''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol XI No 7

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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April 19 - this was Siaka Stevens own interpretation of the country's history as he and his henchmen and women which included academics, lawyers and educationists tried to impress on the minds of Sierra Leoneans just how important April 19 was compared to April 27.

April 19 became a national holiday celebrated with all the pomp, fanfare, gore and glory Siaka Stevens and the APC could muster in the attempt to hoodwink the entire population into believing that real independence was attained under the leadership of Sierra Leone's version of China's Great Teacher, Great Leader, Great Helmsman and Supreme Commander Mao Zedong.

April 19 was the day set aside for festivities enjoyed by those the APC found favour with as some members of the "Live Forever APC" discovered that survival and drinking deep from the chalice of corruption was directly proportional to the distance from Stevens' ears....and many who shouted A P C ...APC (like the great Borbor Kamara of the east end of Freetown as well as Nancy Steele) discovered what it meant to fall out of favour by telling Siaka Sevens and his cabal the real truth about what was happening to a country that was sinking deeper and deeper into the quagmire of hopelessness, helplessness and despair.

Pundits say the real reason Siaka Stevens hated April 27 was that it reminded him of his failure to derail the process leading on to independence and having somebody else become the Prime Minister as April 27, 1961 dawned.

His anger and bitterness reached high levels when he and those opposing the granting of independence before elections were incarcerated for fear of them violently disrupting the process. (Violence and the APC are twins from the same womb of intolerance).

One school of thought was of the considered view that Siaka Stevens did not like the colours of the national flag of green, white and blue and his hatred for the green colours of the SLPP always got ignited to new levels of revenge making him see red whenever he saw green!!!! Had Sierra Leoneans fallen for this national deception, be sure that by now Sierra Leone would not be boasting of the great green, white and blue flag - he would have either made it red as Libya's Khaddafi made his green or some combination that would have seen the colour red gaining prominence.

What a monster.Margaret Macauley - the widow of the late legal giant, herself an authority in the field.

What Siaka Stevens never really publicly declared but which became quite prominent was that by gaining a republican status, he would be in a better position to be the judge, jury and executioner as he dispatched political opponents to the great beyond on a whim. He created a situation where the judiciary was under his thumb and all who dwell within the borders of Sierra Leone made to obey his will or face persecution which would range from intimidation, through incarceration and torture - to death at the gallows in kangaroo courts presided over by his chosen minions in the judiciary.

Please read this bit that would give you an insight into the law under Siaka Stevens and how he tried to snuff out the life of a top legal luminary, a Sierra Leonean - Berthan Macauley QC.

The wife of the late man recounts this to a newspaper in Jamaica.

He (Stevens) was the biggest curse that Sierra Leone could have had....a stern Margarette Macaulay recalled.

While working on a case in the Republic of Gambia, Margarette and Berthan got some news. Berthan was wanted by the police.

Friends who were there told us that they had heard on the news that some people were being detained and arrested and that there was a list of people who the Siaka Stevens government wanted and that his name was on the list, and so we should consider not returning....but they returned anyway.

....After several weeks of detention he was charged with treason, a crime punishable by death in Sierra Leone, but Berthan fought the charges representing himself and 16 others charged with the same crime. After 13 months of trial he managed to get himself and everyone else acquitted of the charges with Margarette by his side.

And that was not all. Mrs Margarette Macauley or better still the great lady with a flair for protecting the rights of people recalled another legal triumph

But the biggest ordeal was yet to come. After the trial ended in 1972 Berthan went back into private practice only to find his life almost snuffed out in the presence of a judge and jury.

He had taken up a case on behalf of some leaders in the opposition, who had found themselves on trial for murder. It was alleged that one of their vehicles had knocked down and killed a pedestrian in an area where they were not even present. Margarette was on her way to meet Berthan for lunch when the incident happened. As she drew near the court she noticed a multitude of soldiers and policemen and frantic people. The prelims (preliminary hearings) were going on when they tried to kill my husband in court. He was shoved down by two police officers under a bench and they lay on top of him because they threw a lit dynamite into the court and somebody threw it out of the window, she recalled.

Now for those who were not yet around, please note that this incident occurred somewhere well outside the capital, Kailahun? where the SLPP had gone on a political campaign mission. The team found itself surrounded by thugs of the ruling APC sent there to kill or maim the SLPP leaders which at the time included another doyen of SLPP politics M S Mustapha.

As they made their escape in a land-rover, one of the APC thugs, one Sinneh thought it fit to stand in the middle of the road so that the vehicle would slow down for the occupants to be ambushed and done great harm.

Of course the driver of the vehicle saw the danger and refused to stop, hitting the APC thug who was with a group that had been transported all the way from Freetown and Port Loko for that operation. Sinneh died of injuries sustained giving the APC the legal route (or so they thought) of getting rid of the opposition. Charges of murder were brought against all those in the escaping vehicle while Sinneh was given a ruling party funeral with party colours streaming all over the place, fitting tributes thrown in for good measure.

April 19 set the scene for Siaka Stevens to play god - deciding which of his opponents should die and which spared to either abandon country and community or die in prison.

April 19 made it impossible for those convicted by the courts of Siaka Stevens to seek legal redress through the UK-based Privy Council. A number of prominent people Siaka Stevens had perceived as deserving of death got freed after legal arguments presented at this court. With the attainment of a republican status, Sierra Leone and Siaka Stevens no longer had to hear appeals in the UK court. His cronies on the benches at the High Court, Appeal Court and the Supreme Court ensured he got his way as treason suspects were sentenced to death and confirmed by the Supreme Court should they be allowed a hearing in the Appeals Court.Siaka Stevens - failed to re-write history

April 19 made it possible for Stevens to create his own fiefdom called Sierra Leone where the nation's resources were comprehensively plundered with no one daring to question the high level of corruption that had permeated every facet of Sierra Leone society and gave Stevens and his cronies unfettered access to the country's foreign exchange reserves.

From the World Bank and IMF SDR regime Sierra Leoneans watched with rising apprehension as the leone became devalued, foreign companies folded up and left while Siaka Stevens and his gang wined and dined on the poverty and misery unleashed on the people.

When at last nature stepped in and Siaka Stevens realised that he was as any other mortal subjected to the vagaries of age and health, he thought he would be the cunning spider of folk lore on to the very end.

He needed protection and he thought he could find it in the former head of the army - Joseph Saidu Momoh and in a sham referendum organised by the one-party state of Sierra Leone - the man became the new President of Sierra Leone in late 1985 with a lavish inauguration ceremony in January 1986.

It was under President Momoh that Sierra Leone reverted to the celebration of April 27 as Sierra Leone's national day thus making this year's Golden Jubilee a reality otherwise if Stevens had had his way, the country would have had to wait another ten years!!!

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©Sierra Herald 2002