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Sierra Leone News: As First Lady, JMB-WW Race with Time… Moyamba, Bonthe, & Prisoners in Freetown Receive Ramadan Gifts

JMB Women’s Wing raced with time as they rushed to reach Moyamba and Bonthe for their Ramadan Gifts to this part of the country.

From Moriba Town To Mokanji town then Tiama to Makondey finally Rutile all in Moyamba District the people benefitted from the generosity of these determined women who will stop at nothing in promoting their leader Julius Maada Bio’s vision.

In continuation of their service to humanity the women headed for Bonthe District the home town of His Excellency where on Friday 31st May, 2019, they donated to 20 more mosques from Tihun to Bawuya and finally Mattru Jong.

This act of charity is being championed by the First Lady, due to her religious belief that giving is synonymous to every true Muslim during the month of Ramadan. She believes that the Holy month of Ramadan is peculiar to Muslims more than any other month in the year, therefore must be treated with the utmost importance it deserves, stating that ‘Zakat’ is one of the five pillars of Islam.

In another development, and for the first time in history, a First Lady joined prisoners in prayers. Her Excellency Fatima Maada Bio, on Wed 30th May, 2019 showed she is the mother of the nation, as she visited Sierra Leone Correctional Centre to pray with the inmates.

It was open-air place of worship in the centre. She is passionate about every Sierra Leonean, and believes a person’s past does not have to dictate his or her future.

First Lady Bio and the JMBWW also restored hope to over 900 inmates at the Sierra Leone Correctional Centre through Ramadan feeding exercise. The food was prepared by them and they also served and interacted with the inmates.

Hon. Edward Soluku, the Minister of Internal Affairs also joined worshippers. He was on ground to serve the inmates and also ate with them. He said, there are already positive changes within the correctional system, and he is ready to do much more under the new direction development plan.

Speaking with a heart full of emotions, Madam Fatima Maada Bio thanked the inmates for accepting to dine with her and the JMBWW. She offered words of encouragement to them. She thanked the Prison governor for organizing the prayer session. The Prison Governor said it was an honor to have the First Lady at his centre, and he praised the “Action-man” Minister of Internal Affairs for his positive contribution to the Correctional service.
Speaking on behalf of the inmates, a representative extended their profound gratitude to the First Lady and the JMBWW, passionately stating that, the event was the first in the history of the correctional centre for a First Lady or government in power to have a one on one interaction with them.
The representative furthermore, said he was impressed with the positive improvement they have seen, but also expressed some of the constraints of the prison, ranging from inadequate toilet facilities and toiletries and the food they are being served.
He concluded by thanking the Madam Fatima for such a humble and selfless move, one that will linger in their hearts for a life time.

Sierra Leone News: NP-SL Extolled for Providing High Quality Products

The National Petroleum Company of Sierra Leone is being extolled for being very particular and consistent in providing very high quality grades of petrol, diesel and kerosene.

This is one major reason why the National Petroleum (NP) Sierra Leone Limited is always held in very high esteem.

It is noted that in order to keep abreast with latest international technological trends, the National Petroleum Sierra Leone (NP-SL) recently introduced for its customers the opportunity to use Smart Cards to purchase petroleum and other goods; meaning that buyers could top-up their cards to the tune of any amount which they can then use intermittently to procure petroleum products. This has made it convenient for easy transactions to be made and many customers are very comfortable with this arrangement.

NP-SL has been highly commended for remarkable service delivery to its numerous customers both within and out of the country. Without any iota of doubt the company has been greatly contributing towards poverty reduction with regards putting money in the pockets of its employees.

With unique state-of-the-art filling stations that are providing timely services, the company has been rated as one of the most successful indigenous business entities that  always ensures it lives up to expectation. .

Management of NP places premium on offering the best geared towards giving value for money.

As a matter of importance NP considers its customers of different categories to be paramount treating them with all the attention they deserve.

 Indeed, this assertion has been unchallenged against the backdrop that the company has never faltered in its obligation.

It is a fact that human existence can be difficult in the absence of fuel which is why the relevance of NP cannot in any way be underrated.

One outstanding thing that the company is noted for its immense contribution in offering jobs to different class of people proving that it is not just the prerogative of Government to do such as the private sector too could play a vital role in that direction.

NP is widely known for facilitating safer and cleaner means of cooking. NP Gas Cooker are now household commodities which are affordable and readily available in all their outlets nationwide.

