Opinions' free; Facts are sacred
Grand Alliance....“I’ll Now
Die In Peace”
The oldest survivor of the APC founding fathers, Alhaji S.A.T. Koroma, last Tuesday said if he was to die, he would die in peace as his long awaited dream had come to reality.
The octogenarian was speaking at the launching ceremony which marked the official signing of the Memorandum of Understanding which brought together six registered political parties, namely, the All People’s Congress (APC), People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA), People’s Democratic Party (PDP), People’s National Convention (PNC), People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the United National People’s Party (UNPP).
Koroma said he was happy that all his children had come together to form the Grand Alliance in the name of national peace, unity and progress.
He appealed to members of the Grand Alliance not to allow detractors to undermine their unity and assured all that the APC was totally committed and dedicated to the aims and objectives of the Alliance.
Speaking on behalf of his PDA party, Abdul Rahman Kamara said the people of this country had suffered for far too long because of disunity.
Kamara, who lost his father on the day of the launching, attended the ceremony, which many described as a sign of total commitment.
Hon. Osman Kamara, leaderof the PDP-Sorbeh, said their detractors had been saying that the Alliance had no agenda and that it was regionally biased. He told the audience that in a democratic state everybody was free to say what they liked to say within the ambits of the law.
He told members that the essence of the ceremony was not to castigate the SLPP. “The time will come when the report card will be read out for all to hear. This is not yet the time,” he said.
Edward Kargbo of the PNC said they (the old) decided to take the back seat but had to come back because they “cannot sit by and watch the country going up in flames.”
Alpha Amadu Mansaray who spoke on behalf of Dr. Abass Bundu of the PPP, informed the gathering that Bundu said if there was need to sacrifice a human being for Sierra Leone to have peace, he was ready to be the sacrificial lamb.
Hon. A.G. Sembu-Fornah of the UNPP displayed the results of the last parliamentary and presidential elections and remarked that if all went well, the victory of the Alliance was a forgone conclusion. He said the Alliance was open to everybody at anytime.
Thousands of people from all walks of life turned out at the Miatta Conference hall, Youyi Building, to witness the ceremony amidst drumming, singing and eating.
In The Pool with OF-Kay
First of all, I wish to apologise to all our faithful readers and clickers for the news delay. It was due to some internal problems. All our ladies decided to become rebellious workers and did an AWOL tactics on us. Even our usually dutiful site uploader secretary also did AWOL on us. So, the men were left alone to work it out.
I wish I was around to see how my ‘AWOL’ secretaries were dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s.
Oh yes, the ladies were busy putting pen to paper, replying to big Fish’s query letter. Musu was all busy scribbling the reasons for absenting herself from work for consecutive days without official excuse; Farida had the biggest dictionary in the world, trying to figure out words and sentences; Adiza was the swiftest of the three.
She quickly made up a story about boils on her body. Farida’s explanation was no better. But the most interesting of all was Musu’s who said all her relatives had ....
So when I met the Sports Editor outside, he drew me to a corner and said, “I never knew Musu was that smart. She has killed all her relatives.” Sorie laughed and laughed until tears rolled down his cheeks.
Ojuku accepted the letters with trepidation and reservation. He did not say a single word to any body throughout that day. He was just sitting in office, fiddling with his pen, trying to figure out what to do next. For the whole of that Wednesday, the ladies were on their toes. Even Adiza did not come with her basket.
Well, readers, let me draw your attention to a recent stand-off between Management and the other fishes in which the secretaries coincidentally fell ill and failed to report for duty. It really resembled a strike but I would not want to call it so.
This is basically because all the male fishes were in the pond, putting things in order. Sayoh Kamara came in a bit late that day and had his own manna. What a surprise it was for most of the fishes, including Bilal and Osman Tolo. It was joy all the way that day. But there wasn’t for two of the other fishes - Abu Whyte and Augustus Mye-Kamara who has been conspicously absent from the pond.
Theirs is a different story altogether. But Augustus, my Political Editor, was always on the telephone, trying to put things together for the survival of the pond.
We are what we are - strong, united, progressive and committed to our course. So tell all those who think otherwise to go to the Pacific ocean and have a bath. Our pond is impregnable- nobody can go through it.
If you want to know what is obtaining in the most famous pond, come in and swim with us.
Capt(Rtd) Rahman Urges For Unity
One of the heavyweights behind the bringing to life of the Grand Alliance, Capt. (rtd) Abdul Rahman Kamara, has stated that he will exploit all avenues to bridge the seeming political problems endangering some of the political parties within the alliance.
He was speaking during the formal launching and signing of the Memorandum of Understanding of the Grand Alliance, Tuesday 19th September, at the Miatta Conference hall.
Captain (Rtd) Kamara did not particularly mention any party by name, but stated that it was morally binding on them, the leaders of the six political parties that form the alliance, to bow to the wishes their supporters and the entire Sierra Leonean population.
Captain (Rtd) Kamara affirmed his party’s commitment to the alliance and to the service to the people. He therefore urged members of the various political parties, who might be nursing political and ideological differences to put them aside and join the alliance bandwagon.
Captain (Rtd) Kamara declared, “We are even determined to go on our knees to talk to those party members who have such differences among them.”
It could be recalled that before now, and barely two weeks after the first meeting of the merger parties, the only surviving APC Parliamentarian, lawyer Osho Williams, was reported to have vehemently condemned the merger on the basis of principle and ideology. Lately, another camp from within the APC led by Mr. Sorsor Conteh and Jengo Stevens and lawyer Serry Kamal are also reported to be nursing reservations about the Alliance.
Likewise within the UNPP, party stalwarts supportive of the party’s octogenarian leader Dr. John Karefa-Smart, are not seeing eye to eye with those parliamentarians serving under the party’s ticket.
Supporters of Dr. Karefa Smart are disgusted with the parliamentarians over their disrespect for the party leader, and are therefore claiming that the parliamentarians do not have the legitimacy to compromise on any political issue in the name of the party.
Humanitarian Crisis Hits Neya
Reports filtering in from Neya chiefdom, in the northern district of Koinadugu, state the seriousness of the humanitarian situation in the chiefdom.
The reports speak of an outbreak of diarrhoea in several villages within and around the chiefdom as a result of lack of adequate nutritional ingredients and medicine. They further state that the people in dire need of clothing and housing facilities.
A native of the village of Yarawadugu, Karfa Turay, who arrived Freetown through Guinea disclosed that people, especially children and women, are mainly affected by this unfortunate epidemic. He could not give any definite figure of deaths, but stated the number was alarming.
Mr. Turay lamented about the pathetic situation of the people, stating, “the government, the UN and NGOs, both local and international, should do all they could to go into that region or else, I am afraid it will spell a humanitarian catasptrophe.”
Mr. Turay disclosed further that though the people of the chiefdom were doing all in their power to sustain themselves, marauding rebels from Kono and Makeni have instituted their policy of weekly ration collection from the people.
Tombo Community Lauds Kulafai
The people of Tombo village have expressed their appreciation to the Kulafai Rashideen Islamic Mission for its assistance in the area since 1996.
According to Pa Abu Kamara, spokesman of the community, the Islamic Mission has rendered series of assistance to improve the health and educational standard of the people. He said since their coming to the area, over 3,000 inhabitants have benefited from the free medical treatment provided by the mission. They further commended Mr. Sylvanus Kamara, head of the medical team of the mission, for his courage and concern he always expressed for the people in the community.
“This man has really been hard working and in some cases, he has taken patients to Freetown for advance medical treatment at his own cost,” he explained.
On the educational sector, Pa Kamara explained that the mission was the first to establish an Islamic primary school in the village.
“We welcomed the idea, considering the fact that we are predominantly a muslim community,” he remarked. He said since its establishment in 1996, the school had scored successes in the NPSE and plans are well underway to expand the present structure of the school to accommodate the new admissions from the village and its environs.
“We have contacted Plan International and the government to come to our rescue, but we are yet to get any response from them. As soon as they come to our aid, we shall start the building of our school,” he explained.
Tombo FM To Go Peninsular
The newly established FM 96.7 of Tombo is expected to go peninsular wide, authoritative sources revealed to this press last week.
According to the brain-child behind the opening of the local radio station, Abdul Kamara, it is their intention to ensure that villages all over the peninsular area benefit from the radio station.
“We are at present broadcasting only at Tombo, but I can assure you, very soon all other villages in the peninsular and even its environs will benefit from our programmes”, he said
Asked why they initiated the programme, he replied that they did that by virtue of the fact that Tombo is expanding at a fast rate, and therefore it is increasingly impossible to continue to use the ancient system of disseminating information through the ringing of the town bell.
“Most information today is passed to the people through this radio station,” he said.
He further pointed out that it was extremely difficult to catch upwith the air waves of both the BBC and the local FM radio stations based in Freetown.
