By Richmond B Tholley
Police at Rogbaneh Police Station, Makeni have arrested an Ex-police officer in full uniform pretending to be a serving member of the Sierra Leone Police.
Police said the suspect, Foday Komrabai Kamara, was once a police officer in the police, but had been dismissed long in 2018 because of professional misconduct.
According the police media unit in Makeni, on May 3rd, 2022, at 09:30 hours, the impersonator was arrested at the Makeni Police Station in full police uniform and that he was going around pretending to be a serving member of the Sierra Leone Police with the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP).
The suspect is said to have impersonated to be the Operations Officer of the Panlap police station in Makeni city.
“On the 3rd May 2022 at about 09:30 hours, at the Rogbaneh police station in Makeni city, he was arrested, while pretending to be a serving police personnel with the rank of ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE (ASP). Furthermore, he impersonated to be the operations officer of Pamlap police station,” the Police up report said.
According to the police, he is alleged to have worked at Kissy and Eastern police Divisions in the capital, Freetown.
During interrogation by the police, he is reported to have an address at Blackball road Freetown all turned out to be false after the regional Commander of Northeast, AIG G. M. T. Tommy cross-checked through with the police in that area.
Plus his false claim that he was enlisted into the Force in 2009.
As at press time, he is locked up in cells while being investigated at the regional criminal investigation department, North East region.
ACC concludes investigations on FCC
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has said that it has concluded investigation into the Freetown City Council (FCC), relating to issues highlighted on the Council in the 2019 Auditor General’s Rport concerning payments of council funds to personal staff of the Mayor.
It could be recalled that, ‘’the 2019 Audit Report noted that, the FCC made payments totalling Two Hundred Million Eight Hundred and Forty-two Thousand Three Hundred and Thirty-three Leones (Le 200,842,333) for travelling expenses (Air tickets and per diems) to one Manja Isata Kargbo, Head of the Mayor’s Delivery Unit (MDU) who is not an employee of the FCC. The Report further claimed that the said amounts paid were not budgeted for by the Council nor did they receive appropriate approval. A release from the ACC said.
It continued that ‘’the ACC comprehensively conducted the investigation into the issue, during which persons of interest were interviewed, including the Mayor of Freetown City Council, the Chief Administrator of the FCC, the Consultant Team Lead in the MDU, Manja Isata Kargbo, the Human Resource Officer of the FCC, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), among other staff of the FCC and the MLGRD.’’
‘’The investigation confirms the following:
i.That the MDU was a private unit within the Office of the Mayor that did not go through normal administrative procedures for its set up and was entirely done by the Mayor without any approval from the Ordinary General Meeting of Council, and was done without any recourse to the MLGRD, and there was no legal basis under the Local Government Act of 2004 for such.
ii.That Manja Isata Kargbo was not properly employed by the FCC. She started work as a volunteer in the Mayor’s Office and later was singlehandedly contracted by the Mayor as a Consultant Team Lead in the MDU on 1st November, 2018 without observing the Council’s normal recruitment procedures and without going through the administrative and Human Resource apparatus of Council.
iii.That on various dates in 2019, Manja Isata Kargbo received the total sum of Two Hundred Million Eight Hundred and Forty-two Thousand Three Hundred and Thirty-three Leones (Le 200,842,333) as travelling expenses while accompanying the Mayor on her foreign trips: Fifty-two Million One Hundred and Fifty-eight Thousand One Hundred and Seventy-six Leones (Le 52,158,176) for a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark for the C40 World Mayors Summit; Fifteen Million Nine Hundred and Two Thousand Leones (Le 15,902,000) for a trip to the United States of America for the TED Women; Fifty-eight Million Nine Hundred and Forty Thousand Leones (Le 58,940,000) for a trip to Durban, South Africa for the Global Parliament of Mayors; Twenty-eight Million One Hundred and Forty-four Thousand One Hundred and Forty-eight Leones (Le 28,144,148) for a trip to South Carolina, United States of America for the Ground Breaking IAAM Charleston Structure and Bloomberg City Lab; Thirty-three Million Nine Hundred and Ninety-four Thousand Leones Six Hundred and Thirty-eight Cents (Le 33,994,638) for a trip to United States of America for the International African American Museum and Mayor’s Migration Council; and Sixteen Million and Thirty-three Thousand Leones (Le 16,033,000) for a trip to Paris, France for the C40 Women in Climate Change. Manja Isata Kargbo however refunded the sum of One Thousand, Two Hundred and Fifty Dollars ($ 1,250) in its equivalent in Leones out of the One Thousand Four Hundred Dollars ($1,400) paid to her in Leones for the said trip.
iv.That for the trip to Copenhagen, the Foreign and Protocol Officer mistakenly paid Manja Isata Kargbo the sum of Five Hundred Dollars ($500) instead of Four Hundred Dollars ($400) when a request for additional two days per diem was made.
v.That these payments were improper payments as captured in the Auditor General’s Report.
vi.That the Commission takes note of the Administrative Inquiry Report into the Management of the Freetown City Council commissioned by the MLGRD in November, 2021, which stated as follow;
1)That the issue of the MDU is the greatest threat to peaceful coexistence at the FCC. The introduction of the Unit in the governance structure of the FCC has caused ill feelings in the minds of the FCC functionaries.