When we talk of an indigenous company that has put smiles on the faces of Sierra Leoneans and is making the people of this country very proud, the National Petroleum Company stands taller than the rest! For a company to move beyond the shores of this country and establish branches in Liberia, Guinea, Ivory Coast and The Gambia which are vibrantly operating is no mean feat. Indeed, NP has added another feather to its cap and is being copiously praised for such an accomplishment.

The company’s result-oriented managerial team will definitely and sustainably continue to put NP at the top.

NP-SL Ltd. is doing exceptionally well in all the countries it is operating and indeed there are prospects for further expansion.

It can therefore be justifiably stated that the National Petroleum Sierra Leone Limited is the country’s reliable fuel provider as it always ensures that its stockpile is always at an appreciable level.

Against this background NP is believed to be one of the strong back bones of Sierra Leone’s economy.

The Management of NP is well determined to continue to contribute to development and despite the challenges it is currently grappling with it is steadily make commendable strides that will benefit the majority.




Sierra Leone News: CYDI Donates Learning Materials To Huntingdon Rural District

On Thursday 30th May, 2019, Children and Youth Development initiative (CYDI), Child/Youth led organization that is established to empower young people through education, skills training etc. held its 1st school Educational Outreach program, which is aimed at empowering school pupils through education as they believe education is the best empowerment you can give to a child. During the Educational Outreach program, the organization donated Learning materials to pupils of Mortimer West Huntingdon Primary School Magbafti, Western Rural District. And also awarded 20 pupils with scholarship, as since the implementation of the Free Quality Education, this school has not benefitted from the Free Quality Education and some pupils have stopped going to school because their parents cannot afford to pay their school fees.

Speaking at the ceremony, CYDI’s Executive Director, Amb. Oseh John, disclosed that the organization was born out of the vision to empower young people across the country. The distribution of the school items is a stepping stone towards their vision as an organization. He added that their focus is to complement the free Quality education of the President and the government of Sierra Leone. He went further to say that their organization is self-sponsored.

He thanked members of the organisations for their financial and technical support to make the event a success, adding that this will not be the last time they will help these children, but will continue to give them their support as an organization.

He stated that they are planning to do more in other schools if they are blessed with funds, because at the moment they are students and are the only ones financing all the programs.

He called on well-meaning Sierra Leoneans to help in developing the organisations so that they will have the courage to do more.

Tamba Koroma, a senior teacher at Mortimer West Huntingdon Primary School, Magbafti, thanked CYDI for the gesture and said that they are very grateful for the school items provided and they will ensure that the pupils make good use of the items.

He added that the school is really going through constrains and since the implementation of the Free Quality Education the Mortimer West Huntingdon Primary School Magbafti have be left out which he said is a big challenge for them.

Alpha Daramy Kamara, Head Teacher of Mortimer West Huntingdon Primary School, Magbafti, thanked CYDI for their gesture, which he said is timely as some of these pupils come to school without some of these school items and called on other organizations to copy the footsteps of the CYDI. He also disclosed that the school has been left out from the Free Quality Education, which he said is a big challenge and called on the Ministry of Basic and Senior School Education to approve their school so as to qualify the school for the benefits of the free quality education. “As young as you guys are you have already become role models in society”, he said and encouraged his pupils to copy the examples of the young students who formed the organization.

One of the Parents, Mbalu Turay (a single mother),  thanked CYDI and commended them for the donation as she can now breathe a sigh of relief and hoped for divine help to enable them to do more for their kids.

Presentation of the learning materials and songs of praise from the beneficiaries climaxed the ceremony.






Sierra Leone News: Don Bosco Holds Self- Defence Training For Victims Of Sexual Violence

On Friday 31st May, 2019, Don Bosco with support from Zainab Mackay, held a one day Self-Defence training for Victims of sexual violence in order to educate and empowered them on how to withstand sexual violence in their communities.

Speaking at the ceremony, Zainab Mackay, who supported Don Bosco Fambul, said she is a Sierra Leonean living in the United States and is so passionate about empowering young girls. She recognized that sexual violence is a national crisis, which the nation needs to fight against.  “I cannot turn a blind eye to the reality about what is going on in the world, especially violence against women and girls”, she stressed.

