Opinions' free; Facts are sacred
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 2ND 2000
Rotten Government, Rotten System,
Kabbah must go
The Association of Very Concerned Citizens has again issued a press release lashing out on the lapses of the present government of president Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
The release which was aired on the Voice of the Handicapped (VOH) FM 96.2 radio outlined the various marches the people have organised to voice out their disgust against any government that was acting in contravention of the wishes of the people, including the February 10, 1996 Women’s demonstration which eventually led to the holding of democratic elections; the May 8, 2000 demonstration against the RUF and its leader, Foday Sankoh over the hostage taking of UN peacekeepers.
The release said the chief beneficiary of all these protests by the people was the incumbent Head of State, but added that despite these sacrifices, president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah had on at least one occasion abdicated the seat of power, leaving his staff of office behind, making it available to be used at the subsequent swearing in ceremony of the junta leader, abandoning the Constitution he was sworn to uphold, and deserting the people of Sierra Leone in their extreme hour of peril.
The Association of Very Concerned Citizens accused the current administration and especially its leader, Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of willfully tampering with the Constitution they claim to uphold and that during his tenure of office as President, the people became victims of unspeakable horrors and atrocities and suffered untold loss of life and property unprecedented in the history of Sierra Leone, which according to the Association was directly attributable to major and reckless security lapses.
The Association said President Kabbah may serve out the remainder of his term but not a day over. “He should now pay the greatest attention to the calls of the people and civil society to give meaningful direction to the ship of state.
The statement from the Association of Very Concerned Citizens ended with this clarion call; “We shall not be intimidated or moved. The country cannot continue in a current state of drift and indecision. The International Community and people of Sierra Leone know this. It is time to change. There is no intention to conspire. There is no intention to subvert. There is no intention on our part, whether by the front or back door, through the window or garage entrance, or over the fence, to enter Kabbah’s cabinet or gain special privileges. But there is every intention to uphold and promote the rights of the citizens of this beleaguered nation to freely and fully participate in the political process in this country, to restore our dignity and regain our lost glory.”
Salone on the rights of the
A press conference was organised by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs in collaboration with UNICEF on Thursday, July 27 on the theme: GENEVA RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE RIGHT OF THE CHILD.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman, Parliamentary Caucus for Children said every child had the right to a name and nationality, protection from being deprived of his or her identity, freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion, association and peaceful assembly, and a host of other rights and freedoms.
The Chairman said that government would do its level best to address the problems of the children.
The Minister of Social Welfare, Shirley Gbujama said that almost 43 Non Governmental Organisations had registered in her Ministry while others were registered with the Ministry of Development. She however encouraged more NGOs to join the bandwagon for the benefit of the children. She said a document had been forwarded to Parliament for processing, adding that plan were underway to reactivate the Approved School compound where almost 9000 displaced people are presently residing.
Mrs. Gbujama described the state of the children at the camp as very appalling. Mrs. Gbujama was however optimistic that with the help of UNICEF everything will be taken care of.
She said renovation is presently going on in the provinces and revealed that a workshop would be organised on the Geneva Convention for the public to speak out their views.
The Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Mr. Sidikie Brima, who represented Sierra Leone in the 23 session of the Convention highlighted some of the issues on the Geneva meeting and recommendations, adding that the press should play its roll to disseminate the information to the people of Sierra Leone.
Other speakers included Mrs. Howard of FAWE and UNICEF Country Director Joanna Van Gerpen who threw light on the importance of the convention.
Customs Appeal For
The Senior Collector of the Susan’s Bay Customs, Mr. Samuel Goba, has said to this press that he has collected revenue amounting to nine million leones, adding that the increase in the rate of revenue collection was through the efforts of his personnel like Mr. Sannoh, and Mr. Fofanah.
He said that the Sierra Leone United Boat Owners’ Association has agreed to prosecute and impose fine on commercial boats who fail to berth at Susan’s Bay Wharf with goods from Bushra Port in Guinea.
He lauded the action of traders and SLUBOA which he said helped to facilitate the payment of revenue, by reducing undue smuggling, and expressed concern over the rate of goods from boats and private stores, which he attributed to the lack of proper storage facilities for the Susan’s Bay Customs.
Mr. Goba appealed to government to improve the structures, furniture and electricity facilities, adding that his team would work relentlessly in the nation’s development and that he would leave no stone unturned for traders who refused to pay custom dues.
Awoko Refutes Press
The Chairman of East End Lions FC, Alhaji Unisa Alim Sesay, aka, AWOKO, has refuted a recent press report alleging that he has swindled $100,000 of the club’s money as part of payment made on Francis Zappa and Mustapha Saffa in Sweden.
Speaking in a press conference last Friday, Mr. Sesay denied having received a single cent in respect of the two players since their transfer to Sweden last year. He implored on journalists to make their own investigations on the issue to ascertain the truth of the match.
