Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Sierra Leone Parliament enacted into law, the Right to Access Information Act, 2013.



The Sierra Leone Parliament enacted into law, the Right to Access Information Act, 2013 otherwise known as, the “Freedom of Information Act.
Freetown, Sierra Leone  29th October, 2013
  The Minister of Information and Communications, Hon. Alpha B.S. Khan in presenting the Bill told parliamentarians and members of the public that the Right to Access Information has today become a human right component in the administration of modern States aimed at promoting transparency, good governance and accountability. An important feature of the bill, the Minister said, is that which has to do with efficient records keeping within Ministries, Departments and Agencies and even Non-Governmental organizations.
Records keeping among State and Non-State actors had collapsed over the years, and it is the fervent belief of the Minister that with the advent of the Right to Access Information Act, Sierra Leoneans will inculcate the art of record keeping and the development of libraries and archives.
Khanu in his usual confident and convincing posture allayed the fear of some parliamentarians who were of the belief that the Right to Access Information Act is aimed at giving Journalists a field day to poke into the private lives of public officers. He said the exempt clauses in Part 111 of the Act are the safeguards for individual’s personal lives, traditional societies and that of our national security.
“The Act does not favour Journalists in the strict sense of the word, rather every citizen including Researchers, academics and the ordinary man at Krubola in Koinadugu district stands to benefit from this Act”, Khanu emphasized.
Hon. Frank Kposowa of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s party in his contribution informed the House that Sierra Leone has joined 94 countries in the world including 11 countries in Africa that have enacted the Right to Access Information Bill. He said the Bill is designed to fight against ignorance and make way for an open government initiative… “It is designed to restore human dignity and to usher in effective monitoring of Government expenditure. This will build up confidence in the system.” He concluded.
The passage of the Right to Access Information Act 2013 has further increased His Excellency, Dr. Ernest Koroma’s democratic credentials. Upon assumption of office in 2007, he committed himself to ensuring that every citizen has access to timely and accurate information by creating institutions like the Open Government Initiative (OGI) where citizens have direct access to the President and all State functionaries through town hall meetings to explain Government’s policies and programmes uncensored.
The creation of the Office of the Government Spokesman and the hosting of weekly Press briefings at the Ministry of Information and Communications further demonstrates President Koroma’s genuine commitment to transparency and accountability in the governance of the State.
The Right to Access Information Bill was first introduced to Sierra Leone’s Parliament as a Government motion by the former Minister of Information and Communications, Hon. Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo in 2010 and committed to the Legislative Committee on two occasions.


29 October 2013 - -COCORIOKO  International

Sierra Leone: New law promotes transparency
Long-Awaited Information Act Could Spur Greater Government Openness

The Sierra Leone parliament’s passage of a freedom of information law is a major step to ensure greater government transparency, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Sierra Leone’s Freedom of Information Coalition said today. The new legislation, enacted today, is crucial for effective, transparent, and accountable governance. The Right to Access Information Act establishes a right to access government information and requires all parts of government to adopt and widely disseminate a plan for making records publicly available. The legislation also imposes a penalty for willful obstruction of its provisions.

The law was first proposed in 2003 but has languished in Sierra Leone’s parliament since 2010. President Ernest Bai Koroma must now sign the act for it to enter into force. “One of the most important things in Sierra Leone right now is for everyone to have the right to information,” said Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai, executive director of the Society of Democratic Initiatives, which coordinated the Freedom of Information Coalition’s campaign for the bill’s passage. “Sierra Leoneans can’t hold elected officials to account without access to basic information about what the government is doing.”
Sierra Leone is recovering and rebuilding from a long and brutal armed conflict that ended in 2002. With foreign investors returning to the resource-rich country, the government is leasing land for commercialized agriculture and mining. Some affected residents who have sought more information or challenged these deals have faced reprisal ranging from harassment to arrest. Freedom of information is recognized as an essential element of the right to freedom of expression in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other international instruments.
By passing this law, Sierra Leone’s government is significantly advancing its commitment to international and regional human rights obligations. Donors to Sierra Leone, as well as other multinational bodies, have called on the government to increase transparency and adopt other good governance and rule of law measures. Passage of the law would enable Sierra Leone to meet the minimum eligibility requirements to join the international Open Government Partnership, which meets in London from October 31 to November 1. Sierra Leone has applied to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which works to improve openness and accountability about how revenues from natural resources get managed. But its bid was suspended in February, pending further information, because of insufficient documentation of mining revenue and company payments.
Transparency of government information in Sierra Leone has been hindered by the country’s criminal libel law, which the authorities invoke against journalists, civil society members, and others who criticize the government. On October 25, two journalists from a privately owned newspaper, the Independent Observer, were arrested, charged with sedition and other offenses, jailed, and denied bail for criticizing President Koroma. “If fully and effectively implemented, the new information law can help transform Sierra Leone into a model of transparency and rule of law for all of West Africa,” said Solomon Sogbandi, Amnesty International Sierra Leone Director. “We urge the president to show the necessary leadership and political will by signing this long-awaited bill into law.”

For more information, contact: In Freetown, Emmanuel Saffa Abdulai (English, Krio), Coordinator, Freedom of Information Coalition, +23276647456; +23233647456 or In Dakar, Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus (English, Spanish), Amnesty International, +221 338642664 In New York, Rona Peligal (English), Human Rights Watch, 1-917-363-3893 or

