Lewis Center, Ohio—It is disgusting, appalling and ironic to see this week for Hersi Hassan, former Silanyo Chief Cabinet, talking about corruption and graft. 10 years ago Hersi was a former employee of Dahabshiil money transfer who became a senior aide to President Silanyo in 2010. Because of the poor health of President Silanyo, he became the de-facto leader during Silanyo presidency. He broke the public’s trust, exploited his position as public official and financially enriched himself and his cohorts from embezzling aid money and public funds intended for development and infrastructures. Hersi also used every opportunity to blatantly abuse his power, and undermine the rule of law, judicial system, and our security.
The checks and balances to hold him accountable never existed at Somaliland legislature because former Speaker Cirro colluded with Hirsi to make the legislature irrelevant. As a result, he corrupted the integrity of the institutions of our system of government to benefit his former employee Dahabshiil and others. To not only ignore but to allow Hersi to be a leader of a major party is a travesty of justice.
Hersi’s abuses of power and his alleged corruption were massive scale: He repeatedly deployed during midnight raids the RRU, British trained an anti terrorist force unit, to harass, coerce and intimidate journalists and his political opponents. For instance, on June 2, 2014, a unit of the Rapid Response team, with masked faces, at 2 am raided the home of former Somaliland’s deputy Security Minister, Abdullahi Abokar,who is now Minister of Transportation— brutalizing him, his wife and his five children ( ages 9 months to 9 years old). Luckily, no one was killed, but one of his security guards was wounded.
He even kept a young girl, Nadira Mohamed, supporting the “Xaq-Soor” Party, in a detention center for 7 months, without a court hearing, for sending him a text message protesting the government’s mishandling of the demonstrations against the fraudulent elections results in 2012.
On April 7, 2014, police taking order from him shut down and took over the building of the daily Haatuf newspaper— one of the oldest and the leading newspapers in Somaliland— without any due process—after it reported alleged corruption on Silanyo’s family. Hirsi’s actions had caused the publisher, Yusuf Gaboobe, to go out of business, causing him economic hardship by losing everything that he worked so hard for years to build.
More disturbing, there were serious allegations that Hersi allegedly managed to embezzle public funds intended for the construction of Burao-Erigavo highway after he brought under his control Somaliland Highway Authority, which deals with highway construction and development. Consequently, he became in charge managing the day to day operation of the construction of a new 371 km Burao-Erigavo highway, which was touted as President Silanyo’s legacy projects.
The country was mobilized; money was raised, including lunch money for the poor kids of Somaliland. But after he was fired from his position only less than 35km of the highway was paved. So far, millions intended for the highway project are unaccounted, according to a recent audit from Somaliland Ministry of Transportation.
This week, Hersi who is ignorant of business and economy, ignorant of how government works, and was selling watermelon on the dusty streets of Burao town before joining Dahabshiil, advocated for the petty interests of dirty fuel merchants such as Al-Harbi group, Som Petroleum, Dahabshiil, and others; and the agents of Fly Dubai and Al-Arabia Airlines. He is accusing the Bihi administration of replacing the local dirty fuel merchants that supplied fuel to Berbera Oil Terminal (BOT) with Trafigura—-the second largest commodity trading company in the world, to sow grievances and division.
e know that these merchants got the contracts in shady, behind backrooms deals, and without proper vetting, or through pure nepotism. There are also credible reports that Hersi himself personally owns Som Petroleum that used to supply fuel at the BOT before Bihi brought Trafigura. This is a classic example of a government official using public office to enrich himself.
But, it’s mocking and hypocritical for Hersi to talk about the termination of local fuel suppliers delivering fuel to BOT when in fact the first executive order President Silanyo issued in 2010 was the cancellation of the contract of the well established Total Oil to supply petroleum products to BOT. Total Oil was the first international firm that invested in Somaliland.
We need a special prosecutor to investigate Hersi’s power abuses and corruption. And if President Bihi fails to appoint to do so, many people would think that Bihi himself is enabler or complicit in covering up Hersi’s misdeeds. It also might give credence to Bihi is not interested in government reforms or going after bad actors like Mr. Hashi or Hersi, and others. Instead, he is more interested in his administration to be Silanyo administration 2.0 than fighting corruption and graft.
Some people are suggesting at a time we want move forward after the 2017 highly contested election, it is not good for the country to go after former Ministers of Silanyo administration. Because their supporters would think any investigation of Bihi administration against them as a political witch hunt targeting them because of their opposition to Bihi.
But ignoring Hersi’s power abuses and corruption would only invite more abuses, more theft of public funds, and more nepotism. We can’t have a two tier justice system or rules: One for government officials and well connected, and the other for ordinary people. But if we don’t hold accountable for the power abuses and the massive corruption they presided over during the Silanyo administration, all Somalilanders will be the losers.
In this scenario, the culture of impunity of corrupt officials will prevail, and that is bad for the country. We must demand transparency and accountability from our public officials, and to adhere to the rule of law. This madness must stop, but it is up to us. Therefore, Bihi must hold the former corrupt Silanyo administration Ministers accountable.
Founder and Editor