She went further to say that during her visit to Sierra Leone to do a documentary, she discovered that lots of girls are suffering from sexual violence and thought it fit to organize such an event that will help to teach the victims basic skills on how to defend themselves in the event of sexual violence.

She called on citizens to join the fight to end sexual violence, as these children (victims) are the future leaders of the nation.

Mabinty kawa social worker at Don Bosco Fambul, disclosed that they have been working tremendously to ensure that they support children, especially girls across the country. She added that they are presently working with girls on the project ‘Girls Shelter’. This project is geared towards helping girls who have suffered from sexual violence and prostitution across the country. She went further to say that they have recorded 852 sexual violence cases, of which 450 are rape cases. This she maintained is not good for the image of our girls and the country as a whole and called on every individual to join the fight to end sexual violence against girls, adding that it is a big fight that must be fought together.

An early marriage and sexually abused victim thanked Don Bosco Fambul for their support. She said that since she came in contact with Don Bosco Fambul her life has never been the same. She further disclosed that she was sexually abused by two men at the age of 14 years. She further explained that she became pregnant, but lost the child after birth. She also explained that she was not going to school before, but now she is proud to say she is going to school and is happy because the perpetrators are in the male correctional Centre.

A self defense training and demonstration for Victims of sexual violence in order to educate and empowered them on how to withstand sexual violence in their communities was done by Nabieu Turay a martial art expert.

Sierra Leone News: Global Fund Regional Manager Meets Pres. Bio

The Western Africa Regional Manager of the Global Fund, Nicolas Cantau, has held discussions with His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio at State House in Freetown.

The Fund is a 21st-century partnership organisation designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics. Founded in 2002, the Global Fund is a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases. The organization raises and invests nearly US$4 billion a year to support programmes run by local experts in countries and communities most in need.

In his presentation, Mr Cantau said they were pleased with the achievements already made by the Government in the health sector, particularly in the fight against malaria. He said the mortality rate of malaria had been reduced by 50% in the last ten to fifteen years and observed that great progress was being made in dealing with tuberculosis and HIV.

He said the Global Fund had supported the health sector in the country through three different aspects – human resources on health, procurement and supply chain to ensure medicines reach the patients and on strengthening the availability and usage of data.

He said the Fund was created in order to fight the three most infectious killer diseases in the world – Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV.

“Every three years, we organise a conference where we call all the supporters, donors and the implementers to discuss the impact of the Global Fund globally and to raise some additional funding to continue the fight, because the United Nations has taken a decision and there is a plan to end these three epidemics by 2030.

“It is a possibility because we have the tools, medicines and strategies to overcome the three diseases. We need commitment, leadership and funding in order to achieve this goal. We have one of the conferences this year and we need your support to demonstrate and testify the importance of the partnership that the Government of Sierra Leone has with the Global Fund, which is to be strengthened and continued,” he said.

On his part, President Bio expressed his sincere thanks and appreciation to the Fund for their support to Sierra Leone’s health sector, noting that many Sierra Leoneans had benefitted from the work of the Global Fund. He said with their support the country had kept in check some severe cases of HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, adding that under normal circumstances it would be extremely difficult to deal with by a country with very meagre resources.

“We know we have some responsibilities regarding the human resources and also working together to support the supply chain. We will do whatever that is necessary. For us, this is a big help and we want to make sure that it is effective on the ground and ensure that it goes down to help those that need it the most.

“This programme sits very well in our flagship programme of human capital development. We have made it our flagship programme because I believe that without good health, education and good nutrition, we cannot make progress in Africa. All of what we want to achieve would not be strengthened without a strong health system. So, the help Global Fund has provided is coming at a time we needed it most,” he said.


Sierra Leone News: Kandeh Yumkella Spits Fires

Hon. Alhaji Dr. Kandeh Yumkella

The Parliament of Sierra Leone has on Wednesday 29th May 2019 unanimously approved the Motion of Thanks to President Julius Maada Bio for his Address to Parliament on the occasion of the State Opening of the Second Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone.