He said what was factual was that in April last year he received a telephone call from John Sama in Sweden that he had made arrangements for Zappa and Pa Saffa to move over to Sweden where he had acquired clubs for them. Mr. Sesay stated that they were later asked by John Sama to issue the release of these players to the Swedish clubs, since the Gambian club, Walidan, was also claiming ownership of these players. “I later consulted the executive of the club on the issue and they mandated me to release the players on the understanding that if a third club expressed interest for the players, Lions would benefit 10 percent of the amount.”
Mr. Sesay further disclosed that they received Le9,600,000 on behalf of the families of the two players, which he claimed the respective families had received with their signatures acknowledging receipt of the said money.
He further denied having bought a V-boot benz with the said amount and at the same time building a house at Malamah. “The benz I have is bought by my company and as Director, I am using it in that capacity,” he said.
Paramount Chief Abandons His
Paramount Chief Bai Shebora Kondoh III of Yonibana chiefdom, Tonkolili District, is reported to have abandoned his subjects and chiefdom by seeking asylum in the United States of America.
According to one of his subjects, Amadu Thorlie, the Paramount Chief had done nothing so far towards the amelioration of the welfare of his subjects since the signing of the peace Accord in Lome, Togo last year, even though the chiefdom remains relatively calm and safe. Instead, Amadu stated, the Paramount Chief abandoned the chiefdom at his own convenience and resided in Freetown. “There is no justifiable reason for this action by our paramount chief,” Amadu commented.
According to another senior citizen of the chiefdom, Pa Santigie Bangura, the chiefdom is under the care of some elders that were randomly selected. Santigie further accused the chief of maltreating almost all his subjects that had earlier sought refuge in Freetown. He maintained that humanitarian relief meant for his subjects was either misappropriated or fraudulently converted to his own benefit. “You will only benefit from these humanitarian gestures if you are an eyeball of the paramount chief," Pa Santigie lamented.
The question asked by citizens of Yoni chiefdom is that, how can a whole Paramount Chief abandon his chiefdom and subjects at a time when peace is at the threshold, especially so when his presence is very vital for the development and resettlement of his people?
Tiger Women Appeal For
The Chairlady of the Tiger Women’s Multi-purpose Co-operative Society has appealed to government and Non Governmental Organisations to come to their rescue in their drive to improve the lots of women in the Jalloh Terrace community.
In an interview with this press, Madam Fatmata Bangura stated that their association was established in September 30, 1996 with the sole aim of mobilising the less fortunate in the society for development. “With a membership of 150, the association caters for war-affected women, children and the ex-combatants in the society” she said. Mrs. Bangura further stated that her association trains people in soap making and Gara-dying in order to make them self-employed. She stated that in spite of their limited resources, they also give loans to their members in order to engage them in petty trading to improve their standard of living.
“We provide working and raw materials to our members in training and at present we can boast of producing 250 dozen bars of soap per day, which by all indications have help the country in general,” she said.
Like any association, she said, the war had had an adverse effect on our business. “Most of our working equipment have been looted, thereby incurring a great deal of financial loss by our association,” she said.
Mrs. Bangura further stated that it was their intention to expand the business, but as she put, “it depends on the voluntary assistance we receive from the outside, since at present we are financially bankrupt,” she said.
She concluded by further appealing to the government and the Non Governmental Organisations to make their financial assistance to the association in order to enable it fulfill its aims and objectives. “Our membership is open to everyone as we hope to alleviate the suffering of the poor,” she said.
Lions Get New Stadium by
The Chairman of East End Lions FC Alhaji Unisa Alim Sesay has disclosed to this press that the club will get an ultra-modern mini stadium by the year 2005. In a brief chat at his office in Freetown, Mr. Sesay stated that the stadium would be constructed at Rokel in the east end of the city. “If completed, it will be of benefit not only to Lions, but to the entire eastern municipality where the area is densely populated” he said.
Mr. Sesay further stated that apart from constructing the stadium for the club, he also hoped to build a clubhouse, sports complex that will comprise an auditorium, conference hall, reception centre, basketball and other indoor games. “We hope to accomplish this mission within the next five years”.
He spoke of building a formidable side for the club that would be an envy not only in the country but the continent as a whole. Mr. Sesay said they had initiated a programme wherein the club would no longer buy big players but train young boys to feed other clubs.
He said very soon he hoped to hold a consultative conference that would comprise elders, past and present executive, supporters, past and present players to present what he described as his vision 2005. “Nations all over the world have been developed by people who have vision and ambition. So why not Lions?” he said.
CDS visits Kabala
The Acting Chief of Defense Staff, Colonel Tom Carew made an undisclosed visit to his 2nd battalion troops in Kabala on July 28, 2000 to know whether his men are doing fine and what their immediate problems were. In Kabala, Colonel Carew told his troops that the battalion would not be static and that they should be ready to go on the offensive very soon for Makeni and Kono. He disclosed that President Tejan Kabbah was very happy with the way and manner they recently defended Kabala from the RUF rebels.