My thanks to COKOROKO International -


Hon. Ibrahim Bundu lectures on Rights to Reputation as Right to Access Information (RAI) bill gets enacted.
By Jeneba V. Kabba
  The bill entitled Right to Access Information (RAI) Act of 2013, on Tuesday 29 October 2013 got enacted. The bill which was piloted by the Minister of Information and Communication, Honourable Alhaji Alpha Kanu, was unanimously approved by the entire membership of parliament. The debate, prior to it being passed, however saw one of the respected elected parliamentarians, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu of Port Loko, stand up to lecture on the need for rights to reputation to also be honoured by those journalists demanding their rights to access information.
Hon Ibrahim Bundu, who is the Deputy Majority Leader of the ruling All Peoples Congress in Parliament, said, with the enactment of the bill, journalists will now have an unprecedented access to huge volumes of information. He pointed out that though concerns had been raised about the potential for unscrupulous journalists to abuse their rights to access information, the APC has always been determined to ensure the rights of citizens to access information, was promulgated.
Hon. Bundu went on to cite the constitutional provisions that the ruling party adhered to in order to push for citizens to be given access to information. He debunked claims that any external force was responsible for the APC-led government to push the bill through. It can be recalled that at his first press conference called up after his re-elections, President Koroma had categorically stated that the RAI bill will be enacted shortly.
In the Well of Parliament, Hon. Bundu continued his submissions by acknowledging that those journalists who believe in character assassination will be tempted to tread on dangerous grounds but he strongly cautioned them that the State will not sit by and allow such attacks on rights to reputation to be tampered with.
“It was a famous philosopher who once said that if you lose you wealth, you do not lose anything. If you lose your health you have lost something but if you lose your reputation, you have lost everything,” the Hon. MP asserted.
“There is no supermarket in the world where one can walk in and buy a bottle of reputation that has been lost. You can buy a lot of things but you cannot buy reputation that has been lost”, Hon. Ibrahim Bundu disclosed. He therefore ended his lecture by advising all practicing journalists to stay within the laws of the land. He said if they just obey the laws governing their profession, they will be on “safe ground and be on the right track”.
Similar sentiments were expressed by other MPs. In his contribution, Hon Andrew Lungay of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party(SLPP) representing Kenema District said some journalists are doing remarkable jobs but he lamented that some others were just horrible. The MP further advised media practitioners to consider insurance for their establishments, their employed reporters so that in the consequence of being levied to pay damages, the Insurance company will pay.
Adding to the debate the Deputy Minority Leader of SLPP in Parliament, Hon. Ansu Kaikai said with the enactment of the RAI bill, yellow journalism and malicious libel will no longer be entertained as journalists now have the right to request and receive correct information. Hon. Kaikai said speculative journalism will now be frowned upon.

As a sample of the initial debates, I re- produce below (with kind permission) a brief Facebook discuss betwen John Baimba Sesay and Sourie Turay, following John Baimba Sesay's original posting, which I find very interesting.

  John Baimba Sesay  Beijing, China      Initial post

The enactment of a law guaranteeing access to public held information is a clear manifestation of the country’s commitment to the principles of good governance especially in relation to openness. FOI law, no doubts serves governance in a number of ways: it underpins elections, ensure accountability, central to participatory democracy and a prominent tool in tackling corruption. The Government, through its Ministry of Information and Communication deserves commendation. And thanks to Minister Alpha Kanu and his team for this great achievement. This apparently indicates the commitment of the Koroma led administration to ensure we move in line with president day good governance practice for which I am proud as a Sierra Leonean. Watch out for my take on this in the form of an article….

This promted an initial debate between Sourie Turay and John Baimba Sesay
  • Sourie Turay This is clearly a good move and we hope the devil does not lie in the details. As you prepare your article, remember we have a template agreed in 2005 and what you need to clarify would include the Information Commissioner, his role and reporting line and whether he will be independent; the Publication Scheme which tells us what we should generally expect to get and timeframe; the Exemption Clauses which tells us in clear terms what we are not entitled to. We need to know how this whole Act will sit with the basic Constitutional provision to the right to privacy and in the absence of any Data Protection Act to what extent the FOI may actually conflict with the Constitution. Look forward to reading your take!!
  • John Baimba Sesay After the enactment,we now talk about the infrastructure needed and thereafter we get the structures in places....this is realistically commendable on the part of government
  • Sourie Turay That cannot be true. The Act will tell us about the structures. That is an integral part of any FOI so you do not have an Act and then talk about the "infrastructure needed" as if to say it is an enabling Act. The minister himself referred to it as a "human right" and it is not something you leave to the minister to pass by regulations. But we labo here because we are only past the First Reading and unless it becomes an emergency bill, we have a way to go yet. You begin to worry me already with your grasp!!!
    John Baimba Sesay Sourie Turay be realistic here is clearly clear that the structures will only come after the enactment,like having the office space,the personnel u referred to amongst others....I have been an advocate for this for years as I was Information Officer for Society for Democratic Initiatives ,the body that has taken the lead in this campaign.... The fact that the law is there is an indication of the country's readiness to get things up and running. Bro or sister
    Sourie Turay We are not talking about people rather we talk about an office for which there is a clear provision in the Bill. Let us forget about your credentials for a bit my friend. If the Bill provides for a Commissioner, it will tell us what that Commissioner will do; it will tell us whether he is independent or has a reporting line. If the minister talked about an Exemption Clause recognising our "traditional" values then the Bill like FOI Acts every place on earth will talk about Exemption Clauses and above all, it must talk about the Publication Scheme because that is what the essence of the law is. We are not talking about whether John Baimba will be the Commissioner or whether his office will be in WSilberforce Street, we talk about what in the eventual Act makes it worthy of our jubilation at what is after all and by any definition a historic step. If you were what you tell us you were, you would at least know these fundamentals and I will bet you my life that when the Bill becomes law, it will have all those specifications I have outlined and it is the extent to which those are restricted or expanded that will make it a truly historical Act. I can tell you cover to cover what the original draft drawn up with Article 19 says and it is against this that the eventual law will be judged!!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Sheku Sheriff's Diary: All Peoples Congress (APC) Lawyer writes Strongly Worded Letter to Sierra Leone President Ernest Koroma

This is one more disappointing correspondence that has reach me. Very disrespectful - Lawyer Alieu Iscandari


Sheku Sheriff's Diary: All Peoples Congress (APC) Lawyer writes Strongly Worded Letter to Sierra Leone President Ernest Koroma

