Koroma government of Sierra Leone resumes the death penalty

Raymond Dele Awoonor-Gordon

palo-conteh-major

I listened to Palo Conteh, the Minister of Internal Affairs (Photo), shooting from the hips in an interview in which he was literally telling the world, with all the glee of a grim reaper, to go to hell, because his government will soon hasten the dispatch of anyone sentenced to death for drawing blood from another person.

Fair enough, on the face of it, he has a good point that the law is still very much in our statutes. But I’m not sure that state killing is the answer.

I am not sure that the increasing wave of dastardly acts is a reason for the government to go down that barbaric road with all pomp and pageantry, when the nation – its people and its resources, are being systematically dismembered to the distrustful swagger and mocking actions and words of national undertakers who don the garb of statesmen and leaders.

How lovely it would be, if the gradually oppressive ‘monarchical’ order, applies the same blood-thirsty rule to the numerous kleptomaniacs in its circle, that together form the bedrock of its existence, and serve as the face of all that is bad in our governance.

It is just infuriating to hear how the supposed custodians of national morals engage in ethically wrong behaviour and go unpunished; yet minnows are killed by the state with a sledge hammer.

Palor ContehI also wish the administration of which Palo (Photo) is an integral part, will simply use the same brainwave and determination to nail people to the cross, so as to solve the current deplorable state of our socio-economic and political problems – a creation of their making.

In great societies, laws are reworked and new ones created to engage the changing dialectics for the greater good.

No one is against corporal punishment if deemed absolutely necessary. But correcting the ills of the society is a better option for the development of a nation which, is continually plagued by fiscal indiscipline and financial irregularities of complex and unprecedented dimensions.

palo conteh and president koromaIt is the government and political henchmen like Palo who, through corrupt tendencies, have created the state of economic and socio-political insecurity that are keeping away companies that would have provided employment for our teaming unemployed youths.

The roaming young men and women determined to utilise any available means for survival and social leverage, including fraudulent activities, intimidation and violence, are only taking a cue from the signals emanating from those in the corridors of power – no more no less.

Eight years on since coming power, the government’s much-trumpeted solution to the dilemma of our youths, is still in realm of the imagination of our leaders who swore heaven and earth to deal with the problem.

Yet, I did warn that post-war histories indicate that insecurity is a terminal outcome of a society which fails to tackle this problem of idle and frustrated young minds, that see their leaders living a life of luxury without sweat.

The very idea that ‘Change’ starts with the led and not the leadership, can best be described as an abdication of responsibility by the leadership. It is the likes of Palo that encourage the same level of indiscipline that prevails in the society today.

It is the greedy politicians seeking leverage in national politics, that empowered and encouraged the emergence of criminal groups who serve them well.

For example, the battle for control of the APC national Youth League now playing out, is an off-shoot of the power tussle within the ruling party, which is already having a spill over effect.

Those in power, such as Palo who should nip this in the bud are turning a blind eye and running after the gold when the gilt is right under their nose.

With activities which are indicators of economic buoyancy of the citizenry not thriving, why aren’t those in power thinking about leveraging our blessed and resourceful land to innovate, instead of focusing on how to decimate an already emaciated populace? Or don’t they know that a hungry person does not sing alleluia.

Rather than ministers behaving like talking dolls who spout inane phrases when the strings are pulled, those in power should realise that they have a moral duty to tame and civilise trendy savages.

But this can only happen if those in power have ensured that the general welfare of those whom they psychologically manipulate into voting for them, are improved.

Defence minister - Palo Conteh

Since joining the government, Palo, the preening peacock lusting after glory, has always seen himself as the ‘untouchable’ and a dragon who prides himself on some weird self-absorbed, self-adulatory knowledge, steel and expertise. But he isn’t.

He might pride himself as having wrestled with the Ebola pigs, wriggled with the opposition snakes, able to live with thieves and having lunch with a mix breed of homo sapiens amidst the government’s track record of celebrated looting, emptiness and mediocrity.

However, the crude cloak he adorns, tells a different story of whom and what he is. He is one mortal man who seems to have the eerie ability to screw up the simplest things with unbridled hubris, and who in his delusional mind, makes most decent folk want to reach for the ‘vomit bucket’ for crying out loud. Sad Nation.

I have a message for him and indeed those in the corridors of power who think the world is simply their oyster: At the cemetery – you will realize that life is worth nothing; the ground we walk today will be our roof tomorrow. Your only epitaph will be the legacy that leaves the majority better off than when you met them, rather than the mansions and fat bank accounts you leave behind.