“We have used our station in recent times to link up with the BBC with their Focus On Africa Programmes and FM 99.9 on their 8:00p m national news to get the people informed of both local and international news,” he explained.
He however expressed his dismay over the non cooperation of the people in the community.
“The people don’t seem to appreciate our efforts. Since we started this programme, none of them have come to our aid. We have been doing things all by ourselves apart from the assistance we received from the UNAMSIL Commanding Officer in the village,” he concluded.
A biennial conference held by the Cassette Sellers Association on Saturday 2nd September, unanimously confirmed the continued stay at the helm of the Association’s national executive of Mr. Gibrilla Turay as President.
The conference, held at the Association’s head office at Sackville Street, was attended by representatives of the association’s branches in Kono, Makeni, Kenema and Bo.
The conference deliberated on issues affecting the association both at national and branch levels. One of the most outstanding issues which had been a headache to the national executive (the tussle among branch members in Kenema) was amicably settled.
Addressing members, the president Gibrilla Turay admonished them not to be carried away by sentiments and self aggradisement to the detriment of the association. He called for unity among members nationwide, maintaining that it is only through unity that their objectives could be realised. He recalled the great strides and sacrifices made by the lot of the membership to build the association to what it is today. He urged members to accept and work for the association as it is theirs.
“Let us all come together as a family to build CSA on a more solid foundation for the success of us all and for the promotion of our national economy,” Mr. Turay asserted.
On behalf of the national executive, Mr. Turay presented a new multi recording system and musical set to the members. The president paid tribute to the good working relationship between the association and Super Sounds recording company.
Responding, speaker after speaker from the various branches pledged support to the leadership of Mr.Turay. They maintained that since his assumption of office, he had worked assidously for the promotion of the association as well as bridging the intermitent differences arising among members. They praised and thanked him for the new musical set.
The conference was climaxed by the final resolutions adopted by the members. They resolved to meet every three months for appraisals and a common understanding of the activities of the national executive.
Kabbah To Confirm Col. Carew
Sources close to the President have confided in this press that President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah may soon confirm the appointment ofCol. T.S. Carew from Acting Chief of Defence Staff to CDS very and promote him to the rank of Major General.
The sources said that President Kabbah had been watching Tom carew closely for the past six months and was satisfied with the CDS’s performence in prosecuting the rebel war, adding that Col. Carew also had command over the Army.
“I am extremely surprised to see you as a CDS taking the war to the rebels when you should be sitting down, giving command to your subordinates,” the president was quoted to have said.
The sources further disclosed that the Commander of the British forces in Sierra Leone, Brigadier Gordon Hughes, recently recommended Carew to Kabbah as a fearless fighter, administrator and a loyal soldier to his superior in rank.
“I am more than happy for the progress we have made together with Col. Carew. I am confident that when the British tropps will leave Sierra Leone, we will not be disappointed about his appointment,” Brigadier Hughes was also quoted to have said.
When contacted, a very senior officer at Defence Headquarters said “This is not news as the entire army know the competence of Col. Tom Carew. Even the foreign missions present in Sierra Leone know about his capability and recently requested his curriculum vitae ”.
According to the officer, Col. Carew is hard working, firm, humble and kind. “Let me tell you for free, though there are some colonels who are also vying for this position, they are no match for Col. Carew,” The officer at DHQ said.
“I am a colonel for some years standing but honest to God, Col. T S Carew is the best among the lot,” he maintained.
“He was the best brigade Commander Bo and Kenema and he did extremely well when he was Director of Operation DHQ as the records are there to prove,” he stressed.
The officer said that those who know Col. Tom Carew will agree with him that he is very loyal and that he is the officer the president is looking forward to. He will also be able to instill discipline among the other ranks when he heads the army soon.
“Gbethies” Call Okere Adams To
“Enough is enough. We will no longer take it. They have been given all sorts of encouragement for them to see reason and stop this nonsense. But it seems the only language they understand is force. They continue to occupy the villages of our people after rendering some of them houseless, rape our sisters, destroy our plantations. We will fight them to the last action of our strength until they quit our villages”. These were the angry remarks of a Gbethie Commander in Koya.
Latest reparts from Koya stated that the northern local militia based in the Chiefdom has waged a serious war against the notorious West Side boys and are determined to chase them right to their jungle base.
After the abduction of the British soldiers, the West Side boys continued the raping, abducting and molesting of civilians which forced many people to abandon their villages once again.
The ‘Gbethies’ and the other local militias are appealing to the Government to provide them with enough logistics and food in order to continue the exercise.
They made special appeal to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Marine Resources, Okereh Adams to push their case to the Government.
Asked why calling on Okereh rather than Hinga Norman, the Commander said that Okereh knows and feels the plight of northerners more than anybody else in the pressent Government.
“He has been very helpful not only to us the fighters but to thousands of displaced people from the north. Come the elections, we are ready to pay him back,” he concluded.
MP Commends Col.
The UNPP Member of Parliament, Hon. Foday Fornah, has commended the Acting Chief of Defence Staff Col. Tom Carew at a media conference held at his Congo Cross residence on Wednesday September 6th, 2000.
Hon. Fornah said that he had been following developments since Carew’s appointment as Acting CDS in April this year and said he had done well in preventing the rebels from causing more atrocities to unarmed civilians.
He appealed to the CDS to work out modalities to flush the West Side Boys from their Okra Hills base. The UNPP Parliamentarian further appealed to the CDS to try and capture Makeni, Kono and the entire Kailahun from the rebels for the good of the people.
“I have no doubt in your capability because I have known you when you were Brigade Commander, Bo, Kenema and Director of Operations, Cockeril. You did extremely well,” Fornah maintained.
He pointed out that it was not a mistake by President Kabbah in appointing Colonel Carew as Acting CDS.
He appealed to the militaryman not to relent in the discharge of his duties for the sake of the people.
He described Col. Carew as firm, humble and Godfearing whose love for humanity surpasses everything. He admonished him to make the soldiers know that civilians must be respected and protected “since it is the tax payers’ money that is used to buy their uniforms, guns, boots and also pay their salaries”.
Meanwhile the Acting Cheif of Defence Staff has warned that those who are still circulating false news that he will soon proceed on further studies will have to prove it especially when such rumours come from the military wing.
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 1ST 2000
Permanent Secretary goes for seven
The former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Soloku Bockarie, was on Wednesday slammed a sentence of seven years imprisonment after he was found guilty of larceny and corruption.
Pronouncing the sentence, the trial judge, Justice Ademosu, said only a custodian sentence will send the right message to other civil servants who think that pilfering with government funds is the best way forward.
Pleas of mitigation by defence lawyer, R.A. Caesar for a non-custodian sentence were rejected.
Mr. Bockarie has been standing trial for the past four months when he was accused of stealing up to Le300,000,000 (Three hundred million leones) cash, money meant for salaries for teachers in Bo.
After the judge had pronounced the sentence, Mr. Bockarie and his relatives wept bitterly in court before he was whisked off to the Pademba Road prisons to start serving his seven years jail term.
Rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) on Wednesday returned some of the weapons seized four months ago from the Zambian United Nations Peacekeepers. Six armoured tanks were returned and are partly vandalised.
The handing over ceremony took place at Makoth village, 10 miles to Makeni. The UN praised the RUF for the guesture and said it was a step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, several eyewitnesses have reported that the armoured vehicles in which the 11 abducted British soldiers were travelling in, are being openly used along the Masiaka Highway by the West Side Boys. This is done in the full view of the Jordanian UNAMSIL troops.
The Westside boys who recently captured eleven British soldiers have called for the setting up of an interim government and the release of all members of their families presently in detention.
Speaking on a satellite telephone provided by Britain to secure the release of their soldiers, Colonel Kambodia said they are former soldiers who have deliberately refused to disarm because they have no faith in the present government.
“We overthrew the SLPP government in 1997 and those politicians are bent on a revenge,” he said.
Colonel Kambodia said Johnny Paul Koroma is no longer their leader because, “he has betrayed us”. He announced that self-styled Brigadier Kallay is now their new leader.
The Westside boys on Wednesday released five of the British soldiers but revealed that the six would still be held in order to pass their message to the appropriate authorities.
“They are in good health. We give them adequate shelter and medication,” Kambodia said.
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 30TH 2000
Liar Julius Spencer lies again!
Contrary to a newspaper report quoting Dr. Julius Spencer, Information Minister that “government will not talk with Westside criminals” for the release of the British soldiers, competent government sources disclosed to this press yesterday that Sierra Leonean and British negotiators are expected to meet with the Westside boys in an attempt to bring about the release of the 12 hostages.
“We don’t believe that there is any other option than negotiations, and we believe that our military observers and peacekeepers on the ground, especially the Jordian battalion stationed around the area will do a lot to end the crisis,” UNAMSIL Military Spokesman, Lt. Commander Patrick Coker said.