My comment:
Israel Ojekeh Parper Snr said...
This is not only a child like written letter but exposes a level of disrespect to the President and contrary to the ideals of all those who really love the APC. As a lawyer you (alieu Iscandari) have put you case VERY BADLY. I read your posting with disappointment and disgust. This is so disrespectful of the President in style and content and depicts the approach of an annoyed 16 year oly teenager who is very desirous in reporting a complaint to a big brother about what a younger sister has done, said to him or called him which he detests. As a Lawyer - you Alieu, have let your emotions overcome your professionalism. Opening your letter to the President with those very words which you found distasteful and in the manner in which it is put shows you do not really respect the President and has an impact of embarrassing the President and the party you claim to belong even more so than the complaint you are trying to elaborate on: in truth, you should not have bothered- you are nothing but a LET DOWN to the partyAlieu. I think you must before it is too late write another open letter of APOLOGY to the President and the APC without delay. You have not helped your course even if you have been hurt by the invectives used in the PRIVATE communication you received which you yourself made PUBLIC. The effect of your action is nothing short of a deliberate embarrassment and total disrespect to President Koroma and the APC. Alieu, you see yourself as a member of the APCFamily- try and behave/ comport yourself as one: show RESPECT where it is most desired, keep your cool as a lawyer should at all times, maintain the required dignit and please please try and WRITE as an educated Professional not lead, directed or overcome by emotions.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Kandeh Yumkella says "I Will Not Run Under SLPP"! .

Ibrahim Samura- The Spectator - 10 Oct 2013

A source has told the Spectator that Kandeh Yumkella has said he will not run for leadership in the SLPP come 2018.
His- Kandeh Yumkella- breaking quietness to our source came owing to endless guess-talk that he intends take up mantle of Presidential leadership in the Sierra Leone People’s Party to challenge any of APC’s appointed Presidential candidate come the 2018 elections.
That Yumkella has made it unambiguously clear that he is neither SLPP nor has he any interest vying for the party’s top seat anyhow.
Such revelation, our source said, has somewhat discouraged the membership of the already established KKY and Project Yumkella movements, whose singular intention is to unseat the incumbent SLPP candidate Julius Maada Bio.
Unconfirmed revelations have it also that Yumkella wants President Koroma make him his inheritor in the APC as he takes his exit in 2018.
It is, of course, true that Maada Bio’s oppositionists in the SLPP have had endless moments organizing themselves into camps in support of Yumkella; a man they say can make their party returns to power in 2018.
News on all sides (APC & SLPP) speculate that Yumkella’s backing off the race for SLPP leadership came shortly after his man of choice- Alie Bangura- loses to Somano Kapen in the recently held party chairman and leadership contest in Bo.
That had Alie wins he would have been the man brushing his way for Presidential leadership in the SLPP.
“The likes of Somano Kapen,” our source said, “is Maada Bio’s picking, whom people say will not sit by and see his man of selection beaten at pools come the next SLPP Presidential contest.”

Wednesday, 14 August 2013


 The real 'Peoples Party' was formed by a Creole Reverend from Gloucester (Up Hill - Mountain District) called Reverend Etheldred Nathanniel JONES - born 28 June1884. He changed his name in the early 1920 to 'LAMINA SANKOH' because he believed that all SIERRA LEONE must be ONE; Colony & Protectorate. So in 1948, he founded 'The PEOPLES PARTY'. He was educated both in the CMS Grammar School and the Albert Academy and then Fourah Bay College & Oxford. There was big conflict between Colony & Protectorate after 1945 end of World War 11; so he joined the race and was elected into Freetown City Council which he helped reformed, published radical articles through his Newspaper, "The African Vanguard". The country was divided, but, Lamina Sankoh had the courage to stand his ground that Sierra Leone was 'ONE COUNTRY' - all inhabitants were 'ONE PEOPLE'. So he agreed with the other existing upland party- "The Sierra Leone Organisation Society"(SLOS) and merger to become "The Sierra Leone Peoples Party" and his Newspaper became the first SLPP Newspaper. This change of name by Creole people for the sake of 'country unity' was common: the first Krio-man to get a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of London WILIAM J. DAVIES, changed his name to ORISHATUKAH FADUMA , and they even began to dress like protectorate people- all for One Country, One People. This was all in the light of constitutional changes in the country at that time. There was "the Protectorate Assembly" (PA) which was to be embedded in the constitution with seats in the Legislative Council that will give them majority seats of 14 out of 30. Governor Stevenson was not taken kindly by the conservative / traditionalist Creoles like Dr H C Bankole- Bright. But you have radicals like Mr ITA Wallace-Johnson and his Youth League. Bitter conflicts (not violent) grew between Protectorate pressure groups and intellectuals, like the Protectorate Educational Progressive Union (PEPU) and the Sierra Leone Organisation Society (SLOS) of Milton Margai and John Karefa-Smart against the traditional elite Creoles facing tribal loyalties and animosities of their opponents in the protectorate. But the SLOS and the PEPU were not at all unified: one dominated by intellectuals, the other by Chiefs. Only Madam Ella Koblo Gulama's dad, Chief Julius Gulama of Moyamba, the Protectorate's most conspicuous illuminati belonged to both the PEPU & SLOS groups and at the same time being the President of the SLOS. Other elites in the mix included Mr. Doyle Sumner, John Karefa-Smart, Siaka Stevens (a founder member of the SLOS & hailed from Chief Gulama's chiefdom attended the Albert Academy and studied in Oxford in 1946), Ahmad Wurie (commonly known as A D Wurie - Bo School) and A J Momoh-later most TOP Civil Servant and the very young F S Anthony-agronomist - who wrote critical pamphlets and credited, together with Doyle Sumner, of spreading trade unionism within the Teaching Profession and educational progress for protectorate men in the late 1940s and, one time High Commissioner to UK - Freetown born Mr Alex Cotay (A B Cotay, an adoptive interlander and editor of the Bo Newspaper- the Sierra Leone Observer and big in the SLOS.
The SLOS group saw themselves as fighting for democracy (whatever that meant then) for the "common people of the Protectorate who are taxpayers and are entitled to more representation" than the Chiefs in the PA and the type of indirect elections that was proposed then was not to their satisfaction.
Eventually after a lot of acrimony the two groups merged to become the Sierra Leone 'Protectorate' Party in 1951: major concession of principles by the SLOS was shown to the PEPU due to the persuasive nature of both Chief Gulama and Dr Milton Margai. But this alliance had all the hallmarks and seen as a 'Protectorate Party' reflecting the divide and emphasising the polarities between the Colony with its own Creole elite Party "The National Council of Colony of Sierra Leone (and Wallace- Johnson's input with his Youth league) and the Protectorate. But thanks to LAMINA SANKOH - (Rev E N JONES): the vision of unity and name - SIERRA LEONE PEOPLES PARTY (SLPP) were owed to the importance of this intellectually impressive Creole man from the Mountain District, the Founder of 'The PEOPLES PARTY' in 1949, who had the conviction and belief that Sierra Leone is ONE COUNTRY, ONE PEOPLE. So the S L P P does not belong to any one TRIBE or GROUP or SECTION or DISTRICT in Sierra Leone. NOTE THIS:
" The S L P P that fought the 1951 election was an impressively variated patchwork. Its leadership included representatives of chiefs, intellectuals, populists, Christians, Muslims, Creoles and all the major tribal groupings. To its credit, the party won two seats in the Colony, as well as gaining both seats at the Protectorate Assembly's disposal (won by Milton Margai and Siaka Stevens) and four of the seats in the gift of District Councils. An absolute majority in the legislature was secured by wheeler-dealing and winning over of Independents after the election - a skill in which Milton Margai always excelled. Thus, when the first native [i.e. Sierra Leonean] Executive Council members were sworn in two years later, all six new ministers were SLPP men - two with an Organisation Society [SLOS] background, two from the Peoples Party and two from the PEPU - Siaka Stevens's Portfolio was Land, Labour, and Mines."

