The main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) through current and erstwhile party scribes Sulaiman Banja Tejansie and Jacob Jusu Saffa, have forwarded emails containing allegations that the Honourable Vice President Alhaji Sam-Sumana is a corrupt man who fleeced his American business partners some 10 to 12 years ago (since 1999). They also state that he allegedly took an additional loan of US$34,000 from the same Americans for the 2007 presidential run-off elections, which he is yet to repay. Interestingly, the SLPP sponsored allegations are that His Excellency the President is ‘guilty’ by his mere association with our honourable VP.
The allegations, as laid out by the accuser, an American citizen named Mark Heiligman, have already faced fierce criticisms this entire weekend by Sierra Leoneans from all around the Diaspora. Very few independent minds are buying his story. Instead, he has been presented in rather unsavoury light as a blackmailer.
However, one point that has resonated has been the call for the Vice President and the President to make individual and separate statements on the allegation. I share those sentiments.
In my view, this is especially so for the Hon. VP because he has now been named one too many times in similar scandals. In America, they say, three strikes and you are out.
This is the third time, the country and his political party are facing such embarrassment because our dear brother Sam-Sumana is our elected Vice President. The first two times, he was able to effectively stay behind the scenes whilst others worked upfront to clear the clouds around him.
This time, with elections just a few short weeks away, can I please ask the Honourable Vice President to speak out for himself? I understand he has some very solid evidence which will debunk the assertions of the ‘blackmailer’ Mark Heiligman. If that is the case, then it will be highly preferable for VP Sam-Sumana to call up a Public Press Conference for local & international journalists which should be well publicised in advance and televised LIVE by SLBC & STAR RADIO locally and internationally.
Hon. VP Sam-Sumana should face the media and be ready to answer to any of our media questions on the seemingly relentless spate of allegations being thrown at him. From Taakor Court Case to Al Jazeera Timbergate to current Diamonds & Loans saga, our big brother needs to be the one speaking out for himself.
Over to Honourable Sam-Sumana.
Meanwhile, down below are series of emails I sent to JJ Saffa and SLPP spin-doctors over the past weekend on Sierra Leone Internet Discussions.
FROM: Sylvia Blyden
TO: Sheikh Bawoh (SLPP)
The PPRC Act precludes funding (i.e: donations) from non-voters but does not (I repeat, does NOT!!) preclude taking of loans. If the PPRC Act precludes loans, then I submit that your SLPP is in deep trouble. Because the SLPP then should not have been owing hundreds of millions of leones as bank loans. Bottomline, Sierra Leone Commercial Bank giving a loan to SLPP is not prohibited neither is Bank of America giving a loan to APC prohibited.
The issue here though is that there is no documentation anywhere to prove that such a “loan” was ever received by APC political party and my own VERY credible sources are already telling me that President Koroma does not even recall ever speaking to these guys before or after he became President let alone to request a loan from them.
I do not know whom Mark and Dave spoke to but the mere fact that Mark says he came to Freetown for the Inauguration and was not given audience to the President should have made him be suspicious but then again, is Mark saying the truth?
The VP needs to speak out sooner than later.
FROM: Sylvia Blyden
TO: Freedom of Information Internet Group
What I find SO AMUSING about the Heiligman letter is the absurdity of saying his US$34,000 won the run offs for APC!!! Does this CLOWN have any idea what is involved in elections campaigns in Sierra Leone? I personally spent over US$34,000 in my 2002 Young Peoples Party adventure.
Big Brother Nabe, I can confirm that the diamond business set up by Heiligman, SamSumana and Dave Kloebel was not only legitimately registered as a business but all diamonds were exported through the Government GGDO during SLPP government. The legitimacy of the company should have been quite glaring from the Heiligman letter saying the UN used their equipments.
Sam-Sumana and the President surely respect the voters enough. They will not disregard such a letter however absurd it is. I trust an official response will be out sooner than later.
In the interim, I am reliably informed that President Koroma does not know this CLOWN called Mark Heiligman and does not recall ever speaking with him either before he became President or afterwards.
More later. I just landed in London from flooded Beijing.
FROM: Sylvia Blyden
TO: Jacob Jusu Saffa (SLPP)
Greetings from London. Hope you are doing fine?
Now, I am sure you know that the email of firstname.lastname@example.org belongs to Brian Gilpin and not to Ernest Bai Koroma (EBK) so I wonder why an email sent by Brian should merit your written headline of: Email Communications with EBK. In the email, you further claim the attachment is an email exchange between EBK and Mark. Attachment is opened and the only email to Mark is from email@example.com? Where does EBK come in??
If, as Brian was directed to say, investigations were conducted and the original claims found to be of no merit or bordering on ridiculous, why should anyone waste further time with it? I am just musing here...
This email threat with a September 30th 2010 ultimatum (two years have since lapsed) was not followed up on except now? 120 days to elections???
These wishy-washy malicious stuffs (1 million dollars pushed under a table; $34,000 can win run-offs) is going to BOOMERANG badly if you are not careful. Look at how Aljazeera has boomeranged already with Government now helping Run-away boy Sorious by entering in a nolle prosequi for him when his criminal libel case was called up this month.
My own credible sources indicates that President Koroma has never met any of these fellows (Mark or Dave) nor has he had any direct communication with them either before he turned President or afterwards. And that includes “profuse thanks” over the phone for 34,000 dollars campaign loan.
Meanwhile, I truly hope VP Sam-Sumana will use this opportunity to face the public and come out clean at a Public Press Conference on every aspect of these allegations as well as use the chance to address the other Timbergates of the past. I trust he respects the voters of Sierra Leone enough to do just that. If as Mark claims, they continued to send money to Sam over and over and over and even loaned Sam additional funds despite their suspicions, then either Mark & Dave are STUPID or it was a case of the metaphorical Monkey with the peanuts in his fist inside a bottle or it is just a malicious tale of no substance by a frustrated businessman whose business deals went awry.
As for President Koroma, even by Mark Heiligman’s own very words, I honestly do not see how Mark came to the conclusion that Sierra Leoneans should regard the President in unsavoury light. I am told the President does not even know these guys let alone spoken to them. Albeit, whilst the timing of Heiligman’s Open Letter is “interesting” to say the least, I trust the President’s troubleshooters and media advisers will see the wisdom in also having the President make a personal public statement on this issue - if even in the form of a Press Statement from his office.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.