''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 6

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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Friday May 25, 2012 - Mass selective amnesia takes hold  - Fifteen years ago today on May 25, 1997 the democratically-elected government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah was overthrown by the awful horror that later came to be known as the AFRC/RUF coalition of evil. Fifteen years on - all the excesses of the beasts are slowly resurfacing, degrading the tenets of good governance. Selective justice puts on an even bolder appearance on the law and human rights front. Aziz Carew - although he was attacked in his own home and beaten to a coma, he ended up in Ernest Bai Koroma's Nazi courts convicting him while his attackers remain free and were never charged to court.

Fifteen years ago today, as Saturday rolled into Sunday a band of soldiers, wearing green military tunics covering red APC t-shirts stormed the central prison at the heart of Freetown - Pademba Road and released all those awaiting justice. They ranged from hardened criminals, armed robbers as well as rogue soldiers who had committed grave human rights abuses against the civilian population in their various areas of operation. All were given arms, deadly weapons of war as confused residents tried to work out what was going on amid the sounds of heavy guns and automatic weapons fire. By daylight, roaming bands of soldiers and armed men could be seen racing about town in commandeered vehicles pillaged from owners' garages as well as from the homes of international non-governmental organisations serving various sections of the Sierra Leone community.

Those who dared to resist or hesitate or even question when asked to hand over keys to vehicles were brutalised and women who dared raise their voice in protest were raped with reckless abandon and cruelty. None was spared - Sierra Leoneans as well as non-Sierra Leoneans as anarchy took hold in a capital that was trying to settle down in the hope that with elections now over and a democratically-elected government in place, Sierra Leone would begin the long and difficult tottering road to true democracy and the rebuilding of a country ravaged by six years of brutal war.

As night gave way to dawn and residents began to realise what was happening, came the voice of one apparently drunk Tamba Gborie announcing to all and sundry that the Tejan Kabbah government had been overthrown and that they, the soldiers, were now in charge.

And so was the Armed Forces Revolutionary Force, the AFRC formed on a May 25 date which Africa celebrates as Liberation Day - turned on its head by a band of savages in military attire who believed that once their masters, the APC, was handed power, the incoming civilian government of the APC would absolve them of all their crimes and make them heroes - for the rampant and random murder of civilians, the rape of women and girls and all those who crossed their bloody trails.

It must be stated that not all soldiers warmed up to the idea of another coup as they realised that soldiers had been given their marching orders to the barracks by civilians who welcomed them after the April 29, 1992 but would rather have them now back in the barracks.

Seeing that they were not getting the kind of support they witnessed when the NPRC was formed, the clearly disoriented and frightened soldiers as well as their supporters turned to their arch enemy, an enemy they had been fighting for six years - the Revolutionary United Front, the RUF of Foday Sankoh.

Using peace and dialogue as the pretext while in reality wanting to have more men join their ranks, the new man at the helm of affairs, one Johnny Paul Koroma invited the RUF to come out of the bush and to form their so-called Peoples' Army as mounting resentment from civilians continued.

The rest as they say is history - but what we all would not like to happen is to see that awful history repeating itself.

However what needs to be restated is that well before the May 25 coup, some amount of leg work had been done by APC operatives like Kemoh Fadika who would make it his duty to visit entertainment spots outlining just how terrible the Tejan Kabbah government has been and how ungrateful that government had been for trying to downsize an overblown army whose numbers were only known to the Army Chief and his army pay masters as figures were inflated to enrich those in the know.

It is worth noting that many, if not all the key operatives of the AFRC/RUF junta are now holding key positions in the APC government of President Dr Dr and more Dr Ernest Bai Koroma - ranging from the likes of Victor Foh, through APC co-ordinators like Sanie Sesay to AFRC/RUF spokesman Allieu Kamara - the man known as Territorial Integrity.

To show his continuing contempt, disdain and hate for all those who refused to recognise the AFRC/RUF junta as anything but a government, Ernest Bai Koroma has not only made the likes of Victor Foh his key operatives under an apparent civilian APC "democratic" government, but made Allieu Kamara a member of something only Ernest Bai Koroma's warped mind would conjure - the Attitudinal Change something - a creation that has since fallen flat on its face and now used as one of the outlets like the OGI to provide a somewhat "chapping corner" for the party faithful.

Then there is the man who presided over the comprehensive looting of the Central Bank, the self-styled Dr Christian Kargbo who has instituted an official policy of cleansing all institutions employing suspected non-APC members and in one instance relating to the dismissal of one member of staff, a Mr Peter Kuyembeh, wrote that he was acting on the advice of one Khadija Sesay, the OGI Director whose duty, among others is to precede the President whenever the magician goes abroad.

 "I had in the past spoken and written letters to the Director General about my observations at the Mission. This Mission is flocked with Anti-Government Operators. Until all of them are removed, the purpose for which we are sent out here will NEVER be achieved. They have a fixed mindset. No matter what we do or say makes no difference. I have been saddled with them for over three (3) years now and I know them all”.

Despite the fact that Ernest Bai Koroma inherited a country that was still trying to recover from the ravages of a terrible war as instruments of good governance, the rule of law and accountability were being put in place, he has now systematically dismantled all the good things relating to good governance, accountability and the rule of law - taking the country down the path no true Sierra Leonean would ever want us to walk again.

The police is now an instrument of repression, oppression and murder aiding and abetting crimes against the opposition as impunity rears its head once more. The recent episode relating to one Aziz Carew who has been convicted of crimes only Gestapo Chief Munu knows best about is a clear indication that all is not well and unless and until the international community puts a halt to the creeping excesses of the Ernest Bai Koroma awful horror, Sierra Leone would be back to the same atmosphere which led to the country's first armed open rebellion since the country's independence in April 1961.

Imagine if you will - the head of the police telling the world's media that the attacked SLPP Aziz Turay who had been admitted in the intensive ward of a hospital, put on intravenous fluids, was unconscious for some two days - was pretending to be in a coma!!!!

One fine day Francis Munu - you will face the full force of the law.

You were in charge of the cocaine plane case and you failed to search the residence of Kemoh Sesay, the then Transport and Communications minister even though evidence pointed directly to him.

You still have not given an account of your investigations into the death of one Mustapha and his girl companion murdered in cold blood.

You have failed to sack Idriss Kamara, aka Leatherboot even though a Commission of Inquiry set up by the government had so recommended, thereby encouraging impunity.

You still have not brought to book the named OSD policeman who deliberately shot dead an okada rider during the riots accompanying the visit of the SLPP Presidential candidate Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio to Bo as contained in the Kelvin Lewis report.

You have failed to investigate the killing of civilians by the police, the latest being that of Musu Conteh in Bumbuna.

Rape and political violence continue to be rewarded as the distrust among the populace grows on the activities of the judiciary, the police and the Executive headed by Ernest Bai Koroma whose talons of corruption and anti-people tactics appeared to have crossed the endurance threshold.

Yearning for the mother country?

The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

©Sierra Herald 2002