He added that the soldiers’ welfare was going to be improved as government. was working out modalities for them. There was a guard of honour backed by the local militia tamboroh mounted for the CDS, and the streets of Kabala were jam parked when the CDS drove into the town.
In response, the Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. F.K. Kamara, explained that they too were happy about the president’s effort in trying to end the war. He thanked the CDS for the visit and told him that they were always alert for the rebels. He however said that they were facing a lot of constraints for things like mobility, weapons, uniforms, HF set, VHF set, delayance in ration and salaries for the soldiers. “I am ready to fight with you even beyond Kono, Col. Kasim declared.
Islamic Dawah Issues
The Sierra Leone Islamic Movement for Sunnah and Jamaat on Sunday, 30th July issued certificates of merit to some forty-six of its students that went through some rigorous and intensive Quranic training. The course included Quranic Studies, Tafsir and Islamic Knowledge.
The principal of the school, Sheikh Mohamed Basma Kamara, referred to the graduands as the institute’s torchbearers in whom he expressed confidence that they would emulate the good ideals of their movement.
The Chairman for the occasion, Ambassador designate to Libya, Dr. Ahmed Obai Samura, in his statement, described the occasion as great in that it surrounds the issue of knowledge seeking. He stated that knowledge was worth seeking everywhere, quoting a hadith with which states: “Go ye as far as the orient to seek knowledge….” Dr. Samura admonished the graduands to be upright in the practice of the Islamic faith as well as to be open in the dissemination of what they have acquired. He maintained, “Knowledge should not be monopolized at any level by any one who acquires it, for it is sin to do so”.
He also implored the students as Muslims, not to be ashamed of their religion, and urged, “You have been well equipped with the inspiration of Allah to fight for the development of your religion, Islam”.
Also present were the Chief Imam Sheik Abu Bakkrr Kamara and the National Chairman Alhaji Sorie Ibrahim Susu Kamara. Both spoke in a similar vein. They called on the students to utilize their incurred knowledge for the benefit of the Islamic ‘Ummaa’, and not for use as a weapon of destruction.
They admonished the students to emulate the bright examples of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
The vote of thanks was moved by one of the graduands, Arun Mustapha Mansaray.
Four in court for armed robbery
Four men charged with armed robbery were on Thursday 27 July, arraigned in court No 1 before Magistrate Hamilton. They included Gilbert, Reginald, Thomas and Sulaiman Kamara.
According to the charge, the defendants were alleged to have attacked the residence of Ishaka Jalloh at 12B Fullah Street at about 3:00am, placed the residents under gunpoint and carted several items including shoes, jeans trousers, ex-bass tape recorder, Le400, 000/00 plus US$300 cash.
During cross-examination, defense counsel Osho Williams questioned whether complainant Ishaka Jalloh could identify any of his properties among the exhibits displayed in court. He responded in the negative, stating that none of the items displayed belonged to him and that they might be items robbed from another individual. However, Ishaka was able to identify the second accused.
The case was brought to court as a consequence of the apprehension of one of the stolen items, a necklace with one Madam Fudia Kamara. The woman is reported to have bought the said necklace from the accused. She had assisted the police in their investigations, which led to the arrest of the four accused persons.
The matter was adjourned to Wednesday August 2, 2000.
MONDAY JULY 31ST 2000
Govt, RUF, UNAMSIL, Blamed For Humanitarian Crisis
International and Local Humanitarian Agencies in Sierra Leone have blamed allied government forces, the RUF and UNAMSIL for the heightened humanitarian crisis in the country since May this year.
This is catalogued in a report, Sierra Leone Humanitarian Situation Report 10 to 24 July 2000, prepared by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA).
The report charges that the country has been plunged into a chain of military events characterised by RUF attacks on civilians, clashes between allied government forces, military confrontations between UNAMSIL forces and the RUF, and government military activities in RUF areas, resulting in civilian casualties and mass population displacements.
The report discloses that at least one million Sierra Leoneans live in currently unstable areas of the country, including RUF occupied territories in the northern and eastern provinces. It further affirms, “The people continue to be victims of an unconventional and unpredictable system of conflict that does mot differentiate civilian targets from military targets.”
It maintains that civilians are increasingly subjected to inhuman acts by RUF rebels and indisciplined elements of government forces, resulting in human rights violations, including rape and torture, recruitment of child combatants into the fighting forces, food insecurity due to reduced road access and lack of access to land and chronic health hazards due to congestions and limited services, among others.
The report went on to reveal that more than two hundred thousand internally displaced persons have been added to the already stretched limited facilities available. It further emphasised that the elderly, the weak due to malnutrition, the sick are held in extremely delicate security situations and that their conditions remain precarious, stating, “they are trapped in an environment dominated by fear, danger, destruction and destitution, with no promise of safety or relief assistance”.
Meanwhile, a total of 354,890 caseloads of IDPs, have so far been registered since July 24 as against an estimated 23,000 new IDPs from the Kenema area, Daru, Port Loko and Kakum, that are yet to be registered.
