Makeni is still traumatised and needs our collective counselling and care – Op-Ed

Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden OOR: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 October 2020:

I have nothing but commendation for the manner in which the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) led by Ambrose Sovula and the Anti Corruption Commission led by Francis Ben Kaifala, conducted themselves yesterday October 8th 2020 in Makeni, when the ACC faced a challenge in their bid to interview the amiable former president over allegations of corruption.

I also have nothing but sympathy for those ordinary residents of Makeni who spontaneously and with clearly, no pre-planned organization, decided to drive away the Anti-Riot Police crew back. Ordinary Makeni residents met the police halfway across the road leading to the former president’s compound and drove them away.

I sympathise with Makeni people because they are still traumatized from the killings of their youths few weeks ago; Scenes of anti-riot police brings back bad memories of a massacre that is yet to be conclusively investigated.

Makeni residents are suffering from what we call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) which clearly manifested itself. From all indications, residents of Makeni reacted devoid of any influence of the former president who was unaware of what spontaneously developed.

Tomorrow, Saturday 10th October 2020 is World Mental Health Day. Indeed, a lot of Sierra Leoneans have mental health issues.

Makeni people are traumatized and to quote the Bombali District Human Rights group, “the people of Makeni need counselling and a show of loving care from the rest of Sierra Leone”.

I congratulate the SLP and ACC for recognizing that need for counselling and care. Their decision to withdraw peacefully with no bloodshed was itself a show of care.

I also congratulate our former president for his continued willingness to be interviewed by the ACC; an institution which he himself strengthened for the good of us all.

May Peace and Democracy continue to survive in Sierra Leone. Amen.

15 Comments

  1. What do you mean Dr Blyden that the orchestrated rioters in Makeni had no planned organisation in carrying out their diabolical actions/deeds in denying authorities and law officials to carry out their legal duties as mandated by law and constitution of Sierra Leone. We CAN SEE YOUR PREMEDITATED ACTIONS/deeds BY USING THE YOUTHS IN PARTICULAR IN INCITING MAYHEM/RIOTS leading to catastrophic tendencies in your efforts to tarnish the good image of the current SLPP led administrations to the international community. But God almighty will not allow you – enemies of progress to prevail.

  2. We must remember and understand that Earnest Koroma has been charged with nothing. But he has turned himself into some kind of fugitive, who has managed to imprison himself physically and in terms of his conscience. He cannot leave Makeni and its immediate environs for fear of being intercepted by ACC. This alone amounts to humiliation for someone who just over a couple of years ago held his country on the palm of his hand.

    A request to be questioned by any law enforcement agency is not synonymous with a formal indictment. What is Earnest so afraid of? Is it case of having too many skeletons in the cupboard? Earnest must reconcile with the fact that his behaviour doesn’t lend itself to stability in the country. He has the wherewithal to stop his Makeni people from impeding the ACC from interviewing him. One can only deduce from his behaviour that it is a plan gone badly wrong stemming from his futile effort to get Samura Kamara to succeed him without allowing any democratic process within his APC party. He had taken a page out of Siaka Stevens’ book, vis-a-vis Momoh, but failed because he failed to realise that the country has entered a different era.

    By upholding the dictates of the white paper Maada Bio and ACC are transforming the country by making corruption unpalatable especially among the elite – a huge source of our backwardness. This is success. To those who are crying foul and describing the COI as a witch hunt, I want them to tell Sierra Leoneans why the author of the article – Dr Sylvia Blyden, is a free woman even though she served in the Koroma administration for years. I am not SLPP, but I support President Bio’s fight against corruption, particularly by starting from the top. They are the roots. If they are destroyed, the tree will be denied sustenance, precipitating its death. Implicitly SLPP themselves may be caught in the net in the future.

  3. The crux of the matter is Maada Bio is a failed President and he knows very well that time is his greatest enemy; with only two and half years of his first term of presidency, even if he built the Lungi Bridge, it will not be sufficient to convince the people that he is a credible President – especially after re-enacting to the happy-go-lucky people of Sierra Leone that he is a man of chaos, barbarity and sadistic nature. What is the urgency of investigating the former President when he had already been given the opportunity to prove his innocence in a court of law against the allegations of corruption in the White Paper? Why can’t the ACC wait for the law of the land to take its course?

    Maada Bio knows that unless he rigged the 2023 elections again, he has no chance of winning a fair and free elections. He is also quite aware that the probability of rigging the next elections would be improved if the main opposition APC is bankrupted or its hierarchy is totally discredited. However, even though the SLPP has shackled a crooked Judiciary as puppets on a string, bankrupting the APC might take a long and frustrating process in the courts. So, a desperate, self-centred and inconsiderate Bio has opted for the latter – that is to discredit the APC. Who else to go for than the main asset of the APC, EBK? It remains to be seen if the ACC did not go to Makeni with the sole motivation of arresting EBK with a trumped-up charge. Francis Ben Kaifala knew it would be a life-threatening task, amidst the level of protest by the people of Makeni, and decided to abandon his mission.

