to be in public affairs.

While Julius Maada Bio is a liability in politics, his choice by the SLPP was deliberate. A man who is not afraid to overthrow Government or betray his colleagues is likely to be in the image of a white elephant candidate for an opposition political party yearning to return to power by bringing back a coup plotter, a seeming strongman as a reedeemer of the forlorn hopes of the SLPP to return to power. In doing so, the SLPP has lionized a man who once overthrew Government and disregarded the Constitution. It is curious that such a man can claim the mantle of father of democracy.

In our age when democracy is the coin of realm, the image of strongmen who commit treason is disconcerting and contrary to fundamental freedoms and human rights. President Barrack Obama warned us in his address in Ghana, that we should

“Make no mistake: history is on the side of these brave Africans, and not with those who use coups or change Constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.”

The SLPP did not heed that call when it selected as presidential candidate, a coupmaker above men and women of discerning devotion to democratic practice from amongst its leaders. The voters of Sierra Leone will confound Julius Maada Bio on November 17, 2012. That date looms large for democracy and the entombment of military dictatorship.

The following are the subjects of Julius Maada Bio’s Report Card.

1. FATHER OF DEMOCRACY OR WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING?

In his wayward journey to democracy, Julius Maada proudly wears coupmaking on his sleeve like a Scarlet Letter, rather than express remorse for committing Treason. He is akin to Chester, a character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel, The Scarlet Letter, who was publicly shamed for having committed adultery. She stitched a large scarlet A onto her dress with gold thread, giving the letter an air of elegance and worn with pride.

A veteran of military dictatorship is not the quintessence of a democratic way of life. Now in Murfti, Julius Maada Bio has been volubly subscribing to democracy and pluralism while occasionally boasting that he is proud of having committed Treason. This epiphany - the sudden conversion from military dictatorship to the suchness of delighting in democracy is akin to the Biblical injunction that we beware of wolf in sheep’s clothing: - the figurative for a dangerous person pretending to be harmless. As Jesus our Lord himself said it,

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves ” (Matthew 7:15).

The glib tongued addresses of Julius Maada Bio, at home and abroad, that he is a democrat, further reminds us about another reference to Maada Bio’s current deception that he subscribes to democracy. For we have heard it said that

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” —2nd Corinthians 11:13-15

Julius Maada Bio has seemingly transformed himself into a democrat or is it a demagogue? It is clear, that he is a garden-variety wolf in disguise as he regales his fawning followers that there is “deficit in Democracy” in Sierra Leone under President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. The character of a Democrat, Maada Bio has none.

So, Julius Maada Bio has been regaling Sierra Leoneans too many times that he is the father of democracy on the tenuous grounds of grudgingly handing power to a democratically elected civilian government after been goaded by public sentiment for the military to return to the barracks.

In a restrospective of the NPRC regime among other West African military regimes, Professor Jimmy D. Kandeh at Richmond University has prepared us for a review of the NPRC record of failures and the denuded claim that Julius Maada Bio is the father of democracy in Sierra Leone because he handed power to civilians. Prof Kandeh has written in a widely read journal article stating that:

“Many reasons can be adduced for the NPRC’s decision to hold multi-party elections and retreat from the political scene. In a very real sense, the NPRC’s exit from power was a case of reluctant or induced abdication.”

Prof. Kandeh makes the point clear when he recalls from the (New Citizen, 15 January 1996:2), that the International Community goaded the NPRC to leave power or suffer sanctions:

“The stick wielded by the international community, and pledges of assistance to NPRC members if they delivered on their commitment to hand over power, persuaded it to relinquish power, especially after a EU official threatened that if the elections are not conducted and civilian rule is not put in place ... we will use all the instruments available to the European Union to isolate Sierra Leone.”