Meanwhile, negotiations continued Monday by radio to bring about the soldiers’ release. “UNAMSIL military observers and Jordanian peacekeepers at Masiaka, close to the base of the West Side boys, continue to have dialogue with the West side boys for the immediate release of the eleven British soldiers and one Sierra Leonean soldier. A UN spokesman in New York, however, said the negotiations were being conducted by British and Sierra Leonean officials with the assistance of UN military observers.
Westside boys make fresh
The notorious West Side boys have continued to make fresh demands in exchange for the release of the abducted 11 British soldiers.
Added to their earlier demands which included the release of their three commanders, 5-5, Bomblast and Gullit, food and medicines, they have now requested for a satellite telephone.
Though British military and UN sources in Sierra Leone refuse to comment on the demands, strong indications are rife that both parties are working behind the scenes to have their demand for food, medicines and satellite telephone met. Our source stated that the government is finding it very difficult to adhere to the demand for the release of Bomblast, 5-5 and others for fear of adverse public reaction.
Members of the public have been persistently demanding the arrest and detention of the three commanders who were a major stumbling block to the peace and security of the state, especially their behaviour in the city.
They have been linked many a times since the signing of the Lome Peace Accord last year with many crimes in the city, ranging from looting, armed robbery, beatings to even killings.
UNAMSIL in raping
Three teenage girls, two already dead and the other hospitalized, are purported to have been gang-raped by soldiers of the Indian battalion based at Mile 91.
According to an eyewitness, the two girls died barely a week after the alledged assaults. The eyewitness mantained that the girls revealed to their worrying parents that they were each offered five United States dollars for sex by two of the Indian soldiers. When the girls refused, they were gang-raped.
The eyewitness further stated that the matter was reported to the Battalion high command, but efforts to trace the culprits were not effected as the raped girls were weak and seriously ill to move. They later died in an NGO clinic, the eyewitness reported. The third however is reported to be responding to treatment.
In another development, a teenage boy is also reported to have been sodomized by soldiers of the same battalion, resulting in a serious anal inflammation and fluid discharge. He too is admitted in an NGO clinic.
Hirut Befecadou, spokesman for UNAMSIL, in her response to the allegation, mantained that the report had yet not reached the mission’s headquarters. She stated that the mission had a Child Protection Unit which was sure to act accordingly once the information reached it. However she stated: “The allegations cannot be attributed to the soldiers alone because the environment is a complex one. It may be possible; they too are human beings,” Befecadu said.
Minister Declares Gov’t Position
on Mines Ban
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has assured non governmental organisations that government will soon ratify the Mine Ban Treaty.
Dr. Sama Banya was speaking at a press briefing organised by a local NGO, Save Heritage and Rehabilitate the Environment, SHARE, at the China House Friendship House.
The Minister decscribed land mines as dangerous as they always hit their target even after they might have been deployed for a long time. The effect of landmines, according to the Minister, is traumatic and shattering to the mentality and physique of their victims.
He stated that talking about land mines was not enough. “Words must be followed by positive and concrete actions, as their continued presence is a menace to humanity,” the Minister said.
Dr. Banya maintained that the total banning of land mines depended on the avoidability of conflict which would in turn stop their production, sale and use.
He said the issue of landmines was seriously considered by the government as it had already signed the treaty banning them. Dr. Banya also said that his government had prioritised many other treaties which are currently before the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.
He assured Pressmen that come September when the next meeting on the Mine Ban treaty is due, Parliament would have ratified it. Dr. Banya however touched on government’s inability to mount a national sensitisation campaign on land mines.
Twenty-nine fighters of the so-called Westside have so far been assassinated on the orders of the jungle high command for attempting to surrender to the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Sierra Leone. A look-out mission is reported to have been mounted for other suspected “fugitives” that want to surrender.
The reported assassinations started with twenty-seven of the renegades prior to the abduction of the eleven British soldiers of the Royal Irish Regiment.
A kangaroo court martial is reported to have been instituted, the fighters found,”guilty of betraying their cause” and condemned. A senior commander, self-styled Brigadier Foday Kallay, is quoted as saying, “These are dying for betraying a cause for which we all resolved to pursue to its success”.
Furthermore, two other fighters were on Friday 25th August, killed at the Westside checkpoint of Masiaka. According to sources, the soldiers had attempted to surrender to UNAMSIL at Masiaka late Thursday, but were advised by the Mission Observers to go back and return early the following morning as it was already dark. They were immediately arrested on their return.
Meanwhile eyewitnesses are reporting the blatant use of the two armoured personnel carriers siezed from the abducted British soldiers personnel along the Masiaka highway in the full glare of UNAMSIL.
MONDAY AUGUST 28TH 2000
Berewa bursts!! The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice,
Solomon Berewa, has last weekend furiously refuted press reports attributed
to him about the resolve of government not to
prosecute AFRC junta leader, Lt.Col. Johnny Paul
Reacting to a question posed to him by The Pool, Berewa angrily maintained that he “did not mention
anyone by name” when he spoke about who would and
would not be charged with crimes against humanity.
The Minister of Justice castigated journalists whom he
accused of misrepresenting and distorting the facts.
Berewa revealed that it was not within the purview of
the government to determine individuals who would be
arraigned before the tribunal.
When questioned about the continual detention
without charge of RUF leader, Foday Sankoh, Berewa
explained that the President was acting within his
constitutional powers to detain Sankoh as there is
sufficient reason to believe that the rebel leader had
a case to answer. He insisted that Sankoh should be
held accountable for the actions of his subordinates,
citing the principle of supreme command as reference.
It would be recalled that Sankoh has been detained
without charge for close to three months since his
arrest on the 17th May this year following the events
of a mass demonstration against him which turned
violent and nasty, resulting in the deaths of several
Mr. Solomon Berewa, being the legal adviser of the
government, is expected to prosecute those individuals
who might be arraigned before the tribunal for war
crimes. It is however not known when the process of
proecution would start.
APC Quits Merger
The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Solomon Berewa, has last weekend furiously refuted press reports attributed to him about the resolve of government not to prosecute AFRC junta leader, Lt.Col. Johnny Paul Koroma.
Reacting to a question posed to him by The Pool, Berewa angrily maintained that he “did not mention anyone by name” when he spoke about who would and would not be charged with crimes against humanity.
The Minister of Justice castigated journalists whom he accused of misrepresenting and distorting the facts. Berewa revealed that it was not within the purview of the government to determine individuals who would be arraigned before the tribunal.
When questioned about the continual detention without charge of RUF leader, Foday Sankoh, Berewa explained that the President was acting within his constitutional powers to detain Sankoh as there is sufficient reason to believe that the rebel leader had a case to answer. He insisted that Sankoh should be held accountable for the actions of his subordinates, citing the principle of supreme command as reference.
It would be recalled that Sankoh has been detained without charge for close to three months since his arrest on the 17th May this year following the events of a mass demonstration against him which turned violent and nasty, resulting in the deaths of several people.
Mr. Solomon Berewa, being the legal adviser of the government, is expected to prosecute those individuals who might be arraigned before the tribunal for war crimes. It is however not known when the process of proecution would start.
APC Quits Merger
Before the kick-off of the so-called PAD Merger of political parties, cracks have already started emerging from within its ranks.
At the last meeting of the APC steering committee, the only surviving APC parliamentarian, Lawyer Osho Williams, was reported to have vehemently condemned the merger and was quoted as stating that the APC was not in a position to dissolve its name for any other name.
“Other parties are welcome to merge with us, but we cannot merge with any other party that will force us to relinquish our identity,” Osho Williams was quoted as saying.
However, reports further stated that other senior members of the party present prevailed upon Osho Williams to bury his objection in the name of unity and allow the merger to go on.
Cynics have hastily remarked that the major problem that will affect the merger might be the readiness of the parties to disssolve their names and come out with a single name. The other argument forwarded is that of the leadersip crisis.
“Everybody is gearing up to become leader. Nobody is prepared to succumb”.
David Mahdi heads
The Sports Writers of Sierra Leone (SWASAL) last Saturday conducted its bi-annual elections with David Mahdi Koroma as President taking over from Pool Managing Editor, Chernor Ojuku Sesay.
The post of Vice president went to Mohamed Fajah Barrie of Concord Times, beating Abdul Rahman Swaray into second place.
Mohamed Taimeh won the position of Secretary-General beating Mani Sorie with 22 to 20 votes. The post of Financial Secretary was won by Amadu Bah of Sierra News. Ibrahim Barrie of Standard Times, Amadu Daramy of SLENA, Abu Mac Konneh and Sorie Ibrahim Sesay of The Pool were unopposed for the position of Treasurer, Social and Organising Secretary, Assistant Organising Secretary and Public Relations Officer 1 respectively.
In his speech, the outgone president, Chernoh Ojuku Sesay, implored on members to bury their differences in order to promote the image of the association. He pledged to render assistance at all times to the association.
