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Sierra Leone Government Responds to Failed Coup Attempt, Ensures Nation’s Security Remains Intact

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

In the wake of the failed attempted coup on 26th November 2023, the Ministry of Information and Civic Education of Sierra Leone held a press conference on 28th November at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conference hall. International bodies including Ecowas, the US, EU, and Commonwealth have unambiguously denounced the incident and are pressing for swift justice for the culprits involved.

Information and Civic Education Minister, Chernor Bah, expressed his gratitude towards the citizens for their adherence to law and order amidst the crisis. He urged the public to rely on the Ministry for accurate and up-to-date information.

Bah confirmed that the State Security has classified the recent event as a failed coup attempt, which met the necessary criteria as per the security sector’s standards. He also extended an official apology for unintentionally including some names on the ‘wanted’ list which were later rectified. The Ministry’s Facebook page has been updated with the official list.

William Fayia Sellu, the Inspector General of Sierra Leone Police, reassured the public that an investigation into the attempted coup is underway and that the country’s security remains under control.

Providing further details on the casualties, Minister Bah reported that the incident resulted in the death of 14 RSLAF officers, 1 SLP officer, 1 correctional officer, and 3 assailants. In addition, 13 military officials and 1 civilian have been taken into custody in connection to the attempted coup.

Lieutenant General Peter Lavahun, the Chief of Defense Staff RSLAF, confirmed the death of an individual known as Leather Boot during his arrest at the Military facility due to gunshot injuries. Lavahun warned that some assailants are still at large and urged citizens to assist in their capture by providing any helpful information. Two vehicles believed to belong to the assailants were recovered in Orugu and Allen Town.

Colonel Sheikh Sulaiman Massaquoi, Acting Director General of the Sierra Leone Correctional Center, reported breaches at Pademba Road and Special Court Prison, leading to multiple inmate escapes. However, he noted that a few escapees have voluntarily returned and efforts are being made to restore order in the facilities.

According to the authorities, the coup attempt involved both active and former military and police officers. The investigation is ongoing, with additional suspects expected to be identified.

Minister Bah encouraged the public to resume normal activities while continuing to adhere to the law. The government has announced a bounty for the capture of the wanted individuals and escaped inmates, offering Nle50,000 for the assailants and Nle10,000 for inmates.

On the same day, President Julius Maada Bio visited the 34 Military Hospital in Freetown, where members of the Security Forces who sustained injuries during the failed coup attempt are being treated. He commended the Military Officers for their commitment to defending democracy in Sierra Leone and affirmed that the government and people of Sierra Leone are grateful for their bravery. He reassured them that their sacrifice would not be in vain.

CSO Coalition Opposes Violent Assault on Freetown, Demand Peace & Justice

A coalition of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) including Human Rights Defenders Network, Institute for Governance Reform, Center for Accountability and The Rule of Law,50/50 Group,Women’s Forum ,Amnesty International, Fambul Tok International, Center for Coordination of Youth Activities and the Society for Democratic Initiatives has on the 28th November, 2023 expressed profound sorrow over the distressing assault that shook Sierra Leone’s peace on November 26, 2023. The CSOs are particularly dismayed by the violent breach at the Wilberforce Military Barracks’ armory and the infiltration of the maximum-security correctional center, resulting in the escape of numerous prisoners.

They mourn the loss of both uniformed personnel and civilians who valiantly defended the State against this senseless aggression.

While clarity remains elusive regarding the perpetrators and their motives, the CSOs highlighted a distressing trend of violence in recent years. They referenced previous incidents, including attempted prison breaks and violent protests, suggesting a worrisome embrace of violence as a means to achieve unclear objectives.

In a strong condemnation, the CSOs unequivocally denounced such acts of violence, emphasizing that these senseless attacks severely undermine the nation’s peace and development aspirations.

