''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 9 No 8

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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Tuesday January 1, 2013 - The first day in a new year - wishing you the best in your personal development and ambitions while advising that we all take a good hard look at the lessons of the past and save Sierra Leone from the corruption, greed, lawlessness and disrespect for the Constitution that led to the horrors of the past.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Sierra Leone was set up to get at the root cause of what caused a once peaceful and friendly nation to become synonymous with the most horrible of mindless forms of violence - murder, torture, rape, amputation, deprivation and plunder and to learn from the lessons which it is hoped, would never again be repeated. Indeed it was the leader of the  then opposition APC, now the ruling party, one Ernest Bai Koroma who paid glowing tribute to his party, the autocratic APC and in the process painting that awful horror passing for a political organisation as the panacea for the woes of Sierra Leone inflicted by that self-same party. All sounds, more sounds and the accompanying impressions of fury signifying no commitment to true governance and tackling corruption.It was he, Ernest Bai Koroma that is, who noted in his 2003 presentation to the Commission among other issues that:Head of Sierra Leone's Electoral Commission Christiana Thorpe

 " ...for it is precisely the systematic erosion of individual rights and freedom, the inability to administer justice fairly and biased approach to and opportunity that led to the tragic events of the past decade...the causes of the RUF war included bad governance, political exclusion, and poor conduct of elections. These are the evils that are to be avoided especially during this crucial period of healing the social and economic wounds that have been inflicted upon us...we are now witnessing the same vices of bad governance being practiced by the SLPP in a manner approaching callousness. We do not see the efforts at fence mending and removing, the seeds of division that initially laid the basis for the war...the SLPP is deliberately widening the divide between the people...there is a feeling of siege, a culture of fear among those holding positions in community - a fear that they may lose their jobs if they are seen associating with anyone who is remotely associated with the APC...contracts of Government, NaCSA and Parastatal are only awarded to known SLPP supporters...the fight against corruption now needs a new and robust approach. It must be prominent in our agenda to move forward. Democracy, sustainable peace, national development and reconciliation cannot be achieved if corruption is not properly and seriously addressed."

Ernest Bai Koroma, among other things/allegations stated - "He (former President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah) announced the disbanding of the regular army thus pushing the soldiers to join forces with the rebels."

We would be grateful for any document, written or otherwise where the former President announced the disbanding of the regular army - an outfit in which some officers and men did deals with the rebels in a wild enrichment campaign but which still boasted of loyal troops who lost life and limb in defence of the civilian population against the killers and rapists of the joint RUF/AFRC enterprise. The TRC report did not mince words but gave it straight insisting that:

"...all the administrations of the post-independence period contributed to the structural and proximate contexts that led to the conflict in 1991. The duality of the country's administrative and judicial structures made them vulnerable to manipulation, which the regimes of Sir Milton Margai, Sir Albert Margai and Dr. Siaka Stevens duly utilised to their respective advantages. In the provincial areas, for example, local courts and Chieftaincy structures were used to clamp down on opposition activities and to entrench the authority of whichever traditional ruling houses were allied to the party in power. Meanwhile the continual assault on the rule of law weakened the capacities of state institutions to perform. The judiciary was subordinated to the executive, parliament did little more than 'rubber-stamp', the civil service became a redundant state machine and the Army and police force became vectors of violence against the very people they were established to protect. Non-state bodies that ought to ensure accountability - like media houses or civil society groups - were thoroughly co-opted. Opposition political parties were suppressed and eventually banned by President Stevens' One Party Constitution of 1978."

Again a reminder from the pages of the TRC report - "...for good governance to obtain, the three branches of government - the executive, the legislature and the judiciary - must be separate and independent of one another, and each must have the requisite power to fulfil its functions. The constitutional provisions that ensure the separation of powers must not merely exist on paper, but rather must be developed and reaffirmed continuously in their application...a government that permits little or no restraint on its own powers is an authoritarian government, which epitomises bad governance...the central cause of the war was endemic greed, corruption and nepotism that deprived the nation of its dignity and reduced most people into a state of poverty...building a lasting peace in Sierra Leone can only begin with a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the country's past...as Sierra Leone strives to give meaning to the sentiments of 'never again'."