The president-elect, David Mahdi Koroma, thanked members for the confidence response in him and further appeal to members to be united inorder to promote the associaiton.
The election was conducted in a peaceful atmosphere with Mr. M. L. Dumbuya, Deputy Director of Sports as special guest of honour for the occasion.
West Side Junglers Abduct
The notorious Westside junglers last Friday abducted some eleven British soldiers along the Freetown/Masiaka highway.
Up to press time, it was not known why the junglers had decided to behave that way considering the fact that some of their colleagues have started disarming to UNAMSIL.
The abduction of the British soldiers came as a big surprise to both the International Community and the government, as such a move is considered to be inimical to the wishes of the people.
As of press time, the former leader of the AFRC was yet to make a statement about the unfortunate development.
Meanwhile, reports coming from the Okra Hills area state that the abducted British personnel are not kept in one location for fear of an imminent attack by UNAMSIL. The renegade soldiers are reported to have said that until one of their leaders, self-styled Brigadier 5-5 is released, they would not release the British soldiers.
However, intensive negotiations are continuing between the government, Britain and the abductors.
171 RUF persons released from
The SLPP government on Friday released 171 persons from prison, most of them RUF members who had been held under the country’s emergency regulations. Moses Showers, the Deputy Director of Pademba Road Prisons, told newsmen that eighty-four RUF members were freed in Freetown while the rest were released in Bo and Kenema. Mr. Showers stated that most of those released were RUF fighters, but also released were some civilians who used to be employed in administrative duties by the RUF.
However, it is reliably learnt that some senior RUF members such as Mike Lamin, Alimamy Paolo Bangura, Peter Vandi, and Idrissa Kamara who served as Ministers in the unity government which followed the Lome Peace Accord, and Solomon Y. B. Rogers, the Secretary-General of the political wing of the RUF, still remain in detention.
Political pundits are expressing some reservation over the selective release of the detainees since, according to them, President Kabbah was not explicit in his pronouncements about their release.
FRIDAY AUGUST 25TH 2000
Corrupt System, Corrupt MP, Kick
Honourable Mrs. Catherine Lateef Kamara of the Democratic Centre (DCP) is enmeshed in a series of scandals of unimaginable proportions.
The DCP Parliamentarian is alleged to have fleeced a poor Primary School teacher, Mrs. Rose Musu Sesay Le150,000 (0ne hundred and fifty thousand leones) for the purpose of securing the release of a detainee at Pademba Road Prisons.
This deal was reported to have been struck when Hon. Kamara, as a member of the then Tejan-Cole Committee of Investigations, served as the CONDUIT through which payments were made by relatives of detained alleged AFRC collaborators appearing before the committee.
Hon. Catherine Kamara was reported to have initially demanded Le200,000 (two hundred thousand leones) from the mother of Augustus Kamara but she later settled for Le150,000 (one hundred and fifty thousand) claiming that she was not acting alone and that some of the committee members had to be tipped too. The problem between the detainee’s family and the MP started when it became clear that the MP had failed to ‘buy’ the freedom of their son, as he continued to be locked in prison.
The family is now threatening legal action against Hon. Kamara who they accused of obtaining monies under false pretences. Meanwhile, the MP is said to have called for a meeting to thrash out the problem. The first meeting was reportedly held at the SLTU complex, but with the principal player absent, it had to be adjourned to Friday August 25, 2000
Hon. Catherine Kamara is also reported to be receiving salary as a teacher because of her strong connection with the Executive of the Sierra Leone Teacher’s Union. Our source intimated that despite several attempts to have her name removed from the voucher, the MP, using her power as a Parliamentarian and an Executive member of SLTU, insisted that her name should not be wiped out.
Reports gathered by this press indicated that Hon. Catherine Kamara visited families whose relatives were to appear before the Tejan-Cole Committee demanding heavy bribes with the assurance that she would use her influence to free them. It would be recalled that persons whose degree of involvement with the AFRC was calculated to be minor were arraigned before the Tejan Cole Committee for further investigations from which recommendations were made at the Law Officers department for appropriate action.
AKK Abandons SLPP
President Alhaji Dr. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and his stalwarts within the Palm Tree would soon realize that their once close confidantes and self-acclaimed die-hards have deserted them. Abdul Karim Koroma, popularly known by his initials as AKK has packed his bags and defected to the All People’s Congress (APC) party in which government he spent close to two decades of unbroken ministerial appointments.
AKK is reported to be vigorously canvassing top APC party cadres to support his bid to head the APC and hence its presidential candidate for the forthcoming elections.
Abdul Karim Koroma who had said in a mammoth gathering of SLPP supporters back in 1996 that his father had told him that the only political party that had hope for Sierra Leone was the SLPP, now appears to have chewed back his words. An APC insider told this reporter that AKK went to Guinea to solicit the help and blessing of former President Momoh for the party leadership. Another APC source revealed that this former ‘BORN-SLPP’ recently held discussions with Dr. I. M. Fofanah with the view to getting his support. Dr. Fofanah is said to have an interest in the APC leadership and would find it difficult to relinquish his claim to AKK, a man who abandoned their party at a crucial time. It is not known whether AKK still has the moral high ground to openly campaign for the leadership of the APC, which has suddenly attracted high profiled persons aspiring to its leadership and presidential ticket.
Profile: Issa Sesay
General Issa Sesay was on Monday, August 21st confirmed as the new leader of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), replacing Foday Sankoh who is presently in detention.
The Nigerian Head of State, Olusegun Obasanjo and his Malian counterpart, Alpha Omar Konare, who is also the ECOWAS Chairman visited Sankoh in prison and delivered to him a letter from the Military Command of the RUF on the change of leadership and the appointment of Issa Sesay as the new leader. Sankoh was reported to have endorsed the change for lasting peace to come to Sierra Leone.
But the question on the lips of many is, who is Issa Sesay and how did he come to join and eventually head the RUF.
Issa Sesay is a temne by tribe, born 37 years ago in Sanda, Bombali District, in the Northern Province of the Republic of Sierra leone. Issa Sesay’s father, Alhaji Sesay is a native of Kalangba village, Wallah chiefdom and his mother is a Fulla/Temne from Sanda. His father died many years ago, but his mother is still alive.
When Issa attained schooling age, he was brought to Freetown to his Uncle (His mother’s brother), Pa Issa who lives along Kissy Road. Pa Issa (still alive) whose name General Issa Sesay is carrying, took care of Issa throughout his primary and part of his secondary school education. He dropped out of school in Form three and joined one of his uncles, Abu Bakarr, in the buying of gold.
Owing to the honesty of Issa, he was entrusted with big cash which he used to purchase gold at Makali in the Tonkolili district, much to the satisfaction of his uncles.
It was during one of these trips in 1992 that the rebels attacked a village where Issa was staying to buy gold. He was abducted and taken to Kailahun. He was subsequently interviewed by Foday Sankoh who came to note that he was in prison with the father of Issa Sesay. General Issa became one of the blue-eyed boys of Sankoh.
He was sent to Libya and Burkina Faso for training. His compatriots describe him as a fearless fighter and always accomplishes any mission assigned to him.
“If Issa is given an assignment to capture a particular town or village, he can do it without problem,” one RUF fighter described him.
Sources say General Issa would have been the Field Commander of the RUF before Sam Bockarie, but the latter is better educated than the former. However, Issa is described as the best fighter of all RUF fighters. “It is no surporise that he commands the military wing and now heads the RUF.”
Issa, from our investigations, is very willing to put this sad chapter behind us and sources intimated that he might do all in his power to have all the RUF combatants disarmed and later advocate for the release of Foday Sankoh.
The people of Sierra Leone await the success of this dream and waiting to see whether Issa will play the magic.
Kabala Attacked, Guinea
Reports reaching our news desk speak of two consistent attacks on the headquarter town of Kabala in the Koinadugu District by combined forces of the Revolutionary United Front and former fighters ofthe National Patriotic Front of Liberia. The attacks took place on Monday 14th August and Saturday 19 August respectively.
When the attack was launched at 5:00am, the assailants succeeded in entering the centre of the township. Loyal troops backed by the local Tamaboroh militias were reported to have withdrawn southwards to allow civilians to pull out. By 13:00 hours the reports state, the regrouped forces launched an all out operation to repel the attacking forces.
Fourty-two of the assailants were reported killed and one captured, while government forces sustained four deaths and eight wounded. Among the dead was one Leiutenant. Also one civilian, a watchman at the MSF Belgium-run hospital, Pa Kandeh, was killed.
The assailants were reported to have launched their earlir attack from Yogomaya on the northern axis of Kabala towards Guinea. Reports state that government forces succeeded in pushing the assailants up to an abandoned village called Bendugu and established a buffer zone.