The High Court, presided over by Justice Massallay will be the stage on Monday July 31, 2000 as the two strongest and oldest political parties in the country appear in Court.
The All People’s Congress (APC) is challenging the decision of Parliament to expell four of its members from the House of Representatives on the grounds of absenteeism
The newly appointed Chairman of the National Electoral Commission, Mr. Walter Nicol, has already sent letters to four members of the APC to replace the expelled Parliamentarians in accordance with the operational proportional representation system.
The four invited persons are Dr. Yembeh K.C. Mansaray to replace Victor Bockarie Foh, Mrs. Musu Kandeh, former principal of Mathora Secondary School, Mr. Dauda Kamara, former Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Germany and Dr. Alusine Fofanah. None of the above have shown up to take their seats.
The APC Chairman, Hon. S.A.T. Koroma, said they were not in a hurry to effect any replacement until a decision is reached at the court of law.
Presently, the APC is applying for what is called in legal terms “an order of Certiorari” against the decision of the Speaker of Parliament. If this application is granted, then the expelled MPs can continue to sit in Parliament as the matter proceeds in court.
Whatever the outcome of the court ruling might be, fanatics of both parties will turn out in their thousands to give moral support to their parties.
Lassa Fever Doubles In Kenema
It has been reported by the international non-governmental organisation, MERLIN, that there is high incidence of Lassa Fever with a high fatality rate in Kenema.
According to the Sierra Leone - Humanitarian Situation Report of 10 to 24 July 2000, released by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, (OCHA), there has been an increase from fifteen percent since January to thirty percent in June/July.. The report further maintains that three out of every ten new admissions within the week die from the disease. The NGO has attributed this latest situation to lack of outreach services in insecure areas.
It could be recalled that during June this year, an alarm was raised by OCHA that internally displaced persons in camps in the Western Area, were threatened by this sudden outbreak. It attributed the cause of this to the influx of persons from infested areas in the eastern region of the country. Since then, four people have been reported dead, including a prominent medical practitioner, Dr. Kabbah. Others suspected to be infected by the lassa fever virus are reported to be under medical surveillance.
SLFA executive orders Team manager to Account
The Executive of the Sierra Leone Football Association has instructed its Secretariat to write to the Team Manager of Leone Stars, Paul Kamara to refrain from inviting any player to start training for the national team without first giving a detailed account of all donations received by him on behalf of the association. The Executive also demanded from Paul Kamara is a written report from him as Team Manager on what went wrong in Ghana and why he is not on speaking terms with some key players in the national team.
The Executive took this line of action against the background of information that Paul Kamara has been receiving monies and materials on behalf of the Association without accounting to anybody.
Recently, it was revealed to the Executive that Paul Kamara received on behalf of the Association Le 1 million in cash and stationary materials from Sam King Services.
The Secretary-General of the FA, Alimu Bah, admitted having received only 10 exercise books, 17 pencils,17 pens and three packets of A4 duplicating papers. The Le1 million cash was never surrendered by Paul. The Financial Controller of the FA, Sheka Bangura said, “Never has Paul Kamara passed any cash to me at any time.”
Paul was also alleged to have received donation from Lebanese merchants including the Halloways of Commodities Trading Company (CTC), Roger Crooks of Mammy Yoko Hotel, Choithrams, and has been dishing out letters all over the country and the world soliciting funds on behalf of Leone Stars. God only knows how much has been collected on behalf of the FA.
Mr. Sheka Bangura disclosed that coaches or whosoever have been told time and again that nobody should invite players to the national team for training without outlining a detailed programme. This programme must include how many players, the number of times to be trained per week, per day and for how long. “Paul has not done this and until that is done....”
Trainers are reported to be making unnecessary claims of monies spent on behalf of the association on the national players without any documentary proofs. “This must stop and wil lno longer be tolerated,” Bangura asserted.
On the question of paying salaries to local players in the national team, Executive members said they were not aware of such an exercise. In fact, Executive members said it is a crazy idea for the Team Manager to put players in the national team on a monthly salary. This act, according to the Executive, portrays as if the Team Manager is employing the players and therefore both the players and TM cannot be sacked. “Playing for the national team is a service. Anyone can be called at anytime to serve in any capacity and paid for the period his services are neede,” a senior executive member remarked.
Jammeh talks money
The youngest African Head of State, Alhaji Yayah A.J.J. Jammeh returned to his native home, The Gambia, last Friday after ending a two day state visit to Sierra Leone.
At the end of his visit a joint communique was issued by the two Heads of State assuring citizens of both states of mutual cooperation to bring peace and development in both countries.
President Jammeh visited the amputees displaced camp at Murray town where he donated $10,000 to the amputees and later visited the Approved School displaced camp assuring the people of his government’s effort to bring peace to Sierra Leone.
Colonel Carew in top gear
The Acting Chief of Defence Staff ,Col.Tom Carew, together with journalists on July 26th 2000 visited the Bumbuna hydro electric dam.