Apart from the goading from the international community to leave power, Prof. Kandeh tells us that the NPRC also left because the strong forces of civil society pushed them out:

“A resurgent civil society was also a major factor in the NPRC’s decision to transfer power to an elected civilian government. The NPRC’s inability to end the rebel insurgency and the breakdown of law and order throughout much of the country, increased the public’s sense of frustration, alienation and anger. Many saw democratic elections as the least costly way to get rid of the NPRC.”

Prof. Kandeh elaborated:

“The most vocal and powerful new civic organisation to emerge during this period of democratic ferment was ’Women For a Morally Engaged Nation’ (WOMEN). Led by Zainab Bangura, this organisation vigorously campaigned for elections to be held on schedule, even daring renegade soldiers bent on derailing the elections to shoot at its members. Political parties were also adamant in their refusal to postpone the elections and they were joined in this posture by many professional and societal organisations.”

Prof. Jimmy Kandeh caps his article on the NPRC reluctance to relinquish power by stating Julius Maada Bio’s role in that disinclination to return to civilian rule:

“The clearest indication that some members of the NPRC were rethinking their commitment to democratic civilian rule came in January 1996 when Strasser was suddenly replaced by his deputy Julius Maada Bio (now Brigadier) in a palace coup... Upon replacing Strasser as chairman of the NPRC and head of state, Bio vowed to adhere to the democratic transition timetable. A few weeks later, however, he too began to prevaricate, arguing that it was necessary to end the rebel war and secure peace before holding elections.”

What is more, how could Julius Maada Bio claim that he paved the path to democracy without the necessary democratic institutions? Was he referring merely to the February 26, 1996 elections as the singular factor which constitutes a democracy?

In the wake of Julius Maada Bio’s departure from the NPRC dictatorship, they left nary a democratic institution. Their record on human rights was a dismal failure. Press freedom was at an all time low. Extra-judicial killings were commonplace. Even the constitutional revision which the NPRC claimed was poorly framed by the APC was never done.

This is not all. Vice President Solomon Berewa has added his voice contrary to Julius Maada Bio’s phoney claim of being the father of democracy. Berewa writes in his Memoirs, New Perspective on Governance, Leadership, Conflict and Nation Building in Sierra Leone:

“The National Advisory Council even proposed a draft constitution for eventual consideration. The most important provision in that draft was to proscribe military coups in any event with concomitant provision that would strength and uphold democratic practices and democratic norms. The proposed draft constitution was one opinion that was rejected by the NPRC outright.” (P. 98).

Thus, the mere handing of power to civilian rule after an election cannot justly be tantamount to creating a democracy.

2. DEMOCRAT OR DECEIVER?

Let us look closely at this wolf in disguise of a demagogue masquerading as a Democrat. Julius Maada Bio, is often seen parading and heard parroting the falsehood that he overthrew a dictatorship of the APC to establish a democratic Sierra Leone.

A number of Sierra Leonean leaders all SLPP members have expressed a contrary view to Julius Maada Bio’s vaunted claim of being the father of democracy in Sierra Leone. Let us see what members of his own party have said about this big lie.

President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah writes glaringly in his memoirs, Coming Back from the Brink in Sierra Leone:

“Many people have expressed the view that Brigadier Bio and the NPRC military deserve credit for handing over power to a civilian government. I share that view. However, I should add that they should be commended not so much for handing over power, but for listening to the voice of the people who demanded elections and return to democratic governance... the NPRC grudgingly yielded to the holding of elections only after persistent outcry from civil society and others.” (P.35).

President Kabbah, told us more about the NPRC’s reluctance to yield power to civilian rule:

“It could be recalled also that the out-going NPRC military regime or elements of it were not in favour of handing over power to a civilian administration. Therefore, it was possible that some individuals within the Army would not be bfavourably disposed to my position as Commander-in-Chief. This did not augur well for my peace and security agenda.” (P.40).

Then, Dr. Abass Chernor Bundu has vanquished the big lie that the NPRC caused the return of democracy in Sierra Leone, in his book, Democracy by Force. It is clear from the public record that Sierra Leone was on her way to multiparty democracy when upstarts in the military at the warfront abandoned the prosecution of the war and overthrew Government on the pretext that President Joseph S. Momoh was superintending a one-party state which required reformation to democracy and pluralism.