However, the rebels reportedly struck again barely four days later as civilians were preparing their return, but the rebels were pushed southwards towards the northern province headquarter town of Makeni.
Meanwhile, the captured rebel is reported to have revealed to the loyal troops during investigations that the main motive for these consistent attacks on Kabala was to use that area as a springboard for a planned and sustained attack on Guinea. He revealed that they were under contract from President Taylor to attack Guinea since the Guinean authorities were supporting insurgent forces currently holding up in Lofa and Baffa counties in Liberia.
Berewa Blunders Bigtime!
The reaction of the public to the statement of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Solomon Berewa, with regards to who and who should stand trial before an International Court of Justice has been that of total condemnation.
Abdulai Kakay, a very concerned citizen remarked that the statement of the AG as quoted in the local press is prejudicial and has started creating doubts as to the neutrality and objectivty of the proposed UN war crimes tribunal.
Kakay said, Berewa is such an important figure in the whole exercise that he should not start naming names of those who will appear before the tribunal and who should not.
“We are happy that Solomon Berewa will not be the judge. Therefore he will have no hands to determine who will be invited.”
Mr. Berewa was quoted in a local press that the Chairman of the Commission for the Conosolidation of Peace (CCP), Lt. Col. (Rtd) Johnny Paul Koroma will likely not face the tribunal, because, according to him, “ there is the Lome Peace agreement which granted amnesty to the class of persons in mind.”
Members of the public argued that in as much as Johnny Paul and all other faction leaders are innocent until the tribunal prove otherwise, yet all must be prepared to face the music.
“Let the judges know very well that some of the leaders did not condone the actions of their subordinates, but it is for the respected international judges to determine so.”
The Sierra Leonean people are well abreast with facts as to who did what and when and are well prepared to testify when called upon.
Death Threats for Pool Editor
Mr. Ojuku Sesay has been warned by these pro-government death threat delivery men that he would lose his life if his paper did not stop the ongoing campaign to bring all those responsible for war crimes to justice.
As usual, the Pool editor and staff of the paper are only re-invigorated by such threats. Truth, however bitter is better than a sweetened lie. Our readers are assured that no telephone or mail threats will deter our course for the truth.
No More Jerry Curls In
The Parliamentary Committee on Education (PCE) is expected to pass into law the abolition of jerry curls worn by girls in schools throughout the country.
When this becomes effective, no school girl in Sierra Leone will be allowed to go to school with jerry curls, nor lip sticks or any other make up.
This was one of the decisions arrived at during a one-day seminar for Honourable Members of the PCE organised by the Ministry of Youth, Education and Sports last Thursday.
Speaking at the seminar held at the Light House Restaurant, Aberdeen, the Honourable Member Mr. A.O.D. George condemned the act by girls who go to school dressed as if they are going to attend parties or wedding ceremonies.
Other parliamentarians at the seminar who expressed similar sentiments were Hon. Mrs. Catherine Kamara and Hon. Mrs. Elizabeth Alpha Lavalie; they also called for an immediate halt to this ugly practice.
Heavy condemnation was also levied against the boys who go to school with their trousers drawn right down their buttocks (“Shaba”).
The PCE members led by chairman Hon. John Gaiva Labour said there is an urgent need for attitudinal change to take place in schools throughout the country.
School children’s dress pattern to attend classes should be regulated by the authorities so as to portray a better behavioural change.
During his contribution, Hon. PC Bai-Kurr Kanagbaro Sanka III attributed the breakdown of law and order in the system to the neglect of traditional rulers.
He said that as traditional rulers, the chiefds have a privotal role to play in the society.
In his marathon address, the Minister of Youth, Education and Sports, Dr.Alpha T. Wurie pointed out that most young children suffer greatly during the many “unnecessary” Thanksgiving Services organised by schools in the Western area. Dr. A. T Wurie advocated the need for a code of conduct to be drawn up to check these inadequacies in the system.
The Minister cautioned that school children will be required to brace themselves by accepting the new code of conduct to be introduced soon.
AUGUST 21ST TO 23RD 2000
Workshop on War Affected
Commission for War Affected Children held at the Bank Complex, Kingtom, from Wednesday 16th toFriday 18th August, 2000 has ended with the adoption of a recommended plan of action.
The workshop wasorganised by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs in collaboration with UNICEF, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canada, UNAMSIL, NCDHR and NPAC. Participants were drawn from a cross-section of NGOs, local and international.
The workshop looked at issues boardering on War Affected Children and the idea of creating a national commission for the children in Sierra Leone. Participants brainstormed on Education, Reintegration and Rehabilitation, the need for the establishment of a voice of youths/children and the general identification of causes and effects of core problems affecting children.
The workshop ended with participants outlining objectives, strategies, and activities which will characterise the National Commission in its bid to promoting the welfare of children of Sierra Leone. Participants agreed that the Commission should be formally established as soon as possible.
It is confirmed that Canada has agreed to commit $250,000 to support the activities towards establishing the structure, mandate, composition and modalities of the commission as well as starting the process of operationalising the National Commission for War Affected Children.
Two British Trained Soldiers
Two Sierra Leonean British trained soldiers who passed out at the Benguema Training Centre (BTC) have expressed their appreciation to the Government and people of this country.
Trained under the Poachers: Sergeant Sam A. B. alias 123 and Corporal SLA 18167729 Taiwo Horton Randorph are happy that they have gone through the special training.
They lamented that most Sierra Leoneans regard the Army outfit as a rebel movement. But this nation is now changing for the better.
In the past years, civilians were seen hanging tyres and pouring petrol over soldiers who they later burnt alive like common criminals, they remembered.
However, thanks be to God, now that everything is over and peace has come at last, they declared. “We are appealing to all to accept us as brothers.”
In the same vein, they appealed to their westside colleagues to see reason and come out of the bush and hand over their weapons.
“By disarming and surrendering to UNAMSIL, the west side boys stand to benefit a lot. Please come out and join us rebuild Sierra Leone. Have no fear.”
The British trained soldiers also extended their thanks and appreciation to the BTC commandant, Colonel KES Boyah and the British trainers: Lt. Miller, Cpl Browne, Cpl Bucus Bray, Sgt Horton, Cpl. Tapp, Cpl. Monkey and Cpl. Robert.
Sometime last month, some 1000 SLAs passed out at the Benguema Training Centre from the First Battalion’s companies B and D.
Tom Carew Recounts His
The Acting Chief of Defence Staff has recounted his ordeal he went through during the August 18, 1997 demonstration by students during the AFRC/RUF reign.
According to Col. Tom Carew, he was accused by the junta Chairman, Johnny Paul Koroma, of being behind the student demonstration as he was responsible for the distribution of arms and ammunition, an accusation the CDSdenied.
He said that his house was searched and looted by the late Corporal Tamba Gborie, adding that all efforts were made by the junta to have him killed after he had managed to escape from Freetown.
Col. Tom Carew explained that when the AFRC siezed power, he was arrested and detained on the grounds that Col. KES boyah and he were plotting to overthrow the junta.
“While in prison, there were attempts to execute me, but I narrowly escaped,” Carew explained.
He continued by saying that he was put under very harsh prison conditions, causing a gross deterioration of his health. He later escaped to Guinea.
“As of now, I have nothing against anybody, especially Johnny Paul Koroma, as we are taking steps to bring peace and reconciliation,” the CDS maintained.
Meanwhile, the Chief Military Adviser, Col. Dent, has been replaced by Brigadier Hughes over the weekend. This was disclosed by the Acting Chief of Defence Staff, Col. Tom Carew.
Enshaw No. 2 Women Elect New
The Enshaw No. 2 Women have elected their executive to manage the affairs of the organisation for 2000/2001.
These elections which were held recently at 22, Pratt Lane saw Madam Konie Yabai Sesay as the new President, being unanimously elected by all members present. The position of Vice President went to Madam Kadie Williams, who went unopposed, and Mrs. Salamatu Samura was voted in as Secretary-General.
Elected Finanacial Secretary was Miss Finda Kamara who polled 14 votes as against the six votes of Miss Fatu Sesay. Madam Magaret Anthony became the new Welfare Officer while Marie Fallah won the vote for the post of Organising Secretary. The post of Whip went to Isatu Kamara who will be assisted by Gandie Sesay.
Speaking after the elections, Konie Yabai appealed for support as she and her executive will deliver the goods. She called for more membership and total dedication at all times.
Gang To Boot out
Six political parties, three of which are in the present Parliament, have formed a merger to challenge the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) in the forthcoming General and Presidential elections.
The six are: the United National People’s Party (UNPP), whose leader is Dr. John Karefa Smart, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP- Sorbeh), the third largest party led by Hon. Osman Kamara, the All People’s Congress (APC) whose leader is Lawyer Eddie Turay, the People’s National Convention (PNC) led by Edward Kargbo, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) whose leader is Dr. Abass bundu, and the newly registered People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) led by Capt. (Rtd) Abdul Rahman Kamara.
