‘7/10 MILITARY COUPS IN WEST AFRICA ARE AS A RESULT OF CORRUPTION’- COMMISSIONER FRANCIS BEN KAIFALA
Francis Ben Kaifala Esq., President of the Network of Anti-Corruption Institutions in West Africa (NACIWA), and Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of Sierra Leone, has said that seven out of ten of the military coups happening in the ECOWAS region are being justified with corruption in civilian led governments.
Commissioner Kaifala, who leads a very vibrant Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission made this statement during an interview on News central TV’s One Slot programme, in which he dilated on the topic: “The Connection between corruption and recent coups in West Africa.”
It could be recalled that the past months in the West Africa Region have seen increased in military coups including ones in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso, as well as a mutiny in Guinea Bissau which was later suppressed by the civilian government. In all of these, incoming military regimes blamed mismanagement of State resources, corruption and abuse of office as reasons why they decide to topple civilian led administration. This position was also shared recently by the Commander, United States of America African Command, General Stephen Townsend, who also attributed the spate of coups in some African countries to lack of good governance and corruption.
Meanwhile, whilst dilating on the topic of corruption and military coups in West Africa, Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commissioner said “we are back into coups because of difficult economic challenges,” adding that over two decades the region has seen democracy thrived but the actual changes that are envisaged in the lives of the people of the region are not realized.
However, Mr. Kaifala was pessimistic that “coups do not change the lives of the people, but instead will lead to further backwardness.”
Commissioner Kaifala furthered that in most of the countries where military coups have happened, people only come to terms with the mismanagement of the military regime after the coups have happened. He said “most of the coup leaders tend to be more corrupt than the regimes they overthrow.”
Further explaining his distrust for military coups, the NACIWA President said “we have not had a single country where coup has changed much,” bolstering that “there is no good coup.”
Commissioner Kaifala, who is a renowned Sierra Leonean lawyer opined that there are ways through which civilian regimes could be removed. He said that could be done through elections, the judiciary and the legislature, but that taking arms against civilian regimes is itself an attack on democracy and should be frowned at.
600 pupils to benefit from Destiny Christian Academy in Moseilolo
A total of six hundred (600) boys and girls in Moseilolo, Moyamba District, Southern Province of the republic of Sierra Leone are set to benefit from the construction of the Destiny Christian Academy school in that locality. This will enable the children access quality education, which is the vision of the government of His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio.
Limba in the Disapora Concerned over the Arrest and Detention of Alfred Paolo Conteh
PRESS RELEASE BY THE LIMBAS IN THE DIASPORA ON THE ARREST AND DETENTION OF MAJOR (RETIRED) ALFRED PAOLO CONTEH
The Limbas in the diaspora havelearnt that the government of President Julius Maada Bio has arrested and detained Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh, on allegation of conspiracy to commit treason, unlawful possession of arms and ammunition and other criminal charges.
We have been reliably informed that:
- President Bio had invited Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh to State House together with few other individuals that were at the helm in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in Sierra Leone between 2014 and 2016. And that, Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh and the other invitees were to go and share their expertise toward the Government of Sierra Leone’s preparedness against the Corona Virus pandemic.
- Senior executive members of the APC Party duly authorised and approved of Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh’s attendance to President Bio’s call for a bi-partisan engagement on the fight against the COVID-19 in Sierra Leone.
- On arriving at State House on the 19th March 2020, Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh voluntarily handed over his bag containing his own licensed gun to the security there before proceeding to the office of the State Chief of Protocol (SCOP) for his eventual presentation meeting with President Bio and others concerned. The mode and timing of the voluntary handing over of the weapon is now the main dispute that has led to criminal charges.The State prosecution must provide CCTV footage of what transpired between Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh and the security at State House on this matter. WE SHALL CONSIDER ANYTHING SHORT OF THIS UNACCEPTABLE!!!
- The matter has now led to one Colonel (Retired) Saa Sinnah and one gentleman named Mr. Prince George Hughes, both being staff members of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons, being charged for alleged unlawful licensing of the said gun that was in the possession of Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh.
- Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh is detained at the Pademba Road prison on 24 hours solitary confinement, under egregious conditions with very limited access by his lawyers and a single visit by his wife, even before criminal charges against him had been proffered and still continuing even after the court had ordered for all the human rights of the detained prisoner to be upheld.
- The preliminary investigations on 3rd April 2020 at the Pademba Road magistrate court, was restricted to selected legal and media practitioners and civil society organisations, thus denying family members and well-wishers to witness the initial proceedings.