2)That there is need to critically re-examine the position/status of the MDU within Council with a view of abolishing it and transferring roles and responsibilities to regular Council staff.
3)That a cumulative sum of Two Hundred Million Leones (Le200,000,000) was paid from Council account to a non-Council staff (an MDU staff) for various overseas trips. These payments were not provided for a part of expected Council expenditure. Therefore, the payment contravenes the Local Government Act 2004.
4)That the MDU staff who was paid a cumulative sum of *Two Hundred Million Leones (Le200,000,000) for overseas trip be made to repay the amount within a period to be determined by Council.
5)That these findings are consistent with our separate and independent investigation of the issue and similarly confirm the findings in the Audit Report aforesaid.
The Commission, therefore, had directed that, the Consultant Team Lead in the MDU, Manja Isata Kargbo and the Mayor Yvonne Aki Sawyerr jointly pay back the sum of One Hundred and Eighty-seven Million, Nine Hundred and Four Thousand, Eight Hundred and Thirty Leones (Le 187,904,830) in lieu of criminal prosecution.
That the Mayor and Madam Kargbo had through their lawyers communicated requesting that they do not repay the said amount; but the Commission has rejected same and they are now under obligation to pay while prosecution is being considered. ‘’ the release concluded.
The gains of education may not seem immediate
The President of the Republic of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio has told parliament that the gains of education may not seem immediately apparent to some, but the future is stolen from those who do not prepare for it today, noting that beneath every great nation and people lies a foundation that was laid yesterday.
He made this disclosure on Tuesday 10th May 2022 in his Presidential Address on the Occasion of the State Opening of the Fifth Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone.
“This is the foundation we seek to lay by making investments in education, mobilising additional funding to improve learning outcomes, expanding school feeding, improving school governance, building more school infrastructure, accelerating the use of technology and innovation in education delivery and governance, publishing developmentally appropriate learning resources and materials, and implementing a new school curriculum,” he said.
He said his government also introduced the best teacher award and new national policies on Radical Inclusion, School Feeding, Integrated Early Childhood Education, School Catchment Areas, and Guidelines on the approval and use of school subsidies.
He said this policy direction has already started producing results like in 2021, over 600,000 additional children, especially girls, accessed schools; over 5,000 additional qualified teachers were recruited and received PIN codes; and his administration recorded a higher success rate in public examinations at all levels.
He said he was moved upon hearing about the achievements of a student of Murialdo Catholic Secondary School in Lunsar, Marampa Chiefdom, Momoh Sankoh, who emerged not just as the best from the school but in the country, for the 2021 West African Senior School Certificate Examination, WASSCE, noting that he subsequently made to offer this outstanding student a 5-year university scholarship with the belief that education can change the fortunes of our kids and provide a future of unbounded hope.
“It is often said that to educate a woman is to educate a nation. No nation that takes its future seriously can afford to ignore the education of its girls and women. For my government, this is non-negotiable. Record numbers of girls are now enrolled at all levels of education in this country. Ground-breaking numbers of girls are now opting to study STEM disciplines as our policy assures free STEM education for girls from Class 1 to the completion of university,” he said.
President Bio said parents no longer resist sending their daughters to school, adding that all across the country, they now believe that with tuition paid by my Government; teaching and learning materials provided by my Government; school feeding in most parts of the country provided by my Government; health care and good school infrastructure provided by my Government; Parents now ask: “WHY NOT?”
“Other national initiatives by our First Lady: “Hands Off Our Girls” that assures comprehensive safety for girls in school and in their communities; “Campaign against Early and Child Marriage” that ensures that our girls persist in, succeed in, and complete school; “Free Sanitary Pads” that removes the stigma of menstruation – now mean that little girls in villages as far adrift as Kurubonla, Koindu, Kamakwie, Sulima can now dream of being and will be doctors, nurses, engineers, lawyers, entrepreneurs and be all they want to be in a new Sierra Leone. That has always been my vision and that has always been my biggest bet – the future of Sierra Leone is female,” he said.
He said his commitment to the citizens of this country drives him and his government to give citizens the strongest tool to occupy that office: education, noting that it is because of education he stands before parliament.
According to the President, it is education that will liberate citizens and empower them with the skills and tools for a healthy, productive, and fulfilling life.