Leaders of these parties who are presently in the country and representatives of those out of the country have been meeting for the past weeks to work out the modalities for the merger. They have all unanimously agreed to merge. No name has yet emerged, but supporters are loosely calling it Parties Alliance for Democracy (PAD).
This parties, at their last meeting, agreed to shelf the idea of who should lead or not at this time but rather to work and propagate its aims and objectives to the voting public.
Critics said the alliance is regionally biased as all the leaders of the six parties are northerners.
Supporters of the alliance argued that it is no crime for people from the same region to come together and form a political party. They however dismissed the claim that the alliance is northern biased.
“The present Head of State who is the leader of the SLPP which many consider to be an eastern/southern party is a Northerner, and besides these parties have supporters all over the country”.
Some of the supporters of the alliance expressed pessimism over the its success, because according to one of them, “we are scared that the fight of who should be the leader may split the alliance as it has always been the case. Northerners never allow one person to lead. One will say I am richer than the other, or I’m better educated than the others or I’m more popular than the others and so on. This we are afraid may split them”.
Rubbish, Rubbish, Total
The proposed UN tribunal to try all those who have committed henious crimes against the people of Sierra Leone has been rubbished even before it kicks off.
The very government which has been shouting for the setting up of such an important International Court is now putting spanners in the whole exercise by suggesting who and who are qualified to face the tribunal.
“If the Attorney-General, Solomon Berewa, is now stating that Johnny Paul Koroma should not face the tribunal, it is as good as stating that all those who have been punished as a result of the AFRC, including the 24 senior officers executed in October, were merely victimised for no just cause”, remarked a political analyst.
William Pratt argued that if the International Community is really serious to bring fair justice and reconciliation, Sierra Leonean judges and Solomon Berewa, must be excluded from the entire exercise.
He said the UN must be given the free hand to invite who and who that should face the tibunal.
“If the AG has started excluding one party, then nobody from the government side will face the tribunal, even when the roles of people like Hinga Norman, James Jonah, Spencer and many others are known to all the people”.
Kaddro donates to the
The Kambia District Development Rehabilitation Organisation (KADDRO) in collaboration with CARITAS donated rice to displaced people at various displaced camps.
During the distribution, the Project Coordinator, Alhaji Kolleh Yillah, expressed concern over the plight of the displaced people in the country, saying that it is high time the interest of the needy in the country was sought. Speaking to this press, the Project Coordinator, Mr.Yillah said the organisation was formed in 1999. He further said their main objective is to complement government’s effort in alleviating poverty within the rural areas especially Kambia district which lacks local non governmental organisation focuses on the provision of relief assistance to vulnerable groups and to initiate and implement projects geared towards promoting peace, education trauma healing, reconciliation and reintegration.
The project coordinator further explained that since Kambia district is mostly inclined with agriculture, the organisation is also geared to promote agriculture and fishing with a view to increase productivity.
Mr. Yillah said generating income, improving harvest facilities to assist in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of infrastructures, provision of health, education, water and sanitation are also objectives of his organisation. They coordinate, monitor and evaluate projects to ensure the efficient use of resources with a view to promoting self-reliance and sustainability.
The Coordinator of KADDRO concluded that ;his organisation was looking forward to both international and national donor agencies to render help in promoting the interest of the vulnerable groups in the country as a whole.
Army Boss Warns Rumour
The Acting Chief of Defense Staff, Colonel Tom Carew, while addressing journalists at his office on Wednesday August 16, warned against spreading the false news that he would soon proceed on further studies and that he would be replaced by one Col. Dumbuya.
He said President Kabbah had not informed him about such development and for the military to be disseminating such news is a cause for alarm. He also expressed concern that people perceive him as more of a warrior than an administrator. “I am both a fighter and an administrator as I have studied Public Administration, served as Adjutant, and Director of Operations before my appointment as Acting CDS,” Tom Carew said. He told journalists that he is an American trained Officer and that if it were not for his competence when he led the Masiaka attack recently, the rebels would have hit Freetown again.
He said, “I have suffered a lot in the army and I don’t believe in the pull him down syndrome (PHD). The president knows about my competence in the army. So I will not praise myself as my CV will be out next week.”
He intimated that a lot of people who are parading as Lt. Cols. and Cols. Cannot defend such ranks at the front.
“I am not going to fight, bootlick, campaign to become CDS of the Sierra Leone Army but people should stop circulating dangerous rumours as we should now be thinking of how to end the war,” Col. Carew maintained.
A two-day workshop organised by the Pa Santigie Conteh Farmer’s Association, PASACOFAS ended last Sunday at the Tasso Island. The workshop which attracted over fifty participants from Tasso, Sangblma, Aku town, Allen Town and Kissy Town was aimed at sensitising farmers in vegetable production and new technology on compost making to supplement fertilizers.
The Chairman for the occasion, who was also one of the participants, Pa Alimamy Kanu of Tasso Island, expressed thanks and appreciation to PASACOFAS for being the first local NGO to enter the area, which many now have emulated. During the workshop, participants visited the last land cultivated in vegetable in these areas. Some demonstration on fieldwork, seeds and tools distribution also formed part of the ceremony.
In his recommendation, the Resource Person, Dominic M. Turay, Agricultural Officer for the Northern Region stated that more farm inputs are required in these areas which have been greatly devastated by the war.
He further recommended that the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Marine Resources visit these areas to know the felt needs of the people on agricultural activities and fishing components.
Meanwhile, the executive body of the association has expressed their thanks and appreciation to the Parish Priest, Father Tommy, for his relentless efforts in securing relief food items for displaced persons from Bombali district. “We hope others will emulate his fine example,” the Association Director Claude Conteh remarked.
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 16TH 2000
The United Nations Security Council has approved a resolution for the setting up of a special International Court to try all those who have perpetrated henious crimes against the people of Sierra Leone.
A UN spokesman said that the special tribunal would not include ten year-old children who were engaged in such crimes but their leaders would be held responsible. The spokesman also stated that all warring factions would face the trial as no specific group would be singled out for the numerous atrocities committed against Sierra Leoneans.
Peter Bokart of Human Rights Watch said, “ It will be necessary to bring all persons found wanting for the commission of heinous crimes against the people of Sierra Leone to justice. That peace can only be acheive where justice had prevail.”
The Revolutionary United Front whose leader is Foday Sankoh will be the major key players. They started the rebel war on March 23, 1991. People like Sam Bockarie, Gibril Massaquoi, Mike Lamin, Peter Vandi and a host of others who, as military commanders of the RUF, were giving directives to kids to commit atrocites are expected to stand in the dock with their leader.
“The RUF was not established to overthrow the Sierra Leone People’s Party government. It was set up to remove the All People’s Congress (APC) government. What has Sankoh got to say about all this? Will he expose the fifth colummists that have been working for him in Freetown? Those who have been undermining attempts at bringning peace to Sierra Leone because they have been thriving on the chaotic situation in the country? Sanmkoh seems to know a lot about people who are now under the threat of exposure”, states the West Africa magazine of August 7-13th.
The Civil Defence Forces, whose leader is the current Deputy Defence Minister, Chief Hinga Norman and members of the government are also expected to face the tribunal.
The CDF at the initial stage were fighting with bows and arrows, matchetes and locally made guns. They are alleged to have equally committed similar atrocities to that of the rebels and their leaders too are to account.
People like Dr. Julius Spencer, Alie Bangura, Hannah Fullah and others are also expected to face the tune as the tribunal will have to request all cassettes of the then clandestine radio 98.1 at the time it was at Lungi. Their role in the forceful restoration of the democratic governmenmt will have to be thoroughly scrutinised to ascertain whether it was commesurate to a civilised way of restoring democracy.
The CNN film, “CRY FREETOWN”, clearly shows Dr.Spencer in full military fatigue. Newspapers have also displayed pictures of Alie Bangura and Hannah in full military attires when they are not soldiers.
Johnny Paul Koroma, Brig. Gabriel Mani, 5-5-5, Gullit, etc. will also have to explain before the tribunal about the actions of the AFRC since it overthrew the democratically elected government of president Kabbah in May 25,1997. Most specifically, the invasion of Freetown on January 6, 1999 when over 6000 innocent civilians were massacred in cold blood and hundreds of houses razed to the ground will be high on the agenda.
The people too are well prepared to testify what they witnessed.
In its effort to fulfill its aspirations as a child protection Agency, a local and non governmental organisation, Children Associated with the War (CAW) has organised a two-day workshop at the Santano House in Freetown with the aim of reviewing and planning its operations for sustainable development.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Programme Manager, Rev. Fr. Theophilous Momoh, said the main objective of the workshop was to enable participants to have a deeper and clearer knowledge of the project’s activites and identify ways and means through which the programme could be developed as a community-based programme. He therefore urged participants to come up with valuable recomendations to enhance the programme’s vision 2000-2005.