Labeling these violent episodes as assaults on civic space and a regression from the country’s progress since the end of the civil war in 2002, the Coalition urged fellow Sierra Leoneans not to remain indifferent when peace and civic rights are under threat. They reaffirmed their commitment to upholding democratic principles despite imperfections.

The joint statement implored all citizens to uphold the tenets of democracy and the rule of law, urging peaceful resolutions for grievances against the Government or any interest group.

As the nation mourns the fallen heroes, the CSOs urged the Government to swiftly investigate these violent incidents, utilizing available resources to secure justice and ensure lasting peace. They called upon citizens to maintain peace and support ongoing measures to apprehend those attempting to destabilize the country.

UN Resident Coordinator Reflects on Unforgettable Moments in Sierra Leone

As Babatunde Ahonsi concludes his tenure as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, he reflects on a multitude of impactful experiences that shaped his tenure in the country. Ahonsi notes that despite external challenges and internal complexities, his time in Sierra Leone has been largely productive, fostering UN support toward sustainable development and lasting peace.

In a departure reminiscent of Albashir Adam Alhassan’s ‘Always Remember to Forget’, Ahonsi leaves Sierra Leone with a firm resolve to cherish the critical strides taken, foreseeing their role in unlocking the nation’s vast developmental potential. He acknowledges the UN’s hand in these advancements but equally emphasizes the pivotal role played by Sierra Leone’s Government and its people in laying the groundwork for economic and social transformation.

The departing UN RC highlights several key advancements that he vows never to forget:

Elite Consensus and Political Resolution: Ahonsi lauds the pivotal 18th October, 2023 Political Agreement for National Unity, symbolizing a collective commitment among Sierra Leonean leaders to eschew violence in political conflict resolution, fostering national unity and development.

Inter-Religious Harmony:
He applauds Sierra Leone’s remarkable inter-religious harmony, showcasing a unique coexistence where Christian and Islamic practices transcend names, underscoring the need to prevent politicians from exploiting religious sentiments for electoral gains.

Advancements in Gender Equality:
Ahonsi praises the country’s strides in gender equality and women’s empowerment, attributing this progress to collaborative efforts between the Government and various UN agencies. He highlights legislative reforms, increased women’s representation and enhanced measures against gender-based violence.

Effective Response to Health Crises:
Sierra Leone’s proactive approach to health crises, particularly in COVID-19 management, stands out in Ahonsi’s reflections. He commends the country’s strategies and successful vaccination campaigns, foreseeing a stronger human capital base for future development.

Natural Endowments and Economic Opportunities: Acknowledging Sierra Leone’s rich natural resources, Ahonsi emphasizes the potential for economic growth through eco-tourism and the blue economy, urging sustainable exploitation of these assets for national development.

Empowerment of Youth, Disable Persons and Farmers:
He calls for greater support for the youth, persons with disabilities and smallholder farmers, stressing the need for their inclusion as active agents of development.

Cultural Reflections: Lightening the tone, Ahonsi jests about his encounters with the diverse variations of jollof rice in West Africa, anticipating a break from diplomatic debates on the subject in his next destination.

Concluding with gratitude to various stakeholders and a call for a collective commitment to Sierra Leone’s common good, Ahonsi expresses optimism for the nation’s future, placing its destiny firmly in the hands of its people.

Major Security Breach Claim 20 Lives, Trigger Massive Prison Break

Sierra Leone experienced widespread panic following series of coordinated attacks on Sunday that targeted a military barracks, a prison, and other strategic locations, resulting in 20 fatalities and the escape of almost 2,000 inmates. The Government attributed the violence to “renegade soldiers,” sparking heightened tensions in a country still in the process of recovery from a brutal civil war.

Among the almost 2,000 escapees from the central prison, 155 were serving life sentences, and 831 were categorized as “long-term” convicts. Foreign nationals accounted for 20 individuals, with 10 convicted and the rest either on remand or awaiting trial. Additionally, 253 were on remand, while 347 were under trial, with numerous others serving shorter sentences. Two inmates were under “safe custody.” As of Monday, only 23 had returned, according to prison officials.