The CDS explained that his visit was to motivate his men in the front and to know their constraints so that prompt action will be taken to remedy the situation.
When he told the soldiers that he was there with their logistics there was a very loud applause. Col. Carew told the Commanding Office, Lt.Col. M. J. Samura that they were going to capture Makeni, Magburaka and Kono.
He added that he was an American trained soldier and that he was going to lead the troop to the battlefront.
The military boss assured the soldiers that he would do everything in his power to make them feel happy. He admonished them to be patient as government was doing everything possible to make them feel happy.
The Commanding Officer of the 1st battalion assured the CDS that he would do everything to defend Bumbuna, capture Makeni, Magburaka and Kono as long as there are logistics for the boys.
Col. Samura said that he was ready to lay his life for this country. Other officers who also expessed the same sentiments were Lt. Kamara, Lt. F. Kamara, Captain O.J. Sesay, Captain A.M. Koroma and RSM Sillah. According to them they are now going to fight bullet for bullet and that they would now take the war to the rebels other than the rebels taking the war to them. They also said they needed transportation, HF sets, VHF sets and generators.
The Wurie formula for Education
As part of his routine, the Minister of Youth, Education and Sports, Dr.Alpha T. Wurie, visited the Kafu Bullom and Lokomasama chiefdoms in the Port Loko district from 13th-15th July, 2000.
The highlight of the Minister’s visit was the handing-over ceremony of six primary school blocks constructed and fully furnsihed for the people of Kitonki, Tintafore and Mamanki by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
Dr. Wurie used this opportunity to appraise the people of the two chiefdoms and other stakeholders in the educational sector of the big package government has for the future leaders of this nation, children.
The government, he said, is the largest single employer in the country having 53,000 people in its various ministries, departments and support services, all paid from the consolidated fund. The ministry with the largest work force is that of education with 22,000 teachers serving in various districts and chiefdoms. Furthermore, the salary scale of teachers is higher than most other public servants.
Little wonder that paying teachers’ salaries became a major preoccupation of this ministry on the resumption of constitutional government in March 1998.
The error of attempting to do a head-count during the intensified conflcit from late 1998 saw all hell broke loose at the Ministry of Education. The noise was so loud, tempers so high that the public assumed that total collapse of the entire sector was imminent.
Using high diplomacy and with the support of the Accountant-General’s Department, Dr. Wurie decided to visit his constituents in the Southern and Eastern provinces to reassure them that the political turmoil notwithstanding, government’s resolve to support the education sector was still firm; and today all is quiet. The age-long salary delay in the Ministry of Education is now being put under control.
Payment of salaries for June is now going on through the banking system for teachers in the Wetern Area, the Southern and Eastern provinces; while those in the North shall be paid through the voucher system.
It is envisaged that by the start of the next academic year, this episode would be a thing of the past.
It is a pride to this government that the Ministry of Youth, Education and Sports has taken tentative steps in the implementation of Free Education at classes I-III levels, with regards to the supply of school materials and the payment of school fees. The programme experienced delays in the procurement of materials, but it is hoped that its implementation will be strengthened in the next academic year. But for any government to embark upon such a programme under a conflict situation is remarkable and should be viewed as a laudable step. This intervention would improve the national literacy levels in a 15-year span with direct impact upon the socio-economic status of the general populace.
The people of Sierra Leone should be proud to note that even under these critical conditions, our children have attempted all local and international examinations, viz the National Primary Schools Examination (NPSE), the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and the maiden edition of the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE).
Furthermore, the tertiary institutions, viz Fourah Bay College (FBC), Njala Universiry College and the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) have also completed their end of year examinations with little or no upheaval.
Only lecuters of Teachers Training Colleges seem to take delight in disrupting the sytem, even though arrangements are ongoing to support their claim. This Ministry has never had cause to underestimate the importance of the striking lecturers in the educational process. It is therefore hoped that they will continue to exercise some patience with our Ministry, while awaiting the release of funds from the Finance Ministry.
With the establishment of the polytechniques to cater for middle level manpower, the Ministry is now reasonably prepared to service all sectors of academia spanning from the primary to the tertiary levels.
When these policies finally attain maturity in their implementation, the nation will be proud of the Wurie Formula.
Kamajors ordered to quit city
The United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Sierra Leone, UNAMSIL has ordered the notorious kamajor militiamen to vacate the city and return to their homes.
Lt. Commander Patrick Coker, the UNAMSIL Military Information Officer told Journalists that 50 of the 200 armed local militia will stay to join the national army.
However, Coker said the current action is not a reaction to the excesses of the kamajors but part of the ongoing process to make Freetown a weapons-free zone. Coker said the decision was reached after consultations with CDF Commanders.
The Kamajors have become an eyesore in the city and have been allegedly engaged in series of lootings, kidnappings and killings.
Meanwhile, reports from Mile 38 and Masiaka indicate that over70 Westside Boys have so far turned up to surrender with their guns and more are reported to be turning up.