In fact, President Momoh, in preparation of the stride towards democracy appointed the National Constitutional Review Commission headed by Dr. Peter L. Tucker, an experienced former Secretary to Prime Minister Sir Albert Margai. Together with a constituent assembly of a crosssection of eminent Sierra Leoneans, they were charged “to review the Constitution of Sierra Leone (Act No. 12 of 1978), and make recommendations thereon.”

On 28th March 1991, The National Constitution Commission reported among other things that:

“Our terms of reference manadated us to review the Constitution with a view of broadening the existing constitutional process by enhancing and accommodating a wider and fairer participation of the citizens therein, guaranteeing fundamental human rights and the rule of law”

The Commission further stated that in light of this grave recommendation,

“it will serve as a solid foundation for economic, social and political growth of our country people... we unanimously decided to recommend to you the substitution of political pluralism for the the one-party system of government.”

With this auspicious background, Dr. Bundu writes cogently but contrary to the claim made by Julius Maada Bio and the NPRC in his Memoirs, Democracy by Force:

“He [President Joseph Saidu Momoh], signed the new Constitution into law on September 24 and brought it into force a week later, on October 1, 1991, followed by the appointment of an interim administration to oversee the transition and preside over multi-party elections, then slated for the end of 1992. Thus, with consummate skill, Momoh guided the wind of change, avoiding the turbulence that had capsized many a democratic transition, and landing it gently on the platform of a multi-party democratic constitution that received both parliamentary and popular approbation with hardly any rancour.”

Dr. Abass Bundu, recoiled from the Julius Maada and NPRC lie that it committed Treason to change Government from the one-party system to a pluralism. On this measure, Dr. Bundu was emphatic:

“With presidential and parliamentary elections pending, no fewer than eight political parties, including the SLPP, registered and were already campaigning when a group of subalterns in the army interrupted the process. They announced a coup on April 29 and immediately put paid to Momoh’s ax democratica. It took nearly four years before Sierra Leoneans had another crack at democratic transition but in circumstances markedly different from those of 1991.” (Democracy by Force, P.47”

On the collateral lie that Julius Maada Bio prepared the way for the 1996 elections, Dr. Abass Bundu disagrees:

"In 1995, the NPRC formed a political party, the National Unity Party (NUP), giving the impression of favoring the holding of elections and of their willingness to take part in them. While the civilian leaders of the NUP were in the field campaigning, the soldiers were busy in Freetown drumming support for their new strategy ’peace before elections’. The contradiction was clear. The political parties, which were for elections, joined forces with civil society to pile pressure on the NPRC junta... The international community too stepped in, threatening sanctions if the elections did not take place... Fearing the wrath of the international community, the NPRC succumbed" (P.53).

Next, Dr. Lansana Gberie, a fine writer to behold and a surefooted analyst, has watched Julius Maada Bio in the heedless days of the NPRC, reporting as IPS correspondent, the events in the threshold of the 1996 elections. On whether Julius Maada Bio was a willing public servant to speed up the transition from the military dictatorship of the NPRC to democracy, Dr. Lans Gberie reported dateline, FREETOWN, Feb 9 1996 (IPS) -

“About 5,000 demonstrators, most of them women, protested here Friday against an apparent attempt by Sierra Leone’s military junta to postpone elections originally planned for Feb. 26 and prolong its stay in power.”

Dr. Lans Gberie continued,

“The demonstration was organised by the Women’s Movement for Peace, a two-year-old non-governmental organisation (NGO) that advocates dialogue between the governing National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) and Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels. It came in reaction to the NPRC’s decision to hold a consultative conference Monday to decide whether the elections should be postponed until Sierra Leone’s five-year civil war ends.”

Then, Dr. Lans Gberie added this: “Many here suspect that the military and its allies will try to get the meeting to agree to postpone the elections, although Garvas Betts, a prominent lawyer, said they were bound to fail given the degree of popular support for the polls.”

