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Sierra Leone’s former president vows to clear his name

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Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has, until further notice, postponed a hearing by former president, Ernest Bai Koroma over findings of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) into alleged corruption during his tenure.

The ACC told reporters on Thursday, 8 October 2020, that the former president’s supporters prevented them from accessing his residence in the northern district town of Makeni, where the interview was scheduled to take place. However, the All People Congress (APC) party of Koroma has denied ACC’s accusation of preventing access.

APC spokesman, Sidi Yahah Tunis was quoted as saying the former president’s lawyers even suggested to travel with ACC investigators to Makeni to guarantee their security.

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio, whose campaign promises included rooting out corruption, inaugurated the COI on 29 January 29 2020 at the compound of the former Special Court for war crimes, located in the west end of Freetown. The COI was meant to probe into the affairs and alleged corruption of the former administration headed by Koroma.

The COI made wide-ranging recommendations, including the confiscation of assets belonging to Koroma, such as properties valued at €4.3 million. Moreover, the former president, and 120 others who served in his administration, have been banned from travelling.

However, Koroma, who ruled Sierra Leone from 2007 until 2018, has, in a statement, dismissed the COI’s findings as a “politically motivated charade calculated to impugn” his hard-earned reputation. He has vowed to clear his name and restore his reputation.

The controversy suggests that Sierra Leoneans are deeply divided over issues such as governance, how to tackle corruption, and the history of insecurity.

-APA

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