WEDNESDAY JULY 26TH 2000.
The SLPP-led government of President Ahmed Tejan is coming under immense pressure from sections of the civil populace to quit office and allow that an interim government be set in place at the expiration of its present term in March next year.
Last week, a group calling itself VERY CONCERNED CITIZENS took part in a seminar at the British Council Hall on the theme “The State of the Sierra Leonean Nation.... What Future?”
At the end of the seminar, a seven point resolution was passed among which is the setting up of an interim government that will strive to end the current war in the country as the government of President Kabbah is totally incapable of prosecuting the war and provide security for the ordinary people.
There was also a call for the immediate dismissal of the current Chief Justice, Desmond Luke, who the group argued, is unfit for the position as he belongs to another political party which was defeated in the last elections and therefore fails to meet the “prerequisites of an impartial and independent interpreter and arbiter of the laws.”
The group lambasted the government by stating that the basic concepts such as effective opposition, stable economy, rule of law, human rights, decentralisation of authorities are all a farce.
The economy of the country, according to the group is in shambles, and tribalism, sectionalism and other ‘isms’ have become the landmark of the SLPP government.
Members of the so-called "VERY CONCERNED CITIZENS" group at the seminar include prominent people like famous business tycoon, Eric James, Chairman of the Campaign for Good Governance, Zainab Bangura, Sierra Leone’s only psychiatrist, Dr. Edward Nahim, business enterpreneur, Alhaji Unisa Alim Awoko Sesay, popular political heavyweight, Alfred Akibo Betts, Mr. Mban Kabu of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, etc.
Two Chiefs Beaten to Coma
Two chiefs of Rokel in the Mambolo Chiefdom were stripped naked by RUF rebels. Pa Kompolo Bangura and Kompolo Kamara were reported by the section chief, Pa Adikalie Simbo Kamara, to the RUF in the area, alleging that the two chiefs defied his authority. The two chiefs were beaten to coma by the rebels at the Mambolo wharf roundabout. A large crowd stood to watch the sorrowful incident.
According to reports, Pa Adikalie is now claiming to be the Paramount Chief of Mambolo chiefdom.
Presently, he is the rebel adviser in Mambolo, Tombo, Royak and he is widely respected by the RUF. Citizens of Mambolo pay Le15,000 to the rebels for their daily feeding and the chief has a ‘ghetto’ which supplies dangerous drugs to the youths and the rebels.
Big Blunder at Hope Express
Monday the 24th day of July, 2000 was a sad day for photographers at the Hope Express Photo Studio.
About thirty rolls of films were discovered to have been damaged by the developing machine. Owners of the damaged films bitterly cried over the disappointment they suffered.
Some agents said that they would be in danger because most of their weekend snappings were done at Benguema during the recent passing out ceremony of soldiers.
Other agents bitterly explained that their snapping during the weekend was basically on certification, farewell parties, birthday parties and the like.
Many photographers that were interviewed by this press intimated that all what the workers of the studio explained was just an escape route and that they strongly believed that it was not the right chemical that was put in the right place.
West Side Goes on the Rampage Again
In spite of UNAMSIL’s Operation Thunderbolt which was carried out to flush the West Side boys from their hideouts around the Okra Hills, they continue to be active in their bid to sabotage the operations of the mission.
According to UNAMSIL spokesman, Hirut Befecadou, the boys, at about 2:15pm on Saturday 22nd July, ambushed a UNAMSIL convoy at the Laya Junction, seriously wounding one peacekeeping soldier. The soldier is reported to be responding to treatment at the Choithram Hospital.
The Spokesman maintained that the act was probably in retaliation of what they suffered during the thunderbolt operations. The Spokesman also stated that the attack on the mission’s convoy was not characterised by concentrated gun firing typical of rebel ambushes, but rather it was carried out by a lone gunner who only fired and disappeared into the forest. She however said that the convoy was able to pass without any damage to the vehicles.
Meanwhile, twoSLRA transport buses enroute to Bo and Kenema respectively were on Monday attacked at the same point by the West Side Boys. Gunshots were reported to have been rained on one of the buses as the driver sped passed a checkpoint mounted by the renegades.
According to a passenger who was on board the bus, Patrick Kallon, they spotted the group of boys immediately the bus had descended the Okra hill, and they were signalled to stop. “We were all alarmed,” Patrick stated, “and we urged the driver to risk it and speed through the checkpoint. There was no possibility for the driver to reverse the bus on the hill.”
Patrick explained that bullets were rained at the tyres of the bus, but luckily they went passed without any puncture. The bus arrived at Mile 38 and was escorted back to Freetown by a contingent of the Jordanian battallion. No further incidents were reported.
The thunderbolt operation only succeeded in removing the West side boys from the mainstream of the highway, and they continue to be active in their bases at Mahera and Rogberaybana villages.
The West side boys were reported as saying, “UNAMSIL go tire,” meaning UNAMSIL will get tired.