Meanwhile, when you are dead, you do not know you are dead. All of the pain is felt by others. The same thing happens when you are stupid.

We are where we are because of our age long laziness on all fronts. Like I’ve said, we have become shock less…We are unprogressive in thought and actions. We revolve around the same circle all the time. Our voice is louder than our actions. We must change our ways and our thinking.

Sierra Leone as a nation appears cursed. This is one of the major reasons why the country is in the current very sorry state. We are collectively guilty as we have, by our complicit silence, contributed in no small way to the creation of the conscience-less nation that we have today and a leadership that promised much and delivered less, except personal aggrandisement.

Because we started worshiping the measurement and not the thing being measured, we are now celebrating IMF migraine, foreign-cash constipation, governance sciatica and socio-political diarrhoea.

The car-crash economic and socio-political dummy bleating in the wind is an indication of how deep the country is truly in shit. It’s a deep governance rut indeed. And we still don’t realise it. We are a revolving people on a journey to nowhere.

Today, our nation is having a downturn in her economic fortunes. Why are we in this state in the first instance? Rather than answers, all we keep on hearing are propaganda and rhetoric, as well as annoying and unguarded utterances from those in leadership positions, such as Palo.

Having signed away our future for a morsel of bread, the lie that we have been living appears to have eventually caught up with us.

President koroma and victor foh at APC conference 30 april 2015Still our leaders have failed to learn that our dreams are being destroyed by those they have given so much power and access to our wealth. It is these ‘Samaritans’ who have ensured that we remain perpetual parasites and impoverished dependents of an equally struggling taskmaster.

In their blind panic, our leaders are desperately looking for quick fixes and are even ready to sign away our future to those with bigger talons to suck us dry.

Without a hoot for future ramifications, they ignore the common sense dictum that says once you are funded by other people’s money, either investors or international bankers, what they think is what matters, as they dictate what you can and cannot do; or what they want in exchange.

In a discussion with one of those who are latching on to the ever increasing number of aspirants for 2018, I realised that part of our problem is the peacock approach that most of those who should know better, take to the realities of our current situation.

I realised that the current hardship facing the nation is simply as a result of the fact that almost every one of us benefited from the cycle of corruption unleashed by our leaders and their cohorts, but tacitly welcomed by the generality of us. This shows how morally bankrupt we are.

Ours is a peculiar mess in need of perpetual emphasis until change comes. We may be close to the snag, but we are being held back by nonentities who live big and grow fat on what should otherwise be the commonwealth of all citizens.

The looters now own the capital, and risking it is the last thing on their minds. This is why not one of our so-called rich men has an industry or a business that can be termed a long term national asset that is of beneficial to the utmost growth of Sierra Leone.

I am not dumb not to know when slight change happens, and propagandists latch on it to massage the government’s ego. However, all this propaganda about self-worth must stop. We need to see genuine change and improvement in people’s lives.

salone poverty3People are suffering; no money; no job; no nothing; and you are massaging the egos of those whose principal job is to ensure that this does not happen.

It is this same set of oppressors, who see the downtrodden of the society as mere landscape features that must be exterminated.

There is a wide disconnect between the ruling elites and the masses, so much that even the media hasn’t grasped the depth of poverty and hunger in the land and the effect of the social degradation now apparent.

Someone was complaining a few days ago about being stuck in traffic for over an hour, just because the President was going home. The trouble is, the ‘Pa’ had not even left his office when the roads were closed.

As a result, the ‘god’ of our land, who is failing to lift the bruised and battered populace, made several poor struggling people dashing around the land for survival, to miss opportunities that would have given them succour.

Well, the political class is aware that nothing guarantees bondage better than poverty. It is why the cornerstone of their governance is to ensure that the majority remain poor, hungry and battered to submission by the realities of their existence. This in turn saps them of any ability to rise up and challenge the audacity of the impunity of their leaders.

For us to move forward, we have to invest in our ability to create the future we want to see. That literally means we need to imbibe the culture of building solutions. It is because there is no political will to lead, that our leaders feed us with a diet of dust.

We need to start changing our mindset. We are in crisis because we squandered our boom at the inception of this administration.

Please let’s not blame this mess on any past administration. It all started and ended with this government.

