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CSOs frown at eviction of Guoji Investment Company

January 22, 2021

Consortium of Civil Society on Social and Economic Justice  has raised  concern over  what they described as the forcible entry and pre-eviction of Guoji Investment allegedly pioneered by the Ministry of Trade under the leadership of the  Minister, Dr. Hinga Sandy and his Deputy Minister in favour of an Indian Businessman from Jolaks contrary to the Joint Venture Agreement signed between the government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Guoji Investment and Development Company.

According to a press release issued by the consortium and signed by Chairman  Mohamed Kamara, the said agreement was designed to foster Sierra-Sino Friendship to develop trade and bilateral relationship between the Peoples Republic of China and Sierra Leone, to support and strengthen local markets.  

“We observed that small contingent of armed police and military personnel were deployed without the knowledge of Guoji. Also, erecting of makeshift structures is ongoing and we also received complaints of human rights abuse by the said military and police personnel allegedly under the direct instructions of the Ministry of Trade and Industry,” the organization claimed.

The organization states in the release that they received plethora of complaints of human rights abuse meted on local and foreign personnel of Guoji Investment Company, who were denial entry into their business premises.

“In addition, it was allegedly reported that the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry eventually went to the aforesaid premises of Guoji/staff officials that they will be evicted on the 31st January 2021. This we have considered as a violation of the joint venture agreement that was signed seventeen years ago between Guoji Investment Company and the government of Sierra Leone,” the release continues.

The organization stated in their press release that they  contacted the Ministry of Trade through the Permanent Secretary who  told them  that ‘the decision is government decision and it is irreversible’.

The organization called on the Office of the President to intervene considering his efforts to weigh-in investors to Sierra Leone and pay critical attention to the Ministry of Trade and Industry in line with their dealings with foreign investment companies.

They further called on the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to intervene and save Sierra Leone from another court arbitration and embarrassment.

“We are calling on the attention of the Inspector General of Police and the Army Chief of Staff to look into the activities of armed military and police personnel deployed at the precinct of Guoji Investment Company and create peaceful business environment. We are calling on the Parliamentary Committee on Trade to look into the matter and act in the interest of the country. We are also calling on the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to put on hold the pre-eviction of 31st January 2021 and all activities of Jolaks. We are also calling on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to intervene for a peaceful resolution.”

They noted that as members of the Consortium, they have committed themselves to ensure that the issue is settled amicably and save the nation from international embarrassment as such incident has the propensity to destroy the good relationship that has been existing between Sierra Leone and China.

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