He has now appointed among his cronies one Franklyn Kargbo as his Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, never mind the fact that in the 2007 APC Manifesto he had promised to separate these key areas of governance and the fact that Franklyn's law firm has been associated with dubious land deals involving foreign companies that deprive poor and politically-unconnected Sierra Leoneans of millions of acres of farming land.

Sunday December 16, 2012 - A community in the United States, Newtown, the entire United States and the world in mourning as twenty six people, twenty of them children are confirmed dead,  massacred by an ogre passing himself off as a human being. The crime of the dead? Going about their business on a Friday December 14, by getting to school, the Sandy Hook primary school in a quiet community that has become the focus of the world's media and all for the wrong reasons.Some of the victims from photos released - these from the online pages of the UK Daily Mail

The Governor of Connecticut Dannel Malloy put in bluntly when he told a meeting of the peaceful Newtown community where the massacre occurred that evil had visited the community. US President Barack Obama could not hold back tears as he painted the grim picture of the lives brought to an end by a gunman who started off his rampage, mindless rampage by murdering his own mother who taught at the school before driving off to the school where he forced his way in to carry out his awful and terrible mission before taking the coward's way out - killing himself.

Eight boys, twelve girls and six female adults - all dead - murdered by an armed killer. This is a part of President Barack Obama's first public reaction.

"The majority of those who died today were children -- beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers -- men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams. So our hearts are broken today -- for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost. Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children’s innocence has been torn away from them too early, and there are no words that will ease their pain." And all the victims were hit several times with some 6 year-old getting hit as much as eleven times by the mass murderer.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II led UK and Commonwealth tributes in a message sent to President Barack Obama expressing shock and horror at the Friday shooting and mass murder incident.

"I have been deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the dreadful loss of life today in Newtown, Connecticut; particularly the news that so many of the dead are children. Prince Philip joins me in extending our heartfelt sympathy to you and the American people at this difficult time....The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the United Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth are with the families and friends of those killed and with all those who have been affected by today's events."

A spokesman for Pope Benedict the 16th noted - "The Holy Father was promptly informed of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and he has asked me to convey his heartfelt grief and the assurance of this closeness in prayer to the victims and their families, and to all affected by the shocking event. In the aftermath of this senseless tragedy he asks God, our Father, to console all those who mourn and to sustain the entire community with the spiritual strength which triumphs over violence by the power of forgiveness, hope and reconciling love."

Sunday December 9, 2012 - Ghana's electoral body says - the winner in Friday's polls is incumbent President John Mahama despite protests from the main opposition that the process was skewed in favour of President Mahama. Ghana was using the biometric voting system for the first time as did Sierra Leone.The man declared loser by the Ghana electoral body Akufo-AddoThe man declared winner of December 7 polls incumbent President John Mahama

The opposition in Ghana say there have been many cases of rigging. The elections observers say that despite certain flaws like delays in getting the process off on Friday 7th December causing voting to be extended on to Saturday 8th December in some areas, the entire process was largely peaceful and well conducted.

The Electoral Chairman Kwadwo Afari-Gyan is reported to have declared "John Dramani Mahama President-elect after securing 50.7 percent of the vote. The main opposition candidate Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party, the NPP, is reported to have got 47.7 percent. In Ghana all the leading candidate needs is to secure 50 percent plus 1 of the total votes cast. In Sierra Leone it has to be 55 percent and Ernest Bai Koroma, the incumbent is also reported by Sierra Leone Electoral Commission Head, Christiana Thorpe to have garnered more than 58 percent effectively pushing aside any prospects of a run-off. And like in Ghana, the opposition in Sierra Leone has cried foul with the main opposition candidate of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party, the SLPP Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio reportedly filing papers in court insisting the process was rigged in favour of the incumbent.

The international news outlet CNN reports that - " Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, chairman of the New Patriotic Party, earlier Sunday accused Ghana's ruling National Democratic Congress of manipulating the count and asked that an announcement about the results be put off until "all the allegations have been investigated."

The BBC reports a statement by the opposition indicating that the process had been hijacked by the governing party led by the incumbent President Mahama - "To accept this result is to discredit democracy in Ghana and, in the process, distort the process of democratisation in Africa. Therefore, the New Patriotic Party cannot accept the results of the presidential election as declared by the EC (election commission) this evening."

