State House, Freetown, Thursday 24 June 2021 – French Ambassador Designate to Sierra Leone, Marc Fonbaustier, residing in Conakry Guinea, has presented his letter of credence to His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio during a short ceremony at the Credential Room at State House.
Sierra Leone and France have had a diplomatic relationship for a long time, almost soon after independence in 1961, and since then that friendship has flourished.
Since their closure in Freetown in 1996, the French embassy in Guinea has covered Freetown and since the 2014 closure of Sierra Leone embassy offices in Paris, France now has an honorary consul in Freetown while the Sierra Leone Ambassador to France now resides in Brussels.
Parliament Okays Cybercrime Bill
Parliament on Wednesday June 23, 2021 passed The Cyber Security and Crime Bill into law. This was a historic moment for Sierra Leone, as for the first time the country is having a legislation purely to regulate the cyber space.
The Bill attracted bi-partisan support in the Well of Parliament as all concerns geared towards protecting people’s privacy were addressed.
The Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swarray who championed this digital legislation was elated in achieving this great feat. The Minister extended his appreciation to all political parties, stakeholders and officials of the Ministry of Information for their invaluable contributions towards the passage of the Bill.
This is another milestone for President Bio’s administration in sanitizing the cyber space. Sierra Leone will join other countries in the world that have enacted laws to regulate cyber space in line with international conventions.
No Increase in Fuel Price!
Native Consortium and its nationwide pro-poor crusaders in all the 16 districts has reliably learnt that the public notice purporting to come from the PRA stating that petrol price has gone from Le8,500 to Le. 10,000 is false and a figment of some people’s imagination.
A press release from the NCRC states: “The NCRC hereby informs the public that such an act is not from the PRA and it is meant to misinform the public and create tension and confusion among peaceful Sierra Leoneans.”
It went further to state that “In that respect, the NCRC is stringently cautioning those mischief makers to desist from such an act aimed at dictating to the PRA to continue with the imminent hike in pump fuel price. For now, the NCRC is of the well-founded view that increasing the pump fuel price will adversely affect every sector, every citizen including the President and his family.”
The release added: “The NCRC also wants to bring to the attention of Government agencies, Drivers’ Union, Bike Riders’ Union, Keke Riders, and Marine Transport owners already engaged in exploiting the situation by hiking transport fares to desist from this unpatriotic profiteering scheme as this won’t help anybody including those supporting blind loyalists and those who want to make political capital out of this fake fuel increase.
“The Consortium is calling on all well-meaning Sierra Leoneans to be law abiding and we pray and hope that the Minister of trade and the PRA will for once be sensitive to the plight of the suffering mercies and don’t allow unscrupulous business men to further exploit the poor. If at all the PRA remained insensitive, we shall be calling on well-meaning Sierra Leoneans to meet at a particular point to stage a peaceful protest to register our disapproval for any increment in pump fuel price. The loud silence of the PRA from making a disclaimer to this fake news that some people are exploiting in the last 16 hours speaks volume as coming events cast their shadows,” the release noted.
Orange Foundation Rescues Mothers & Kids at Kroo Bay
By Feima Sesay
Orange Foundation SL on Thursday 17th June, 2021 presented the first set of baby packs to lactating mother’s during the institution’s weekly visit to the maternal screening center at the Kroo Bay community in Freetown.
During the visit, several screening tests were carried out to test for blood, sugar, malaria, MMHG, HIV and COVID-19 on pregnant women and children in the community.
This project is part of Orange Foundation’s commitment to support deprived communities through its Safeguarding Maternal Health Projects in partnership with ICAP and the Ministry of Health.
The presentation of the first 5 baby packs was made to 5 lactating mothers at the screening centre in the presence of community stakeholders and the Chief for Kroo Bay.
The lactating mothers thanked Orange Foundation for the timely intervention which touched the lives of the women and children in their community.
