October 14, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
The Media and Communications Team for Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio has in a letter dated 12th October, 2016 requested the editor of the Africa Confidential to retract what it refers to as inaccurate and misleading allegations against him, and an apology for the reputational damage he has suffered.
According to the letter, on 23rd September, 2016 Africa Confidential published an article on Sierra Leone titled: ‘Death of a front-runner’ (AC Vol 57 No 19), adding that with strong indignation, the Julius Maada Bio Media and Communications Team views sections of that article defamatory, to the extent that they were deliberately designed to smear and impugn the character, reputation and integrity of the presidential candidate of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party in 2012.
“The author of the article states: “Koroma provided financial support for Bio to carry out an Ebola ‘sensitization’ programme in October 2015, even though by then the outbreak had been contained, according to political sources in Freetown. The author not only failed to substantiate such a serious allegation with credible evidence, by relying entirely on so-called “political sources in Freetown”, he reduced the credibility of your publication to a level equivalent to that of a mere baseless tabloid gossip,” the letter stated.
The letter went forward to say that during the Ebola sensitisation, Brigadier Bio made it abundantly clear in his press conference and media interviews that he did not receive any financial support from President Ernest Bai Koroma and that any credible article should have referenced that, if the author was not politically motivated. It added that the author deliberately failed to mention the fact that at the onset of the Ebola outbreak Brigadier Bio was commended for issuing a press release in June 2014 with a solidarity call on citizens to support the government to fight the Ebola scourge.
“Even before he embarked on the Ebola sensitization in October 2015, in August and September 2014 Brigadier Bio had distributed rice and other food items to Ebola affected families and quarantined homes throughout the country. Therefore, as the Media and Communications Team of Brigadier Bio, we would like to challenge the author, your news organization or his so-called “political sources” to make public any credible evidence to substantiate the allegation that ‘President Koroma provided financial support for Bio to carry out an Ebola sensitization programme,” the letter noted.
The Communication Team also stated that since President Koroma assumed office in 2007, unlike some known opposition politicians in Sierra Leone – whom they failed to name – Brigadier Bio has never been the recipient of any government contract, award, appointment or political largesse.
“We similarly find absolutely horrendous another outrageous allegation in the said article that Brigadier Bio “recently purchased a massive mansion on Juba Hills, Freetown – where most of the country’s elite live – from the family of the late barrister Terrence Terry for a reputed US$750,000”.
The letter added: “This is patently false and fabricated. Again one would have expected that a seemingly reputable publication like Africa Confidential would try to ascertain the veracity of such a claim either directly from Brigadier Bio or the family of the late Terrence Terry rather than to be misled by an author who relied on a social media hoax as a source of information to tarnish the good name of Brigadier Bio. Therefore, again, we would like to challenge the author, your news organization or anyone to make public any evidence to justify the allegation that Brigadier Bio made a purchase of the house he is occupying at Juba Hill for US$750,000 or whether Brigadier Bio has any link to any sale of the house in question or whether that house has been the subject of a sale agreement for a price of US$750,000 or any price for that matter to any person with whom Brigadier is associated.”