In both the Sierra Leone and Ghana cases, the opposition accuse, among others, operatives of the National Electoral Commission raising the question - is the biometric system of voting flawed or is it a matter of how the process is conducted that makes a mockery of a biometric system which gets pushed into the corner of convenience as elections officials issue ballot papers without the need for a biometric verification?

Why should the opposition cry foul in both cases if those verified to vote have the necessary documentation? Is there a desperation on both incumbents in Ghana and Sierra Leone to win at whatever cost given that a new-found wealth (curse) oil is now on the cards with a very shameless former Nigerian President Obasanjo campaigning openly on behalf of Ernest Bai Koroma?

A good study for students of democratic processes and loopholes in such systems.

(PS - We noticed that the website of the Ghana Election Commission is down. Now up again...)

Friday November 23, 2012

After hours of anxious wait Dr Christiana Thorpe Head of the National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone announces the winner of the 2012 Presidential Vote

At last we have the long-awaited result. According to the head of the country's body that is responsible for the conduct of all serious elections in Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma the Presidential candidate of the ruling All Peoples Congress party, the APC has been re-elected after he got, according to Dr Christiana Thorpe, 58.7 percent of the votes. This meant that there was no need for a runoff contest between the top two scorers as he reached not only the required 55 percent but went above it by a couple of notches. The nearest runner-up was the Presidential candidate of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party, the SLPP, Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio who got 37.4 percent of the votes for State House.Maada Bio of the main opposition SLPP reportedly got 37.4 percent of the valid votes, according to NEC.The winner of the 2012 Presidential vote Ernest Bai Koroma. He polled 58.7 percent of the valid votes.

Stated Dr Christiana Thorpe on Friday -

"In exercise of the powers conferred on the Returning Officer by section 52 of the Public Elections Act, 2012, I hereby certify that 1,314,881 valid votes were cast in favour of the candidate ERNEST BAI KOROMA at that election:

AND ERNEST BAI KOROMA therefore received 58.7% of valid votes cast in the election. ERNEST BAI KOROMA has been duly elected president of the Republic of Sierra Leone at the Presidential election of 2012.

Any citizen of Sierra Leone may challenge the validity of the election of the president by petition to the Supreme Court of Sierra Leone, within seven days after the declaration of the presidential results"

Click this link to view details of the Statement from the NEC Chairperson on the conduct and result of the Presidential Elections held on 17th November 2012

Saturday November 10, 2012 - Today Saturday November 10, 2012 is Malala Day. Any idea what we are talking about? Yes this day is dedicated to the Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai who a month ago was shot in the head by the Taliban. Her crime? Advocating for the rights of the girl child to be given the opportunity to get an education, formal education as we all know it.Malala Yousafzai - the teenager shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating formal education for the girl child.

The world, led by the United Nations has today Saturday November 10, 2012 dedicated this day to the struggles of a Pakistani teenager who dared to advocate for the rights of the girl child to education. Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head, a month ago, by the Taliban who see her high profile advocating for the rights of the child to education as enough reason for her to die. Thankfully, by God's grace whatever you perceive Him to be, she is still alive and recovering from her terrible injuries in a UK hospital. We join the millions all over the world who wish her well and would like to see the girl child the world over including Sierra Leone given an opportunity to education.

Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown who is also the UN Special Envoy for Global Education on his and wife Sarah's webpages has noted

"On October 10th, the brave Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai was shot having spoken up for her right to education. Since then, the world has rallied in support, and November 10th – a month following her attempted assassination – has been declared Malala Day – in support of Malala, and the 32 million girls like her around the globe who are denied their right to school. People the world over will be taking action – and you too can play your part. The first and most important thing you can do is add your name to the petition which will be presented to President Zardari by Gordon, as well as to the UN. Add your voice at www.iammalala.org – and then ask your friends to sign too." The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging people around the world on 10 November to speak out for Malala Yousafzai and on behalf of the 61 million children worldwide still not in school.

We are also pleased to be a part of the world advocating that the brave teenager be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Monday October 15, 2012 - Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban on her way to the United Kingdom for further medical attention. Her crime? Advocating for the rights of the girl child to be educated, to be allowed to go to school.The shot Pakistani girl Malala - a target of the Taliban because she advocated for education for the girl child.