 But what are the characteristics of today's SLPP? Violence, Tribalism, Regionalism! Pa-o-pa politics, with no vision! Like naughty school boys and girls, the SLPP leadership had to be called up to the 'Head Master's Office' for a 'telling - off: 'behave yourselves or you will be punished'! What a far cry from the SLOS, the PEPU, the PA days! What has gone wrong with the Sierra Leone Peoples Party? A blames B, B blames C, all the way to X blaming Y, Y blaming Z and Z blaming A- and the merry-go-round starts all over again. The Spirits of the Founder Members of all sections, religion, tribes, districts, ability, chiefs, locals will be saddened to see from their resting places, this Tom foolery that is taken place in the 'school grounds' of a Political Party that is supposed to be RESPONSIBLE with educated and elitist membership among their Rank an file!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013



 The debate that this APC Government should extend the Olive Branch of forgiveness, and play a humanitarian 'Big Brother Role' to the wealfare of Captain Valentine E.M Strasser has once more surface again.
In the Facebook Forum, 'Sierra Leone Issues' Alex Alex (not sure that is his true name) discusses "A Reminder of the things Maada Bio did before he brings the SLPP to power... MAADA BIO, BRUTUS, STRASSER AND JULIUS CEASER"- a piece sympathetically wrapped over the proposition of whether it is time to give sustenance to Captain Strasser.

What Alex Alex did not discuss is the Treasonable act - the criminality surrounding the 29th April 1992 Coup d'état. In fact I will even call it  a 'Coup de main' because it was a sudden and overpowering attack on President Joseph Saidu Momoh's Government erroneously classed as a "Glorious Revolution" by the renowned (now Late) journalist Siaka Massaquoi former President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalist (SLAJ). In describing the overthrow of the government and what was put in it's place, Massaquoi introduced the NPRC by telling the world that "These young men were all in their twenties, the youngest of them, Lt. Samuel Sandi, not yet quite twenty" ...  He went on to describe the overthrow as "a courageous act, a remarkable feat"...and narrated the numerous previous coup attempts which the APC had survived in the past.. and claimed that 'The BOYS' knew what was in store for them if they [had] failed; Death! Yet they went ahead driven by so called  "love of country and people" neglecting their immediate duties they were in the Army to do.  They saw themselves as brave and courageous men of the future Sierra Leone and Massaquoi  acclaimed them  with the words "This is the stuff of which heroes and patriots are made".   So where has this Glourious, courageous Revolution taken Strasser?

In considering the current fate of Captain Valentine Strasser, one must not forget that "The Military action of 29 April 1992 was not a spontaneous affair" as Massaquoi puts it. A planned and sustained preparation started many many weeks before it happened; fragmented information revealed that it all started a day before the 1992 Eid-Ul- Fitri - 4th April 1992. But in fact there were more than two rival plots running side by side with one or two individuals feeding in both camps secretly- 'double - crossers'. They were not even truthful to themselves right from the start hence the demise of  Lieutenant Colonel James Yayah Kanu. There was a rivalry between the Tiger Battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel J O Y. Turay- (who were defending  the Eastern Border of Kailahun) and the Cobra Battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel James Yayah Kanu (who were defending the Kenema and Pujehun Districts. These soldiers had great responsibility to defend the State but they preferred ambitiously to play 'god' with their misguided "love for country and people".

 So they took power, the International community gave them a lot of money which were squandered without trace. Strasser it was  reported built many houses for friends and family; we know of the sale of Passports and how thousands of dollars were laundered through Hong Kong and London into the Trustee Savings Bank Accounts in Channel Islands by Bio and the share of the loot by Dr Abbas Bundu and all the NPRC sharers. So what did Strasser do with his own money? ALL THAT LOOT!

President JS Momoh

A Reminder of the things Maadaa did before he brought the SLPP to power..
by ALEX ALEX  - Sierra Leone Issues- Facebook 16 July 2013 ; 13:48
Maada Bio
Captain Valentine Strasser

 Back then in 1996, Bio overthrew his boss Valentine Strasser on the pretext that the latter wanted to cling to power beyond the stipulated time (Strasser’s own explanation was that he had categorically stated that he would go, and so Bio decided to step in). Bio had insisted that Strasser had an ambition to overstay in power. But the questions then lingering on the minds of the public were:
Was it not Strasser, out of his own volition, even at a time when people were calling him ‘the redeemer’; that came out with a timeline, insisting that they would hand over power within three years? Did Strasser not follow the guidelines through by forming the Independent National Electoral Commission? Did Strasser not establish the National Commission for Democracy and appointed Dr. Kadie Sesay to be its head? Did James Jonah, the Chief Electoral Commissioner, not sound very confident about Strasser’s sincerity to the democratic process just days before he was overthrown?

