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Revoking of Presidential Clemency: Is Bio In Control?

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By Vidal Bultman

Between 4th April, 2018 to date,-precisely the administration of President Julius Maada Bio SLPP led-government, the nation has been awash with mismatch policies, misdirected actions and thoughless happenings, which have been triggering the minds of citizens even questioning whether Bio is really in control of the nation. A classic case in point is the recent revolving of presidential clemency granted to the convicted killer, Baimba Moiforay (LAC) after the government had released him among 160 inmates on 1st January, 2022. If my knowledge serves me right, a process is unrolled before the President ultimately signs the clemency document for the release of the lucky few.

According to the administrative norms, the regional heads of the Correctional Centre prepare and submit names of inmates for possible clemency. They are expected to take into consideration the nature of offences for which inmates are running sentences. Serious/felonious offences including treason, murder, armed robbery and robbery with aggravation are not included for consideration.

Also, the reformed character status of inmates is also taken into consideration and above all, the health status of inmates. These divisional heads send their recommendations to the Director-General who upon consultation and additional review send the list to Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Ministry prepares the list and a committee which is headed by the Vice President, the Director-General serving as Secretary with representation from SLP, Attorney General Office serving as members of the clemency (Mercy) Committee. Once the committee vetted the names, it is sent to the President for approval. Now, it is rightly argued that VP Juldeh Jalloh was unavoidably absent from the meeting and that it was the sacked AG, Anthony Brewah who chaired the meeting. Fine and good!

However, any sane individual would like to ask whether Foray’s name was debated taking into consideration the nature of his offence. And, the fact that government is collective responsibility, makes all those who participated culpable of complicity. President Bio, who signed the list pretending to be ignorant of the sickening list, could equally be blamed for this. The above incident is coming in wake of series of uncoordinated actions and policies that continue to demonstrate that the government has swerved from the road, lost focus and it is a state of confusion. Examples abound: former chief minister now Foreign Affairs Minister, Prof. David Francis who gave orders to SLP for the arrest of critical independent Journalist/Editor of “Times Newspaper,” Sallieu Tejan-Jalloh; Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Lahai Lawrence Leema leading troop to arrest Sylvia Blyden; Deveaux- who escaped by the ‘skin of his teeth’; beating and killing of good number of residents in Mile 91 without the notice of the LUC of the Police Division; thoughtless abortion of Mamamah Airport project; ill-conceived Lungi bridge project, unlawful massacre of inmates at Pademba Road Correctional Centre, to name but a few of many mismatched policies and dastardly acts.

The above clearly indicates lack of central coordination and reinforces the point, whether Bio is in control of the nation. Citizens are worried of their safety and welfare in these unpalatable circumstances.