The BBC, in this morning's news broadcasts has revealed that the Pakistani army has said the girl has been flown to the UK where she is expected to undergo intensive medical care and supervision - the sort that cannot be provided in her home country. According to the BBC. Malala Yousafzai was campaigning for the rights of the girl child to education, the right of the girl child to be allowed to attend school like all young people should. And she was nearly killed when she was made a target for death by the Taliban who had already claimed responsibility for the attack.

"The 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by Taliban gunmen last week is being flown to the UK for medical treatment, the Pakistani army has said. Malala Yousafzai has until now been at a military hospital in Rawalpindi, with doctors saying her progress over the next few days would be "critical". The girl wrote a diary about suffering under the Taliban and was accused by them of "promoting secularism".

The UK said Malala's transfer followed London's offer to help her in any way. The Pakistani army said Ms Yousafzai's trip was being sponsored by the United Arab Emirates. A team of medics are accompanying the girl. The plane carrying Malala Yousafzai has already left Pakistan. It is not clear where in the UK she is to be taken. The Pakistan military statement said Malala's medical team were "pleased with her present condition which has been described as optimal."

The UK-based Daily Mail adds this update - The Pakistani schoolgirl targeted by the Taliban is ‘responding well’ to treatment in Britain for her gunshot wounds, doctors said last night. Malala Yousafzai, 15, who was shot in the head and neck at point-blank range, is in a ‘stable and comfortable’ condition at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. She was gunned down as she returned home from school in the Swat Valley. The teenager was struck just above the back of her left eye, with the bullet travelling down the side of her jaw and damaging the skull. It went through her neck and lodged in the tissue above her shoulder blade on the left. She was in a medically induced coma on arrival in Britain on Monday, but has regained consciousness. Malala is unable to talk as she is still breathing through a hole in her neck following a tracheostomy and has been communicating in writing.

We do wish Malala a speedy recovery.

Thursday October 11, 2012 - The first International Day of the Girl Child is observed - a day set aside by the United Nations to recognise the rights of the girl child and what the world body calls the unique challenges girls face around the world. It is a day that should be observed and taken seriously especially in Sierra Leone where the girl child is often seen as an object of sexual pleasure, derision and forced into under-age conjugal arrangements that only benefit the men to whom they become practically enslaved.What future for the majority of girl children in Sierra Leone?Girls in Sierra Leone working on rocks to pay school fees

Today October 11, 2012 is the first observance by the United Nations of a day dedicated to the girl child and it should not be lost on all Sierra Leoneans that this is a day that should be top on the agenda of any caring government given what the girl child was put through during the country's troubles. And yet, we are sad to observe, not a word from State House nor any of the related government ministries and organisations that should make the life of the girl child good rather than one of misery and socio-economic unpredictability.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has added his voice to the call for an end not only to child marriages but pleads with all to give the girl child a chance in life.

"For its first observance, this year’s Day will focus on child marriage, which is a fundamental human rights violation and impacts all aspects of a girl’s life. Child marriage denies a girl of her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk to be a victim of violence and abuse, jeopardizes her health and therefore constitutes an obstacle to the achievement of nearly every Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and the development of healthy communities. Globally, around one in three young women aged 20-24 years were first married before they reached age 18. One third of them entered into marriage before they turned 15. Child marriage results in early and unwanted pregnancies, posing life-threatening risks for girls. In developing countries, 90 per cent of births to adolescents aged 15-19 are to married girls, and pregnancy-related complications are the leading cause of death for girls in this age group.

It is no secret and records are there to show this - that the girl child in Sierra Leone was the target of armed groups who carried out massive human rights violations against children especially girl children who got gang-raped, were brutally sexually molested and made "war-brides" attached as "wives" to armed men who seized them from the comforts of their homes. And it is worth noting that this year's theme - the first - "Ending Child Marriage" - should be of concern to Sierra Leoneans and friends of Sierra Leone where the girl child is "married" off to men they were not keen on meeting, men who deprived them of their sexual, physical and psychological development and men who would want to live in the 21st century but would want to "enjoy" the depravity meted out to girls in the dark ages.

Stories abound of the use of economic leverage to tear the girl child from the protection of poor families with offers of gifts that eventually lead to poor families practically mortgaging the girl child to unscrupulous sexual predators who use these girl children as sex objects with parents and relations too afraid to end the relationship for fear of losing the favour of these predators.