Did Strasser not lift the ban on the 1991 Constitution and on all political activities? Did he not preside over the registration of up to seventeen political parties including the APC and the SLPP which many were calling to be banned? When the junta decided to form a political party called the National Unity Party (NUP), was it not John Karimu – instead of Strasser - that was put forward as presidential candidate? If Strasser was that ambitious, why did he not reduce the age minimum requirement that disqualified him from the contest in the first place?

Yet, as Mark Anthony would say of Brutus in relation to Caesar (“You all did see that on the Lupercal I thrice presented him a kingly crown, Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition? Yet Brutus says he was ambitious…”), Bio said Strasser wanted to hijack the democratic process.
But the central question for Bio was, ‘how’? How did Strasser want to derail the process? Did he call Bio into a room and told him about it? If that was the case, why did Bio not act until that fateful day of 16 January 1996 after Strasser had overseen the passing-out ceremony of new recruits of the then Sierra Leone Army at Bengeuma Training Centre, where he categorically stated that they were going out of office, warning the soldiers to henceforth stay away from politics and stick to their constitutional duties?
Why was it that just after that speech, Maada Bio and his henchmen summoned a Supreme Council meeting, insisting that it should not be held at State House but at Cockeril military headquarters, where they lured Strasser, captured him (still dressed in the same uniform he wore at the passing-out ceremony), handcuffed him, and dumped him in Guinea?

How, just how, did Strasser want to derail the democratic process that warranted a most ignominious treatment at the very hands of those whom he had given more power than he had retained for himself (just imagine promoting Bio from a mere Lieutenant to Brigadier General within four years, while Strasser - a very modest man - merely retained his Captain rank throughout)?

 Maada Bio is a real Shakespearean tragic hero. His fundamental
flaw is vaulting ambition. And he’ll never realise it – not helped by an array of self-made advisers - until the bitter reality dawns. The bitter reality that will dawn on him on November 17 and beyond.
He suffered a similar fate in 1996…. Because, after the people had realised that Bio’s overthrowing of Strasser was a charade and a self-seeking enterprise to perpetuate himself in power when he initiated a ‘peace before elections’ campaign at the eleventh hour, seeking a postponement of the elections; after the people realised that all along Bio had a very healthy relationship with the rebel RUF because his elder sister was one of the strongest pillars of that movement, and with whom he was now colluding by pretending to be bringing peace so that both brother and sister could have been two of the most powerful rulers of Sierra Leone; when the people realised that Bio had awarded fake contracts for helicopter spare parts and military hardware to his brother who never delivered the arms when we needed them most in fighting the rebels, with allegations that these arms were actually supplied to the rebels; when the people actually saw Bio buying delegates for the postponement of the elections; and even when Bio issued a statement at Bintumani II categorically not guaranteeing security on polling day; yet still the people of Sierra Leone rose to the occasion, sacrificing limb and life to deny Bio’s ambition from going through.

They overwhelmingly rejected the ‘peace before elections’ charade at Bintumani and went ahead with the elections, even when Bio’s boys – true to his ‘no security guarantee’ promise - disrupted some parts of the voting by shooting at Wilberforce Barracks and in Bo. On the same Election Day, the RUF, of which Bio’s sister was leader, cut fingers of voters mainly in the Northern Province for not accepting Bio’s ‘peace before elections’.

 No one has put it more succinctly than President Tejan Kabbah in his book ‘Coming Back From The Brink in Sierra Leone’. He wrote “The NPRC junta having enjoyed the fruits of power for four years clearly demonstrated that it was not interested in holding any elections at that particular time. It mounted and orchestrated a campaign with the slogan peace before elections.

Through this campaign, the NPRC even attempted to ingratiate itself with the RUF by demonstrating to the latter that it was prepared to delay the holding of elections and would forge a power-sharing arrangement with the RUF…..Again, in order to prove its point that elections would not be held successfully before peace was achieved, the junta orchestrated acts of terror and intimidation of the electorate in several parts of the country just before and during the elections….

In spite of the on-going rebel war, and notwithstanding the defiance of those who wanted to prolong military rule by vehemently advocating peace-before-elections, Sierra Leoneans following two national consultative conferences (Bintumani I and Bintumani II) took the courageous decision to go to the polls February 1996 to choose a President and Members of Parliament. There were a number of disturbances initiated by the anti-democratic elements aimed at disrupting the elections…”

Obviously, Maada Bio handed over power reluctantly and grudgingly (to quote President Kabbah’s common-knowledge statement) but not before causing the government to pay him huge sums of money while benefiting from a UN sweetener scholarship which was the carrot that backed the people’s mobilisation stick to pressurise him out of power.  

  The people of Sierra Leone generally enjoyed the momentum then. For a people to remove a desperate army from power, with literally their bare hands, was a relishing moment – that goes beyond borders. Our country took the international spotlight. That sequence of events raised our profile internationally as a people ready to move forward as a collective democratic force. Bio went away from the scene with the loot.
He squandered all abroad, returned home and took some ‘condom’ contract before he challenged Solomon Berewa for the leadership of the SLPP in 2007 – asking the party to fulfil its own part of the contract they entered into to deny the UNPP’s John Karefa-Smart the victory in favour of the SLPP’s Tejan Kabbah in 1996, a school of thought holds.

 The SLPP succumbed in 2011 during a delegates’ conference that invoked voodoo-ism, tribalism, and intimidation. But the people of Sierra Leone had told Bio in no uncertain terms that they did not want him to be their leader. He has not listened. But he will listen. (E nor wan yeri word -o, e go yeri word).