Fair enough, beyond the cacophony of blame and socio-economic and political shenanigans, it is our ‘collective’ stupidity that has continued to ensure that we’ve been engaging so much in motion without locomotion. It is our combined actions and in-actions that have brought us to this state of economic comatose that we are going through.

Rather than keep quiet and enjoy their loot, our leaders are running their mouths and misleading us with distorted stories of progress, change and buoyancy, while indulging in financial recklessness.

salone poverty2What temerity on our collective intelligence?

They are telling us how rosy the future is, amidst the painful economic strangulation, yet we can barely feed ourselves.

All our vital institutions have been crippled by corruption, so much that their ineffectual dexterity is a signpost of the extreme rut pervading our stunted growth.

Until we create a conducive atmosphere for investments to thrive, our youths will continue to be jobless and become agents of social and economic destruction.

Politically, the further decimation of the opposition, whose death wish is legendary, has created a void which is being filled by impunity.

Aided by a poodle legislature and a horrendously corrupt judiciary, those in power bare their fangs on the very heart of our nation; draining the blood like Dracula and oblivious (or is it uncaring) of the importance of the damage they do and the death knell they sound for our tomorrow.

A mansion being built by information minister Kanu. Where did he get the moneyFollowing their wanton display of greed, there are civil servants and private sector managers that have assets worth 100 times their entire career earnings.

They don’t know any better and their children, having seen their parent’s and leaders’ model don’t know any better. This is why we have the cyclical samba dance of greed and stunted growth. (Photo: A minister’s personal mansion built from stolen wealth).

Sierra Leone moving forward is dependent on the reconstruction of our national political and economic architecture; and the removal of the current system that subjugates economic development to sentiments and petty ethno-political and religious considerations, as the Kabala imbroglio has shown.

We currently practice a system that empowers corruption and guarantees bad governance, and we need to change that.

We cannot continue to trust the goodwill, good intention and integrity of the men and women we elect into political office. We must evolve and develop a system that motivates hard work, merit, good governance; and sanctions a system of political patronage and nepotism as we have now.

corruption3Our leaders promote a system that ensures that those who refuse to work, not only eat, but eat MORE than those who work.

This injustice has been our bane and the major, if not the sole reason we have been burdened with poor, nay, despicable leadership.

Sadly, we have been forced to distort our perception of reality, so much so that we, and especially those in the Diaspora, substitute our own experiences as the reality of all other compatriots.

Unfortunately, it takes a deliberate and often painful effort, to pierce the bubble wrap and actually see the bleak landscape inhabited by the masses that service our comforts and execute our needs.

But, bubble or not, we cannot hide from reality.

This is why things must change. This indeed is where our CHANGE must begin. Change will come to our nation only when we start to point out the irresponsible guys, whether past or present in our system, and fight for the entrenchment of true democratic ideals, good governance and accountability across board.

Sierra Leoneans – stand up and save your country, God has been more than kind to us. Let us fight for a system that will promote both equality and equity. Nothing will change until we are ready to address our fundamental flaws. We need to overhaul our laws where things can be done differently. Until then…..

8 Comments

  1. Jay 5 I believe that Dr Raymond is going to the root cause of the malaise in which 25 people are killed a month in Sierra Leone. We have to look back to the generations of bad governance and very poor leadership of the APC regime from 1968-1992 which then metamorphosed as AFRC in may 1997 to April 1998; then again from 2007 to now September 2016 of this corrupt bunch of opportunists, dealers and hustlers that have neglected the youths and citizens of mother Sierra Leone.

    Now these youths and citizens are with no hope of tomorrow, due to the lack of the foundation that should have help them develop and maximise their potentials which is lacking in mother Sierra Leone.

    The government/public sector employs the bulk of middle class citizens, and if you are not fortunate to work in the Sierra Leone government/public sector, where else can you turn to. Our educational system is mediocre and semi-literate, how can meaningful investors be attracted to invest in our country and its citizens.

    Within the government/public sector, the variations in the salary structure is astronomical in which a government minister can earn up to 12000 US Dollar a month. Our Head of state pockets over 25000 US Dollar a month, while 3/4 of the population are unemployed.

    Had you considered the root cause of the malaise and neglect of the past and current APC governments Jay5, then you would have been able to look for alternative solutions to the high crime rates and murders in present day Sierra Leone, and realised that the death penalty is not the ultimate solution for crime prevention in society.

    • Look Senesie, I understand all that. I’m not a fan of the present situation in my country. I am totally appalled and I don’t like it or support it.