Rebels Surrender Enmasse In The East
Dozens of top RUF brass including their under rank fighters, are reported to be presenting themselves at the Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reintegration Camp at Jojoima in Daru in the Kenema District, Eastern Province.
Among the top brass was one identified as self-styled Major Warattay. According to UNAMSIL Spokesman, Major Warattay reported at the DDR camp with sixteen combatants and thirty-two child combatants. Over the weekend, they brought with them assorted arms which included three RPGs, six AK58s, three AK47s, one 50mm gun and a large quantity of assorted ammunition rounds.
The Spokesman maintained that this huge response by the RUF might not be unconnected with the mission’s policy of active engagement in dialogue with the rebels for them to see reason. According to the Spokesman, it is the standard policy of UNAMSIL to put it to the rebels that the continuation of the war will neither bring benefits to them nor the country as a whole. “We are telling them in clear terms that the continued subjection of their compatriots to unnecessary sufferings has no benefit to them,” the spokesman affirmed.
This latest surrender of RUF rebels is the largest since UNAMSIL conducted its rescue mission in Kailahun late last week. The spokesman however expressed satisfaction over this turnout stating, “This is a clear indication that the RUF in the east are more determined and sincere to having a peaceful resolution of this crisis.”
New Union To Be Launched
The Congo Water Progressive Union of Wellington will be launched soon with the aim of reuniting all youths in the Wellington/Kissy area.
The Union was founded on July 2, 2000 with the Motto : Working for Progress.
Speaking to this press, the Chairman of the Union, Mr. Raymond Kargbo, said the union comprises ten social clubs and organisations including Mystic Clan, Passion Superlative Guys (PSG), Future Friends, Antigang squad, Talented Unify Force, The Royal Passion Guys, Promising Clan, Mix Raiders and Zeemix Family.
He said the main motive of the union is to unite the brotherly clubs to promote environmental development in Wellington. He said the residents of Wellington and Kissy lack taps, water wells, electricity supply and good road conditions, adding that Sierra Leone is first in their agenda.
He said new ideas are welcomed to promote the union as youths from all works of life are involved and that the union’s priority is to promote community development
The chairman appealed to NGOs to promote the union in other to develop the Wellington/Kissy and Calaba Town.
Reports for publications dated between July 12th and July 26th 2000 as published in Freetown, will soon be uploaded onto this space. Check back in a short while.
WEDNESDAY JULY 12TH 2000
The Speaker of Parliament yesterday announced the dismissal of seven Members of Parliament from the House of Representatives.
Those affected are Hon. Dr. John Karefa Smart (UNPP), Hon. Abdulai Bundu Kamara (UNPP), Augustine Kembe Stevens (DCP), Hon. A.F. Serry-Kamal (APC), Hon.Victor Foh (APC), Hon.Dr. Jengo Stevens (APC) and Hon. Edward Turay (APC).
Following this announcement, the above mentioned parliamentarians will no longer enter parliament.
The reason for the dismissal of the MPs is their failure to attend thirty parliamentary sittings contrary to the constitution of Sierra Leone.
Some of the affected MPs, John Karefa Smart, Edward Turay, A.B. Kamara and A.K. Stevens, are out of the country, .
Many people interviewed remarked that the decision was very untimely as such action would breed bad blood and might inflame the already volatile situaiton in the country.
This action is viewed by many as a deliberate attempt by the SLPP government to silence outspoken opposition politicians.
When contacted, Hon. A.F. Serry Kamal only remarked, “This is too early to give any comment”.
The AFRC, whose umbrella the so-called Westside boys are using to continue staying on the Okra Hills area has ceased to exist since yesterday, Tuesday July 11.
However, military authorities contacted yesterday intimated that not a single soldier of the Westside boys turned up at Masiaka where they were ordered to report with their arms and ammunition to be disarmed and demobilised.
Those who had intended to comply with the government order have been warned by the recalcitrant group that they will be executed if anyone attempts to move from the base to Masiaka.
The fact remains that majority of the so-called Westside boys are not real soldiers in the first place but men and women abducted and later trained how to cock and fire a gun. Many are finding it extremely difficult now to surrender since they’ve been bluffing and posing as real soldiers and awarding themselves various military ranks from captain to generals.
The public now awaits what government’s next step will be after the deadline expires.
MSF Helicopter In Diamba Deal
Twenty-one parcels of canabis sativa (Diamba) were last week arrested at the Mammy Yoko Heliport by a group of police officers off-loaded from a Medicine San Frontiers helipcoter in Freetown.
This was disclosed in a press conference Monday by the Director of the Criminal Investigations Department, Oliver B. M Somasa. He said the 21 parcels were found in a suitcase which was in possession of one Brima Conteh of MSF Belgium.
Mr. Oliver pointed out that the MSF Belgium helicopter was from Kabala in the Northern province. He said two people had already been arrested in connection with the deal and the police are making further investigations on the issue.