The attacks reportedly commenced in the early hours of Sunday morning, as gunmen launched coordinated assaults on the Wilberforce military barracks, the Pademba Road central prison and the Eastern Police Station in Freetown, the capital city. The city resonated with heavy gunfire during the violent clashes between the attackers and security forces.

Colonel Issa Bangura, an army spokesman, confirmed that casualties included 13 soldiers, three assailants, a Police Officer, a civilian and a private security guard. Eight others sustained injuries and three suspects were apprehended during the chaos.

President Julius Maada Bio addressed the nation, assuring the public that the situation was being managed, with most of the assailants already in custody. To restore calm and aid security operations, a curfew was imposed on Sunday from 18:00 hrs to 06:00 GMT and shifted on Monday to 2100 to 0600 GMT.

The recent attacks have exacerbated existing tensions in Sierra Leone, still grappling with the aftermath of a devastating civil war that claimed over 50,000 lives between 1991 and 2002.

Political unrest has prevailed since Bio’s disputed re-election in June, raising concerns among international partners like the United States and the European Union. Prior unrest in August 2022 saw at least 21 civilians and six police officers killed during anti-government protests.

The Government has urged escaped prisoners to return to custody and has offered rewards for information leading to the apprehension of the attackers. Authorities are actively investigating the motives behind the assaults and the identities of those involved.

NP-SL Prioritizes Customer Satisfaction With Exceptional Attention

By Amin Kef-Ranger

NP-SL Ltd is the leading petroleum marketing company that is currently importing the highest quantity of qualitative petroleum products that have gone through standard quality tests and confirmed for consumption. Having good storage facilities at the Kissy Terminal, the company always ensures that there is considerable quantity of petroleum products that would last for long to meet the petroleum needs of institutions and individuals with the avowed aim of averting any shortage that would negatively impinge on activities that could cause serious dislocations in the country.

One thing that sets the company apart is the premium it places on enhancing customer satisfaction. Management of the company, very mindful of putting customer satisfaction at the centre of its operations it had and still continues to do all within its purview in order to ensure that customers derive value for money.

It therefore goes without any gainsaying that over the years , chiefly because of its customer centric approach, NP-SL Ltd has garnered widespread respect for which it has bagged various recognition and honour , evident in being awarded for outstanding performances. The company ranks among dominant companies in the country that have been making steady progress, growing by leaps and bounds within the business landscape of this country.

Undoubtedly, it has been widely acknowledged that the company has dominated the petroleum trade in the country based on its proactive stance with regards the importation and marketing of high grade petroleum products including petrol, diesel, gas and lubricants of which one of the best is the widely sought and used Castrol oil.

Besides, the professional way and manner in which the company provides high quality services to its numerous customers right across the country have been described as phenomenal and highly impressive.

It is a well recognized fact that NP-SL Ltd is an indigenous company that cherishes its numerous customers, as over the years it has placed high premium on customer care, which it had and effectively continues to harness to such an extent that it has earned it the enviable reputation of 1st for Customer Care.

It is within that realm that the shareholders of the company, thirty-five (35) of them, thought it entrepreneurially prudent to import and install modern calibrated machines at all its Filling Stations.

These are automated and high precision machines which have the capability of pumping the exact quantity of fuel that a particular buyer or customer requests for, displaying quantity (in litres) as well as the price(s).

With these machines, contrary to what used to obtain in the past when less sophisticated pumping machines were used, customers have sincerely attested that they do derive utmost satisfaction whenever they do transactions expressing the belief that the process is really transparent.

With the avowed objective of making fuel transactions easier and very convenient for its esteemed and numerous customers, the company again introduced the brilliant idea of introducing the use of NP Smart Card. This is a cashless way of transacting business, or in other words purchasing fuel without using physical cash. The holder of an NP Smart Card could present the card at any Filling Station, as long as it contains money, and request for the quantity of fuel he or she requires which will be immediately dispensed.