      My point is, I see no reason to apportion blame on Palo for just expressing his own right to freedom of expression. That’s my only take. Whether death penalty is the right thing to go by or not, that is up to the law of the land.

      But scapegoating Palo as a bad guy for making an assertion he deeply believes in, that’s his freedom to express. That doesn’t mean he has helped brought Sierra Leone to stardom. I am for freedom of expression as long as it is done the right way. That is exactly what he did.

  2. You know what Raymond, I see no need to waste my time pouring the water on your back, while you dont do the scrubbing.

    That goes to say, repeating myself over and over again; the same thing which sounds to me like beating a dead horse. I think this whole issue of – who said it right, needs to be laid to rest, and move on…

    For me, it is not about the love for Palo, it is about letting you see the reason why he uttered or made the bold statement on national radio, which you failed to see.

    Millions if not billions out there applauded him for saying that. So the few out there who are against, of which I believe you are one, can still hold on to your views, as that is what makes the equation of the whole matter at least balanced.

    But, until the twig is removed from your eyes regarding my point on your article, you will remain blind to simple facts.

    By the way, I love Mama Salone generally and cherish her truthful indigenes particularly, who are smart enough to tell the difference between a cock and a hen…it requires no doctorate degree to do just that.

  3. Dr Raymond thank you for your inspirational and yet pathetic article. It is a pity when I was going through an admission into uni journal of the various tertiary institutions here in New South Wales where I reside, in relation to the English Language proficiency of our high school graduates from the five English speaking countries in West Africa namely- Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Liberia.

    Taking the WAEC Senior School Exams, it is only Sierra Leone and The Gambia WAEC results that had to go the extra mile of taking English Proficiency exams for tertiary entry acceptance, whilst students from Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria WAEC results dont need any further English Proficiency tests in their pursuit to tertiary studies.

    What has gone wrong with Sierra Leone the Athens of West Africa that its high school results, though WAEC Accredited, need further English proficiency tests for our students to be accepted to tertiary studies, compared with Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria graduate high school students that sat the same exams and are accredited with the same institution- WAEC.

    I am kindly asking the SLPP Party if they win the next election to make compulsory indoctrination of graduates of our tertiary institutions to spend at least a year of their services for the benefit of the country, as we can see in Ghana and Nigeria.

    The Sierra Leone government has been paying since independence over 3/4 of the tuition fees in various forms as scholarships and grants, etc, for only graduates to relocate green pastures like in the USA for our Medical graduates, etc.

  4. your article bears some truth regarding the status of the state and it’s people but what you spent your entire time wasting your breath on was the simple point you fail to fathom out from Palo’s message. This has led you to sporadically go about in a mad mood juxtaposing a fiddle that does not match it diddle.

    The reality is we know Sierra Leonean politicians are the bedrock cause of the alarming poor status of our people. OK good we know that. But for you to pinpoint and tie a single individual (palo conteh) to the problem, making him an example for being one of those culprits, does not just tell how ignorant you are to the problem but also how out of touch you seem to be on the statement he put out few days ago.

    “Fair enough to the face of it. He has a good point that the law is still very much in our statute ” were your words..so if that’s really fair enough I see no need for you to drastically and ignorantly taking Palo’s words out of context.

    However,there are many ways we could tackle issues based on there variable causes…OK Mr writer? Stealing is very much different from killing. You don’t need a doctorate to fathom out the difference..if the law permit “tit for tat” then so be it. Palo is just playing his own part as you requested (Sierra leoneans stand up and fight).

    If you want the same to be done to those politicians who stole from the state coffers, which has led to the nation going down the drain, then, we have to go back to the same statute books and rewrite the rules, which will allow the same judgement or punishment to be meted on anyone found messing with state funds.

    In as much as we all are not happy with the present trend at which the country is moving, yet still we should be very careful as to how we respond or react to state laws. Law nar law. But until then, palo deserve a credit for not only being a whistle blower but a fantastic statesman who removes twig from people’s eyes!

    And finally, people like you should be able to tell the difference between a kettle and a pot, though they are all black but different in nature. next time before you pick your pen and start to write, think wisely and then juxtaposed accurately.

    • It is a pity that Jay5 chooses to let his personal loyalty becloud his judgement so much so that he loses the import of the entire message.

      For one, no responsible minister in sane climate goes out to threaten its citizens with judicial murder.

