''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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AND THE NERVE, THE TEMERITY OF IT ALL....The visionless and selfish smoke and mirrors Ernest Bai Koroma

Who gave this smoke and mirrors President the authority to tell people when he should be judged....in a job given by the people who expect him to account to them from day one and not wait until he deems it necessary?

In just 36 months he has succeeded in reversing quite  a good number of positive gains made and we'll start off with the security forces.

Before the UK-loaned Keith Biddle, as head of the police left, he made sure that that wretched arm of the law was properly restructured and was on its way to gaining the trust and respect of all within the borders of Sierra Leone. The many twisting and tortuous steps leading to the top grades in the police were swept away to make room for officers and men to be rewarded for their work to every citizen and resident, the community and the country as a whole.

During the review of the other arms of the police, it was noted that the APC party police created in the Siaka Stevens days, then known as the ISU, later to become the SSD and now some other name had no place in a modern police force. There are documents with recommendations that that armed wing of the APC should be eliminated and that fit and serving officers and men must be re-trained and absorbed into the regular police force with loyalty to the state and not to any political party. And just in case you were wondering why this arm of the police were singing and dancing with reckless abandon when Ernest Bai Koroma was announced the winner of the 2007 Presidential run-off, now you know. They saw it as their party coming back in power and once more free to be deployed at election time and in the suppression and repression of the opposition (read any voice that is critical of their creator, the APC).

Be reminded that the ISU was created and armed on the direct orders of Siaka Stevens as a counter to the army which had lost his confidence. He ensured that the ISU got the best small arms (automatic rifles like the AK-47, Belgian FN rifles and an assortment of others) and were only answerable to him and his cronies.

The army for its part was left to its devices, developing a corps of  hard drinking frustrated officers who found pleasure and profit as rice merchants flogging off the rice of ordinary soldiers as punishment for any invented "crime" while assuring that rice quotas were increased and found their way into shops and warehouses of their interests.

Absorbing professional elements of the SSD into the regular police would have saved quite a handsome sum while at the same time should have made the Sierra Leone Police a more professional body. But the Ernest Bai Koroma cabal had other ideas starting off with getting known human rights abusers enlisted into a force that was trying to build itself a new image as "The Force for Good". You only have to read about and see the video and pictures on the role of the police in the attack on the opposition SLPP headquarters to get an idea of the kind of force that is now being created.

Not satisfied with this reversal, they then went into the army and re-introduced what they called free bags of rice for military personnel thus reversing the economically-responsible and sensible decision that had been in place. If this was to please elements within and without the army, these nation wreckers have truly demonstrated that they will never learn. The army/armed forces has now become what the country had moved away from - making senior cadres of the army, as noted by former UK High Commissioner Peter Penfold as rice traders.

Into the rice trading business has come the inevitable contractors for the supply of rice to the armed forces with Pallo Conteh, his President Ernest Koroma and others in the cabal deciding on which of their many hang-ons should get the contract for the supply of rice to the military.

There was a time under APC when the real number of people serving with the army/armed forces/military was a well-kept secret. Secret in the sense that figures were inflated to have more bags of rice and more money allocated for salaries and other materiel needed by the army. Of course these inflated figures allowed for the creaming off of the extras into the pockets of officers as well as politicians.

Here's a gist of what was taking place as revealed by former UK High Commissioner Peter Penfold when he threatened that from what he had been told by the then Defence Chief Hassan Conteh, he would be reporting to London about the grave security situation in the country. It was all about providing 600 soldiers for a training programme about to be undertaken by the US and UK army. Hassan Conteh could not come up with that number of personnel for the training programme. An army that had boasted of having some 15,000 personnel!!!

"He first of all said, 'Well, it's a security situation.' To which I replied, 'Well, I know there are still some pockets of resistance from the rebels,' which there were, but only in three isolated areas. But, I said, 'I'm clearly misreading the security situation if it's as serious as this, and I will need to reflect this in my reporting back to London.' He then said that it was not as bad as that. I said, 'What is it?' And he said, 'Well, the thing is we haven't got 15,000 men.' I said, 'Well, how many men do you have?' And he said, 'In terms of a fighting force I have 6,000, with probably 2,000 administrative, so 8,000.'"

And now here's the real reason why Pallor Bangura has re-introduced the bags of rice for the army.

Apart from providing a thieving outlet for his favoured types as contractors, there's more....as pointed out by the former High Commissioner in an interview he gave to a news outlet

"The way that the rice ration was done in the Sierra Leone army was that it depended on what rank you were how many bags of rice you got. An ordinary private got 1 bag of rice a month, and then it went up to a full colonel who would get 31 bags of rice a month. So in effect the officers were rice traders. But the CDS instead of reducing the officers' rice allocation, told the privates they would only get half a bag of rice a month. That was what provoked the attack. It was a group of men who were disgruntled about the cut in their rice ration. I'm not saying there weren't other things going on but that is what encapsulated it and sparked the whole thing off. Then once the shooting started, the senior officers went to ground because they realised they had provoked this revolt, and the rest of the army joined in."

Kindly go through past editions of the Sierra Herald and you will see an article relating to how civilians and others in the army whipped up anti-government hysteria when former President Kabbah decided to downsize the army. It was a move that made sense at the time because of the huge outlay on the army but was not well-thought out nor planned as befits a responsible government.

The AFRC Mark2 envoy to Iran, Kemoh Fadika was among those who went about planting those seeds and so when the coup of May 29, 1997 was activated, he was one of their chief sympathisers leading a delegation to the late Lansana Conte of Guinea to recognise the odious thing that was now in place in Sierra Leone called the AFRC and led by one Johnny Paul Koroma.

Yearning for the mother country?

The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

©Sierra Herald 2002