It’s the musicians who have this saying, ‘when the music is nice, you play it twice’. They are also the ones who know the value of doing a re-mix of a song that is nice, so that it can sound nicer. The people of Sierra Leone are now poised to do a re-mix of the music they played for Maada Bio in 1996. This one in 2012 will sound nicer…. Because, it is the final nail to Bio’s political coffin!

The circumstantial problem with Maada Bio as a tragic figure is that he always comes at the wrong time. In 1996, there were reports that Strasser was not actually part of the original coup-makers but was brought in as a compromise leader to avoid regional tensions.
But I tell you what, if the boys had actually given the power to Bio at the time, the people of Sierra Leone at that particular moment would not have minded, given the euphoria that had engulfed everybody then at the excitement of seeing a change from the old APC which had been in power for over two decades. That was the time Bio would have been the one to rule Sierra Leone. E faint late. When he now realized that indeed Strasser was actually going to let go of the power, he showed his true colours as the enfant terrible by trying the impossible. The people’s unequivocal rejection sent Bio packing.

A similar scenario – of wrong or missed timing - played on the democratic side of things for Bio. Had the SLPP agreed to choose Bio as presidential candidate in 2007, instead of Solomon Berewa, there was the possibility that Bio would have won the elections – mainly because, even though it was on the basis of fraud, he would not have agreed for Christiana Thorpe’s cancellation of the rigged votes to stand. As a man of vaulting ambition, Bio would have used the power of his party’s incumbency then, he would have pushed Tejan Kabbah’s appeals aside, and would have defied the whole world with a strong following of party lackeys, as his fellow NPRC bedfellows like John Benjamin and John Karimu had taken over the SLPP. Bio missed that opportunity. It was his last opportunity. The SLPP faint late.

 The SLPP has now put Bio forward at a time when the APC has produced the most development-oriented leader this country has ever had in the person of President Ernest Koroma. I have said it before that, as things stand in Sierra Leone today, it could only take someone with an angelic character to beat President Koroma at the polls. In just five years, the President has demonstrated a strong sense of pushing Sierra Leone forward to the extent that even Heads of State (current and former) can fly from other countries to endorse him – President Kondeh of Guinea openly said it at Gbalamuya; and ex-President Obasanjo of Nigeria did it in Kabala.
There is no doubt that Sierra Leone is moving forward under President Koroma. Even top SLPP members have had to quickly defect to the APC before the SLPP suffers its worst defeat in its 60-odd-year history.
If Maada Bio had been the flag-bearer in 2007, his baggage of having stolen money and his participation in extra-judicial killings would have been drowned by the incumbency syndrome and the unwillingness of desperate party men to lose their positions. If the SLPP can today arm-twist Kabbah and Berewa to endorse a man they had publicly vilified and called a criminal, can you imagine how they would have imprisoned (like they did to Paul Kamara) or beat to death (as in the case of Harry Yansanneh) any journalist - not to talk of an ordinary man - who would have tried to call to question the inconsistency of calling a man a thief and then saying we should vote for him?

 The fact is that the SLPP wants to take Sierra Leoneans for a ride. They actually think we are fools for them to have the effrontery of saying it was Maada Bio that brought democracy to this country. What a cheek! What Sassiness! We didn’t need a Bintumani II in 1996! We don’t need a Bio candidacy in 2012!
When we rose up to the occasion in 1996, the world hailed us for being able to take control of our destiny without any direct foreign intervention. Now, in our relentless effort to put behind the war-ravaged epithet that came to be associated with our country, we have another golden opportunity to boost our image internationally.

That is, when we go to the polls to tell Maada Bio that ‘you wouldn’t have done all what you did to us and then come back to say you had not hurt us enough. Now you want to torment us. Chutzpah! The children and relatives of the people you executed are still crying for justice – or at least to know where your victims were buried!’

But the writing is already on the wall for Maada. If people like Pa Takieu Zombo of Gendema, who had remained faithful to the SLPP in all its years of existence, can now see reason to leave the party and join the APC; if former MPs, who just a few weeks ago were representing the SLPP, are now invoking injunctions on their party’s candidates; if all what is left as a form of support for Maada Bio is a group of Westside thugs, rabble-rousers, and political demagogues; then the people of Sierra Leone are ready, we are ready again, to tell the world that we have seen the light, we have seen the rainbow, we cannot go back, we will follow the footsteps of the American people by choosing an incumbent President that has outstandingly performed.

 Friends, Sierra Leoneans, countrymen, we as a nation are on threshold of retaking our place in history, we are on the brink of changing perceptions about us. In 1996, the world hailed Sierra Leone. Now, after the war, a great opportunity has arisen to make a name for ourselves again. We will avoid violence and conduct free, fair, and transparent elections in which Maada will be taught a lesson. We are together saying, ‘yes we are capable of restoring our dignity.’
A country that was founded on the platform of freedom is displaying its brightest characteristics; we are closing the final chapter in our war history by burying in the mud one of those who played a very ambiguous role in it and greatly benefited from it. We are saying that the ‘Athens of West Africa’ has come of age and now willing to take its place in the comity of civilised nations.
President Koroma has already set the pace, cleared the path through innumerable international recognitions and improvements. We are now ready to protect that image on November 17. After these elections, the world will search again for our origins and find out that this was a country specially and specifically crafted to be a beacon of civilisation and a democratic light in this part of the world.

Just in the same way they sang on the streets in 1996 saying ‘Bio Bio Bio nar rebel’, now the women of Sierra Leone are singing that ‘Salone nor to farm – go back to Ghana’, ‘we nor want you.. you nor even able get visa for go America’….

 Maada has seen the writing on the wall, but he is putting up a brave face like all tragic figures in history, be they Hitler, Saddam Hussein or Foday Sankoh. And the newest strategy after being alarmist all through the electioneering process (including a big lie that the government had brought in armed men from Liberia) is to issue a threat to the Chief Electoral Commissioner, Dr, Christiana Thorpe.
But it did not come as a surprise to many a political pundit. Maada in an interview in 2007 said he would overthrow the APC again. Now he is no more a soldier; and does not have access to the ammunition dump. So he has decided to use democracy to circumvent the process. But that will not happen. He cannot succeed. Just as he could not in 1996 when he threatened the people by saying the army would not guarantee security, and indeed they fired shots on elections day after similar firing at James Jonah’s house and INEC office – but the people still stood their ground.