Dr. Lans Gberie further reported:

“The announcement of the conference was preceded by a series of developments that appeared to indicate that the military has little intention of going back to the barracks soon. Two weeks ago, the independent ‘For Di People’ newspaper reported that Maada Bio was refurbishing his offices in State House at the cost of 60 million leones (62,500 U.S. dollars), hardly an indication that he aimed to vacate them in a hurry. The report was not denied by the NPRC.

Dr. Gberie’s report continued in extensor:

“Moreover, there have been insistent calls from paramount chiefs here for a postponement of the poll, and, according to ‘For Di People’, the NPRC has shared out a total of 30 million leones (31,250 dollars) to paramount chiefs, youth groups and journalists to get them to support an ongoing peace-before-elections campaign. And, in covering visits Bio made in recent weeks to the country’s main provincial towns — Makeni, Bo and Kenema — state TV cameramen repeatedly trained their cameras on banners proclaiming “let’s have peace before elections” and “peace now, elections later.

In short, the falsehood that Julius Maada Bio ushered the advent of democracy is a patent big lie and remains so after President Kabbah, Vice President Berewa and Gberie laid bare the evidence to expose the man hiding behind the mask of democracy.

But let us return to the SLPP presidential candidate and his ambition to rule our Republic with a checkered history of inexperience compounded by a lie that he fostered democracy in Sierra Leone. The insatiable ambition of Julius Maada Bio to preserve himself in power while misleading the public that he wanted peace before elections is unmitigated hypocrisy of an arrogant coupmaker proclaiming himself the father of democracy. A fanatical usurper of constituted government, Julius Maada Bio repeatedly beats his chest that he proudly conjoined in treason. The very notion that treason is incompatible with democracy escapes the notice of the man now masquerading as a democrat on the SLPP platform. The irony is palpable. It is hard to imagine Julius Maada Bio as a democrat given the display of his character as military dictator.

As Lord Macaulay has told us once when assessing the career of Oliver Cromwell, “There is no severer test of a man’s character than the use he makes of absolute power.”

Tried by this test, Julius Maada Bio gives us pause to consider him for the highest office in Sierra Leone.

We have to turn to a paradoxical behaviour of Julius Maada Bio as the man who relishes staging coups, yet is afraid to be prosecuted.

3. COUP PLOTTER TURNED COWARD

J

ulius Maada Bio boasts of committing treason in 1992. Treason is the highest crime in all nations, but Mr. Bio like populist tyrants before him, will goad change rather than inspire it in Sierra Leone. But while doing so, the public is not aware that Julius Maada Bio and the NPRC were afraid of being tried for treason. As Prof. Jimmy Kandeh tells us,

“It was widely known that most NPRC members did not want to replicate Doe’s folly by prolonging their stay in power, but they feared reprisals if they were to leave office and none wanted to be questioned or held accountable for their actions. They could only hand over power, therefore, to an elected civilian government that would not investigate or prosecute them. Thus, in one of its final actions as a government, the NPRC indemnified its members before handing over power to a new civilian government in April 1996. ”

The Indemnity Decree was thrown out by Parliament as President Kabbah insisted that it be not included among a few of the laws decreed by the NPRC because President Kabbah believed the NPRC was an illegal regime. He tells us in his Memoirs,

“Let us state very clearly that my relationship with the NPRC (as chairman of the National Advisory Council) did not amount to collaboration with an illegal system.”

By our Constitution and statute, treason cannot be justified by motives of good government or rebellion. The law is clear in the Treason and State Offences Act 1963 as follows:

A person is guilty of treason and shall on conviction be liable to suffer death who either within Sierra Leone or elsewhere

(a) prepares or endeavours to overthrow the Government by unlawful means;

(b) prepares or endeavours to carry out by force any enterprise which usurps the executive power of the State in any matter of both a public and a general nature;

(c) incites or assists any person to invade Sierra Leone with armed force or unlawfully to subject any part of Sierra Leone to attack by land, sea or air, or assist in the preparation of any such invasion or attack;

(d) in time of war and with intent to give assistance to the enemy, does any act which is likely to give such assistance.