The Shareholders and Management of the company also thought it fit to introduce a safer way of cooking. It was out of this idea that the initiative of introducing an environmentally cooking device arose and NP Gas was borne. Manufactured in different cylinder sizes, NP Gas has a high precision performance and to refill it is simple as the gas could be accessed at all the company’s Filling Stations in the country. Many whom have tried them intimated this medium that it is worth having at home and one could never regret having it but would rather recommend it to others.

NP-SL Ltd has etched its name in the sands of time for embracing and effectively rolling out the country’s Local Content Policy. As one of its major priorities, the company has placed high premium on giving employment preference to Sierra Leoneans. It is only on rare circumstances that the company makes use of expatriates and in most cases it is when local personnel cannot be sourced.

A company that has vibrant branches in neighbouring Guinea, Liberia, Ivory Coast and The Gambia speaks volumes of a serious business entity that is determined to grow. In all those countries, the company employs indigenes and is paying taxes to the Governments which in turn are used to fund various development programmes.

It can therefore be concluded that NP-SL Ltd is synonymous with Customer Care and the company is doing everything possible to ensure that its esteemed customers get the required attention and satisfaction that they deserve.

Commonwealth Secretary-General to Accelerate Climate Action at COP 28

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, is poised to lead the Commonwealth delegation at COP28, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai. Her primary objective will be to galvanize accelerated action on the climate crisis, especially in the face of escalating threats to smaller and vulnerable member countries.

Taking place from November 30 to December 12, the summit follows closely after Commonwealth Environment Ministers pledged to expedite climate action during their inaugural meeting alongside the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

Secretary-General Scotland is set to deliver over 20 speeches during the summit, stressing the urgent need for a transformative outcome. Her key points include the necessity to speed up the implementation of national climate plans as outlined in the Paris Agreement, leveraging the ‘global stock-take’ report to boost ambition, and establishing an inclusive, operational Loss and Damage Fund.

As part of her engagements, Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, will inaugurate the Commonwealth Pavilion at COP28, hosting approximately 40 events over the two weeks. This platform aims to facilitate crucial dialogues among Governments, experts, businesses, youth leaders, and civil society showcasing the Commonwealth’s capacity for such pivotal exchanges.

Additionally, she will hold meetings with leaders and Ministers from Commonwealth member countries and international stakeholders to advance discussions on emissions, finance, adaptation, biodiversity, oceans, health, innovation and the green economy.

Expressing her urgency before the summit, the Commonwealth Secretary-General stated:

“The dire forecasts of climate change have become daily realities, significantly impacting our most vulnerable nations. From eroding lands to depleting water sources, storms, floods, and rising sea levels, these crises threaten the well-being, stability, and economic future of millions.

“However, as climate change intensifies, disparities in emissions, finance, and justice have widened, while our window for effective action shrinks. COP28 must bridge that gap. Delaying action only exacerbates risks and escalates costs. There can be no more delays or excuses; now is the time for implementation.”

Secretary-General Scotland underscored the critical need to cap global warming at 1.5°C, emphasizing the pivotal role of leaders at COP28 in steering the world toward a resilient and sustainable future for generations to come.

Commonwealth Initiatives
Secretary-General Scotland will highlight various Commonwealth initiatives aimed at supporting member countries in combating climate challenges during her address at COP28:

Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub: Mobilizing US $310 Million in climate finance for 17 vulnerable Commonwealth countries, with an additional US $500 Million in the pipeline.

Commonwealth Blue Charter: An agreement among 56 member countries to actively collaborate on addressing shared ocean challenges.

Commonwealth Living Lands Charter: A commitment to safeguard global land resources while taking coordinated action on climate change, biodiversity loss and sustainable land management.

Commonwealth Disaster Risk Finance Portal: Providing countries with open, 24-hour access to key disaster financing information.