If the facts in 1 - 6 above are true, then, we would to like remind President Bio thus:
- Section 20(1) of the 1991 constitution of Sierra Leone provides for protection from inhumane treatment. We therefore urge the government to respect Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh’s right to dignity and humane treatment while in detention.
- An accused person is presumed innocent until proven guilty by virtue of section 23 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone. We therefore urge the Director of Public Prosecution to provide the evidence supporting their chargesand hasten the trial. Since the government believes that Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh has a case to answer, we implore your expedient fair trial - for justice delayed is justice denied. Otherwise, we request the immediate release of Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh from detention.
- Sierra Leone The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report is replete with accounts of how some members of the Limba ethnic group were falsely accused and extra-judicially executed. We are concerned about the preliminary investigations at the magistrate court and reports relating to the nefarious conditions on Paolo Conteh’s solitary confinement. We hope President Bio upholds his promise for national cohesion by ensuring thatmembers of the ethnic groups in Sierra Leone continue to peacefully live side by side in our nation’s rebirth with no suspicion by any one group that its members are vulnerable.
- We also call on President Bio to engage and work amicably with the APC Party National Executive for a swift trial and/or release of Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh. Such a step will be in furtherance of national cohesion especially as Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh had received blessings of his APC party to go to State House and work with the President Bio-led government.
As we look forward to President’s Bio judicious action in the best interest of national cohesion, we would like him to know that this is a matter that we are following very closely.
Should anything untoward happens to Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh, we will not stop at anything to seek redress. We shall use the case of Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh and the plethora of available evidence about human rights violations since Julius Maada Bio became president of the Republic of Sierra Leone to substantiate the fact that the statements in the TRC report President Julius Maada Bio and other members of his current government are cited to have made regarding the executions and associated violations of December 1992 were misleading; hence, the need for proper investigation by the International Criminal Court.
We shall undertake international legal campaign, rather than resort to internal skirmish, if justice is not seen to have been done speedily enough. If by the 10th April 2020, the preliminary investigations at the magistrate court on the treasons allegations against Major (Retired) Alfred Paolo Conteh do not go ahead or have him released, we shall commence a two-pronged approach thus: inform the moral guarantors to our national peace and sustain the services of international lawyers in the International Criminal Court to start the process leading to the indictment of President Julius Maada Bio and top officials in his government.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!
Long live the Limba ethnic group!!!
Long live Sierra Leone!!!
Bollore weigh in Coronavirus Prevention Support to Moa Wharf & Sea Side Communities
Bollore, a transport and logistics company in Sierra Leone has donated hand washing materials worth 51 Million Leones to Moa Wharf and Sea Side communities.
The company handles shipment of cargo from abroad to Sierra Leone, and has been in operation for several years.
Veronica buckets, Milla tanks, Chlorine, soap and other hygiene materials were among the donated materials to the communities.
The donor promised to ensure that the beneficiary communities practise hand washing and other preventive measures to halt the spread of the Coronavirus, which was declared in Sierra Leone for the first time on March 31st 2020.
Meanwhile, during the presentation, Memuna Drame, Chief Finance Officer (CFO) for Bollore Company, in her statement recognised the importance of the two communities noting that Bollore is part of them. “This is not a private company helping a community, but Bollore is part of the community,” she said.
Drame also told journalists that the company had been implementing, temperature checks and social distancing and other restrictive measures to cut off the chain of transmission of the Virus.
Ensuring that customers act in accordance with the Corona Virus preventive measures was also emphasised by the CFO.
“We make sure that customers comply with the rules in respect of the Corona Virus prevention. To halt the spread of the virus is the reason the company has donated to this highly infectious communities,” she said.
Drame also assured the beneficiaries that the donated materials would be protected.
The Country Manager of Bollore Transport and Logistics, Captain Fabjanko Kokan was also present at the donation ceremony.
Kokan told the beneficiary communities that more donations would be made by the company.
“The donation today is just the first step, more donations are coming,” Kokan assured.
In his keynote address, he called on communities to act with unity and togetherness to defeat the Corona Virus.
“It is only when we act with solidarity that can we defeat the virus,” Kokan appealed.
Some dignitaries particularly women represented their communities at the donation ceremony.
Among them were the Chairman and the Section Chief of the communities, Lamin Bangura and Chief Alhaji Pa Alimamy Conteh respectively.
In his contribution, Lamin Bangura appreciated the donated materials and thanked the donor.