With Melvin Tejan Mansaray
In all fairness, the conduct of the last six plenary sittings of the
Fourth Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of
Sierra Leone commenced on the right footing with the House’s show of commitment in paying a premium to connect the loose ends of the
Executive’s proposed legislation i.e. the Cyber Security and Crime
The bipartisan political cooperation and intellectual debates were tolerant and inspiring.
The House’s disposition to make haste slowly on the deeply complex legislation speak volumes, of one significance which is; if our Lawmakers want to make good laws, they can do so even at the expense of political metabolism.
The yardstick that has been announced for the composition of the upcoming Fourth Sessional Select Committees is what one can safely say is a follow-up on the ACC’s findings and recommendations on allegations of corruption against the House and MPs.
Simply put by the House Leader, Hon. Mathew S. Nyuma: Submit your Oversight Committee reports on the use of funds received for Oversight activities that were given to you by the Office of the Clerk or you risk the peril. Whatever the perils are going to be for defaulters, they will be unprecedented.
Again, we have seen a rise in the tide on the demand for Sessional and Special Select Committee reports. This issue has been blight on the work and output of Parliament and considering how important it is, one can only say it is better late than never to fix this bane.
For example, one is tempted to ask: Where are the investigation reports of the Ethics Committee on Hon.Tawa, Hon. Gevao and two others; Makeni Lives Matter, Sewa River Pollution, Health, Transport, etc.? The absence of these and numerous other reports is a legislative injustice that warrants correction.
Let me single out the compliant nature of the Parliamentary Mines and Mineral Resources Oversight Committee among a handful of others that have been exceptional in their handling of Oversight functions, internal accountability and stewardship. However, in assisting with this process, the House must not hold back in publishing the list of all Committees that were funded for Oversight activities and the amounts of money disbursed to them.
If actions are taken on these issues, it will be a huge paradigm shift in Parliamentary transparency and financial accountability, which has been a reputation dinosaur for the House.
However, the issue of the legal basis of the Selection and Supervisory Committee and its legal loopholes remains a matter for review.
Coincidently, some of these issues are emanating at a time that the Parliamentary Standing Orders are under review. It is hoped that the outcomes of this review process will capture and adequately resolve the existing gaps in the laws – moving forward.
On a sad note, the exclusion of Hon. Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, Parliamentary Leader – National Grand Coalition (NGC) party from the Supervisory Committee for two sessions now is a violation of S.O 70:13.(a). In fact, the House needs to consider and have a position on the provisions of Section 93 (Committees of Parliament), 1. (h) of the National Constitution which seems to expose a missing link with the SOs. This scenario of a vacuum between the National Constitution and Parliamentary Standing Orders is what was responsible for the ignoble April 19, 2021, Bintumani fisticuff among MPs on the tabling of the Census Law.
This argument could have best been settled had one of the parties of disagreement lodged a prayer to the Supreme Court on the interpretation and nexus between Section 86.1 of the Constitution and S.O.4..3. (a), clarifying why and how can the President summon an emergency sitting of Parliament which the Constitution does not sufficiently address.
Chief Minister Begins Visit to Ministries
The Chief Minister Hon Jacob Jusu Saffa has commenced a two weeks program to visit all Government Ministries to share with them the mandate of his office.
The Chief Minister informed his audience that his office falls directly under the Office of the President and should not be seeing as an independent entity. The Chief Minister leads on the Delivery Enhancing Arm of the Presidency as the technical wing.
On Tuesday June 22 the Chief Minister visited the Ministries of Local Government, Rural Development and the Ministry of Transport and Aviation.
Speaking to the leadership and membership of the two Ministries, the Chief Minister noted that his desire to visit all MDAs is not only to share with them his mandate as Chief Minister but also to request for individual Ministry’s Annual Work Programs (AWPs), Strategic Plans, and Sector Policy and challenges affecting service delivery of their Ministries. The Chief Minister noted that his office does not intend to just supervise Ministries but rather facilitate and enhance the delivery of services as stated in the Ministry’s Annual Work Plan and Strategic Plans. The approach is no longer a centralized scoring system but rather one that is self-assessed based. Ministers and their Ministries will now be scored based on their submitted AWPs, and the Chief Minister’s Delivery Team will facilitate and enhance the delivery of those specific work programs, Chief Minister retorted.