“While we rightly celebrate this, we do not rest on our laurels. Our government is only inspired by these successes to do even more. In the coming year, my Government will lay measures and legislation to consolidate and expand these and other gains in the sector,” he concluded.
PUBLIC REVIEW ARTICLE
SLPP Fiddles; While Sierra Leone Burns
By Mohamed Sankoh (One Drop)
Today, I’m serious. In fact; I’m seriously serious. Figuratively; I’m dead serious. And seriously; I’m very serious about the state of affairs in Sierra Leone under the watchful watch of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) whose rudder is being controlled by President Julius Maada Bio.
And I’m so serious that I will not touch on the issue of the SLPP government taking away Part Five of the Public Order Act 1965, with the right hand, and bringing the Cyber Security and Crime Act of 2021 with the left. The madman, “Blacker”, and the physically challenged Kemoh Sesay are two examples of the Bio-led administration’s double standards in terms of Freedom of Speech as enshrined in Chapter Three of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone. And the political space, in the country, is now replete with countless instances of Sierra Leoneans not having any guarantee of freedom after exercising their freedom of speech.
But that’s not the thrust, or crux, of today’s One Dropian dropping. And I will not even mention the laughable allegation that the physically challenged Kemoh Sesay was “cyber-bullying” and “stalking” the physically strong and healthy retired Brigadier Bio with all those US Marine-like well-armed security personnel he moves around with! It just “doesn’t add up”, to quote Dr Sama “Puawi” Banya. To even dream the accusation that Kemoh Sesay was “bullying” and “stalking” the Commander-in-Chief is like accusing Albert Einstein of plagiarizing his (Special or General) Theory of Relativity from “Blacker”!
And that’s all there is to say about that. Now let me come to the thrust, or crux, of today’s One Dropian dropping; which is: the state of affairs in Sierra Leone. Despite President Bio is reported to have claimed that he has fulfilled all his 2018 Manifesto promises and that what he is now doing are bonuses to the citizenry; the fact is: the SLPP government has put the country in an attractive mess. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the National Electoral Commission (NEC), the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) and the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) appear to be under the grip of State House; whilst “there is a significant decrease in trust” in the Sierra Leone Police and Judiciary as their “reputations are less trusted than is needed”, to quote Hon. Norbert Neuser the Head of the EU Election Follow-up Mission.
And that’s not all. The Bio-led administration is yet to solve the bread and butter issues as the cost of living has rocketed from the Bintumani Mountain to Mars. The “gron dry” is epitomized by the high electricity and water bills coupled with high transportation costs. As far as I am concerned, the SLPP government has not done much to address these challenges. The economy has not been reenergized as it appears as if the growth rate has not changed from where the erstwhile All People’s Congress (APC) government left it. Economically, majority of Sierra Leoneans are worse off today than they were four years ago. And “this is more than any Government has ever done [to them] in four years”, to borrow the Commander-in-Chief’s words.
Yet, President Bio could still muster the courage to tell the nation, in his Independence speech of 27 April 2022, that his government has “taken immediate steps to soften the impact of these hard economic times”. And as if to mock the poor people’s miseries, he continues: “Our quick action economic recovery programme and other subsidies and tax incentives have kept essential goods in the market. Government has also undertaken social safety net programmes to help out the hardest hit and most vulnerable of our citizens….” Maybe, just maybe, the President might be talking about another Sierra Leone of which I’m not aware of. But the Sierra Leone I’m staying in is one in which no immediate steps have been taken to solve the bread and butter issues.
And there has not been any positive fight against corruption as we are yet to see the outcome of the investigations (if there were any) on the forged receipts allegedly emanating from the Office of the President in relation to one of President Bio’s overseas travels. The 2019 and 2020 Audit Reports, from Audit Service Sierra Leone, and the incessant allegations by the Africanist Press of corrupt practices by the Bio-led administration are testaments that the SLPP government believes that what is good for the cow shouldn’t be good for the heifer. The overnight rags-to-riches stories amongst the ruling elite are rude reminders that the fight against corruption is only meant for members of the main opposition.
And in all of these rags-to-riches stories the ACC seems to have forgotten, or feigning forgetfulness, about the issue of “unexplained wealth”. In one of its little handbooks called “Frequently Asked Questions”, we are told on page 4 that, “Any person that maintains a standard of living above which is commensurate with his [or her] present or past official emoluments or is in control of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his [or her] present or past official emoluments, unless he [or she] gives a satisfactory explanation to the court as to how he [or she] was able to maintain such a standard of living or how such pecuniary resources or property came under his [or her] control, commit an offence.” Well, going by that definition, and seeing the insulting opulence in which most of the ruling elite are now living in just four years in office, then it will be safe to conjecture that half of the current presidential appointees should be in the dock for “unexplained wealth”.