Commonwealth Sustainable Energy Transition Agenda: Aiming for an inclusive, equitable transition to low-carbon energy systems across the group.

Given that 2023 has been designated as the Commonwealth Year of Youth, the delegation will focus on youth-led initiatives to tackle climate challenges.

Constructive Journalism: Shifting the Spotlight to Solutions

 A Commentary By Amin Kef (Ranger)

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the constant stream of negative news. From political scandals to environmental crises, it often feels like problems are piling up with no end in sight. However, a growing movement in journalism is challenging this narrative by focusing on solutions rather than just highlighting problems. Welcome to the world of constructive journalism.

Constructive journalism, also known as Solutions Journalism, is a refreshing approach to reporting that aims to provide a more balanced and comprehensive view of the world. Instead of solely focusing on the negative, this approach uncovers innovative ideas, successful approaches and positive stories that inspire change.

Gone are the days of doom and gloom. Constructive journalism seeks to counterbalance the overwhelming negativity by highlighting stories of hope, resilience and progress. It goes beyond simply reporting on problems; it delves deeper into exploring potential solutions and showcasing the individuals or communities making a positive impact.

One of the key principles of constructive journalism is rigorous reporting. Just like traditional journalism, it relies on thorough research, fact-checking, and verification of information. It does not shy away from uncovering and exposing problems or holding those in power accountable. However, it goes the extra mile by presenting insights into what has worked in similar situations and what can be learned from successful approaches.

By focusing on solutions, constructive journalism provides a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of complex issues. It seeks to answer questions such as: What are the underlying causes of a problem? What has worked in similar situations? By presenting these insights, constructive journalism equips readers with knowledge and tools to think critically and engage in meaningful discussions.

Moreover, constructive journalism emphasizes the human aspect of storytelling. It often features personal stories of individuals or communities who have overcome challenges or made a positive impact. By humanizing the issues, it fosters empathy and connection, making it easier for readers to relate and engage with the stories.

Transparency and accountability are also crucial elements of constructive journalism. It encourages journalists to follow up on the progress of solutions and their long-term impact. By providing updates and evaluating the effectiveness of different approaches, constructive journalism ensures that the public has a more accurate understanding of the issues and the efforts being made to address them.

Constructive journalism offers a refreshing and empowering alternative to traditional news reporting. It seeks to inform, inspire and engage readers by presenting not just problems, but also potential solutions. By focusing on the positive aspects of society, it aims to create a more balanced and constructive narrative that encourages action and promotes positive change.

So, the next time you feel overwhelmed by the barrage of negative news, remember that there is another side to the story. Constructive journalism is here to shift the spotlight to solutions, reminding us that change is possible and that we all have a role to play in creating a better world.

ECOWAS & Nigerian Delegation Pay Emergency Visit to Assess Security Breach in Freetown

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

On Monday, 27 November 2023, President Dr Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone welcomed a powerful delegation composed of representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The visit was a response to a significant security breach that occurred on Sunday at Wilberforce Barracks in Freetown.

The delegation, which included Nigeria’s National Security Adviser, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, Nigeria’s Chief of Defense Staff, General Christopher Musa, its Chief of Defence Military Intelligence, Major General Emmanuel Udiandeye and President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray, met with President Bio at State House to express solidarity in the wake of the security incident.

The team brought a message of unity from the Chairman of the ECOWAS Committee of Heads of State and President of Nigeria, His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as well as the other ECOWAS Heads of State and Government. They confirmed the ECOWAS Member States’ commitment to maintaining democracy and good governance throughout the region and assured their readiness to work with President Bio’s Government to prevent future security breaches.

Special envoy, Nuhu Ribadu, conveyed President Tinubu’s gratitude to President Bio for standing with the people of Sierra Leone and for upholding democratic values. Ribadu reiterated the enduring friendship between Nigeria and Sierra Leone, assuring the Sierra Leonean leader of their continued support.

