Sierra Leone government condemns political killing in Kenema

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 May 2015

Violence at SLPP office - 24 August 2015

The brutal killing of an opposition SLPP supporter last Friday in Sierra Leone, is a grave cause of concern and worry for millions of Sierra Leoneans, whose dream of a politically progressive nation has in the last ten years been tested by the bad behaviour of politicians, who want to seize power through violence, rather than win the hearts and minds of the people through discourse and the ballot box.

As Sierra Leone precariously move towards preparing for the 2018 general and presidential elections, it seems for now that it’s the country’s main opposition SLPP making the news for all the wrong reasons – political violence.

Sierra Leone needs a strong and caring government that is committed to tackling poverty, destitution, squalor, disease, chronic unemployment, and the deepening regional and social inequalities that are opening up – driven by tribalism, corruption and cronyism.

But above all, Sierra Leone needs opposition political parties that do not simply criticise the Koroma government, whose failures and inability to show leadership and provide good governance has become unacceptable and intolerable.

It is now becoming painfully clear that the opposition SLPP is fast losing credibility to serve the people of Sierra Leone, not only as a viable government in waiting, but to provide the necessary moral compass that is needed to govern and lead all six million people in the right direction to prosperity.

The people of Sierra Leone may be suffering under the corrupt and abysmally inept APC government, but senior members and leaders of the SLPP must know that the people of Sierra Leone are not obliged to vote for the SLPP simply because they have had enough of the ruling APC; nor are they obliged to elect the SLPP to run the country, simply because they are the only visible opposition shouting down the Koroma government.

Maada Bio - Brigadier2The people of Sierra Leone will only vote for the SLPP, if they can show that they are capable of running the country better than the failed ruling APC, and also perhaps more importantly, that the SLPP has the moral backbone to govern the country.

If the opposition SLPP cannot show the people of Sierra Leone that they are a credible opposition, capable of providing strong leadership and good governance for the whole country, in the absence of any other opposition movement, then the ruling APC will once again be elected in 2018.

Whilst inter-party political violence is nothing new in Sierra Leone, especially in days leading up to and during national and local elections, what is worrying today, is the intra-party political violence that is now slowly consuming the psyche of senior opposition politicians, whose followers have become Rambo style foot-soldiers, willing to commit murder for politics.

Young men are being groomed by brutal and rogue politicians to become political mercenaries, to silence and eliminate those with whom they disagree. Yet the international community remains quiet.

What these politicians need to be reminded of, is that they will be held accountable for not only their own actions and utterances that lead to widespread violence and murder, but the actions and behaviour of their supporters, by the international court in The Hague.

As it is with Charles Taylor and Milosevic, so shall it be with those politicians in Sierra Leone today, who are inciting, promoting, fueling and providing the leadership, resources and emotional space to those willing and prepared to kill, intimidate and harass those with whom they disagree or dislike.

Since the brutal murder of the young man last Friday in Kenema – believed to be a supporter of John Benjamin who is aspiring to lead the party, allegedly by a strong supporter of another SLPP presidential aspirant – Julius Maada Bio, the SLPP executives appear to have gone to sleep.

There has been no public statement from the SLPP party office about this criminal act of barbarism. And this serious and disgraceful omission and lapse of judgement is not lost on the Koroma government either.

This is what the Koroma government is telling both the nation and the leaders of the SLPP, published in a statement yesterday:

Ministry of Political and Public Affairs

Press Release

29th May 2016

Political Violence in Kenema

On Friday 27th May 2016, the Ministry of Political and Public Affairs received  reports about  skirmishes among Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP)  supporters in Kenema.

The incident reportedly started as a disagreement between two main SLPP factions in what was supposed to be a peaceful meeting , then later developed into a serious stand-off between supporters of Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio and Mr John Oponjo Benjamin.

The situation reportedly led to the destruction of private property and the killing of a young man believed to be a supporter of Mr. John Benjamin. Police have since arrested a key suspect also described as a staunch supporter  of Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio.