      Have you ever heard the US Secretary of State make such careless utterances despite all the shootings and gun crime, in a country that has the death penalty.

      With all the stabbings in the UK, when have you heard such a high profile government official come out with gun blazing about killing its own citizens.

      And may I ask, whether the internal affairs minister made such brazen declaration when the police shot and killed the youths of Kabala for protesting against injustice.

      The key issues if you missed the point is that:

      1. if it is in the statute, then all he needed to do was to let the minister of justice and attorney general, instruct the judiciary to be effective and the equip the police to be more efficient as well as more professional instead of being lackeys.

      2. If he is interested in the ‘murder’ of culprits who have killed, he needed not to make it a screaming headline.

      3. As the internal affairs minister and a high ranking cabinet minister, he should raise the worrying development at cabinet meetings, examine the root causes alongside stakeholders and proffer effective solutions. Definitely killing is not the answer. Desperate men fear no threat. Hungry men rationalise only after the deed, if at all.

      Love Palo as much as you want but please love Sierra Leone and the truth more.

      And by the way, truth hurts.

  5. 100% supported a death penalty – to those who kill people; except if it is an accidental killing. But if you have the guts to take a life that you did not make, you deserve to die painfully and more. If a armed robber attacks your home, you must defend yourself, your family, and your property.

    But if you are a political opponent and you kill someone, you must die. You are a driver without license or insurance, you kill people, you must die; if you try to rob someone and kill that person, you will die a painful death, an eye for an eye.

    Now in our beloved country, you can’t stay at night on the beach; an example must be shown to these rebels. They are living among civilized people. Trust me, if I had the power in that country just for 6 months, corruption will be eradicated, armed robbery will be eradicated, ‘rebelism’ will be no more,and the law will be enforced.

    Let use take our country back by being very hard and no nonsense. You remember Ahmed Sheku Turay, or that president in Gambia, I love them. Thou shall not kill. If you do, I will kill you. That is my commandment. Thou shall not steal, if you do I will imprison you. Thou shall not encourage corruption of Ebola money, district infrastructural development funds, die man vouchers or else you will be jailed with hard labour for 30 years.

    I loved the NPRC. They were tough – that’s what I heard. I don’t care about any stupid politics. You pay for your crime.

  6. Yes indeed Raymond Dele, your view and analysis are exactly a carbon copy of Sierra Leone’s reality today. The APC government has governed the nation since they came into power in 2007, on their whim. There is no strong opposition party to challenge the flaws of their governance style.

    They believe they’re all-powerful and had forgotten that they were chased out of power fleeing away for refuge for the same mistakes they are committing again, taking the people for granted. It is time this government becomes conscious that our social problems are not the youths neither are they directly caused by criminal gangs.

    The cause of our social problems stem from bad governance, massive corruption, embezzlement of state’s resources, and tax payers’ monies by government officials across board and perversion of justices in the country. And the government’s incapability to provide livelihood through sound economic policies for job opportunities to the citizenry is another major failure.

    Minister Palo has been round a number of positions in the government and never made a mark in any of them. Now as Minister of Interior, he intends to activate the death penalty instead of putting in place adequate and efficient policy to tackle violence in the society. This is a wrong approach challenging criminal gangs with death penalty; it is like declaring a war the government cannot win.

    The death penalty is not a panacea to stop criminal gangsters. It can even make matters worse. Honorable Minister, what is needed is police effectiveness and educating the very police themselves to learn how to get along with the people amicably.

    Now the police are appealing to the populace to lend them support in dealing with the problem, but it is the same police that would shoot at the people for exercising their democratic rights demonstrating against government’s failure to pay attention to their social plight. They resort to violence against the people instead of exercising professional wit to calm down demonstrations.

    The police cannot control criminal gangsters without the people’s involvement. It is therefore, necessary for both sides to have confidence and understanding with each other.

    Attitudinal change which had been the sing song of this APC government must begin at the top positions of governance and to trickle down to our police force. The people are quite aware that the police force is one of the most corrupt institutions in the society; they target the people on a daily basis for necessity to make a daily living, because they are not well paid.

    When you look at the aspect of our police, you notice that most of the police officers look underfed and the hunger effect shows clearly in the face. While Ministers and government officials’ drive in posh vehicles with impressive aspects of a good-living upon all their failures to redress the endemic poverty in the society. And the citizenry walk the streets like living skeletons.

    All these heartless minds need correctness to say enough is enough!

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