It is paradoxical that a presidential candidate who boasts of committing treason and subsists in it for four years, cringes with fear of prosecution for the high crimes by signing Decree No. 6 of 1996, to propitiate the illegal act of ousting Government. Towards that end, Julius Maada Bio in the waning days of his misrule and unlawful occupation of State House suffered from apprehension of being charged with Treason, so he framed Decree No. 6.

Notice the tenor of Decree No. 6 signed by Mr. Bio, days before he left the illegal occupation of power. It is replete with the dread of being called to account for what he now boasts about:

“No action or legal proceeding, whether civil or criminal, shall be instituted in any court or tribunal for or on account of, or in respect of any act, matter or thing done by any person or persons acting in concert or individually to assist or bring about the change in Government which took place on 29th April 1992 and accordingly, it is unlawful for any court or tribunal to take any decision or make or entertain any order or grant any remedy or relief in any such action or other legal proceeding.”

According to Julius Maada Bio, “The coup of April 29, 1992, that toppled the decade-and-half long repressive and corrupt APC one-party rule, was embraced overwhelmingly by the people of this country and recognised by the entire international community.”

If that stout statement is true, why did Julius Maada Bio sign the Decree? If the people of Sierra Leone rallied round the NPRC, the House of Parliament and President Kabbah took exception when they negated Mr. Bio’s attempt to squelch the NPRC crimes with an indemnity decree. It appears that Julius Maada Bio’s effrontery to stage coups was now in danger of being accounted for as the days of civilian rule threatened to come.

4. SLPP FLAGBEAR AS THE TORMENTOR

Julius Maada Bio imagines himself a strongman akin to a pompous military dictator strutting in the corridors of Government and tormenting the people. Or when in the opposition, he offers not constructive alternative policies, but denigrates what Government is carefully considering and building. It appears the SLPP would ignore qualified men and women for President to pick up the gauntlet against President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in the November 2012 elections for a seemingly strongman, once a military dictator.

But the SLPP did not choose a General Dwight D. Eisenhower or Winston Churchill who adhered to the democratic principle of civil-military relations before joining politics. The principle says that the military is subordinated to civilian rule. This one is the case of a soldier betraying his country and returning to civilian life after being forced to abdicate power and now wants to be rewarded for committing treason.

After his nomination as presidential candidate of the SLPP, Julius Maada Bio styled himself anew as the Tormentor of the APC and President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. A tormentor is a gadfly or a persecutor. Is that what he was nominated to do to the ruling party? In essence, the SLPP chose a lapsed military dictator in the likeness of a tormentor of the people who believes that coupmaking, the bane of civil-military relations is his right outside the law.

The SLPP’s Tormentor is the embodiment of Africa’s strongmen of yesterday of whom President Obama warns us. Already, the SLPP is chanting round the campaign trail the nitty-gritty of a strong men rather than strong institutions now being built by President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma. With such a character imbued with scare tactics as totter of the SLPP flag, Julius Maada Bio has acquired a retinue of young men who are not afraid to break the law.

To wit, on Tuesday 26th July 2012, Dr. Sama Banya warned his Party in a somber column in the Global Times, entitled, “Looming Crisis over the SLPP.” In it, Dr. Banya wrote sorrowfully,

“A gang of unruly people two of who wore Maada Bio’s T-shirts were openly defiant outside the Party Headquarters last Wednesday, where they rained invectives at the national chairman Benjamin and the National Women’s Leader Isata Kabbah. The scene was absolutely disgusting. I was in town when a member urged me to visit the site and frankly, I was shocked.”