On the overview of the project, the Finance and Administrative Manager, Bro. Peter Francis, gave a brief historical sketch of the programme and catalogued some of its problems.
Bro. Francis also disclosed that from June 1993 to December 1999 more than 1000 ex-combatants were rehabilitated and resettled with more than 1098 registered including sexually abused girls who are now benefiting from the programme.
He said in other to restore sanity to the programme and enhance strong ties with future partners, the new management had thought it fit to restructure the entire programme, audit report of 1997, adding that CAW provides support to its components including psycho-social rehabilitation and reunification services to war affected children, advocates, cares and protects the rights of ex-child combatants, sexually abused girls and separated children.
The UNDP Desk Officer, Ms. Gladys Carrol and a Representative of the Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Alhaji Foday Sesay, commended CAW for its relentless effort in alleviating the sufferings of children associated with the war and noted that his Ministry would continue to monitor and evaluate the activites of all child protection Agencies.
Kamajors In House To House
Inpeccable sources intimated this press that a group of kamajors from Moyamba are in a house to house looting at Shenge, Kagboro Chiefdom, Moyamba District.
According to sources, a commercial boat owned by one Hawah Kandapa was sailing from Guinea to Shenge with goods worth millions of leones. The boat was reported to have involved in a sea accident and all the goods on board were lost in the territorial waters of Shenge, Plantain Island, Tissana and Katta.
Reports say civilians within those areas collected those goods from the sea and never handed them to the boat owner or the Police.
A lady called Sofaya hired Kamajors from Moyamba for her friend’s lost property. The kamajors are reported to have gone in a house to house looting at the Shenge township. Some civilians were reported to have been beaten mercilessly by the kamajors who boasted that they would complete their operation and nothing would come out of it. Some civilians were reported to have fled their houses to nearby bushes for safety.
What has baffled some civilians is the fact that kamajors are always executing police duty even though there is a police post at Shenge.
In another development, a group of kamajors from Sembehun were reported to have attacked Shenge town last week and were about to commandeere a vehicle owned by an Agriculture officer, Mr. Kallon.
According to the report, angry civilians confronted the kamajors and blasted them for their persistent looting activities within the town even though some of the kamajors are reported to be well armed with AK 47s and RPGs.
Playing Sports in
Members of the National Sports Council led by the Director of Sports, David Woobay and Executive Members of the Sierra Leone Football Association led by the Acting President, Dr. H.O.W. Frazer on Monday appeared before a special Parliamentary Committee for Social Services and Sports.
The Honourable Idrissa Songa of the UNPP, Chairman of the Committee said that it was not an investigation but to brainstorm and map out ways of pushing sports forward.
The Director of Sports, David Woobay, who was the first to testify, answered questions which were centrered specifically on the suspension of Paul Kamara from the panel of 13 MPs .
Mr.Woobay stated that the SLFA was an autonomous body which hired and fired its technical team and that sometimes the Council advised. He said the decision to suspend Paul Kamara was taken by the SLFA and later communicated to the Council. He said the Council accepted the decision of the SLFA because of the reasons the FA outlined that led to the suspension of the Team Manager and coach.
The reasons, according to Mr. Woobay included the lack of cordial working relationship between the Team Manager and coach which led to the disgraceful defeat of the national team in Ghana, the failure of the Team Manager to work with the Technical Committee of the FA, the allegation that the Team Manager joined the players in gambling before the match, and the poor working relationship between the TM and players such as branding players as rebels in the For Di People newspaper.
The public reaction to this news was swift. Majority argued that in as much as Parliament has the right to interfere in everything, it is but doubtful why members of the Parliamentary Committee should question the SLFA after a particular Team Manager has been suspended.
“There have been technically equipped and sober-minded Team Managers and coaches who have been sacked in so many occasions, but never has Parliament summoned the FA for such decisions. Is it because people like Obi Metzger, Jebbor Sherrington, Mohamed Nabie, Dr. Foday Bangura, who were fired recently have no newsppaers? Parliamentarians must be seen to treat all persons and issues fairly and objectively, and not on parochial interest. After all, there are better people who are capable of delivering the goods more than those that have been kicked out,” remarked Abdul Karim Sesay of Mighty Blackpool F.C.
“I am not interest in
Stars now”... Dyfan
Coach Ismail Dyfan intimated this press Friday that he had no interest in being appointed head coach of the national team.
In a brief chat at his residence, Dyfan stated that he would not like to be misconstued by people about his intention in the national team. He said people whom he described as detractors had said all sorts of trash about him without him receiving an appointment letter from the FA. “I was only informed of the appointment early last week and no official appointment has been given to me in effect. So why should people jump the hurdle before the gun?” he said.
I believe some disgruntled people have personal vendetta against me which I believe will not be the way forward,” Dyfan added.
Dyfan however stated he was willing to give his blessing to whosoever that was in charge of the team to ensure that the nation qualify to the next stage.
Dyfan concluded by stating that he resigned from the national team in February out of principles, and that at anytime the FA met his demands he was ready to return to the team. “I did not resign because I misappropriated money and items collected on behalf of the players, nor did I resign because I lacked the technical know-how to steer the team. I resigned as a matter of principle.”
Items To Displaced
The Pa Santigie Conteh Farmer’s Association, PASACOFAS, last Monday distributed some relief items to displaced people from Bombali District in the Northern Province of the country.
Making the distribution, the Programme Director, Claude Conteh, thanked the Catholic Priest from Makeni for his untiring efforts in securing the releif items.
He said as a local NGO which has been in existence for the past ten years, it is their responsibility to seek the welfare of the displaced in the district. Mr. Conteh said that they had registered 5112 family heads from five chiefdoms with approximately 40,000 people who are in desperate need of more relief assistance.
“We appreciate the efforts of our donors and we are appealing to other NGOs to make their own little assistance to the people in need,” said.
He further spoke on the constraints he encountered in securing these relief items and appealed to members to work for the suffering of the displaced in the district.
Eminans School Assist War
The headmistress of the Eminans Primary School of 160 Jalloh Terrace, Bola Mansaray has said in Freetown that in the past they have provided free admission toWar Affected Children and Orphans in the Community.
In an interview at the School premises, Madam Mansaray gave a brief background of the school which she said was established in 1994 as a non formal institute to assist children mainly affected by the war. She said the school has rendered its own assistance to these people in the past. “With our limited resources, we provided uniforms and paid school charges for these children particularly those who have no relatives,” she said.
Madam Mansaray stated that though the school is partly assisted by government, the roll has increased over the years thus making it difficult to accommodate the children. “We have the intention of constructing a two-storey building to accommodate the growing number and also to provide furniture for the children. But we are at present financially handicapped,” she explained.
She therefore appealed to government and NGOs to assist them in this vein particularly in providing scholarships for the children and in the construction of the school building.
Govt. Troops capture
The Army Director of Media Relations, Major John Milton, told reporters Monday that government troops captured the northern town of Mamakama on Saturday .
He said one government soldier died in the fighting, while 50 RUF troops were killed. There was no indendpent confirmaiton of the claim. Mamakama is located about ten miles from Port Loko. WEDNESDAY AUGUST 16TH 2000
"Kabbah did not impress
us" - Displaced Citizens say
The tens of thousands of displaced people at Mile 91 have remarked openly and outrightly that they were not impressed with the few hours’ visit to them by President Tejan Kabbah on Thursday.
The suffering people said the 1000 bags donated by the Head of State were a mockery to their plight.
“How can 100,000 people, who have been displaced since May and are daily dying from hunger be fed with 1000 bags of rice? What we want is returning to our towns and villages to rebuild our farming lives,” they stated.
Over 100,000 displaced people are presently at Mile 91 dying of malnutrition and other diseases. Some are without shelter and are presently housed in market places. They are mostly from Makeni and Magburaka where they were forced to flee by the resumption of hostilities and the dropping of leaflets by government helicopter gunships warning the people to vacate those towns.
President Kabbah made special appeal to all Sierra Leoneans to embrace former combatants who are now surrendering to ensure sustainable peace in the country.
He advised the people to be patient and that peace would soon return to the land for them to return and restart their lives. He pledged his government’s support to this programme.
AFRC, RUF, CDF Court Decision
Reports reaching this Press state that the United Nations Security Council in New York has postponed until today Monday a vote on setting up a mixed Sierra Leonean and international court to try those suspected of commiting serious crimes against the people during the nine years civil conflict.
According to the official Sierra Leone Web, Council President Hasmy Agam of Malaysia said one Council member was “waiting for final instruction.” Sources said the vote was postponed at the request of Russia.
It would be recalled that the Sierra Leone government had requested the UN to set up a special court to try all those guilty of violations against human rights.
Human Rights bodies all over the world have been advocating for all warring factions to face the trial.
