THE REAL MEANING OF THAT SO-CALLED ADDRESS TO THE NATION
The Sierra Herald, like many an outlet was all ears over the promised speech of the "hale and hearty" President Ernest Bai Koroma after his reported visit to India "for health reasons" and the violence in the country more especially Freetown.
That speech was awaited with all the eagerness and expectation from a Head of State who took his constitutional duties seriously. In the end, what came out was far short of it. As one colleague noted. Long on mysteries, but short on acknowledging there was a a problem in his manner of handling the ship of state.
It was quite interesting to see just how the flare-up and his statement bore a similarity to the tactics of the unholy alliance of Siaka Stevens, SI Koroma and CA Kamara-Taylor. In their time what would happen would be the discovery of a coup plan in the absence of the President Siaka Stevens.
On his arrival and at the usual welcoming ceremony at State House, SI Koroma in his capacity of the keeper of the keys while the President was away will start off with something like".....while you were away certain disgruntled elements...."
This is the signal for preparation by the courts for "treason" trials that would see judges in the pay of the government presiding over the fate of those accused of "overthrowing the legally-constituted government".
Defence lawyers would do all in their power to tell the courts that the signed statements of their clients were obtained under extreme coercion and in one of those cases one lawyer went as far as to expose the burn and other marks on the bodies of the accused. All these were routinely ignored by judges who reported every evening to the President thus enabling the Stevens government, bent on the execution of political opponents to get what he wanted. (Kindly recall the hanging of one Chief N'Silk)
And so when President Ernest Bai Koroma uttered the Stevenesque statement which we shall duly quote
This was the same content used by Stevens when he had his eyes on perceived opponents and would use his security apparatus to implicate all those he would want to humiliate, incarcerate or eventually hang at Pademba Road Prison.
What the President's apologists would not dare write about was the plan to charge key SLPP leaders for treason. Treason? Oh yes.
This is nothing new as it had been attempted before under the self-same Siaka Stevens and this is what we would want Information Minister IB Kargbo to remember. He's seen it all and should be the wiser so let us prick his memory a wee bit.
Kindly go back in time to a certain incident involving one Police Officer. At the time he was the Commissioner of Police the boss of the Force then.
It was a time when people were already getting fed-up with the APC and school children were giving the government a run for their money.
Remember IB the time when things threatened to get out of hand and in desperation this Police boss called on a certain top officer in the army to help in the maintenance of law and order?
That move was quickly interpreted by the blood-letting cabal in the APC that the poor man was asking the army to take over the government - effectively saying he was calling for a coup.
Upon hindsight we would say that Police boss was lucky to have only lost his job. A panel set up to investigate him found that the man was at his wits end in containing the riots by school children fed up with the government and all he wanted was the sight of armed soldiers to frighten the kids off the streets!!! That he never was thinking of anything like a coup.
That professional police boss who at one time was head of the Special Branch and who knew about state security and whose unit actually provided bodyguards for national and visiting figures could not fathom why his action was given so wide an interpretation. Remember the army officer who leaked this request to the authorities?
He too had no intention to do harm to the Police boss, but was too scared of the APC then thinking it could be a trap that would see him facing the gallows. That was life under the APC then.
And so the question.
IB Kargbo - why did you state at one meeting that leaders of the SLPP should be charged with treason as you linked them up with that radio reporter who allegedly shouted for help from the army when the police could offer no protection and were a part of the mob that attacked their radio station and offices?
Information minister IB Kargbo, please learn from the lessons of history and show your juniors in government that you are in a better position to offer sound and solid advice devoid of immediate gains.
For there's something called posterity and we would not want you to be judged harshly.
As for that part of the President's speech talking about "ungovernable", we would urge him to respect the law like any other citizen, set an example to all Sierra Leoneans on the benefits of democracy, good governance, respect for the constitution where it relates to the separation of powers and MP's being ministers at the same time and more especially reining-in his wild beasts of security details.