He said the donation was timely in such a trying moment facing the country.
Also making his voice heard at the donation ceremony, Chief Pa Alimamy Conteh referred to the donation as the first to be undertaken by a company.
During the occasion, Chief Conteh appealed to the community residents to be law abiding and compliant with the hand washing and other rules pronounced by government.
“No one knows the danger side of the law until when one is trapped,” Chief Conteh warned.
Apart from the donation, Bollore has been supporting fishing activities in the beneficiary communities to improve livelihoods.
Fishing in those riverine communities is the key economic and livelihood activity among others.
Bollore’s support to the fishermen is one of the greatest corporate philanthropies to the communities who appreciate the donor.
Sierra Leone has, for the past two days, recorded a case of Corona Virus marking the beginning of a health disaster.
Bollore’s donation of the hand washing materials is a response to the President’s call during the announcement of the index case on 31st March 2020.
Hugo ML drives focus on Multi-Million Dollar Digital Economy with Webinar Series for West Africa Graduates
MARCH 24, 2020: Leading African data annotation company, Hugo ML, is set to launch a free online webinar training to prepare graduates in West Africa to join today’s multi-billion dollar digital economy. The new online series will help participants understand and navigate the digital workspace with Hugo ML sharing insights from its standpoint as a digital employer of African talent.
The four-part informative series will feature topics that include: Remote Work and the Digital Economy, Accessing Global Remote Work Opportunities, An Introduction to Data Annotation for Machine Learning, and Navigating “Work From Home” Challenges in an African context.
The recent Coronavirus outbreak has led many companies to embrace remote work models, presenting a huge opportunity for talented university graduates in West Africa.
“Artificial Intelligence is revolutionizing every aspect of daily life, but gender and racial bias exists in many AI-enabled technologies,” says Simone Bartlett, HugoML co-founder. “It is therefore critical that young Africans are contributing to these technologies shaping their lives. And equally important that we have equal access to jobs created in the field.”
Working remotely can be challenging, especially in West Africa; but being a home-grown company has given Hugo an advantage in navigating these challenges. Join the webinar to learn from their lessons empowering hundreds of successful remote workers in the region.
The webinar will cover opportunities at Hugo ML, but will surface thousands of other online opportunities.
Spaces are limited and are on a first come, first serve basis, so sign up today!https://www.hugoml-remote.com/. To learn more about Hugo ML, its services and upcoming training programs and webinars, please visit www.hugoml.com.
About Hugo HML
Founded in 2018, Hugo ML provides an on-demand, remote workforce for leading tech companies seeking to diversify their data annotation and content moderation teams. The company has over 200 trained annotators across West Africa and expects to hire another 200 in the coming months.
Feasibility Study ongoing on First Lady’s Medical Centre
In a recent development, Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States of America, His Excellency Sidique Abou-Bakarr Wai organised a team of experts to commence feasibility study of First Lady’s Medical Centre in Sierra Leone.
With gratitude to God for a life well lived
Obituary for the late Evelyn Lauretta Idowu-Davies
Sunrise:11 February 1925
Sunset : 10 March 2019
Funeral & Communion service : Friday 22 March at the Ebenezer Methodist Church Murray Town at 2:30
From the Children and grandchildren at home and abroad.
Remembering Late Honorable Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy Sr
17th March 2019, marks the 20th Anniversary of the passing away of HONORABLE, DR. SHEIKH BATU DARAMY SR, aka, SB Daramy.
Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy, Sr. B.Sc (Economics from London School of Economics, UK), M.A., Ph.D from Howard University, was born on 20th September, 1920 in Makeni.
Today we remember one of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) oldest members. In 1948, Hon. Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy was awarded a Sierra Leone Government scholarship to attend the London School of Economics from where he graduated in 1952 with a B.Sc in Economics. Afterwards, Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy returned to Sierra Leone at which point he was promoted to the position of Labour Officer in the Senior Service of the Government of Sierra Leone.
In 1956, Hon. Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy passed the Intermediate LL.B degree of London University. He was subsequently promoted to Deputy Commissioner of Labour here in Sierra Leone, and he finally became Commissioner of Labour in 1960. To complement all these successes, he was also promoted Deputy Financial Secretary here in Sierra Leone.
In 1963, Sir Milton Margai, the first Prime Minister of Independent Sierra Leone, promoted Daramy to the position of Financial Secretary.