Students Condemn Interim
Government... Call For A National
The National Union of Sierra Leone Students has in a press conference held at the National School of Nursing Friday 11th August, condemned the call for an interim government by a group of the civil society, the Very Concerned Citizens.
According to the Union President, Gilbert Bosco Nhabay, they as students have always identified themselves with the problems of this country and as such the current events in the country are of concern to them. He maintained that they have stood firm in defence of democracy and as future leaders, they see themselves as active players in the political process and general affairs of this country. He stressed that the students’ leadership has not been at all comfortable with the ongoing scenario.
Explaining their position on the issue of an interim government, Mr. Nhabay affirmed, “We categorically condemn the call for an interim government by just a section of the population. We see the call as unconstitutional and undemocratic.” He further argued that “the call for such a government at this point in time will be a recipe for chaos as there are a lot of uncertainties that have clouded this country that need to be sorted out.”
He therefore demanded the convening of a national debate that will create a forum for the search of a better future for this country, saying that, “at this moment it appears to be gloomy.” He maintained that holding elections in an atmosphere of uncertainty will result in the putting in Parliament square pegs in roond holes. Mr. Nhabay stated that the national debate will look at cogent issues like security, especially in the event of the UN mission’s pull out, the attainment of sustainable peace upon the completion of the DDR.
Parliament to probe council
Concerned workers of the Koidu/New Sembehun Town Council have expressed frustration over the lack of salaries, in spite of the council’s alleged fat account with the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank.
One worker has called for a parliamentary probe to enhance transparency and accountability.
The workers are concerned with three main issues among several others namely, the state of the council’s account, the non-paymnet of their salaries and the rationale behind the continued absence of the Treasurer, Mr. F.B. Kendewa, who is one of the signatories to the account. Two of the signatories presently in town are making no efforts to ameliorate the plight of the workers. They are pointing accusing fingers particulary at the Town Clerk, Mr AJP Lebbie, now Deputy Director of Local Government and Rural Development.
They maintained that Mr. Lebbie is using is new position to thwart their efforts at ascertaining the cause of their ordeal. They workers further maintained that Mr. Lebbie is in close contact with the treasurer, using that as a trump-card to achieve whatever clandestine motive he may have.
According to the workers, an estimated Le380million is supposed to be in the Council’s account by the time they were displaced from Kono in 1998. They disclosed that Council ran two parallel accounts with the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, one in Kono and the other in Freetown. Following the resurgence of fighting along the Masingbi/Kono highway and the subsequent closure of the bank’s branch in Kono, the account was immediately transfered to Freetown.
What seems worrying to these workers most is the claim by the two principal signatories, Mr. A J P Lebbie and the then Chairman, Mr. N.B.C. Foday that they cannot remember the account’s number. All other efforts by these workers have had no impact.
However, the Branch Manager of the bank in Kono, Mr Magnus Mansaray, when contacted, refused to disclose the Council’s account, but stated that he could not at any rate say whether the account was fat or not.
Meanwhile, information reaching this press has confirmed that the Chairman and Town Clerk, and the bank’s General Manager will face Parliament Monday 14th August, to answer questions pertaining to this issue.
Awoko’s $100,000 deal- The true story
Since the publication of the Pioneer newspaper accusing East End Lions’ Chairman, Alhaji Alim Awoko Sesay, of embezzling $100,000 for two players, The Pool browsed its internet facilities to get the correct story.
In August 5, an email message from one Goran Blomgren whose email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org disclosed that no club in Sweden has paid a single cent as transfer fee for either Mustapha Sama or Francis Zappa Koroma.
He stated further that he has made this clarification to several interested parties. The Pool also contacted Mustapha Sama on telephone number 00 467 394 53329 and confirmed that not a single penny has been paid to Lions as transfer fee for them.
“We are still on trials and immediately we succeed in signing a contract, everybody will know the details,” Sama assured.
The above confirmation will now lay to rest the rampant destructive rumours going around town. The Pool is of the view that Lions is such a big club in the country that its Chairman, Awoko, will not be able to siphon such a huge sum for his personal benefit.
Windfall At Susan’s Bay
The Senior Collector of Susan’s Bay Customs Post, Edward Olulu Goba, has said to this press that he has collected revenue amounting to nine million leones in the past few months.
He said the increase in the rate of revenue collection was through the efforts of his principal officers, Mr. Fofanah and Mr. Sannoh and with the help of the Sierra Leone United Boat Owners’ Association who have agreed to prosecute and impose fines on commercial boats that 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 custom dues through the reduction of undue smuggling.
Mr. Goba warned business people to abide by the rules and regulations of Customs and appealed to Ministry of Finance for assistance as the Customs post lacks storage facilities.
Speaking to this press, one businesswoman, Lucy Mass said Mr. Goba is always firm with his decisions and that he is a man who always works hard.
Disgruntled Relatives want
Teddy K. Bendu, the son of late Mr. Bendu who was an SLPP lawyer has been in hiding since the unfortunate events of January 6, 1999.
Bendu ran for his life as a result of his role during the court martial proceedings that ended in the killing of Colonel Abdul Karim Sesay and twenty-three others by firing squad. Bendu’s troubles started immediately after the May 25, 1997 AFRC coup when he had to leave Freetown for Tongofield where his father was working as the representative lawyer for the SLPP government.
However, when the AFRC/RUF rebels were dislodged from power, they went to the diamond-rich town of Tongofield where they raped, killed and tortured thousands of unarmed civilians, including Teddy Bendu. ECOMOG’s advance towards the town created more problems for the people as the rebels, under the leadership of one Captain Kamara openly executed the town chief and his wife. Other people, including Bendu, were rounded up and taken to an open field for execution. However, the intervention of ECOMOG troops based at Daru saved the day as the rebels fled in disarray.
When President Kabbah returned to power in 1998, and the Court Martial was set up, Bendu was brought down to Freetown to testify against Captain Kamara who was subsequently executed. It was reported that the relatives of the deceased captain made incessant death threats on Bendu as a way of settling the score. He therefore went back to Tongofield. When the rebels struct again in 1999, Bendu’s father was killed, and so was his brother. They searched for Bendu who was fortunately in hiding.
Since then, poor Bendu’s life has been under threat. Our investigations have revealed that the relatives of Captain Kamara are still bitter with Teddy Bendu. They lay the blame of their relative’s death squarely on the run-away Bendu. They therefore want his head. Political observers are now opining that Bendu, being the youngest of the witnesses, should not have testified in the court martial. They blame his father for this unfortunate event in which Teddy has found himself.
Sabotage At Ferry
Commuters between Lungi and Freetown would soon be left to wallow in misery if urgent steps are not taken to mend the widening rift between officials of the nation’s two ferry services.
Workers of the Government-owned Mahera Ferry have been accused of various acts of sabotage and schemes to frustrate their only competitor, the Fanta Ferry, a privately owned craft. It could be recalled that business people as well several workers had, in the past, been subjected to a lot of inconvenience as the only available ferry suffered one setback after another. Thanks to the tinely intervention of patriotic business magnates of the calibre of Mohamed and Co, seafarers now have a choice.
In spite of the fact that the sole government ferry can hardly cope with the passenger and cargo traffic, workers at the Kissy and Targrin terminals have resorted to underhand games, aimed at frustrating and undermining the operations of the Fanta ferry.
A frequent commuter this reporter contacted revealed very worrying details about top brass officials of the Ferries Department at Ports Authority, who, he said, are unhappy with the Fanta operators because this private ferry leads to a dramatic fall in their financial kickbacks, adding that, “very senior personnel attached to the ports ferries section will never feel comfortable with a rival. It means loss of dubious deals and squandering for them.”
Another commuter, prefering anonymity, catalogued a number of complaints against one Captain V.H. Wyse, the government Ferries Manager as well as his Superintendent, A.S. Bangura, accusing them of arrogance, corruption and inefficiency.
We’ll Force UNAMSIL To
RUF rebels that are holding up in the Kambia district, northern Sierra Leone, are reported to be gearing up for a deadly attack on UNAMSIL and pro-government positions in Port Loko as a way of forcing the UN mission to talk to them.
This was reported by civilians plying the Yumkella/Kassiri route. According to one Fatmata Bangura, a Commando by the name of Captain Kill No Blood stationed at Kassiri advised them to stop using that route, as very soon they would mount an extremely deadly aggressive operation.
According to her, the Commando grumbled to them that the UN Mission is giving too much preference to the socalled ‘Westside Boys’ who, she stated, the Commando described as, “having hijacked their mission”.
“Because we are showing some degree of respect for them, they want to treat us as outsiders. After all we called them on board our struggle,” the Commando is quoted as saying.
Fatmata further reported that the Commando highlighted their intention to return to normal lives, but that they are very suspicious of both UNAMSIL and government, as manifested by the utter neglect of their condition.