As we unreservedly condemn this act, we wish to express a serious concern over the recurrence of political violence especially among members of the main opposition party.

As the Ministry charged with the responsibility of providing oversight  on the activities of political parties in the country, we are calling on the leadership of the SLPP to ensure sanity prevails within its rank and file.

We believe that the foundations of our democracy shall remain weak if the opposition fails to live up to its expectation of providing alternative development policies that will guide government on its mission to accomplish essential service delivery to the people of this country.

In view of this, we wish to make the following recommendations to the Sierra Leone People’s Party.

1) That the national leadership of the  SLPP come out with a statement to unequivocally condemn the killing of an innocent supporter.

2) That the party fully cooperate with the police and other law enforcement agencies to bring the perpetrators to book.

3) That the family of the deceased is duly compensated.

4) That the SLPP leadership maps out effective strategies that will bring a stop to the spiraling violence among its supporters.

Finally, we are calling on the Sierra Leone Police and the Judiciary to speedily investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of this unfortunate incident.

The Ministry, on behalf of government wishes to express sincere condolences to the family of the bereaved.

Signed:

Nanette Thomas
Hon Minister
9th Floor, Youyi Building
Freetown.

End of government statement

This is a statement published by Julius Maada Bio last Saturday, about the killing of the young man in Kenema:

Bio's statement after killing of SLPP supporter - May 2015

But Sierra Leoneans deserve better, as the opposition SLPP is being held to ransom. Perhaps the time has come for the few patriotic Sierra Leoneans within both the SLPP and the APC – with the moral backbone, love for country, commitment and capable of running the country – irrespective of tribe and regional origin, to say goodbye and take leave of these two parties, and go on to form a new viable government in waiting.

Sierra Leoneans deserve a better future and an alternative political leadership. Where are the Alieu Iscandris of the ruling APC, the Alie Kabbas and Kandeh Yumkellas of the SLPP?

Speak and act now, or forever hold your peace. Sierra Leone needs you. Sierra Leone needs a new alternative political movement NOW.

10 Comments

  1. You really hit the point Mustache about such a fallacy of system. We do not need strong men or women in our state institutions. What we do need are strong and efficient institutions spearheaded by responsible and competent authorities. This is our challenge as conscious people to bring about a change in the status quo, with perseverance and right focus.

  2. Abdul R. Kabia,

    While your commentary is good, however, you very well know that we in Sierra Leone do not have “Governors” like in the United States and Nigeria. But instead, we have a fixed number of Legislators as Members of Parliament (MPs) who are charged with the responsibility to do the institutional framework of the country.

    Thank you very much.

  3. At this point in the 21st century, a repeat of Sierra Leone’s past; of thuggery in politics has no place in present times. We all must condemn in the strongest terms the killing of this young man just for his political stance.My heart felt condolence goes to the victim’s family, friends and loved ones. May his soul rest in peace! The legal system must take responsibility to act accordingly.

    The political culture nurtured and practiced by old-timer politicians of the APC and SLPP class, calls for a careful reflection on the direction in which these politicians are driving the nation. All politically conscious and concerned Sierra Leoneans must not remain inactive, but divert an order of anarchy looming over the nation, by participating in the political development of the country in any positive way.

    Independent thinkers who do not belong to any of the dominant political parties should work together to form a strong movement to redress the wrong political culture of present times. Militants of the traditional parties who disagree with their party’s polices should break the chains of fear and jump over to the new movement for good governance, and a political scenario free from violence and massive corruption.

    If Sierra Leoneans expect The APC or SLPP to bring about a political change in the country, then we are sitting on our laurels wishing for a future of glory that will never come by. We are seeing clear evidence of a powerful tandem between APC and SLPP, a political class in the making with power dominance over the ordinary masses.

    A recent example of this fact is when members of parliament both APC and SLPP came together to reproach and scorn the media with intention to harass journalists and news reporters, for bringing news of their ineffectiveness to the populace.