When the first opposition party, the All Peoples Congress (APC) came to power in 1968, Daramy and a host of SLPP members were arrested and sixteen (16) of them were charged with treason and felony. Daramy served 3 years six months in jail while ten (10) others were sentenced to death by hanging. On appeal after 3 years six months Hon. Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy was released.
He was exiled in the UK and subsequently moved on to the United States where he would go on to work at Howard University and earn in Ph.D degree in African Studies with distinction. Upon his return to Freetown, he would work at Fourah Bay College as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Science for two years. He also moved on to work at the Ministry of Finance as Economic Adviser.
When political dispensation was introduced in 1992, Hon. Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy left the Ministry of Finance and took part in active politics in the SLPP. He stood for the election as a Presidential candidate. At a point when no one would step forward and register the SLPP, Dr. Sheikh Batu Daramy and his wife, Hadja Hawa Daramy (Khadar), used their personal funds to register the party! Although he did now succeed in his bid, he proved himself as a loyalist and one of the original SLPP members. He would move on to become a Member of Parliament.
Sheikh Batu Daramy published a book in 1993 entitled “Constitutional Developments in the Post-Colonial State of Sierra Leone 1961 – 1984”.
On 29th March 1999 he was laid in the State Hall of Parliament, Parliament Building, Freetown. He was fondly remembered by his fellow Colleagues, Family and Friends.
Today, I pay tribute to a Man who was a great Father, great Sierra Leonean and Great Person.
Love you Papa Always – Mariama Daramy-Lewis. Your Dear Wife, Hadja Hawa who is 96 years old and living with me…LOVES and MISSES YOU DEARLY
[On behalf of the DARAMY FAMILY AND KHADAR FAMILY]
Beyond the Rhetoric and Black T-shirts: What next in protecting our Women and Girls against Sexual Offences
From International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25 until December 10 each year, women around the world mark 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. During this period, campaigns are waged globally to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls. Under the 2018 theme Orange the World: #HearMeToo, a host of events are being held to raise awareness and create opportunities for dialogue between activists, policy-makers and the public.
Like in previous years, Sierra Leone has actively participated in this campaign. This year was particularly poignant as the statistics from the media pointed to the fact that the crisis is getting worse. Rape and other sexual and gender-based violence had been a persistent problem long before the war. The war brought matters to fore. Since then there have been numerous attempts to address these terrible crimes.
Many had assumed that with the enactment of the three Gender Acts of 2007, Domestic Violence Act; Devolution of Estates Act and the Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act, and the subsequent enactment of the Sexual Offences Act (2012), the culture of impunity would rapidly be brought to an end. Although still early days since these laws were passed, the problem seems to be worsening.
Data circulating on social media suggested that there were 2579 sexual penetration cases so far in 2018 – 6 were HIV positive and 484 pregnant. Rainbo Center data obtained from its website indicate that in October 2018 there were 237 cases of sexual assault, 49 pregnancies, 103 sexually transmitted infections and 1 HIV/AIDS case. Radio Democracy which actively reports these cases has left many listeners equally depressed and enraged. The age of the victims is getting younger. 45-year-old man penetrates a 9-year-old girl. 28-year-old man rapes 5-year-old girl. 35-year-old man penetrates 4-year-old girl. Astonishingly and sickeningly, the youngest rape case was a 7-month-old baby.
Clearly, despite the enactment of these progressive laws and years of sensitization, the dastardly act remains pervasive. However, this is not the time for disillusionment or giving up. It is a time to double our efforts and to think of new strategies to defeat the pedophiles and rapists.
The Sexual Offences Act has made it relatively easier to prosecute rape and other sexual offences but the conviction rate remains low due in part to shortcomings in our criminal justice system. We lack prosecutors in most parts of the country. Geographical factors make the formal legal system inaccessible. The capacity of investigators remains limited. They lack basic equipment such as rape kits to undertake important tests. Key witness including parents and guardians refuse to cooperate and in some cases receive money to ‘settle’ the case out of court. The absence of a witness protection programme also makes witnesses afraid to come forward.Legal technicalities such as corroboration and in some cases the requirement of a voire dire where a witness is a child are also major impediments in the prosecution of sexual offences.
The media has not always helped. Some have published pictures or information about victims leading to the disclosure of their identity. This coupled with the lack of confidentiality has helped ensure that the stigmatization surrounding rape and the culture of silence remain firmly in place. As immediate family members are usually the perpetrators, lack of adequate social workers and halfway houses has also deterred many witnesses from coming forward.
