End President Koroma’s Reckless Plunder On Our Nation’s Resources

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End President Koroma’s Reckless Plunder On Our Nation’s Resources

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Pipul Pikin started this petition to United Nations Environment Program and

End President Koroma’s Reckless Plunder On Our Nation’s Resources

If you care about the poor people of Sierra Leone, please sign this petition:  https://www.change.org/p/end-president-koroma-s-reckless-plunder-on-our-nation-s-resources?recruiter=530089205&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

The root causes of Sierra Leone’s 10-years civil war revolve around bad governance and the unabated mineral exploitation and smuggling of blood diamonds. 

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) concluded that "the central cause of the war was corruption. Political elites plundered the nation’s assets and mineral riches. No government accountability. Sierra Leoneans, particularly the youths, lost all sense of hope in the future. This provided ripe breeding grounds for opportunists who unleashed a wave of violence and mayhem. Thousands of innocent citizens including women and children were brutally murdered, mutilated, raped and displaced” (TRC, vol. 2: p. 27, arts. 13-17).  The TRC also found that "many of the causes of the conflict have still not been addressed…[and] are potential causes of another conflict, if they remain unaddressed” (TRC, vol. 2: p. 29 art. 37). 

President Ernest Bai Koroma’s government has made the average Sierra Leonean so poor and angry that, the only thoughts are to become ruthless towards this failed government. President Koroma has been criticised repeatedly for stifling opposition, muzzling the media, suppressing dissent, and trying to seek a third term as president - returning the country to the dark old days of the 1970s and 1980s and the All Peoples Congress (APC) one party rule.

Sierra Leone is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International. Despite his poor performance and colossal failures in tackling corruption, President Koroma has unfortunately appointed the former head of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, as the new Attorney General and Minister of Justice. This isn't just a serious error of judgement, it shows President Koroma is not serious about fighting corruption and injustice.

President Koroma has failed to account for almost a third of the money allocated to fight Ebola. This may have slowed the emergency response to the Ebola outbreak and led to unnecessary loss of lives.

President Koroma has wasted donor funding to conduct a discredited 2015 census. Citizens have spoken out about their concern that the census did not reflects the true population of the country, and that the results were ‘doctored’ in order to  increase the population (votes) in the northern region, deemed the stronghold of the ruling APC party.  

Citizens and civil society organisations are sidelined from any discussions about aid investment and mining activities. Sierra Leone is still heavily dependent on foreign aid. Hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign aid have been given to the government. Yet, Sierra Leone remains one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 181 out of 188 countries in the UN Human Development Index.

As revelations emerge from the leaked documents of the Panama-based law firm - Mossack Fonseca distributed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, we found out that Koidu Holdings/OCTEA is one of the companies named in the Panama corruption scandal. Koidu Holdings/OCTEA Ltd of Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR) is reportedly registered in the British Virgin Islands, an offshore haven where the rich and powerful hide their wealth.

OCTEA and Koidu Holding’s financial accounts could not be accessed because they are incorporated in tax havens. The African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting reveals that from 2012 to 2015, OCTEA exported more than US$330 million in rough diamonds. Yet, OCTEA has failed to meet its financial and corporate social responsibilities. OCTEA/Koidu Holdings has not been paying taxes to the Koidu local council, an already impoverished community. All attempts to hold the company accountable, including a recent court case and many protests that left many people dead including a young boy reportedly shot by the police, have been stymied by the Koroma government. Hundreds of poor striking miners were reportedly fired as they accused OCTEA of racist treatment, demanding better pay and working conditions. OCTEA's kimberlite diamond mine has forced local residents from their homes, as it blasts away earth in search of stones destined for Tiffany & Co. and other international diamond outlets.

There are many questions about the mine: how are Koidu’s diamonds valued; why doesn’t Koidu’s data show tax payments; why is Koidu not paying the required taxes; why are the diamonds almost all exported to Switzerland, a tax haven notorious for re-exporting minerals; and why was President Koroma listed as the president of Koidu Holdings on the U.S based Bloomberg website? We want urgent answers from the president.

Prominent Sierra Leonean political activist and musician Emmerson Bockarie’s recent song exposing rampant corruption in the Koroma’s government is a wake-call. Many patriotic citizens in Sierra Leone and in the diaspora have now joined the Pipul Pikin Movement (www.pipulpikin.com in championing the #6Million+People global campaign to hold President Koroma to account.

The president must account for his government's questionable dealings including monies hidden in foreign bank accounts, tax dodging and corruption, awarding of government contracts to families and friends, fake census results, land grabbing and secret holdings in mining companies and other sectors.

We are petitioning the government and the international community. We are demanding the following five actions: 

�1. The president must set-up a commission of inquiry into the dodgy dealings and tax avoidance by mining companies. Unpaid taxes must be recovered and companies named in the Panama papers penalised.

�2. The president must support parliament to immediately enact laws that would require companies to publicly report (a) their basic financial data, including their annual accounts, (b) their remittances to government and (c) their community development spending. Companies should provide training and employ/empower Sierra Leoneans to own and manage the mines.

�3. The president must immediately allow a review of mining contracts including Koidu Holdings Ltd/Octea and Sierra Rutile mining agreements, and provide support to the many hundreds of people who have been made poorer, and are currently losing farmland as Sierra Rutile expands its mining operations across hundreds of acres of land. Sierra Rutile is headed by John Bonoh Sesay, reportedly a family member (cousin) of President Koroma.

�4. The president and his top government officials must publish their bank/financial statements and shares held in private companies, and to disclose their properties including houses in Sierra Leone and abroad. 

�5. The president must account for the hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign aid including the stolen Ebola and census money and allow an independent audit into the questionable 2015 census. We cannot accept that the humanitarian aid financed by western taxpayers is not reaching to the people for whom it was originally intended.

We are dying and suffering: no education, no health, no food, no water, no electricity. The president must bring back our monies. We can use these monies to pay for our children's education and our basic needs. These monies belong to the 6 million plus citizens of Sierra Leone.

Please help us – hold President Koroma to account and end his plundering of our nation’s resources. We do not want ANOTHER DESTRUCTIVE CIVIL WAR!!!!

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This petition had 197 supporters