Sierra Leone’s former ruling party has expressed solidarity with its leader and former President Ernest Bai Koroma and dared the government to persecute him and his former officials.
Mr Koroma faces possible corruption charges after a presidential committee set up by his successor Julius Maada Bio, alleged massive corruption and misuse of office under his administration.
The Government Transition Team (GTT) report, is the result of investigation conducted by a committee sanctioned by President Bio following his election victory in March.
President Bio has ordered the full implementation of the 124-page report which recommended, among others, the creation of a commission of enquiry and the prosecution of anyone found culpable.
In response, the All Peoples Congress (APC) constituted a committee to look into the report.
The now main opposition party proceeded to release its official response in which it angrily condemned the findings and faulted the way the government handled it.
“First, among many issues, the Governance Transition Team (GTT), comprising no experienced transition expert, ignored its Terms of Reference (TOR), and meandered into a proverbial witch hunt with a frenzy to place the APC administration, its adherents and even the judicial arm of Government in bad light,” the statement signed by APC’s Secretary-General, Mr Osman Yanssaneh, says.
The statement described the report as a wish-list of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP)-led government to annihilate its main rival “in a web of deceit, lies and fabrications”.
It also condemned the imposition of a travel ban on affected officials, describing it as unconstitutional and said the SLPP government was on a mission to destroy democracy in Sierra Leone.
The party says many of the corruption allegations raised in the GTT report, including the botched purchase of a ferry, had been handled in courts and resolved.
“The APC rejects the GTT report in its entirety. It is a partisan document which stokes the dangerous flames of tribalism, tells a false story of APC’s stewardship and seeks to persecute key APC functionaries and former Government officials," it said.
The opposition also said GTT disregarded the cornerstone of criminal procedure - presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
President Koroma was in office for 10 from 2007. His party officials were particularly angered by the fact that the former president was referred in the report in the defamatory language, “amidst the array of allegations".
“The APC therefore stands by its Chairman and Leader and calls on all Sierra Leoneans to regard him in the presumption of innocence along with every other person named in the report. This presumption cannot be sacrificed in the haste to tar and feather political opponents,” it says.
The APC statement was issues at a press conference at the party's headquarters graced by senior members, including former presidential candidate Samura Kamara.
Dr Kamara accused the Bio administration of seeking to divide the country with its style of governance.