By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
The Consortium of Civil Society on Social and Economic Justice has in a press statement urged the office of the President to intervene over the forcibly entry and pre -eviction of Guoji Investment allegedly pioneered by the Ministry of Trade in favor of an Indian Businessman from Jolaks.
They say the Trade Ministry ‘s action is 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.
“Considering the bilateral relationship that have existed between the government of Sierra Leone and the Peoples Republic of China through the Sierra and Sino Friendship Cooperation, we demand for the following: We are calling 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,’’ the release stated.
According to the release, the group said from their findings, 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 adding that they 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.
Furthermore, we received complaints of human rights abuse from local and foreign personnel of Guoji Investment Company of denial of their business premises,’’ the release further stated.
The Consortium added that it was allegedly reported that the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry went to the aforesaid premises of Guoji/staff officials that they will be evicted on the 31st January 2021 which they 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.
“In our bids to clarify the alleged incident on the said matter, we contacted the Ministry of Trade through the Permanent Secretary and he told us that ‘the decision is government decision and it is irreversible’.
The group however also called on the Attorney General and Minister, the parliamentary committee on Trade, the Army and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation 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, the group urged.
They said 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.