    The timing of this so-called ‘investigation’ was also crucial. In a week’s time the mandate of EBK as the Chairman and Leader of the APC is up; and the least Maada Bio would wish for, is the re-election of his greatest adversary. All in all, Maada Bio is a DESPERATE MAN, and seemingly he is determined to risk the peace and stability of the country for a second term in office irrespective of his accomplishment, or lack of it.

  4. This is what Dr Sylvia Blyden said “I also congratulate our former president for his continued willingness to be interviewed by the ACC; an institution which he himself strengthened for the good of us all”. What a very responsible statement by one of our Iron Ladies of all times. Bottom line, you don’t mess around with a peaceful and law abiding citizen like Former President Ernest Bai Koroma, the leader of the APC and of course the “Peoples Commander”.

    God bless former President Ernest Bai Koroma and Dr Sylvia Blyden. May God bless the youth and people of Makeni for their support to the great Leader, the “Peoples Commander”, former President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma. Obey Oh People, it’s the Peoples Commander, Obey Oh people. Now that the Bio SLPP kakistocracy arrest and chaotic threat against the “Peoples Commander” has been removed, it’s time to dial down or tone the rhetoric and move on.

  5. Ernest Bai koroma is one of the most peaceful leaders within the sub region and worldwide. I admired him greatly for sending his own vehicles to usher ACC in for interview just to clean his image despite the haters’ accusations of him wanted to become an ordinary party chairman for life when he never attempted pushing his presidential term which he could have done according to the will of the country’s majority. Though we can understand the kind of people trying to portray his image negatively – people he brought out or their relatives – from grass to grace. So unfortunate – Salone politics.

  6. I personally blame the Government for this wrong doing in Makeni, because if they didn’t go to Makeni such thing wouldn’t have happened yesterday. But they (Government) failed to stand by their words to do the interview in Freetown. If this Government didn’t find Ernest Koroma guilty of all the charges that have been said about him, I personally will not believe any word from this particular government.

  7. We are not happy with what happened yesterday. The youth of Makeni are still not loyal to this country but to Ernest Koroma which is not good for today, tomorrow and forever. Please Sierra Leoneans, lets try to be patriotic to the country and not think about individuals.

    • And why would they be loyal to a Country that is being steered in the WRONG direction by a bunch of tribalists and hatemongers? Make no mistakes we love our Country dearly but we will not stand by, or stand down and allow Injustice to surround and wickedly entangle us ruthlessly like the predatory tentacles of a giant Octopus.

  8. “I also have nothing but sympathy for those ordinary residents of Makeni who spontaneously and with clearly, no pre-planned organization, decided to drive away the Anti-Riot Police crew back. Ordinary Makeni residents met the police halfway across the road leading to the former president’s compound and drove them away.”- Blyden. When people lie with bold face it tells much more about all other things they might have said on this and other issues. The people of Makeni did not just spontaneously get up organised and chased armed police men and women away. It was organised and there were videos circulating of masquerade entering Makeni showing show of Force.

    The former president has in an interview stated that he is being witch hunted. There were audios from the diaspora supporters of the former president asking APC supporters in the country not to allow the president go to the ACC and or to accompany him to the ACC. So this is a planned action by the former President’s supporters. Some were hoping that they would provoke the security forces to react with equal force and then use that to divert the attention on the fight against corruption. But den faint late. No amount of intimidation should stop or derail this fight. It is a fight Sierra Leone must win and if heads have to roll so be it.

    Issa Sesay, Sam Bockarie, Morris Kallon and others were not born as monsters. It is corruption that drove them to join an organisation that pushed them into doing monstrous things. And guess what, many of the beneficiaries of the corrupt proceeds in the 70s and 80s perpetrated by their parents and relatives are the same today trying to finish that which their parents did not finish. Makeni that I am seeing in the videos going around is not different from other towns in Sierra Leone. So it is difficult to fathom why we should all not ponder to ask where the monies have gone?

  9. No one is above the law. At the same time the state can’t use the laws of the land to harass or bully its citizens to submission. The former president EBk and president Bio, do not need reminding. Both leaders know the stakes are too high to start playing political point scoring against each other. Lets face it, our country’s security is dancing on broken glass. The public that have taken sides need to know the issue of unchecked corruption is what bought our country here in the first place. We have spilled enough blood for this scourge, we don’t need to spill the blood of a single Sierra Leonean. It is not worth it. Never again. We’ve been avoiding this moment of truth for a long time, but now more than ever we have to take the bull we call corruption by the horns and wrestle it to the ground.