And the manner in which President Bio is running the country brings to mind the fable about the Roman Emperor Nero. I still cannot figure out why in the midst of chronic starvation, disenchantment, and never-ending hardships amongst majority of the citizenry; President Bio could still find time to celebrate anniversaries, go for official visit-cum-honeymoon in Lebanon, pledge two billion Leones and twenty tons of iron rods towards the renovation of his church at Wilberforce in Freetown, and go for holidays in his village of Tihun with the upper crust of the Sierra Leonean society in tow! Its metaphorical equivalence could be likened to Nero who played the lyre while Rome was burning.
But don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the President should live the assumed frugal life he was living in London, Britain, before becoming Head of State. All I’m saying is that it seems inciting for the ruling elite to insult the masses’ abject poverty with their ostentatious display of unsophisticated lavishness! And President Bio cannot be telling us, in his Independence speech of 27 April 2022, that his government has “expanded access to potable water across the country with brand new investments in water infrastructure and assets” when in actual fact the taps in my home and office are devoid of running water. Again, it just “doesn’t add up”, to quote Dr Sama Banya.
It is on that note that I will end today’s One Dropian dropping with an advice to Sierra Leonean voters that in 2023, they should beware of the naked people who will come to offer them clothes.
By: Sheku Putka Kamara
Professional Public Relations Practice and Quality Agenda Setting
For most people, defending one’s institution ‘at all cost’ is their fundamental understanding of what public relations is all about. While that supposition is understood, it has also been my wish that we all come to the realization that falsity; misinformation and unwarranted postulations should have no place in the professional practice of public relations.
I have been tempted to pen these lines in line with my numerous other standpoints in so far as media and public relations could be concerned. It has to be made clearer that ‘public relations’ is not all about ‘defending.’ Even where people attempt to defend, my argument has been to ‘admit and defend.’ This is largely in line with principles of accuracy and factuality.
Like I most times say, what is right is right and that which is wrong is wrong. In Sierra Leone, a good number of PR persons are challenged because in the first place, most if not all of them are never a part of institutional top management. With that in mind, achieving PR objectives which is largely connected to achieving organizational objectives would almost always be difficult. If an organization is proactive about their image, they will likely be investing in positive public relations where a PR professional helps portray the brand’s reputation, idea, product, position, or accomplishments in a positive light. Sadly, this is really not the case for most institutions in Sierra Leone.
It is estimated that there are anywhere from 2.3 to 4.5 million public relations professionals globally (Muzi Falconi, 2006). They are assisting their organizations not only in building and maintaining multiple relationships at home-where organizations have their headquarters-, but also constructing and keeping those bridges abroad in other host locations and transnational environments-especially with activist groups, global media, and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs). Interactive communication technologies and the activist groups that use them, also known as ’’globalutionaries,” are increasing the complexity of global public relations practices (Wakefield, 2008, p. 151). Thus, “corporations and other mainstream entities are compelled to respond to global competition and to interest groups who can band together across borders and apply pressure in a given country or globally,” Wakefield (2008) stated (p. 139).
Here’s some room for some other argument, in Sierra Leone, my observation has it that there are ‘PR/Communication/Media’ people that have not studied anything on what actual ‘PR/Comms’ truly is. These people are making the challenge even more challenging. On a global scale, one needs to have attained a degree in PR at least to be made a PR person in any establishment. We cannot say the same for SL. So, we tend to be getting it wrong from the very start.
Giving non-professionals jobs that they are not fit for is to me an open call to say ‘just do what you could. WE care LESS.’ I do not intend to write a thousand words and over, but let me remind us all that professionalism matters. That is what has informed the title of this brief narration.
As communicators, we have to resist the temptations of always attempting to please pay masters at the expense of our personal integrities. Do not get me wrong. It is easier for someone to say and or suggest that Putka is or doing ABC because he is safe and or he’s on some XYZ level. That’s not it. I have a duty to practice what I preach and like I would almost always say, what is right is right and that which is wrong is wrong.
On another note, professionalism requires that PR persons fully understand institutional happenings. This is vital. For example, a PR person that is not part of top or middle management will find it constrained to be authoritative. This is indisputable. That is why efforts have to be made to be theoretically and practically knowledgeable. People do not have to beat systems just because they could or they are helped to do so. Like it is always said, the end will justify the means. I will conclude by restating that factuality and actuality are essential ingredients in professional PR practice and quality agenda setting.
Whatever negates that urge is defeatist and uncalculated. It may not be all that easy, but let us make efforts. With time, we’d get there. Lastly, my weekly lectures ‘Putka’s Online Lectures’ and this column ‘Legendary Column’ are also now on YouTube. This is my little contribution to make learning a lot easier. WhatsApp, Facebook and a host of other platforms are also available. Cheers!