Contributing to the debate, the Leader of NGC, Hon. Alhaji Dr. Kandeh Yumkella said he could not agree more with President Bio that the necessary spaces be created for Sierra Leoneans in the Diasporas to participate in the democratic process through voting outside of the country. He commended President Bio for the detailed Speech he delivered to Parliament “for four arduous hours”, suggesting that it should be truncated in future to save time and the detailed copy is circulated for the consideration of Members of Parliament. Speaking on the economy, he said “it is still not in good shape due to debt servicing and the payment of salaries and wages that is hugely affecting education and healthcare in the country”. He acclaimed the Government for introducing measures that have resulted in a surge relating to effective revenue mobilization with an addition of Le 1 Trillion. Relating to procurement, he spoke against over-pricing which is undermining the future of the children of Sierra Leone and the need to control Government expenditure. He praised the Government for payment of $1.5 Billion of debt inherited from the past APC government and for re-engaging the IMF to support development programmes in the country. Speaking on effective monitoring and supervision of the education sector, he called on Government to declare a war on corruption in education evidenced by examination mal-practices and the use of technology to promote same. Relating to electoral reforms, he called on Government to introduce the quota system for women’s representation as in Rwanda. Speaking on energy, agriculture, national cohesion and overseas remittances, he said he could not agree more with President Bio that the necessary spaces be created for the Diasporas to participate in the democratic process through voting outside of the country. He spoke on capacity building for MPs including research, provision of offices, adding that “if Parliament fails in its duties, this country will wreck”. He concluded by calling on Parliament to enact a Transition Law as in Ghana and Kenya.

Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina, the Leader of C4C commended President Bio for the detailed and comprehensive Speech he delivered to Parliament. Speaking on the economy, he said that “President Bio inherited a dismal economy”, but “judging from the efforts he had made the economy would soon yield dividends for the people of Sierra Leone”. He also praised the Government for the monthly repayment of internal and external debts that run into Billions of Leones. He made reference to the outputs of education citing NPSE, BECE, WASSCE and university graduation, adding that the Government has mobilized $ 200 Million to boost Agriculture in the country. He also spoke on the need for doing the roads between Kono and Guinea with the aim of making the District an international gateway for business. Relating to Government earnings from mining export, he praised the Government for the passage of the Extractives Revenue Bill into law, and the recent launch of three mining policies including geo-data and artisanal mining policies and the review of the Mines and Minerals Act is at an advance stage. Relating to the fear of career development by civil servants and national cohesion, he charged that “for the past ten years the society has been characterized with divisive and toxic politics, mistrust and corruption”. He recalled that the verdict on the illegal sacking of Alhaji Sam Sumana has cast a slur and a serious dent on the image of the judiciary, adding that in 2017 the Supreme Court of Kenya overturned the elections result and ordered for a re-run. Speaking on indiscipline, he called on the Government to review the White Paper on the constitutional review process for onward consideration by Parliament.

Hon. Emilia Lolloh Tongi, an independent MP from Kailahun District commended President Bio for the Speech he delivered to Parliament, adding that “Rome was not built in a day”. He praised the Government for the mobilization of resources to boost Agriculture especially with the creation of 25 ABCs. She questioned the students’ loan scheme saying that one could hardly get employed after graduation. Speaking on the revival of Koindu market, she said that most of the produce from Kailahun is taken to Guinea due to bad roads and that “the Yenga situation still remains unresolved”. Acclaiming the Government for the car-wash project for the youth, she recalled that women who were raped in SLPP offices for the past ten years are yet to get justice.

Hon. Sengepoh Solomon Thomas, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament commended President Bio for the solid Speech he delivered to Parliament, adding that those policy statements will be quantified into budgetary terms for implementation. He also said that the austerity measures introduced by the last government gravely impacted the salaries of MPs and civil servants, whilst praising the current Government for effective revenue mobilization. He also said that the people are impressed with the introduction of the Free Quality Education and advised the opposition not to play politics with it. He also said that the FQE will enable the SLPP to score more than 60% of the votes in the 2023 general elections. He said that the Government has removed the burden from him relating to the payment of school fees for more than 500 pupils in his constituency. He charged the APC MPs for being controlled by outside forces during the course of executing their duties in Parliament. He decried Journalists and CSOs who are acting as Civil Society Movement with political motives. Speaking in favour of expunging seditious libel from the law books, which the last government had promised but failed to deliver, he suggested that it should be replaced with civil litigation to protect the reputation of the citizens from defamation and other excesses of the media and society.

