Sidi Yayah Tunis, the spokesman the opposition APC party has been finally granted bail by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) on Thursday 10th February 2022, after he was arrested at the starting of the week on charges that are deemed incendiary in the wake of an interview he gave on a popular radio station 98.1(radio democracy).
According the police, the statement he made has the potential to jeopardise the fragile peace and security the country has enjoyed since the end of the brutal civil war in 2002.
In the interview it was alleged that he accused the ruling SLPP government of engaging in massive corruption by way of misappropriating funds meant for the national football team at the just concluded AFCON tournament in Cameroun. It was further alleged that the publicity secretary talked about instituting a level 3 political strategy by way of mobilising APC supporters across the country to unseat the ruling party in the forthcoming presidential elections in 2023.
The police considered these statements to cause ill feelings, disaffection and hatred against the ruling government and was therefore called upon to substantiate his remarks.
Following the intervention by his APC party comrades he was finally granted bail on Thursday 10th February 2020, after Chernor Maju Bah who is the leader of the main opposition in parliament and also doubles as a legal practitioner stood as a legal guarantor for and on behalf of Sidi Yahya Tunis.
Below is the press statement issued by the APC for media and public consumption.
(Intimidation, harassment and silencing of opposition voices continue to be the growing governance landscape in Sierra Leone. We express our deepest dissatisfaction with the detention of Sidi Yayah Tunis, Acting Publicity Secretary and member of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) of the APC in the wake of his interview on Radio Democracy on Monday 7th January, 2022.
During his two-hour long interview, Sidi Yayah Tunis spoke about the recent development in the APC party involving the finalization of the APC Constitution by the political parties registration commission and the just concluded National Advisory Committee endorsement of the final constitution as momentous achievements which augurs well for a revitalized and reenergized party.
This he opined will motivate and reinvigorate the members of the APC party well before the 2023 elections and enable the party to lawfully mobilize its members and supporters to actively participate in the 2023 elections with the aim or clinching Victory from the incumbent SLPP party.
In his interview on Radio Democracy, Sidi Yayah Tunis also indicated that the major hallmark of the opposition APC is its developmental profile. He went on to recall and outline the many development projects, especially infrastructure projects, that are clear evidence of this fact and he spoke proudly that the APC regime is synonymous with development of this country unlike the current government.
It is the abovementioned comments that led to his invitation by CID and his detention on grounds that he was inciting chaos, fear mongering and scaring to scare investors away.
This absolutely beats our imagination that the statements above can be construed as incitement.
How can police intimidation of the opposition be happening on the back of his Excellency the President’s appointment as Chairman of the African Peer Review Mechanism (“APRM”) which posits that good governance is sine qua non for development?
Some of the indicators to be reviewed in the APRM are non-threatening space for political plurality and participation which Places premium on the heels of this appointment makes a total mockery of the African Union’s APRM.
The Government’s continuous disregard for constitutional law and basic human rights which includes freedom of speech does not augur well for our nascent democracy.
As the main opposition party, we see the detention of Sidi Yayah Tunis as yet another sign of government’s crackdown on freedoms including free speech and right to dissent and political space.
Intimidation harassment and arbitrary detention of political opponents are actions which have no place in 21st century democracy.
We urge the international community to not turn a blind eye to these continuous acts off injustice meted out on members of opposition parties in Sierra Leone. We denounce the detention of Sidi Yayah Tunis.
World Bank Regional Vice President for Africa gives hope
The World Bank Regional Vice President for Western and Central Africa, Ousmane Diagana, has successfully engaged His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio and senior government officials as part of his official tour to West Africa.
Appointed on July 1, 2020, the Mauritanian born is now leading relations with 22 countries, and overseeing a portfolio of projects, technical assistance, and financial resources worth more than $38 billion.
He thanked the government and people of Sierra Leone for their kind reception, citing the many opportunities for growth, sustainable development and challenges it faced. He praised President Bio for his leadership in transforming and developing the country amidst the devastating effects of the COVID-19.
Mr Diagana recalled that the Bank and Sierra Leone had a relationship spanning over 50 years and assured that they would continue to support the development activities of the country. He said that he stood in solidarity with the country during the Coronavirus pandemic and congratulated the country for progress made in curtailing the spread of the disease.
“Sierra Leone has seen some progress. When we were coming from the hotel, I have seen visible signs of stability. We have seen signs that give hope. We will like to be part of the cooperation that will translate them into real occasions for Sierra Leoneans. The pandemic has impacted the new country partnership framework but there is good implementation of agriculture, education, energy, health, social protection and human capital development projects worth nearly $1 billion,” he said.
In his response, President Bio thanked the World Bank Regional Vice President for Western and Central Africa for his visit, adding that such visits would help him get firsthand information on the challenges facing Sierra Leone, one of the low-income member countries of the World Bank Group.
“I would also like to express my appreciation to the Bank for providing additional financing of $18.2 million for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines. I look forward to additional support for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines nationwide,” he urged.
President Julius Maada Bio further noted that the Bank’s support toward development of the proposed Land Administration Project and the Digital Transformation Project was timely, saying that his government was looking forward to expediting the preparation for those projects.
He added that there was an urgent need to improve the management and governance of the land sector in Sierra Leone and continued that the implementation of the digital transformation project would also improve the efficiency of government operations and support private sector development.
“Let me, therefore, use this opportunity to thank the Executive Board, Management and Staff of the Bank for their unflinching support to the development aspirations of the Government and people of Sierra Leone,” he concluded.
At a separate meeting with over 20 government ministers and technical leads across Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Chief Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa, said because the Bank was providing over 60% of development financing to the country, they needed to discuss certain triggers before any development policy operation. The Bank has been the country’s leading development partner, supporting major investments in many sectors and with its affiliate, IFC, it has also been a key supporter of various private sector activities. Total current World Bank Group portfolio for Sierra Leone