Time to be a part of the 21st century, culture or no culture. We would again remind child rights advocates within and without the country to ask President Ernest Bai Koroma and all those who were present about the fate of the six year old girl, who was clad in white and forced into a satanic ritual at State House.


Friday September 21, 2012

A gentle reminder to the ruling party, the All peoples Congress (APC) of what it published in the APC 2007 elections manifesto - the core principles of the Agenda for Change. Has the smoke and mirrors President delivered using these five core principles? SLPP headquarters under attack

CORE PRINCIPLES - (As outlined in the APC 2007 Manifesto).

Faced with the tragic state of despair and desperation in the nation, as a result of corruption, nepotism and mismanagement of our human and material resources, the All Peoples Congress Party is committed to reverse this trend and move the country forward to its rightful position in the community of nations.  In this regard the APC establishes the following core principles as its guidelines in this noble endeavour.


1. Democracy and Good Governance  2. Freedom, Human Rights and Human Dignity 3. Justice, Equality and the Rule of Law 4. Integrity, Transparency and Accountability in the conduct of Public Affairs  5. Long term sustainable development through dependable and affordable regular power supply, sound education, basic health-care, abundant food production, appropriate housing, increased youth employment, improved infrastructure, efficient transport and basic services.

Sunday May 13, 2012 - Sierra Leonean lives become cheap and expendable. Smoke and mirrors President Ernest Bai Koroma defies the United Nations warning against the use of disproportionate force as the military wing of the APC kills at least one in Bumbuna protest against conditions meted out to workers by one of his financiers and benefactors in the ongoing rip-off in the mining sector. Press statement from State House refuses to recognise the death of Musu Conteh as President Koroma continues to protect human rights violatorsDavid Sesay - the true face and disciple of the armed wing of the APC

Sierra Leonean woman Musu Conteh is no more - killed by members of the armed wing of the APC known as the OSD a unit that has been greatly expanded in numbers and equipped with millions of dollars of weapons recently purchased by the government. Sierra Leonean woman Musu Conteh is said to have died in a hail of bullets that were indiscriminately fired by Ernest Bai Koroma's armed protectors paid out of the sweat, tears and resources of the ordinary Sierra Leonean.The blood soaked body of the murdered Musu Conteh. She was killed while protesting for her rights in Sierra Leone

Musu Conteh, it would now appear had to die as well as others made to suffer gunshot wounds because as far as the government is concerned - all must be done to protect the property of Ernest Bai Koroma's "investors" who could well be implicated in being a part of the machinery that has seen the President in a country with a national currency called the "leone" spraying those he would want to impress and buy over in the political circus - with foreign currencies - mainly United States dollars. Where he's getting these monies from we had asked about before and will continue to ask until all is made plain - never mind the fact that the Anti Corruption Commission appears to be turning a blind eye.

We now know that live rounds were deliberately fired into the crowds of Sierra Leoneans protesting against their conditions of service and that, given what happened during the days of the protest, that the police could well have been given their orders direct from State House. We would not be surprised if an independent inquiry into the matter is ordered and that evidence so deduced point the finger at State House - "all must be done to put down the protest so as to save the interests of rip-off "investors", no matter how many get killed or wounded."


Sierra Leoneans and friends of Sierra Leone would indeed be watching events and would give a shrug and outright dismissal to this part of that State House statement on the Bumbuna protesters and the use of indiscriminate force by the police promising that the matter - "will be thoroughly investigated, and Government will allow the law to take its course accordingly"


Sierra Leoneans and friends of Sierra Leone would be very concerned after reading an article by the country's Deputy Information Minister, one Sheka Tarawallie, who also doubles as the Deputy Government Spokesman in which he blames "SLPP snipers" for the wounding and killing incident at Bumbuna.

"Independent investigations carried out by this press on the recent fracas at Bumbuna are pointing fingers at the political machinations of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) as not only having instigated the violence, but that they actually planted a gun man to cause mayhem, resulting in the death of Musu Conteh. It is believed that someone other than the police used live rounds to fire at the crowds...It was a well-orchestrated plan,” a Bumbuna Town elder, who is slowly coming to grasp with the true story, told The Torchlight. SLPP party sources say Maada Bio was in a jubilant mood, as he reportedly retorted ‘Yes, this is a big opportunity for us to make in-roads in the north’."


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