September 25 – The chaos of Sierra Leone took another political twist at the end of last week when the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) banned 19 officials from football activity in what was a response to the previous day’s indictment of Sierra Leone FA president Isha Johansen (pictured) on six corruption charges by the country’s anti-corruption commission.
The SLFA ban is on the basis that the 19 had brought a civil case against the SLFA executive – recourse to civil courts is against SLFA and FIFA rules.
The complainants argued that with Johansen’s term having expired on August 3 and no elections having been held or scheduled, she did not have a mandate and was holding on to the position – supported by FIFA – illegally.
Included in the banned 19 is Sanusi Bruski Kargbo, who had declared his intention to run against Isha Johansen in the next SLFA elections.
Johansen, who has struggled to have any impact on the development of Sierra Leone’s football but who has carved out a career for herself at FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF), has forged strong alliances with FIFA general secretary Fatma Samoura as well as new CAF president Ahmad Ahmad.
Ahmad is chair of FIFA’s member association committee that, ironically, rules in the first instance federation governance. Johansen is also a member of that committee – the committee that ruled to keep her in place.
Johansen and general secretary Chris Kamara were detained by the ACC last year over the potential abuse of funds, with the ACC claiming it included money received from donors, including FIFA. The formal charges cover abuse of office and misuse of public funds.
Johansen denied the charges and focussed the attention away from football saying: “It’s another sad day for justice, integrity and patriotism in Sierra Leone, another sad day for any woman who dares to pioneer change.”
A FIFA delegation is due in Freetown to discuss preparations and dates for a rescheduled election, including the completion of integrity checks. However, with the latest SLFA bans removing opposition to Johansen from the elections (and Johansen herself facing formal criminal charges) the whole integrity of the whole process is again thrown into question.
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