The Acting Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Ibrahim Ben Kargbo commended President Bio for the Speech he delivered to Parliament, adding that the APC demands respect because of its large following. He recognized the past APC government for constructing quality roads from Kenema-Pendembu and Port Loko to Kambia, adding that over-taxation is crippling businesses in the country. He charged Government with the deteriorating state of electricity supply in the country, saying that the APC gave energy to Bo and Kenema. He also called for concerted efforts aimed at working together and the need for the acceptance of truth where mistakes had been made for the development of the country. He said that the former president, Ernest Bai Koroma could not attend the conference on national cohesion because his security had been withdrawn. He decried the decapitation of the forest cover which may come with dire consequences such as acute water shortage in the country. Speaking on the importance of ICT, he denied that APC MPs are being controlled by outside forces.

Concluding the debate, the Leader of Government Business, Hon. Sidie M. Tunis commended President Bio for his detailed Address to Parliament in light of the existing situation in the country. He said that in spite of the walk-out, he wanted to thank the Speaker for allowing the APC to participate in the debate. In making some clarifications, he denied the rapid deterioration of the energy sector, citing an upsurge in the customers’ base of EDSA from 175,000 to 195,000. He acclaimed President Bio for facilitating Bintumani 1, 2 & 3 for national cohesion and decried the APC for failing to take part in the recently concluded Bintumani 3 conference on national cohesion. He also questioned the role of the Bar Association recalling the statements made by its president regarding the election of the Speaker, and the dismissal of officials with security of tenure, but failed to point to the SLPP women who were raped in 2007, the sacking of the Bank Governor and the unconstitutional sacking of the former vice-president. He said that institutions such as the Bar Association should go far from politics. He referred to a report from the IMF that praised the Government for the effective management of the economy and the extended credit facility, assuring that by the end of the year the challenge with the Dollar would be a thing of the past. He called on the Opposition to cooperate and work with the Government for the development of the country and not to subject themselves to manipulation and control from external forces.




Sierra Leone News: Isha Johansen Acquittal: ACC to Fire Back

Francis Ben Kelfala, Commissioner for Sierra Leone’s Anti Corruptions Commission (ACC),

Francis Ben Kelfala, Commissioner for Sierra Leone’s Anti Corruptions Commission (ACC), has told journalists that without any prejudice and with all due respect for the judge, the Commission plans to appeal the ruling on Monday that saw SLFA President Isha Johansen and Christo Kamara being acquitted and discharged.

He said the Commission will appeal because it disagrees with the judge’s interpretation of Misappropriation of Public Funds.

Francis in his own words said: “While I was away in Vienna, the judgement was sent to me, I had reviewed it and my preliminary observation of the judgement is that the ACC has discontent at the way the judge addressed the issue of Misappropriation of Public Funds. The precedent that he has established is very dangerous for the fight against corruption, particularly when the court rules on what constitutes Misappropriation. We have no issue with his general judgement, he is the judge and we respect his decision but we believe those issues have to be looked into by a higher tribunal and that is why we are constituting an appeal against that. We at the ACC are doing the right thing and we are doing this in the interest of the country. Corruption is a very dangerous thing and for so long we have been babysitting corruption in Sierra Leone. For the first time the people can see that real effort has been put in fighting corruption. We have won seventeen state cases this is the first case that we have lost”.

In another development, the ACC announced that it has entered into a settlement agreement with MESSRS SAMA SESAY, ABDUL MOHAMED KARGBO and JOSEPH CONTEH-Revenue Officers of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) attached to the Immigration Department, to repay the sum of three hundred million Leones (Le 300,000,000), representing the full amount they had been investigated for.

According to the agreement reached with the ACC, as settlement, each of the three NRA staff is required to pay one hundred million Leones (Le 100,000,000).

At the commencement of the agreement, MR. SESAY agreed to pay and has paid fifty million Leones (Le50,000,000) cash; MR. KARGBO agreed to pay and has paid fifty million Leones (Le50,000,000) cash; and MR. CONTEH agreed to pay and has paid fifty million Leones (Le50,000,000) cash. The remaining amounts of money due the ACC should be paid not later than 31st July, 2019.

It could be recalled that in April 2019, the ACC instituted an investigation into the operations of NRA staff attached to the Immigration Department Headquarters in Freetown following reports that funds generated at the Department were not properly accounted for, as there were variances between the original receipts issued to customers and the duplicate copies maintained by NRA.