In his latest threats of not being willing to accept the results, he is hiding under a proviso – and that is, ‘if the results are controversial’. Of course what he means has nothing to do with legal action, but evincing a confrontation. And I foresee he is going to try it.
The reason being that a free and fair election in the eyes of the UN, EU, AU, ECOWAS and all other observers would not be free and fair in the eyes of the Maada Bios of this world. After all, the 2007 elections, which he is using as a premise, were declared free and fair by all observers. Christiana Thorpe cancelled the fraudulent election results and all the international observers were satisfied with that. It has only been the SLPP - only them - that have been crying about rigged elections in 2007.
I believe now that the biometric voter system has been brought to avoid over-voting and child-voting, one likely ‘loophole’ that Bio may want to seize as an excuse for his abominable enterprise is when he would find out that even in his presumed strongholds President Koroma is going to beat him at the polls, or when some void votes would have been cancelled, or he could find his own reason as he did when establishing NPRC II.


The International Criminal court (ICC) should start taking notes if they’ve not done so already. My conclusion is that Maada is like Odewale, the tragic hero in Ola Ritimi’s ‘The Gods Are Not To Blame’. When Odewale’s fate was announced, he thought he could run away from destiny – but he still ended up killing his father and marrying his mother.
Maada thought by wearing a democratic paraphernalia his ultimate end for the stealing of our passports, self-payment of millions of dollars, ambiguous role in the war, snatching others’ wives, and taking part in extra judicial killings would make him go away scotch-free. Well, with this path he has taken of threatening the democratic process, intimidating the respectable and respected Christiana Thorpe, I can see judgment day is nigh for the man who missed two ‘golden’ opportunities (1992 and 2007) to have comfortably ruled Sierra Leone but has been actually destined for a great downfall.
Like all his kind in history, Maada would see the end but would always deny its authenticity - just as Macbeth, having seen that Birnam Wood was ‘moving’, clung on to the witches’ equivocal prediction of ‘no man born of woman shall kill you’.
He realised rather too late that there’s something called caesarean birth. Therefore, even though Maada is seeing all the major stakeholders in his party deserting him, former SLPP strongholds which were no-go areas for the APC now publicly welcoming President Koroma in tumultuous excitement, he still puts on a brave face and will realise rather too late that Sierra Leone is not willing to go down with him to the path of violence and threats. We are not going back. We are moving forward!


[My sincere thanks to Alex

Sunday, 17 February 2013


His Excellency the President has made the following  Ministerial appointments over the weekend prior to the innoguration next weekend.

Dr. Matthew Teambo – Labour & Social Security
Mr. Alimamy Kamara – Youth Affairs
Mr. Paul Kamara – Sports
Alhaji Ibrahim Kemoh Sesay – Political & Public Affairs
Mr. Peter Bayuku Konte – Tourism & Culture
MINISTER OF STATE:Mrs. Harriet Turay – Office of the Vice-President

Mr. Augustine Nyuma Kortu – Labour & Social Security
Miss Feremusu Konte – Youth Affairs
Mr. Ishmail Al-Sankoh Conteh – Sports
Mr. Karamoh Kabba – Political & Public Affairs
Miss Kadi Sesay – Tourism & Culture
Professor Monty Jones – Special Adviser & Ambassador-at-Large
Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo – Special Adviser
Ambassador Dauda Kamara – Special Adviser
Dr. Sylvia Blyden – Special Executive Assistant to the President

SOME BACKGROUND ON THE NEW APPOINTMENTS provided by Dr Sylvia Blyden  in her posting in the Sierr Leone Issues Forum: read on:-

 "Most of the names like Alhaji Kemoh Sesay (former Transport Minister) are well-known and need little introduction but let me espouse on a few of the others.
Hon. Matthew Teambo & Hon. Alimamy Kamara are currently sitting as Parliamentarians representing Constituency 62 (Tonkolili) and Constituency 29 (Bombali) respectively. There will have to be conducted two Bye-Elections for their seats.
Peter Bayuku Konteh (aka Agbangba Jazz) was the erstwhile District Council Chairman for Koinadugu Local Council. He narrowly lost the APC symbol to the current winner.
Augustine Nyuma Kortu was the former Kailahun District Council Chairman. He hails from Kissi Kama Chiefdom. He had taken over the position when John Benjamin (erstwhile Kailahun Chairman) was made Finance Minister in 2005 but SLPP rejected to give him the symbol in 2008 and instead gave it to Tom Nyuma. He later defected to APC and contested for the same position in last General Elections which he lost. He is a trained Accountant by profession and has years of administrative experience.
Ishmail Al-Sankoh Conteh is easily one of the most recognisable names in youth activities in Sierra Leone. His name is synonymous with youth activism.
Miss Kadi Sesay is an APC Women’s Wing activist from the Northern Province (Tonkolili district). Feremusu Konte was the former Deputy Minister of Fisheries. She hails from Koinadugu.
Karamoh Kabba, a Kono indigene, returned from the Diaspora (America) to join the PMDC and later, he was appointed as Head of the Open Government Initiative at State House. On the way to Kono one time, his vehicle suffered a horrible accident and somersaulted. He lost all his personal belongings plus millions of leones inside the vehicle; money which had been meant for an OGI programme in Kono. He was vilified mercilessly by the opposition press who falsely accused him of stealing the money from the vehicle. Unfortunately, his OGI contract was then not renewed. On his total exoneration after an independent investigation, he was later appointed as Director of Political Affairs. He is more than well suited for the new job.
Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo and Ambassador Dauda Kamara are expected to bring their years of vast experience to bear on activities of the President at State House. They both enjoy the full confidence of the Head of State.
Mrs. Harriet Turay is a respected gender & civil society activist and is also a past president of the 50-50 group of Sierra Leone. She hails from Kono district.
And last but not least is PROFESSOR MONTY JONES who is easily one of the most influential Sierra Leoneans on the global stage. In 2007, he was named as TIME MAGAZINE’s 76th Most Influential Person in the world. His appointment as a Presidential Adviser with extraordinary and plenipotentiary powers to represent the President of Sierra Leone is expected to yield positive dividend for our country. Read the link below for more on him. God bless us all. God bless Sierra Leone."