Commenting on the incident, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Omar Touray, denounced the security breach and appealed to Sierra Leoneans to support the Government’s efforts to bring those responsible to justice. He reiterated ECOWAS’s zero tolerance for unconstitutional changes of Government in the region.

President Bio expressed gratitude for the visit and the support from Nigeria and ECOWAS. He reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to democracy, justice, the safety of its citizens and maintaining Sierra Leone’s leadership position in global institutions. He also referenced the country’s progress despite the challenges, focusing on food security as a development priority.

In a reference to the country’s political climate, President Bio said, “Ever since I won in 2018, it has been one issue after the other.” He mentioned the refusal of the main opposition to accept the 2023 election results and their role in causing unrest. However, he remained optimistic about the nation’s resilience and the commitment of its people to peace and stability.

The visit underscores the regional commitment to maintaining peace and stability in West Africa, highlighting the importance of collaborative efforts to address security concerns.

Vice-Chancellor of University of Sierra Leone Caught in Crossfire and Attacked

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

On Sunday November 26, 2023, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone, Brigadier General (Prof) Foday Sahr, found himself caught in the crossfire as he left his home in an alarming incident that left him and his entourage shaken.

The Vice-Chancellor, who was on his way to catch a Seabird to Lungi for an overseas trip, was reportedly attacked and his vehicle was severely damaged. He and his companions were subjected to a harrowing ordeal when they were accosted by assailants.

During the incident, the Vice-Chancellor was manhandled, and his vehicle was ramshackled. His driver and security personnel also fell victim to the attack, being beaten and stripped by the perpetrators.

Fortunately, the Vice-Chancellor’s life was spared due to the intervention of a few other gunmen who recognized him as a Medical Doctor at 34 Military Hospital. These individuals had been treated by the Vice-Chancellor for free in the past, prompting them to come to his aid during the assault.

The attackers held the Vice-Chancellor captive inside his vehicle for an agonizing period of over two hours before eventually departing and heading towards Cockerill. However, in a further unfortunate turn of events, as none of the assailants were able to operate the vehicle, they opted to inflict further damage upon it.

The incident has sent shockwaves through the community and raised concerns about the safety and security of prominent figures in Sierra Leone. Authorities are actively investigating the attack, and efforts are being made to ensure the protection of individuals in positions of public prominence.

Sierra Leone on High Alert as Police Investigate Major Security Breach

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

Sierra Leone’s law enforcement is on high alert following a major security breach in Freetown on Sunday, November 26, 2023. Unidentified individuals made a daring attempt to break into the military armoury at Wilberforce Barracks and proceeded to storm the Pademba Road and Special Court Correctional Centres and the Kissy and Calaba Town Police Stations. A considerable number of prisoners and suspects were illicitly freed during the incident.

The Sierra Leone Police (SLP) has responded swiftly, launching a full-scale investigation led by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) on Monday November 27, 2023. The investigation aims to ascertain the full facts, identify the perpetrators, and understand the motive behind the audacious acts of lawlessness.

The SLP has also initiated a manhunt to capture the assailants and the unlawfully released prisoners. In a public advisory, the SLP urged all illegally freed individuals to report themselves at the nearest police station or risk facing charges for “Escape from Lawful Custody.”

In an effort to expedite the investigation, the SLP is seeking the public’s assistance. Any relevant information that could lead to a speedy conclusion of the investigation would be greatly appreciated. The leadership of the SLP has acknowledged that some of the escaped prisoners have already turned themselves in and praised their efforts.

In a bid to incentivize information sharing, the SLP has announced a reward system. A reward of Fifty Thousand New Leones (50,000 NLe) is being offered for any useful information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the assailants. Additionally, a Ten Thousand New Leones (10,000 NLe) reward has been set for information leading to the arrest of any of the prisoners or suspects that were illegally released during the incident.

The public is encouraged to contact the Sierra Leone Police Headquarters, George Street – Freetown, at 23277361070, 23279509896, or 23277410112 (CID) or the toll-free number 900 Africell.

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