Our investigations discovered a long standing corrupt practice known as “carding”; a fraudulent process through which public servants place a card under the original receipt so the actual amount written on it does not get recorded on the duplicate which remains as the actual record of the NRA. They then place a white sheet of paper on the duplicate and write a lesser amount on it. After that, they keep the difference in the amounts on the original and the duplicate receipt to themselves and pay the lesser amount on the duplicate to the State. The amount they keep could be far more than what ends up going to the NRA. The ACC settled this case because the duplicate receipts are illegible and the evidence will be difficult to rely on upon prosecution.

The Commission wishes to further reassure the public that it shall not relent in ensuring that public funds are protected, and where necessary, recovered.


Sierra Leone News: 7 RSLAF Personnel in CID Net

Lt-General Brima Sesay

Officials of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), on Wednesday, 29th May, 2019, disclosed to journalists at MOD’s headquarters on Tower Hill, Freetown, that seven military personnel are currently being investigated at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in relation to the escape of Captain Patrick Edwin Kamara.

Capt. Kamara, who is believed to have escaped from the military custodial centre at Wilberforce Barracks in Freetown, in the early hours of Tuesday, 21st May, 2019, was on a court martial trial with two other accused persons.

Major Yayah Brima, Staff Officer Grade II in-charge of public relations and information, said Capt. Kamara and the other two accused persons-Warrant Officer Class I Samuel Conteh and Warrant Officer Class II Abu Bakarr Jalloh-were on court martial on five count charges.

“These charges include conspiracy to steal service property, larceny by servant, wilfully damaging service property, wilful neglect causing damage to service property and conduct to prejudice of good order and military discipline,” he noted.

He said Capt. Kamara and the two others were key members of the security detail of former President Ernest Bai Koroma from 1st January, 2008 to 19th June 2018.

“The quantities of ammunition for which they were being tried under the various offences include 4,245 rounds of 12.7 millimetre (mm) anti-aircraft rounds, 3,828 rounds of 14.5mm anti-aircraft rounds, 11 bombs of rocket propelled grenade, six rounds 7.62 × 39mm ball lint, 11,476 rounds of 7.62×39mm ball, 14,100 rounds of 7.62×39mm tracer, 6,740 rounds of 7.62×51mm ball lint and 515 rounds of 9×18mm ball,” he explained.

He added that the MOD/RSLAF would like the public to know that the value of the above mentioned ammunition is eighty thousand, four hundred and two dollars and thirty cents (US$80,402.30), approximately six hundred and eighty-three million, four hundred and nineteen thousand, five hundred and fifty Leones (Le683,419,550).

He recalled that the very day Capt. Kamara escaped from the military custodial centre, his twin brother coincidentally passed away at Makoth, seven miles off Yonibana near Mile 91, Tonkolili district, North-western Sierra Leone, after a long illness.

He said the deceased, Michael Kamara, had first been admitted at the Chinese Infectious Diseases Prevention and Control Centre at the 34 Military Hospital in Freetown before later moved to the village for native treatment, where he died.

“Following these coincidences, the MOD/RSLAF has followed some misleading and inaccurate story purporting that Capt. Kamara has died in detention. The writer is believed to have deliberately mistaken the death of Michael Kamara for the fugitive Capt. Kamara,” he said.

However, he said, the remains of Michael Kamara was conveyed to Freetown on the very day by the deceased’s wife, Capt. Alice Koria Sesay, who is also a serving military officer.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lt. Gen. Brima Sesay, said they have instituted necessary and proper actions regarding the escape and they have acted swiftly to hand over seven military personnel who were on duty during the escape, noting that they are being investigated at CID headquarters.

He said they have always been taking stringent actions against any military personnel who misbehave, noting that the military would always be as good as the citizens want it to be.

He called on media practitioners to always crosscheck with MOD before they publish anything relating to the military.

Deputy Minister of Defence, Col. (Rtd.) Simeon Nasiru Sheriff, said regarding the escape, they have enhanced standard operating procedures, revisited security advisory, among other measures.
He also called on all media practitioners to crosscheck with MOD before they publish anything relating to the military.


Sierra Leone News: Statistics SL Clears Air on Sacking of 244 Staff

Professor Osman Sankoh, Statistician General, Statistics Sierra Leone

The Management of Statistics Sierra Leone has defended the sacking of over 200 workers it says are incompetent.

