''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 2

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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Wednesday May 14, 2014 - It is a month today since almost three hundred school girls in Chibok, Nigeria were abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists and despite the clarion call from parents and the concerned all over the world, the rat at State House has not uttered a word of condemnation. Why?Some of the nearly 300 school girls shown in a Boko Haram video

It is a month to the day when the nasty terrorist group, Boko Haram violated the privacy and safety of more than two hundred girls (some put the figure at 300), kidnapped them and took them, against their will, to areas the poor and frightened girls could never have visited or wanted to visit under such conditions.

As the pressure from Nigerian civil society mounted with worried mothers, relations and Nigerians joining in the call for their release, the international community brought its forces to bear first from celebrities and then leading ladies and politicians like Michelle Obama and her husband joining the call for the release of the abducted girls.

A number of Western countries including the United Kingdom, France, the United States and others have now offered experts in intelligence gathering, hostage-taking and hostage negotiations.

In the midst of heightened fears for the safety of the girls and with increasing pressure from Nigerian and other world leaders, the terrorists released a video in which they showed a part of the kidnapped school children with the Boko Haram warlord ranting away and wanting to use the abducted school children as a bargaining chip for the release of suspected Boko Haram sympathisers and activists believed to be in the custody of Nigeria's state security forces. The Nigerian authorities flatly refused to accede to the Boko Haram request. Latest developments in the unfolding saga suggest that the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has now set up a task force charged with opening a new line of dialogue with the terrorists. On the BBC website is this -

"Nigeria is ready to talk to Islamist militants to negotiate the release of more than 200 abducted girls, cabinet minister Tanimu Turaki has said. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said on Monday that captured girls who had not converted to Islam could be swapped for jailed fighters. Mr Turaki said that if Shekau was sincere, he should send representatives for talks. The girls were abducted last month from a boarding school in the north-east... In another development, the US has revealed it is flying manned surveillance missions over Nigeria to an effort to find the missing schoolgirls. A team of about 30 US experts - members of the FBI and defence and state departments - is in Nigeria to help with the search. The UK, France and China also have teams on the ground in Nigeria and an Israeli counter-terrorism team is on its way. Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff Alex Badeh welcomed such support and described the relationship between his country and the US as "mutual and strategic".

Meanwhile the British Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds who's now in Nigeria is expected to have talks with Nigerian authorities with a view to co-ordinating what is clearly now a search and rescue operation.

In Freetown, the rat continues to sit tight.

He has not made any public statement condemning Boko Haram for this outrage. And he has been touted by his paid praise singers as the Coordinator of the Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government on United Nations Reforms. He is also touted as the man who has been asked by the African Union to draw up a new blueprint for that organisation.

And yet, with this crisis on the minds of concerned parents and world leaders, not a squeak from the rat. It is the same silence that greeted the aftermath of reports he commissioned on the alleged rape of women who were found on the premises of the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party, the SLPP, when their offices were sacked and vehicles set ablaze after what is now known as a State-directed act of violence and given the nod from State House.

So why has the rat failed to galvanise some form of solidarity march in support of the release of the Chibok school girls?

Is he afraid that some key members of his security detail who carried out similar and more violent acts against children in Sierra Leone would be angry with him?

Is his inaction linked to Nigeria's role in kicking out the APC-inspired AFRC/RUF coalition of evil in February 1998 after their illegal seizure of power on May 25, 1997?

We shall not state the grisly details of the horror perpetrated on children and girls during our troubles with those who were a part of the horror still protected by the rat and unleashed on unprotected civilians when it suited him as we saw in the Bumbuna case in which Musu Conteh was shot dead. Please be reminded of these reports of how the perpetrators now enjoying immunity and protection of State House unleashed violence on the weak in Sierra Leone.

"Throughout the January offensive RUF forces perpetrated systematic, organized, and widespread sexual violence against girls and women including individual and gang-rape, sexual assault with objects such as sticks and firewood, and sexual slavery.

These sexual crimes were most often characterized by extraordinary brutality and frequently preceded or followed by violent acts against other family members. Human Rights Watch took testimonies from over fifty girls and women who were sexually abused by the rebels during the January incursion. And, while it is impossible to determine the precise number of victims, doctors and counselors report having treated several hundred girls and women for the physical and psychological effects of sexual abuse perpetrated by the rebels during this time.

One Sierra Leonean human rights group registered 255 cases of rape, but believes this number to be a serious underestimation given cultural factors which lead to underreporting. A doctor working within a camp for those displaced by the January fighting said he treated at least twenty-five women for vaginal bleeding resulting from rape, most of whom were girls between the ages of twelve and fifteen, and scores of other rape victims.

While some of the victims interviewed were raped within their homes, most report having been rounded together up with other girls at gunpoint and taken to houses and buildings which, during the occupation, served as rebel bases and command centers. The girls and women were rounded up from their homes, as they were fleeing, and from centers of refuge such as mosques, churches, and camps for displaced people.

Once with the rebels in these bases, nearly all victims described witnessing the sexual abuse of other girls and young women also being held there. Following the abuse, some victims were allowed to go home, but ordered to report back to the rebel base the following day or be murdered. The organized way in which victims frequently described being rounded up and taken, and the number of rebels participating in these abductions, suggests an element of premeditation and planning on the part of the RUF command. Victims frequently described being taken by rebel patrols of from two to seven combatants who clearly stated their intent to sexually abuse them."

Here's another reminder from yet another report on the violence against children -

"The AFRC was comprised primarily of former Sierra Leone Army (SLA) officers who organised a coup in 1997 and joined forces with the RUF. The AFRC forcibly recruited children and used them to fight against government forces before the signing of the Lomè Peace Accord. The AFRC was also known to abduct young girls for use as sex slaves."

And here's yet another reminder that the rat cares little about violence against the weak and unprotected -

In one Press Release from State House we have this "...it will be recalled that incidents of violence and disorder occurred in Bo city in the Southern Province on 9th September 2011, Bumbuna in the Northern Region on 18th April 2012 and most recently in Wellington in the Western Area on 5th June, 2012....it has therefore pleased His Excellency....to establish a Coroner's Inquiry to look into the respective circumstances...and this after reports had already been submitted after investigations he had ordered!!!

The announcement of a Coroner's Inquiry was a red herring as unnecessary as it was beguiling. Time has clearly shown this to be so.

Join Michelle Obama, the US First Lady in this campaign.

Yearning for the mother country?

The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

©Sierra Herald 2002