Legal Access through Women Yearning for Equality Rights and Social Justice (LAWYERS) continues to do a great job associating with the prosecution in a number of sexual offence cases. The Bar Association can do more to work with them in this laudable effort. We can also work with the Legal Aid Board to train more paralegals who can help victims navigate the legal process especially in parts of the countries where there are no lawyers or in instances where people cannot afford lawyers.
However, not all the problems are legal and the courts, though they need to do a lot more, should not be the only frontier where this war is fought. It must be a comprehensive and multi-pronged battle. It must be waged at home by parents. The long taboo of not discussing sex must end. Sex education and preventive mechanisms must be part of our curriculum in schools.
As we realized with Ebola, our traditional leaders have a crucial role to play. It is important that we engage them at every level in this struggle. They should not only help raise awareness but must ensure that the local courts deal sternly with perpetrators. As recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the practice under customary law of compelling women and girls who have been raped to enter into marriage with the offender should be abolished.
Achieving justice for victims of sexual violence requires long-term commitment. It also requires political will and collaboration amongst all the actors. It is a comprehensive journey that we must all support government in ensuring it is eradicated.
_Basita Michael is President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. It does not purport to reflect the position of any institution of which she is a member.
President Julius Maada Bio Opens Seventh Ministerial Meeting on African Union Committee of Ten on United Nations Reforms in Sierra Leone
Radisson Blu, Freetown, Friday 14 December 2018 - His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio has officially opened the Seventh Ministerial Level Meeting of the African Union Committee of Ten (C-10) on the reform of the United Nations Security Council at Radisson Blu Hotel, Aberdeen, Freetown.
The consultative forum has drawn Foreign Ministers from across Africa since the formation of the Committee of Ten by the African Union (AU) in 2005 to institute reforms that allow for a permanent African representation on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
In his keynote address, President Bio as Chair of the C-10, the committee of ten Heads of State and Government setup by the AU to advocate the African Common Position on UNSC reform, thanked the various participants for coming to the country, saying that he was excited to be hosting such an important event. He said the meeting was about respecting the right and dignity of African generations.
He noted that they were at the meeting, charged by a united purpose and shared agenda for a common goal. He said the meeting was important because he believed that the current geopolitical realities had placed Africa in a stronger position, than ever before, to present a common position for a comprehensive reform of the Security Council and to call for equitable representation in all organs in the UN.
“Africa is the only region without permanent representation in the permanent category in the Security Council. Africa is also under-represented in the Non-permanent category. We assert that Africa’s demand for two permanent seats with all the rights and prerogatives of current members, including the right of veto (although Africa is opposed in principle to the veto), and two additional Non-permanent seats is a matter of common justice.
“We proffer that Africa has a right to have an equal say in decision-making on issues that affect the African region. We affirm that such longstanding injustice and imbalance as reflected in the present configuration of the Security Council must be remedied without any further delay. Africa is committed to on-going reforms that will make the United Nations fit for purpose,” he said.
The President also added that as the Coordinator of the African Union Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government on the reform of the United Nations, he had articulated the grave concerns over the continuous inaction to adopt measures that would lead to Africa taking its rightful place in the Security Council. He maintained that the reform of the Security Council was long overdue and that the organisation was constituted on undemocratic and discriminatory principles.
He further argued that Africans constituted 1.2 billion of the world’s population of 7.5 billion and about 70% of the decisions made at the UN Security Council ultimately affect those 1.2 billion Africans, adding that those 1.2 billion people were also affected by over 70% of the UN’s resolutions. He said Africa was also contributing more than its fair share to promoting world peace and security.
“Africans fought valiantly and contributed to the victory that granted the Permanent Members the pride of place and entitlement in the UN Charter. It is fair to say that the over one million Africans who contributed through their gallantry and blood to the allied victory have been largely erased from the grand narrative of the war and from the spoils of victory.
“Even if it is argued that the Security Council comprises the five permanent members who were victors in the Second World War, then there is no moral and historical justification for Africa’s exclusion. Over a million Africans battled in the searing heat of the deserts of North Africa, over the perilous skies of Germany, through the jungles of North East India and Burma to the swamps and jungles of Malaya,” he recalled.
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Alie Kabba, said he was pleased with Africa’s Permanent Representatives who had worked assiduously at the UN level. He said the meeting provided the opportunity for discussions, leading to a comprehensive report that would serve as a guide to African Heads of State in their quest for permanent representation on the UN Security Council.