Officials of the government agency responsible for generating statistical data on Friday confirmed the dismissal of a total of 244 employees who they say were found to be either not qualified to serve in the positions they occupied or were recruited through the wrong procedure.

A new recruitment drive has been put in motion to fill the vacancies created by these sacking, they said.

The confirmation comes amidst growing public outcry after rumours about the dismissals appeared on social media.

Critics of the government say the move is part of an ongoing purge of people thought to be supporters and sympathizers of the main opposition All People’s Congress.

Professor Osman Sankoh, Statistician General, said the decision was based purely on efforts to revive the agency and make it more efficient. He said as head of the institution, he would need a competent team to help him achieve his goals.

“We are trying to regain Statistics Sierra Leone’s credibility,” Sankoh told journalists at a press conference, noting that lack of competence among the bloated staff base of the institution had been found to be hindering its progress.

Professor Sankoh, a renowned Statistician with international repute, assumed the leadership of the organization in April last year after being appointed by former President Ernest Bai Koroma. Until then he headed the international research outfit, INDEPTH Network, which is based in Ghana and specializes in health data management.

Thursday’s press briefing was designed to present the state of the agency since he took over.

In a power point presentation to an audience that also included senior staff of the institution and members of the Statistics Sierra Leone Council, the Statistician General highlighted the achievements he’s realized as Chief Executive Officer of the institution and his goals.

“We want to be a winner and we cannot be a winner if the team behind me is not strong enough,” he said.

Prof. Sankoh added that there was a need for credible statistics to not just save Sierra Leone’s image internationally, but also to help the Government make evidence based policies for development.

“Efficiency is not possible with staffs that are misfits,” he stressed. Established in 2002, SSL, which was recently rebranded as Stats SL, operates as a corporate body, tasked with the responsibility to collect, compile, analyse and disseminate accurate, reliable and timely statistical information on priority areas of the government to enable it make informed decisions.

Statistics SL is governed by the Statistics Sierra Leone Council which provides guidance for the Statistician General who presides over the implementation of the decisions taken by the Council.

Before the mass sacking, the agency had a total number of 321 staff. Over 200 of these were at the head office in Freetown.

The dismissed staffs are from all over the country, according to the agency. Other than the Statistician General, only the Council has the power to hire and fire employees of Statistics Sierra Leone, according to the Act that established the institution.

Members of the Statistics SL Council are appointed by the President and subject to parliamentary approval. The membership is drawn from diverse group of people, representing all the regions of the country as well as institutional representatives from relevant government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and the civil society, including the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists.

Veteran staffer at Statistics Sierra Leone, Moses Williams, has been chair of the Council since June last year. He reiterated the reason behind the review that led to the mass sacking.

“This is an institution that has to be efficient. It has to have the right competence,” he said, adding: “If you are in a place without the right procedure, we have to correct that.”

Mr. Williams dismissed suggestions that people had been targeted based on their perceived political affiliation. He said as a Council they had no idea where those affected by the review were from, noting that if they were predominantly from a single region, then it only meant that that region had been unduly favoured in the Council.

Williams said in spite of the situation, all those sacked have equal opportunity to apply when the job vacancy adverts are out.

“If a person applies and has the requirement, they have a chance,” he said.


Sierra Leone News: Chinese Ambassador Engages Chief Minister

The Chinese ambassador to Sierra Leone, Ambassador HU Zhangliang on 29th May, 2019 paid a courtesy call to the Chief Minister Professor David John Francis as a sign of his commitment to His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio to working closely with the Government in strengthening the long-existing Sierra Leone- China relationship.

Ambassador HU Zhangliang said China is ready to partner with the Sierra Leone Government to promote investment and that he as the Ambassador will pave the way for credible investors to come and invest in the country. He highlighted some of the Projects the Chinese Government is implementing and those awaiting implementation. He commended the Government for the good work in the past one year and reassured the Chief Minister of their support to move the New Direction agenda forward.

The Honourable Chief Minister in response said he was pleased to receive and hear from Ambassador HU Zhangliang. He said, the visit of the Chinese

Ambassador demonstrates the willingness of the Chinese Government to support Sierra Leone. He stated that, they as Government were not looking for permanent friends, but permanent interest. And that they were open to working with any Government/ institution as long as it is in the interest of Sierra Leoneans. He thanked the Ambassador and the Government of China for their support towards the New Direction Government and the people of Sierra Leone.