A presidential candidate inspires uprightness, leadership and the person to look up to, rather than a gadfly, notorious for pestering the ruling party. An opposition leader invariably checkmates the ruling party and offers constructive criticism instead of mouthing platitudes and boasting of staging coups. Simply put: a tormentor sounds like a neighbourhood bully, or strongman who throws his weight around and is feared for his terror rather than leadership of a nation. Will Sierra Leoneans countenance voting for a tormentor of the World Best, poised to lead the nation to prosperity?

5. RABBLE ROUSER / SCAREMONGER

When Julius Maada Bio is not claiming to be the father of democracy or being the tormentor, he engages in scare-mongering as a demagogue. At the height of the voter registration, he raised a false alarm that ex-combatants were deployed in the southeastern region to intimidate the SLPP. He issued a press release with blind fatuity and reckless disregard for public order in a nation recovering from war. On that occasion, Julius Maada Bio falsely claimed,

“It has come to the attention of the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) that the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) has embarked on transporting ex-combatants from different parts of the country to register in towns in the South and the Eastern Provinces, the strongholds of the Opposition SLPP. Ex-combatants armed with weapons and other offensive instruments have already been ferried to Moyamba, Bo, Kenema, Pujehun, Kailahun and Zimmi. In addition, foreign nationals and ex-combatants from neighbouring countries are also being transported by Sierra Leone’s Ambassadors accredited to those countries for the purpose of swelling APC votes in the elections.”

Imbued with the fervor of a rabble rouser, Julius Maada Bio, continued thus,

“In all places where ex-combatants have been deployed, the indigenes of those towns have expressed fear and have made formal complaints to the local police stations. Unfortunately, the Police have refused to take action and have insisted that the ex-combatants have the right to register wherever they wish. The APC has rented houses in all these locations for these ex-combatants where they are intimidating the local inhabitants.”

When the Police invited him to substantiate his bogus claims, he ignored them. In apprehension of the public alarm, the UNDP in company with civil society and journalists visited the border towns to investigate Julius Maada Bio’s hue and cry and found not a scintilla of evidence for his claims. Based on this sort of scare-mongering without regard to public safety and order, is Julius Maada Bio, not a rabble rouser?

6. NPRC RECORD OF PERFORMANCE

Julius Maada Bio professes to be a man with leadership experience since he subsisted in the NPRC for four years as a confederate in coupmaking. He compounded the treason when he overthrew Captain Strasser. All in all, he occupied State House for 73 days as chairman of the NPRC.

Julius Maada Bio has never held elected office in Sierra Leone. He has no previous experience as a leader save his trespass to State House. He is unlike all the previous leaders of Sierra Leone as far as experience in public affairs is concerned. Sir Milton Margai, Sir Albert and Siaka Stevens served in the Colonial Legislative Assembly and Parliament. Siaka Stevens was elected Mayor of Freetown. Joseph Momoh served as President having been Force Commander with numerous military honours and decorations. He also served as Member of Parliament and sat in Cabinet for years.

Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, once a permanet secretary in the civil service was Personnel Administrator at the United Nations after many years of stewardship in the UNDP. President Dr. Ernest Koroma has served as Chief Excutive Officer of a large corporation. He was elected Member of Parliament and has also served five years as President with a progressive record of governing the nation. And what about Julius Maada Bio? Was he ever head of anything, or elected to any office as Councilor, Mayor, Member of Parliament save the charade of his flagbearer election? No, but he was among the great pretenders of the NPRC revolutionaries.

Let us look back to the four sorry years of the NPRC and the 73 days of Julius Maada Bio at State House. Professor Jimmy D. Kandeh, a scholar at Richmond University sets the stage for us when he assessed the misrule of the NPRC in comparison to other West African military regimes in a fine article called, “What does the Militariat do when it rules”. There, Prof. Jimmy Kandeh states,

“In Sierra Leone, the issue of returning the country to civilian democratic rule was on the agenda of the NPRC right from the beginning. The NPRC’s declared objectives in seizing power were to restore state capacity, end the rebel war and democratise the political system. Few would disagree that it failed on the first two counts and may have partially succeeded on the last in spite of its own contrary inclinations and preferences.”