    Where is Sierra Leone’s opposition party? – It is nonexistent. Our parliament is the grave yard for issues that matter to the people – no outcome and they disappear with impunity. There is a lack of focus and clear thinking from our parliamentarians.

    We will have to engage the masses to awaken their awareness of the power they control in their hands with their valuable votes, to elect the governors of their choice and not allow themselves to be bought by cheap politics.
    The people are going through rough times, with the burden of living, day after day. The government is incapable of seeking out solutions to the predicament of the society.

    Sierra Leoneans cannot count on the SLPP as guarantors to invert this social predicament and positively transform the country. We may be left with the only option – to come up with a strong political party capable of challenging the political domination of these traditional parties and to weaken their power foundations – the tribal and regional divide – in the forthcoming general and presidential elections in 2018.

  4. Once again the actions of Julius Maada Bio and the violent thugs who support him brings the whole SLPP into disrepute and enables the corrupt APC government to cast itself in a positive light.

    The political violence in Kenema which resulted in the killing of a supporter of John Benjamin removes the focus of media attention on the worsening economic conditions in Sierra Leone, with the increased dollarisation of basic commodities, due to the fall in the Leone and the water crisis, which the government has shown it is either disinterested in or incapable of resolving.

    During the Ebola crisis, Julius Maada Bio again provided cover for the APC regime, by publicly pronouncing how effective the APC regime was. This was against the backdrop of their failure to respond effectively to the Ebola crisis, which resulted in the deaths of near 4000 of our fellow citizens and the regimes theft of $14m of Ebola funds.

    What is surprising is the incapability of the SLPP Executive to act, and the continued support some members of the party continue to give to Bio, when it is clear to them the harm caused to the party by these actions; and that he is unfit to hold any office, let alone the Presidency.

  5. The simple fact is that Maada Bio can never win Presidential elections in Sierra Leone. Many people including me, in 2012 were so carried away by the illusion that he had the radical power to challenge the vicious tendencies of the APC. He failed, scoring the worst defeat for the SLPP.

    Now the peoples’ power is rejecting him. His support is falling at a steep decline. In a few weeks or months to come, the peoples power will reject the hypothesis that “Maada Bio commands the South and Eastern Region of Sierra Leone”. They will also reject the second hypothesis that “Maada Bio is the most popular candidate within the SLPP”.

    For me personally, Maada Bio is not the obstacle to the SLPP, but few of his supporters who are misguiding him. It is really mad to think that Bio can challenge the likes of Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Andrew Kellie and Dr. Jonathan Tenbgeh. He lacks the personality, intelligence and cross – regional characteristics that goes with the leadership that Sierra Leone is yearning for.

    If a supporter of Maada Bio needs help to make an unbiased judgement of who the best aspirant is, they should listen to the utterances and mini manifestos of other SLPP aspirants.

  6. Alusine Fallay whatever way you coin yourself as, your contribution on this medium is unhelpful and totally unacceptable. Your utterances about Maada will not be encouraged on this forum. We need decent and constructive discussions here and not your misguided perception about our Leader.

    You are at liberty to engage us in whatever discussions about Maada. We will educate you accordingly. But let us for once understand our limitations when we are on the public media.

    If you don’t know the meaning of the word ‘Paopa’ or how it came about, you have a chance to ask for the meaning. Besides, it was not Maada that coined the title Paopa. Only fools never ask questions.

    Please do not place yourself in this category. ASK QUESTIONS AND YOU WILL BE TOLD. DO NOT PRETEND TO KNOWING EVERYTHING OR CONJECTURE.

    • Going by the written evidence you have provided this far I am not sure anybody is going to learn anything from you, Mr Koroma,. The term/word/phrase Paopa conjures for most reasonable people connotation of “force” as in “at all cost” or “by all means”.

      For me the link between Paopa and violence/ foul play is therefore incontrovertible. And I am sure I am not in a minority in that thinking.