    We cannot allow corruption to trample over us. The president needs to remind the public why he is doing what he is doing. And he has to be genuine and transparent. He cannot win the fight against corruption when we know he is not the best qualified person to do it. We need a lot of convincing. The arsonists cannot turn up on our door steps with a hose pipe and convince us they are in fact members of the fire brigade that have come to put out the fire. We will just laugh in there face and say nice try. After all we saw you start the fire in the first place. Maybe a truth and reckoning commission, where those accused of corruption – and it can be proven, are forced to come forward, confess their sins also repay their stolen loot to the nation and seek forgiveness. It will go a long way to address the corruption issues facing us now.

    Those suspects accused of misappropriating public funds who refuse to come forward, should then face the full weight of the law. That way the public will know it is not a Bio one-sided show. Right now it feels like the president is using the corruption probe to go after his opponent.

  10. Sylvia, this is codswallop. Is this how people who are traumatized behave or simply just lawlessness? People from this region have always been used by your former party to perpetrate violence. Growing up in Waterloo, during elections, S I Koroma would unleash his thugs, mainly young boys from this region to threaten and intimidate voters. This same thuggery is still there. People who are traumatized during the senseless war would not even bear the sound of fireworks. I don’t think you know what you are talking about . You are just making excuses for lawlessness. The former president knew exactly what was happening outside and their intention. He is protected by thuggery.

    The question a lot of us are asking, what is he afraid of. If he was a peaceful man he would have come out of his mansion and tell his followers to go home and clear the highway. It was planned and well orchestrated. They achieved their goal. The scenery outside his mansion wasn’t by people who are traumatized but by people who are challenging the authority. No one individual is bigger than a government or a country. The administration should stand firm, he should explain his untold wealth and give an account of his stewardship.

    All well meaning Sierra Leoneans should be proud of this moment. For far too long politicians and state officials have robbed our nation with impunity. We should embrace this turning point. This is a precedent that will send shivers down the spine of those who hold offices of trust and well intent on robbing the nation. Let us applaud the present administration for wanting to stop this scourge of corruption that is ravaging our beloved country.

  11. Isn’t it ridiculous and a bad precedent for SaLone’s democracy that a statesman who MUST be exemplary in his actions would allow a mob of ill informed followers to subvert the very laws of a nation he swore loyalty to? The individuals involved in yesterday’s incident must be brought to book. With all the allegations of corruption against the current administration, wouldn’t it be a insult to the sensibilities of Sierra Leoneans if another COI after this plays out the same way? I think President Koroma should man up and: 1- avail himself to the ACC; 2- make clear to his followers that this is a part of nation building and he is bound by conscience and loyalty to comply.

    We need to get this over and done with. He is not the first former head of state to be accused of corruption in the world. He owes a responsibility to the state to present his defense. I hope he understands that it is an intrinsic component to strengthening governance and accountability. I’m confident that the circumstances will be linchpin of a Sierra Leone dedicated on the pursuit of truth, equality, and justice.

  12. The reality is, the lifetime leader of the APC has tasted the sweetness of power and money, sooner or later, because this process is not a sprint but a marathon, but since he has decided to take the same path of late Johnny Paul and Foday Sankoh( which is lawlessness and destruction) he will definitely taste the bitterness of disgrace and jail.

  13. I never knew that EBK was such a big cry baby and coward. I can only imagine what he was like when the COI report came out implicating him in several counts of corruption. He must have felt the urge to use the toilet and when there, he must have sat for ages on the toilet with nothing coming out. He must have had sleepless nights plotting how to prevent this meeting with the ACC

    I agree with Mr Daramy ‘If he, Mr Koroma, is really clean of all corruption charges, he shouldn’t be afraid of being interviewed by the ACC’

    I never knew he was also such a big thief. Only someone who has stolen a massive amount of state funds will be afraid to meet the anti corruption commissioner. Instead he orchestrated the disturbance seen in Makeni yesterday. He surrounded himself inside his home with his security and lawyers and thugs outside his gates. He has stolen money to build himself mansions. How shameful. Where will you take them to? You will not even be buried with them. If you want mansions, obtain them legally for God’s sake. So shameful. Ellen Sirleaf, Obama will now have time in their retirement to read about events around the world and they will see this. EBK aren’t you ashamed of showing such cowardice as a man?

    Well done to Francis Ben Kelfala for behaving like a mature big brother and going to meet him in Makeni. I only wish you had gone with the entire army not armed with guns and bullets, but armed with enough teargas to gas the whole of Makeni three times over. Trust me that would have flushed the thief out. Thank you.

  14. Sierra Leoneans must be law abiding and therefore respect the rule of law. This includes the former president and his followers. The followers of the former President are being used to shield him, and therefore obstruct justice. This is totally wrong of Mr Ernest Koroma. If he, Mr Koroma, is really clean of all corruption charges, he shouldn’t be afraid of being interviewed by the ACC.

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