Saturday, 9 February 2013


Folks , this is the report of the news published in AWOKO Newspaper- Some kind friend e-mailed it to me yesterday. (SEE AT THE END OF MY  COMMENTS)  C                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sometimes Governments tend  to attempt some woeful policies which eventually hurt them in the end. We've just seen the embarassing backing down by the British Government  on Education Policy - viz- to scarp the GCSE. The Secretary of State , Michael Gove curt a 'humiliating U-turn' admitting the policy reforms were "a bridge too far".                                                                                                Whosoever advised our beloved President to embark on this road to MOVE The Annie Walsh School from their location of nearly 200 years does not apppear to love the President because that person or persons must realise the trouble this announcement will cause.   There are better options in the lacation of a Market in the Center of Freetown. Do we want to turn that area of Freetown into one gaigantic Market crowded village - once that Market is built, within a short time we surely will be bosting of one great Shanty sub-town and the whole of Kissy Road, Mountain Cut, Magazine Cut. Fireburn  will merge with Upper and Lower Bombay Streets to make one sub-district of a Shanty town. If Annie Walsh School is moved , will the Gibralter Church be moved too? If the Annnie Walsh School is moved, will The Holy Trinity Church with its Primary School be moved too? Will the policy spread to the Cathedral School and the St Marys School? Where will this policy end? Yes there is great need for de-congestion but wiser policy action is needed not this frivolous and disturbing approach. Government  and the City Council must now come up with policy action plan to move the illegal traders from the vicinity of The Annie Walsh- that is the focus that must be embraced now. It is clear that some action be taken , but not the one revealed by this news. I dare say I am not impressed by Mr Osho-Coker's letter. It evokes PROVOCATION- and I do not like it. I am seeing this separately from my personal point of view - yes as an APC dedicated member and I serve the Party  for very long but I separate this issue totally from the Party and the Government. THIS to me is not an APC policy but a government policy which I dislike totally. The Annie Walsh is my mother's school. It is the school my mother's Grand Aunty, Miss CLARA BELFORD, (that is the sister of my maternal Grandmother from Benguima) taught  for decades: many of my relatives and friends including Mrs Elizabeth Lavally-the former Deputy Speaker of Parliament, went to that school even the President's wife - The First Lady, and the wife of the Former High Commissioner of Sierra Leone to the UK Mrs Challobar and many other prominent women.  THE HERITAGE MUST BE PRESERVED. Kissy Street Market and the area surrounding it can be buldozed and clear to build a SUPPER MARKET: or a Shopping Centre- this can go all the way down to 'BIG WARF'; Or Cow Yard and its visinty can be used to build this market for the Market woman dem. or Maket man dem. BUT LEAVE ANNINWALSH ALONE .COM -                                                                                                                                                                                                                     PLEASE READ THE AWOKO REPORT BELOW. B                                                                                                       *****************************************************  
For the construction of a Modern Market Annie Walsh School to relocate.
 Sat February 9, 2013 01:01PM                                                                                                 

Bishop Julius O.P Lynch, proprietor of the Annie Walsh Memorial School has received a letter from the Secretary to the President, proposing the relocation of the school from its present location at Kissy Road for the construction of a modern market.
The letter written by E.B. Osho-Coker, to the Lord Bishop of Freetown and the North states, “as you are no doubt aware, when the Annie Walsh Memorial School (AWMS) moved to its present location on Kissy Road, Freetown in 1865, the environment was ideally suitable for a school that pursued excellence in all areas including high academic performance, sound discipline and a solid Christian foundation.
However, the passage of time, has witnessed a massive growth in the city’s population and
concomitant expansion of trading activities eastwards, the area occupied by the school has become an unsuitable environment for the pursuit of academic excellence.
As Government intensifies its efforts at waste management, improvement of road safety and decongestion through “Operation WID” the compelling need for relocation of the AWMS to a more ideal site has been identified.
The selection of the site will be at the behest of the proprietors of the AWMS and arrangements will be concluded with Government for acquisition of the land and construction of the new school. The land vacated at Kissy Road will then be utilized for the construction of a modern market to be occupied by traders that are being removed from the streets of Freetown.
His Excellency the President, has instructed me to bring this proposal to your attention, so that it can be initially considered by the Church and School authorities.
Please be informed that His Excellency looks forward to a favourable consideration of the proposal contained herein,” the letter concluded.
Bishop Lynch’s first reaction to the letter dated 29th January 2013, was to write the Secretary of the Improvement Relocation Committee of the Annie Walsh Memorial Old Girls Association (AWOGA).
In his letter, he stated, “I hasten to bring this letter received on 30th January 2013 from the Secretary to the President to your notice, for a speedy consideration of the proposal contained in the document. Kindly advise me, so that I can respond appropriately alongside our proposal for privatization.
He ended his letter on this note, “This matter cries haste and must be treated as such.”
However, most Old Girls are of the opinion that there is a need to maintain the present location.
Another school of thought lamented that “but it seems we don’t know what to do with our monuments, relics and historic sites.”
The lady further affirmed “Look at the old FBC building at Cline Town. So far, no effort has been made to preserve it, stressing on “it is our history..our story we need to preserve it. What do we show our kids tomorrow?
Tourists, visitors and Sierra Leoneans need to be able to go on tour to the old FBC building at Cline Town and even the AWMS on Kissy Road. That site needs to be preserved, not destroyed. Do we know what we want to do willingly? Look at what the Islamists are doing in Mali and the attention it got from the international community. Then to think, we want to willingly destroy our heritage”, she lamented.
By Samuel Dennis John