Julius Maada Bio claims that he and his NPRC cohorts prosecuted the war to the extent of warding off the RUF rebels. Did they? Vice President Solomon Berewa has a contrary opinion. Berewa was an advisor to the NPRC in the National Advisory Council. He ought to know what transpired in the course of the milestone 29 April 1992 to 29 March 1996. Of Julius Maada Bio’s much touted experience leading the nation and prosecuting the rebel war, Vice President Solomon Berewa throws light.

“The frontline soldiers, instead of concentrating on the prosecution of the war, were busy mining diamonds and appropriating the properties of civilians with impunity. The leadership of the NPRC concentrated on selling the diamonds. Some of the draconian regulations with stiff penalties were made to prevent the public and public statements relating to such illegal activities.”

Solomon Berewa further charges the NPRC:

“Another major task which the NPRC junta undertook to accomplish was to end the conflict. But it soon became clear that they were not up to this task. This was partly because of their inability to exert enough control over the commanders in the warfront, who were by far their seniors in rank and because of their failure to demonstrate good leadership by example. All of them were involved in illegal and corrupt practices, especially the mining and selling of diamonds. As a result, the conflict spread fast to other parts of the country.”

Berewa also wrote,

“What this narrative shows is that the junta regime was not competent to end the war, and like the civilian regime before them, any effort they attempted to make was marred by their own incompetence, lack of proper leadership and corruption on the part of the top echelon and on the part of the officers and men they were supposed to lead. Thus, the junta raised high hopes and expectations of the people, only to fail them woefully. In brief, they failed to provide good leadership and good governance for the people.”

It was not only President Kabbah and Vice President Berewa who observed the failures of the misguided NPRC. Indeed, according to Solomon Berewa, the NPRC was preoccupied with mining rather than prosecuting the war. So, Julius Maada Bio has been making false claims again that he is not only the father of democracy in Sierra Leone, but that the NPRC ended the war. So the tormentor has also been telling fatuous tales of war heroes?

7. HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSER

The NPRC was notorious for human rights abuses throughout its misrule of Sierra Leone. Arbitrary detentions without trial, execution of detractors of the regime, abuse of journalists abuse among a litany of breach of fundamental rights. The most notorious of the human rights abuses was the extra-judicial murders of 29 innocent Sierra Leoneans under the pretext of treason. It was the most ironical twist in the That crime remains controversial as it will dog Julius Maada Bio to the 2012 elections.

The 29 people or should one say 30 including the unborn child inside the pregnant victim among the murdered were capriciously decreed to die in open violence and specious injustice without due process or representation. It is ironic that the coupmakers of 29, April 1992 killed 30 people for allegedly staging a coup against the NPRC. Of his role in the extra-judicial executions, the TRC was clear:

“According to Maada Bio, who had known in advance of SAJ Musa’s volatile temperament and the likelihood that he would attempt to carry out some kind of summary justice, some of the implicated men were taken to Musa’s own residence and subjected to torture by Musa himself: ‘When I went there at night, he had actually tortured them very seriously – their ears were cut off and they were practically dead’.

Julius Maada Bio also testified that,

“SAJ realised that by daybreak they had been really badly tortured in his compound; so he confronted the gruesome, ‘it was better to do away with them, than to keep them on his hands in this terrible state’ – he was then alleged to have organised the summary executions. Maada Bio lamented their inability to put the coup plotters through proper judicial process, blaming it on SAJ Musa’s ambitions for power: “to a very large extent, SAJ was somebody who liked power and could do anything to retain it… that was the darkest side of our whole period in power” (Paragraph 328, TRC Report).

Julius Maada Bio further told the TRC, “SAJ Musa’s quest for power was an obsession for the man; and he had a wife who inculcated that into him; so it was a terrible combination”; SAJ was also responsible for the killings of looters. At this point in time, he was actually the key actor; Strasser was much more laid back, and to an extent he let SAJ get on with his business.”