Earlier, the head of the Media Police Unit, Kallie S. Sesay, spoke on the efforts of the police to control the crime rate in the country.
COUNTERFEIT LEONE NOTES! 1 Sa. Leonean, 1 Nigerian Nabbed!!
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Oliver B.M. Somasa, the Director of Criminal Investigation Department has told newsmen that one Sierra Leonean and a Nigerian are presently in police custody on allegations of counterfeiting Le 5,000 notes.
According to Mr Somasa, they had a tip off last Tuesday that one Amara Koroma had some diamonds in his residence at 4, Frazer Street, Freetown. He said a police team was immediately despatched and when a search was conductedm, seven counterfeit Le 5,000 were discovered in his possession.
Upon this, Mr. Somasa went on, a thorough search was conducted aduring which 66 notes of the same denomination were discovered.
He however stated there was no evidence as yet to implicate the Nigerian but he mentioned that futher investigations were still being carried in respect of the matter.
He further said that from the police investigation, they had discovered that a lot of those fake notes were associated with illicit diamond buyers and more of them were in circulation in the provincial areas.
Ninety Children Behind Rebel Lines
Concerns are raised about dozens of children that are held incommunicado behind rebel lines in the Bombali District, Northern Sierra Leone.
The children, numbering about ninety and of various ages, are said to be trapped in a village called Kompomkie, some forty miles from Kamakwie.
These children, according to reports, were under the care of Help A Needy Child International, HANCI, a local NGO based in Makeni. The reports further maintianed that following clashes between the RUF and the AFRC which saw the former dislodging the latter from the township last year, these children were evacuated to Kamakwie, but the continued deteriorating security situation caused them to be taken to the village of Kompomkie for onward evacuation to Lungi or Freetown.
According to reports, the nutritional and general health conditions of these children continue to deteriorate considerably. They are reported to be emaciated, anaemic and worn out.
APC Strongman Accused of Sell-out
Popular Freetown Barrister and Solicitor and Member of Parliament for the All People’s Congress party, Honourable Serry Kamal, has been accused by his client, Pa Kura Sesay, of having reached a deal with the complainant, Alie Kamara, to lose his land case heard at the Freetown High Court No. 2.
According to Pa Kura, he had called on Hon. Kamal on several occasions to have him represented on the case, but to no avail. “I have paid him thrice, but any time I asked him to represent me, he always gave flimsy excuses of being busy,” he said.
Pa Sesay stated that the last amount paid to Lawyer Kamal was Le175,000 and he (Kamal) promised to represent him in the next court sitting. “To my greatest surprise, when the time came, Lawyer Kamal demanded Le 40,000 as transprt fare from me before he could appear on my behalf. And when I pleaded with him that I had nothing, he ordered me out of his office,” he said.
According to Pa Sesay, the matter has reached the Appeal Court and Lawyer Kamal is demanding Le3 million to represent him.
“My investigations revealed that the complainantt has struck a compromise with lawyer Kamal to have me forfeit my land which I will not accept,” Pa Sesay said.
Pa Kura said what baffled him most was the fact that Lawyer Kamal had refused to hand over his land documents to him despite several attempts to have him do so.
CPO Denies Bribery Allegation
The Chief Police Officer attached to the Kissy Mess Mess Police Station, Amadu Mannah, has denied allegations of having acquired two acres of land from one Alie Kamara as reported in a local tabloid.
In an interview at his Mess mess Office, CPO Mannah stated that such a land case had never been reported to his station. He said what was certain was that some weeks ago, he received a complaint from Alie Kamara that his neighbours threatened to kill him in respect of a land issue which the court had passed a verdict on.
He said he despatched a group of Police and SSD officers to warn the people concerned to refrain fromsuch threats, otherwise, the law would take its cause.
“When the officers arrived at the scene, an SSD attacked the leader of the group, OC Scorpion, who was later arrested,” he disclosed.
CPO Mannah stated that land issue was a civil matter and it was above his jurisdiction to pass verdict. “My duty is to protect the lives and properties of the people and I have no intention to take sides on the said issue. All I can say is that all those involved in that incident shall face the due process of the law,” he concluded.
Stern Warning For Vessel Owners
The Minister of Agriculture Forestry, Environment and Marine Resources Okere Adams, has warned Fishing companies that are presently operating in our territorial waters of Sierra Leone to abide by the regulations of the Fishing industry.
Speaking to pressmen at his Marine Office recently, Okere Adams said all income generating ministries had been urged to take steps geared towards the improvement of the government’s revenue base.
He said, “I have warned vessel owners to pay up their licence fees against the stipulated deadline or fold up.”
He said the Ministry would start siezing vessels that were in big arrears as some people thought that the Ministry was not taking records of their arrears.
He said this time around government would leave no stone unturned to make sure that Fishing companies comply with the regulations, adding that the channel fishing also in coastal areas like Tombo, Yeliboya, Kasirie, Portee, Goderich would be stopped. The Minister cautioned that there would come a time when there will be a scarcity of fish in the market.