Tony Konomanyi: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 31 July 2022:
There’s never a dull moment in Sierra Leone, under this SLPP regime. In just seven days, we’ve gone from youths and journalists raising the alarm on the unusual movements of a shipping container suspected of holding drugs, weapons and forex, to a press release from government agencies and the police, denying any such contraband.
We then witnessed an interesting charade put up by the police at the “unveiling of contents” of the container in the full glare of the press. (I dare not mention the ignominious exchange which ensued between the Minister of information, Mohamed Rhaman Swaray and the recently sacked IG, Sovula, when the latter unapologetically arrived late at the staged opening of the container, without apologies.)
Now it has finally ended in predictable scapegoating, and we have dismissals/demotions/reassignments of several names mentioned in the original exposé.
Out of breath already? Don’t be, there’s a lot more to come.
So, we were expected to believe that the container which left water quay and was apprehended at Cline Town, is the same to have arrived at Kingtom police mess, under military and Police escort, after the alarm had been raised by the public.
However, the truth has finally been revealed. First of all, the container which was opened at Kingtom Police mess was not the original, it had been swapped, and the actual container filled with drugs and contraband remained at the TRUST paint factory in Cline town, Freetown.
It was at the TRUST factory that the contents were emptied by the Lebanese and Ghanian smugglers.
When the police took the “fake” container to Kingtom and finally disclosed the contents a few days later, they deliberately misled the public.
However, in their rush to exchange the original container for one filled with perishable foodstuffs like chicken and fish, they forgot an important detail.
The replacement “fake” container was not a refrigerated one. Frozen items would never have been shipped all the way from Brazil in an unrefrigerated container; everything would have rotted.
The owner of TRUST paint factory is a Lebanese man called AYAD EL MUKH who works in partnership with the Transport Minister Kabineh Kallon , who is also the brother of the Bank Governor Kelfala Kallon, (who last week left Sierra Leone surreptitiously, amidst a national uproar over his announcement that NL800 million, approximately US$57m, had gone missing in the system.)
Since then, several highly placed heads have rolled, because of the mishandling of the smuggling deal.
The ADC to President Bio, AIG SYLVESTER M KOROMA, whose official Vehicle registration plate was fraudulently used on the lorry which hauled the container to Cline Town, has been dismissed as ADC to the President and reposted to Police headquarters.
The then Inspector General of Police, AMBROSE SOVULA has been removed from his post as head of Sierra Leone Police, because he blew the cover-up by his exuberance and incompetence.
Both the then second and third in command in Sierra Leone Police hierarchy have also been demoted/reassigned.
Mr KEKETOMA SANDY who was Presidential spokesman and press secretary has had his responsibilities halved, and he’s now only Press secretary. This is because he was out of his depth and overwhelmed by the negative publicity.
This is by no means the end of this matter, there’ll be more names to come. But they are the sacred cows.
In the meantime, our President, clearly unperturbed by all this scandal, financial mess, and the suffering of our people, has gone on a luxury holiday to the UK , Italy, and the South of France with his wife, who some say has a stake in all of these deals.
God help Salone.