The TRC Report clarified Julius Maada Bio’s role in the wanton killing of 29 innocent people,

“Maada Bio’s account is an attempt to shift responsibility for a gross failure of leadership by their government to the shoulders of one person. The execution of the alleged coup plotters did not advance SAJ Musa’s lust for power in any way.”

An explanation by Julius Maada Bio to the TRC that he was not personally involved in the murders resembles Pontius Pilate washing his hands of a difficult problem when the impetuous mob wanted to condemn Christ instead of Barabas in the synoptic gospels.

8. NPRC CORRUPTION AND ABUSE OF POWER

Corruption was rife in the NPRC although the soldiers had claimed they came to reform the nation from corruption and dictatorship. An account of their indulgence in corruption and abuse of power is the case of the pot calling the kettle black. As Prof. Jimmy Kandeh tells us in much detail, we are taken aback to hear of these soldiers in the NPRC behaving like hyprocrites who had come to judge politicians for corruption extravagance:

“Issues of lifestyle also dogged the NPRC leadership in Sierra Leone. The abuse of power and spectacular displays of opulence by previously destitute subalterns destroyed public faith in the NPRC’s ability to engage the problem of corruption. NPRC members moved into the homes of their predecessors, cavorted around in the same cars, pursued the same women and indulged in the same excesses as the ousted regime. Prominent members of the NPRC, including the head of state, were implicated in diamond smuggling schemes... Strasser and Bio reportedly defrauded the state of $982,000 from the illegal sale of Sierra Leonean passports to Hong Kong Chinese.”

Of particular interest in corruption is the fact that Julius Maada Bio has been loud about the APC being soft on waging war against corruption. But as President Kabbah has reminded us, Julius Maada Bio has a marked history of corruption in the NPRC.

“Another instance of the reckless and irresponsible manner in which the affairs of State were conducted by the NPRC regime is in the granting of a general power of attorney to Steven Bio, the brother of the erstwhile Head of State and government, to conclude all and any defence and military contracts anywhere in the world and at his sole discretion, as the accredited agent of the Government of Sierra Leone.”

President Kabbah multiplied his charges against the Bio relatives in corruption:

“By virtue of such unusual authority, Steven Bio concluded a number of contracts running into tens of millions of dollars. There is no evidence that most of those contracts have been performed but Steven Bio has already been paid millions of dollars on them and he is claiming further amounts as arrears of payments.”

President Kabbah further charged Julius Maada Bio of involvement in corruption when he emphasized:

“Furthermore, in his capacity as Chairman of the NPRC, Brigadier J.M. Bio himself on the 1st February 1996, few days before he left office, caused the Government to pay into the account of his private firm, P. Banga Investment Limited the sum of Le235,000,000 in respect of contracts that that firm had purportedly entered into with Government for the supply of spare parts for the replacement of helicopter engines which did not belong to Government. Incidentally, it was into the account of this same firm in the Channel Islands that Brigadier Bio paid his own share of US$400,000 from the passport deal which was disclosed recently.”

That Julius Maada Bio was involved in corrupt practices has been ascertained by President Tejan Kabbah and Vice President Berewa among others. On the whole, the report card on Julius Maada Bio indicates a man unfit to hold the highest office owing to all the things the the principal members of the SLPP have said about him. So damning are the assessments by these SLPP men who watched and advised the NPRC, that their estimate of the military regime is a catalogue of follies in leadership and crimes too reprehensible to render Julius Maada Bio unfit to hold public office.

So the sum and substance of Julius Maada Bio is: Lapsed soldier, two-time coup plotter, human rights abuser, Self-confessed Tormentor and and infamous flagbearer of the SLPP. On this account, when Sierra Leoneans wager their bets on November 17, 2012, to select a President, they will toss a coin with heads for President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma and Tails for Julius Maada Bio. The outcome is clear that the coin will roll to Heads for President Koroma for a second term.

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