      Do I really care to know who coined the idea/phrase? Absolutely not! I don’t do violence.

      All the more reason why it is easy to see that Bio practically has nothing constructive to offer SaLone. A case that both Alusine and Kay have argued very eloquently and effectively.

  7. In my opinion, Maada Bio should have been banned from politics when he first use the phrase PAOPA, because he was trying to send a subliminal message to his supporters that violence is acceptable against anyone who disagree with his ideas or tries to oppose him.

    In politics you will never predict which crazy or fanatic supporter will act on this coded message he was sending, as in this case.

    Probably, this may be the best case scenario for the APC to encourage violence within the SLPP and to do nothing about it, even though it’s a national security issue, so they can be seen as the credible party to stay in power.

    But my advice to Maada Bio is since your hidden agenda is scotch earth policy and incitement, it’s time for you to step aside while you can, before you are forced out in disgrace.

  8. Few days ago, there was an article on this site about how the SLPP is striving for peace and reconciliation among its ranks. (http://www.thesierraleonetelegraph.com/?p=12760).

    It was some welcome news. Unfortunately, it has turned out to be a false reconciliation.

    The problem with the SLPP is that everybody associated with the party seems to be blaming the other members of the ills of the party. These ills unfortunately are killing the party into oblivion.

    What the SLPP and those faking to profess love for the party lack is truth. In life, telling the truth is like building a bridge. Unfortunately, that is what the SLPP is not getting; that building a bridge with insincerity is sure to collapse, as it has unfolded in Kenema over the unnecessary killing of a young man, whose only crime is because he supports the SLPP.

    In retrospect, the second coming of the SLPP into the political landscape in 1996 was marred with violence; and truth to be said, this predates the registration of Maada Bio as an SLPP member. Did I here you say that the 1996 primaries that brought the late Tejan Kabba to power were full of intimidation and fighting in Bo?

    The violence and intimidation at the SLPP’s primary in Bo were a precursor to what unfolded at the Bintumani II conference in Freetown in 1996, where there was open confrontation between the SLPP and NUP supporters.

    In 2005, the situation was even worse as bullying and intimidation of people perceived to be anti-supporters of Berewa (their then presidential candidate) and Tejan Kabba; the outgoing president was at the receiving end of the SLPP violence and intimidation.

    Further, as the 2007 elections were drawing closer, the SLPP supporters went after the APC and PMDC supporters when ever the opportunity arose. Again, This would bring to mind the Segbwema and CKC incidents.

    In all of these instances, the SLPP did not come out with the truth. The SLPP should followed the bible counsel on truth found in the book of Zachariah 8:16 which read : “These are the things you should do: Speak the truth with one another, and the judgments in your gates must promote truth and peace”.

    Now to this incident, If the SLPP was on a peace mission why would they have JOB and Bernadette Lahai in that committee, when they are part and parcel of the problem in the first place?

    If JOB noticed that his convoy was followed, why would he stop to enquire instead of rushing to the police station which was on the road leading to his alleged place of residence in Kenema?

    If the vicious killer is or was part of Maada Bio’s bodyguard, why was he not with Bio who was in Kambai, the stronghold of his fierce opponent KKY?

    I hope the police will perform an expeditious and fair investigation, so that all who are a party to this heinous crime could face the law and answer to the consequences of their act – be it directly or remotely.

    The last thing that I want to dwell on that the SLPP gladiators are not conscious about, is the politics of number. If they end up killing one another and committing crimes that would lead them to prison, they would be of no relevance to the party, since they cannot cast their ballots while in the grave or jail.

    Think of it – the APC ALREADY HAS NUMERICAL STRENGTH THAN THE SLPP.

  9. I offer my sincere and heartfelt condolences to ALL the bereaved family members of Mohamed Karim aka Daddy George. May his soul rest in perfect peace. May the Lord Jesus Christ comfort you in this very painful and difficult moment. Please take heart and be courageous. God bless you. Amen.

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