''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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Wednesday April 29, 2015 - Lest we forget. On this day 23 years ago, something historic happened that was to shake the very foundation and inner fibre of an uncaring political setup that had practically enslaved the people of Sierra Leone. Twenty three years ago today, the autocratic and uncaring APC leadership and government was kicked out of power by soldiers from the war front and in all that time lessons have refused to be learnt.Internationally-recognised new Head of State of Sierra Leone Captain Valentine Strasser. His group ended 24 years of APC autocratic and murderous rule.

It was on this day - on a Wednesday too that the sounds of war was brought to the ears of residents in Freetown who had been made to believe that the war against the Foday Sankoh band of killers was a far-off event. They were actually made to believe that they could not be bothered about what was happening - that soon the war would be brought to an end.

It was on that Wednesday twenty three years ago that Freetown residents saw for the first time a twin-barrelled anti aircraft gun mounted on a truck in front of a State House that used to be the office of President Joseph Saidu Momoh. Curious onlookers, not understanding what the heavy sounds they were hearing in the early hours of that morning made their way towards State House to see for themselves the unexpected and folding drama and indeed the security forces had a hard time holding them back - so keen were the widening crowds to witness what was unfolding.

The first set of journalists on the scene and who were invited to the gates of State House by soldiers were told by three of them that they had travelled throughout the night to be at their present position because they wanted to protest to the government of President Joseph Saidu Momoh about the way they were being treated by the government. The three - all lieutenants were SAJ Musa who was their spokesman, Tom Nyuma and one Sahr Sandy who was later shot in cold blood by one APC soldier and party activist now employed by the rat - one SIM Turay. They complained of the lack of logistics and all what was needed to successfully end the war against the rebels.

Despite the presence of soldiers at the gates of State House, many doubted that it was the first move of a military coup against the APC. The reason being - many had been hanged and imprisoned by an APC setup that had been in power for 24 years (1968-1992) during which every trick in the book was employed to have them stay in power with a One Party Constitution thrown into the circus in 1978 that made the APC the only legal party in Sierra Leone.

Those who dared oppose the government - be they APC party activists, not to talk about the then muzzled opposition were locked up, with some tried for treason and hanged as deemed fit by the autocratic regime that had become more uncaring and less accommodating of dissenting views. All became clear when in what had been described as an ill-advised move, then President Joseph Saidu Momoh went on air at the SLBS, the national broadcaster to tell the nation that the soldiers at State House were a group of "misguided" men who had no business in Freetown on that day.

Kindly allow us to what we published three years ago on this day in 2012 on the 1992 coup that ended the 24-year rule of an uncaring and despotic set-up.

"Democratic means to have a change of government, the main item on the menu of frustrated and angry Sierra Leoneans fell on deaf ears - those suspected of not reading from the same sheet as State House headed by one Siaka Stevens, followed by his own chosen heir Joseph Saidu Momoh - were subjected to massive human rights abuses ranging from illegal deprivation of basic freedoms to long term incarceration and the gallows at the Pademba Road execution chamber.

Those were the times when to live like a Sierra Leonean and be appreciated as such in your own God-given land, you had to join the All Peoples Congress party and it was a fitting tribute, a wake-up call to the overlords when on Wednesday April 29, the khaki boys, came to town, ostensibly to air their grievances against the lack of essential support in the battle against Foday Sankoh forces. It must be put on record again that recruitment into the army and indeed opportunities of any nature at the time was a party affair. Children join the population in celebrating the overthrow of the despotic APC regime.

You had to belong to the APC to become a soldier and even then, you had to have the backing of top party members to be given the opportunity to die for your country. It was a time when APC party officials introduced "the green card". This was a card that the prospective soldier must present to the recruiting officers to have any chance of getting into the army. It was not only party officials and other key government functionaries who dished out the green cards - relations including concubines and close associates also became recruitment agents as the APC government ensured that all those who were in the army were men and women they could trust to protect and defend, not the entity called Sierra Leone, but a horror called the ACP party.

As a rather anxious population waited to hear about the next stage of the unfolding drama, President Momoh issued a statement in which he roundly condemned the soldiers who had blocked his entrance to State House labelling them as "misguided" - a term often used by the President's speech writers. If the President and the speech writers believed that such an uncompromising stand would muster resistance against the men and the guns at State House, it had the opposite effect when later that evening came the rather breathless voice of one Captain Valentine Strasser who told the nation through one private FM radio station that they had overthrown the government of President Joseph Saidu Momoh and they had ended the 24-year horrible and uncaring despotic rule and hold of the APC party.

Reaction was electric - how can soldiers dare succeed in overthrowing a party with a record of hanging key members of groups who dared to dream of taking out the "rule forever APC"? How sure were they of succeeding, of not been betrayed by APC operatives within the army itself?"

What has irked and continues to bother many a key APC supporter about the overthrow of their "Live Forever" party were the revelations of massive and unbridled corruption made public by the three main Commissions of Inquiry headed by Justices Nylander, Beccles-Davies and Marcus-Jones. The outrage following these revelations were so intense that there was a general outcry demanding that the APC party be banned and never allowed to participate in the political life of the country.

Even before the historic April 29, 1992 takeover, elements within the APC, knowing how unpopular they had become because of the uncaring and despotic rule of the inner core of the party founded their own political parties, never wanting to have anything to do with a party that persecuted and prosecuted its own members who fell out of line.

Wise heads advised the National Provisional Ruling Council headed by one Captain Valentine Strasser that rather than do this, it should be left to the people of Sierra Leone to express their will at the polls. Among those who advised that the APC remain as a political party were Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and Solomon Berewa. They were key members of the Advisory Committee that prepared the military to exit the corridors of power with respect never mind the fact that within the NPRC were officers and men who never wanted the military to leave power.

When in late May 1997, the democratically-elected government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah was overthrown by a murderous group calling itself the AFRC led by one Johnny Paul Koroma, Sierra Leoneans could not help noticing that among the key supporters of that murderous thing which had as its badge of recognition murder, rape, arson, looting and abduction were APC operatives.

One of them was one Victor Foh who was seen on TV praising the looters of state resources and oppressive murderers whose members were well known for wxtra-judicial killings, looting and abductions. Knowing that not all in the army wanted to have a part in the activities of such a gang of rapists and murderers, the AFRC then teamed up with the Foday Sankoh rebels as a means of increasing their numbers so as to present a formidable fighting force to the regional peace keeping force ECOMOG.

The rest as they say is history but it is not lost on Sierra Leoneans that the inner core of those singing the praises of the rat and going as far as to label him a democrat and respecter of the law are the same band of nation wreckers who in diverse ways provided the oxygen of publicity of a regime that stood condemned both in Sierra Leone and the international community.

They were never recognised as a government of Sierra Leone by the international community as Sierra Leoneans refused to cooperate with the murderous band of rapists.

Yearning for the mother country?

The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

©Sierra Herald 2002