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.
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.
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
"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
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.
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.