Sierra Leone Telegraph: 20 August 2017
“It might be too early however, to think or conclude that President Koroma is directly involved in this blatant human rights abuse of his people. His actions in the coming days against Hajj Committee members that seemed to have let him down so badly, would put us in a better position to judge if he sanctioned this molestation on poor Muslims.”
This is an excerpt from an article I authored and published in the afternoon hours of yesterday, Saturday, 19th of August 2017, when news broke out that certain government officials have sold off government Hajj scholarships to foreign nationals.
The article exposed the criminal syndicate in the Hajj Committee and called on the President to act fast and right the wrongs. Few hours later, it appeared as if the President was having a sleepless night when he decided to announce at midnight, the sacking of three members of the Hajj Committee.
Bravo Mr. President, or should I say Kudos Uncle Mr. President for a first step in the right direction. As I stated in my earlier piece, the President’s reaction to the criminal actions of Hajj Committee members was going to inform our judgment as to whether or not he sanctioned such blatant human rights abuses that has the tendency of fueling religious intolerance.
It is now evident that the President never endorsed the actions of the sacked government functionaries. God bless you for that sir. And the President has also proved wrong critics who believe he is slow in his actions. He acted in less than twenty four hours to correct this mess. Promptness at its best.
For me, I had always believed that the President is not slow in his actions. He might be failing or refusing to act on certain things because he actually endorses such actions. Otherwise, why is someone like Logus and Alpha Kahn still in office with all the scandal surrounding them?
Was Alpha Kahn (Photo) not involved in a similar Hajj mess in the past? What about the twelve million dollars – one hundred bus scam of Logus?
Are they not still in office? If Uncle Mr. President never endorsed their actions, then why are they still in government?
This even brings us to the question of why would the President only sack three members of the Hajj Committee, who may have been operating under the direction and actual supervision of the Vice President, who is the most senior member of the Committee?
And it is scary even to think that this VP, whose committee has recorded this scandal, is currently in charge of a committee that has received some ten million dollars on behalf of flood and landslide disaster victims?
Is that money safe anymore with him? Can the VP honourably excuse himself from that committee amid this Hajj fraud, even if the President fails or refuse to sack him?
Come to think of it, was it enough for the President to just instruct the sacked officials to return home and face the consequences of their actions? What if they choose to escape and disappear? And we should all sit down, fold our hands and hope they come back to Sierra Leone?
Mr. President could have done more in my view. What about communicating with the authorities in Saudi to arrest these ‘fake Alhajis’ and extradite them to Sierra Leone?
I trust the Arab police will do a good job to land a couple of ‘knocks’ on the corrupt heads of these guys before handing them over to the Sierra Leonean authorities.
Again, it remains unclear if the President actually sacked these three officials from their actual government positions, or they were just relieved from their duties in the Hajj Committee?
The sacking press release is ambiguous on that aspect, and we need clarification from the office of the President. The press release also failed to state why these guys were sacked.
Were they sacked because they sold Hajj scholarships to foreigners? Did they face the sack because they failed to include the President’s personal nominees for the scholarships?
Were they rendered jobless because they made such huge profit and never reported it to their masters? Are they going to face the law because they sinned against poor Muslims?
Or this was just an attempt (one of the 99 tactics) to excuse them and the government from the bashing limelight, until the tension fades out and they would be re-appointed again as usual? Why exactly were they fired?
Can the President further investigate allegations that these sacked officials connived with a permanent secretary to withdraw some 2.5 Billion Leones from Commercial Bank in the name of allowances for Hajj Committee members?
Mr. President, I think you have more sackings to do.
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We should all be shock proof by now , vis-a-vis Ernest Koroma and his administration. Only severe cases of amnesia can be forgiven for being shocked time and again.
But amnesia is what most of us Sierra Leoneans suffer from, which the politicians of the two major parties [S.L.P.P.and A.P.C] are aware of and exploit it to the fullest. When sentiments and emotions are entangled or aligned with, clear thinking carries a very low probability – we take to the streets to dance for them at every blessed election.
One of the major factors which cost S.L.P.P. the 2007 election was the level of corruption which so permeated the Kabba administration that foreign donors were unambiguous and emphatic and declaring that further funds would only be released upon the election of a new government.
Clever Ernest Koroma, the perfect opportunist, rode on the foreign donor platform and insidiously infected the people with the message that if elected he would run Sierra Leone like a business, implying that he would only ally himself with what stood to benefit the country – shortage of electricity and water would soon be forgotten.
When the nation elected Ernest he came up with new laws aimed at strengthening the Anti Corruption Commission [A.C.C.] to tackle official corruption so as to demonstrate his seriousness which he was sure was the cancer that was killing the nation. What he did clandestinely however was to fit the Commission with false teeth and claws, so that at its first attempt to bring down some A.P.C. stalwarts the false teeth and claws fell off. The rest,as the saying goes, is history.
Afsatu Kabba. Remember her? Eddie Turay. Remember him? Alfa Kanu, Remember him? Where did he get his Khan from? Is he a Pakistani trying to pass himself off as a Sierra Leonean? Only Pakistanies and people from that part of the world mostly have the surname of Khan.
The NASSIT fiasco. Remember it? The Ebola[“kasankay”]funds? Remember them? These are are just examples of the slow poison which Ernest and his henchmen and women have been using to kill mother Sierra Leone.
If an administration has no scruples or morals in stealing from the dead and sick why should it have any reservation about misusing funds designated for the use of one of the most religious rituals in the world – Hajj. It is the dream of all Muslims to visit the holy land of Mecca to perform the pilgrimage which is one of the pillars of Islam.The importance of the pilgrimage is summarised by a man who said on board a bus taking him to the airport on the first leg of his journey to the holy land: “if I die right now, I would be the most happy man in the world”.
When one takes a look at the face of Logus, Victor Foh, Alpha Kanu, and others in the administration, what does one see? Undiluted and naked gangsterism. These are hyenas,leopards, drunkards, foxes, that we put in place to take care of our chickens, distilleries, goats, sheep etc, and when they disappear we wonder why and cry out.
For official corruption to still be as intensely discussed now in the dying days of the administration as it was in the beginning, raises the spectacle of a grave defeat for Earnest Koroma, one that should bother his conscience forever. Only he can explain the factors responsible for such a miserable failure.
It is time for him to tell us whether he is a man or a mouse.
This is a mere bandage over the deep wounds of corruption that his government has cut into Sierra Leone
Sacking corrupt officials directly in the employ of The President is not good enough and is also suspicious.
Why did he not call the Police and publicly instruct the Police to take commensurate actions in view of these obvious criminalities – there had been similar precedents.
These continue to make his ANTI-CORRUTION CRUSADE unconvincing.