The Chief Minister gave June 2021 ending as deadline for the submission of all AWPs and Strategic Plans to enable the Chief Minister’s Delivery Enhancing Arm to integrate their work programs into a monitoring portal.
This move when achieved will see an accelerated pace in service delivery of MDAs
Son Testifies in Parents Alleged Murder
By Feima Sesay
Ibrahim Jalloh, on Monday 21st June 2021, testified against Michael Justice James Kanneh in the on-going Preliminary Investigation into the alleged murder of his parents.
Michael Justice James Kanneh was arraigned before Magistrate Sahr Kekura at the Freetown Magistrate Court No. 1 on Pademba Road in Freetown after police alleged that the accused, on Monday 22nd March 2021 at No. 10 Tucker Drive off Femi Turner Drive, Marjay Town, Goderich in Freetown, murdered Sinneh Fofanah and Yatunde Wilson.
The accused is facing two count charges of Murder contrary to law.
Led in evidence by police prosecutor, Inspector I. G Fofanah, the witness and victim, Ibrahim Jalloh, who is a driver and a resident of Rose Street, Kissy, in Freetown, recognized the accused person in the dock, whom he came to know in this matter.
He further recognized one Yatunde Wilson (deceased). He also recognized one Sinneh Fofanah whom he said is his step father (deceased).
He recalled the 20th March 2021, when he called his mom but her phone was off. He added that he called his step father’s phone but heard a strange voice and that the individual remarked that he is at a certain site.
Jalloh said he later called his step father severally to no avail. The following day, he went to his parent’s apartment at No. 20 Tucker Drive, together with one Khadija Dumbuya at Marjay Town in Freetown. Jalloh said he spent a few hours outside knocking, but nobody responded, but that he could see from outside that the light bulbs were on.
“I called for the spare keys to the apartment, but it was already late, so I decided that I will visit on the following day. The following day I showed up with two of my friends, (Abdulai and Mohamed), we opened the gate and proceeded to the door leading to the parlour, and saw blood flowing from the parlour. I suspected little that something was amiss. I then told my friends that we should report to the police,” he explained.
Jalloh said he and his friend reported the matter at the Adonkia Police Station where he made a report. He continued that the police officers followed him to the house.
“We entered the house and I saw my mom lying dead. We closed the door because we could not withstand the odour. But returned to the station and called at the Connaught Hospital Mortuary who discovered that there were two bodies lying dead, my mom and my step-father.
Jalloh disclosed that he took snap shots of the dead bodies which he developed into pictures. The photos were tendered in court to form part of the Court records.
Jalloh further testified that he witnessed a post-mortem examination at the Connaught Hospital and brought the post-mortem examination result to the Court for identification.
Jalloh revealed that, two weeks after the incident, his aunt called to say he saw his step father’s jeep with the accused. “I went to Grass Field at Lumley, but the accused had run away leaving the vehicle. Inside the vehicle, I saw my step father’s shoes, my mom’s bag, and two syringes loaded with liquid which I suspected to be acid, a knife, a bed spread, and a pepper,” he further revealed.
He said the investigators had told community members to arrest Michael if seen. A few days later my aunt called to say Michael had been arrested and detained at the CID and I was able to identify him there. At the CID, I asked the accused the reason why he killed my mom and dad. He burst into tears and couldn’t say anything, Jalloh told the court.
Jalloh also stated that Michael’s mother told him that Michael said a certain woman named aunt Mariama wanted to expose him but Michael did not say anything.
The accused who was not represented by a lawyer. He said he hadn’t any question to ask the witness.
Magistrate Sahr Kekura refused bail to the accused, and he sent him to the Male Correctional Facility on Pademba Road in Freetown. The matter comes up again.