By: Idrissa Jerry Kargbo
In this day and age, there are perspectives that have questioned the necessity of secret societies more so when 21st century norms are taken into consideration.
The sociocultural power structure of some of such secret societies like the Poro and Bondo and their interactions with international human rights discourse in post-conflict Sierra Leone is in a contest of contrast. It is believed that these secret societies offer gender and cultural spaces that serve as social and political mobilizing symbols. These societies further provide the environment as well as a stage for counter-discourse about gender-based violence and human rights’ violations, particularly with regards to the forceful nature of the Poro secret society, which extends in its culturally privileged positions and forcefully victimizing and violating the human rights of non-members in the name of defending tradition best practices. Maybe in reality, they are defending and preserving their personal socio-economic and political interests within local power structures in the country (Sierra Leone,) and in some case it is out of personal vendetta â€œepo-sata-cachiâ€ or â€œturumu pa mene wanduniâ€ at this point no one can prevent you of been forcefully taken to the secret society bush.
Several years back, the Ernest Bai Koroma led government put on hold the activities and exhibition of masquerades and secret societies across the country in early March 2018. The rationale and cognitive for that “Executive Order” was noticeable: distinctive turmoil, prearranged chaos, social commotions; forcefully initiations and in some cases the actual loss of lives, youth absconding from their community or country which is most prevalent associated with masquerades and secret society existence, which has led to superficial cultural psychosis and societal disruptions, in which the youths suffers it the most.
In the Northern region, youths face a huge percentage of the sudden disappearance of non-members of these secret societies within the age bracket of 14 to 38, justifiably; colleague journalists and activists have been writing and investigating this looming saga in the minds of non-members of these secret societies.
Of recent, over ten cases have been reported by journalists, allegedly, reporting the missing and disappearance of very strong and vibrant young men, in some cases, they are seen after three months or six months seldom, and in most cases, they abscond to other countries for protection on most cases.
In my view, these secret societies (Poro) are causing more harm than good and also impeding and hampering the growth of the northern region and by extension the country at large, in which, it now serves as an agent of distraction, deprivation, and operation to the youths and our future leaders, leaving them with no other better option but to escape to other location in the country and many been on the run to other countries as a result of it in the name of finding greener pasture.
Government and the international community need to act and the time is now, if the government has the people interest at heart and the international community is serious about the human rights thing, especially in promoting and ready to achieve the SDGs and the time to do this is now.
Lawyers condemn Police Brutality
78 Employees Fired at SALCAB
A total of seventy eight employees of SALCAB including the Managing Director and heads of Finance, Commercial and Technical had their services officially terminated yesterday.
Their end of service benefits are to be paid by the end of this month, according to a senior official in the Ministry of Information and Communications.
With the exception of the Chairman, all members of the Board have also been fired.
Staff members that went to collect their termination letters at the SALCAB Headquarters yesterday were seen leaving the office with tears running down their cheeks.
A new company is to be set up by the Government to manage the National Fibre Backbone (NFB) network.
An interim management team is to be set up to manage the network for a period of three months, according to a senior official in the Ministry of Information and Communications.
The outgoing Managing Director of SALCAB, Ishmael Kebbay, declined all media interviews last night by this press.
The companyâ€™s Chairman, Sorie Fofana (a senior Bio propagandist) also refused to be interviewed yesterday when contacted. Instead, he referred us to the Ministry of Information and Communications.
(In our subsequent editions, The Nationalist Newspaper will follow up this story)
Saudi Arabia To Offer Scholarships To WASSCE Graduates
Â In tune with the flagship programme of His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio’s Free Quality Education, the Islamic University of Madinah, Saudi Arabia will be offering scholarships for students who excel in the coming years of the West Africa Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) to pursue undergraduate courses in Engineering, Accounting and Computer Sciences, among others.
This was disclosed to His Excellency Dr. Ibrahim Jalloh, Ambassador of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during a working visit to His Highness, Dr. Mamdouh Bin Saud Bin Thunayan Al Saud, President of the Islamic University of Madinah.
In his opening statement, Ambassador Jalloh conveyed greetings of His Excellency Dr. Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the President and staff of the Islamic University of Madinah and expressed the Government’s profound appreciation to the Islamic University for its tremendous support to Sierra Leone in the areas of education and human capital development over the past decades.
Ambassador Jalloh informed the President of the Islamic University of the Free Quality Education program of His Excellency President Bio and requested the need for the University to roll out scholarship programs for high school students especially in the sciences adding that the Bio administration puts premium on education and is determined to build a strong foundation that would produce the country’s future leaders.
Responding, the President of the University, His Highness Dr. Mamdouh Bin Saud Bin Thunayan Al Saud said he was pleased with the request, noting that the Islamic University of Madinah had looked into the needs of countries that were keen on human capital development and had selected Sierra Leone as one of the beneficiaries of the scholarship programs.
We will be offering up to fifty scholarships to Sierra Leone in the next few years as a start. I urge you to prevail on your Government to be selecting the best crop of WASSCE students to pursue courses in Engineering, Accounting and Computer Sciences”, the President of the Islamic University of Madinah said.
The Islamic University of Madinah, Saudi Arabia has been of help to Sierra Leone in the form of scholarships since the 1960s. Over three hundred Sierra Leonean students have graduated from the Ismamic University of Madinah since its establishment.
More than one hundred Sierra Leoneans Students are studying in the University of which twenty are post graduate students.
Orange Women SL Rescue Lactating Mothers
By Feima Sesay
Orange Women SL has donated baby packs and rice to vulnerable mothers at the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital in Freetown.
The event took place at the PCMH and the items were ten baby packs with assorted toiletries and ten 25kg bags of rice to the vulnerable mothers and their babies.
Donating the items on behalf of Orange Foundation SL, the president for the women of Orange Sierra Leone Martha Sumaila in her statement said one 0f the key values of Orange is to promote women empowerment within and outside the company.
She stated further that as an organization, one of their mandates is to impact the lives of women outside of Orange.
” Fortunately, this is the first move we are making since I assume office about a month ago and that the donation is in support of what Orange Mobile company generally is doing in terms of helping to curtail maternal deathÂ in Sierra Leone”, she said.
Madam Sumaila underscored that the donation is to augment the effort of what Orange Sierra Leone has been doing, adding that about a month ago, the company launched the maternal health care services were in they will be supporting women across the Kroobay community.
Madam Sumaila said the women within Orange thought it fit to donate these items in order to help promote maternal health in Sierra Leone because their CEO is very personate about women empowerment.
She further disclosed that the donation was in consultation with the Matron who helped them with some of the items the patients need in order to support the baby and the mother.
She emphasized that even though the items would not be enough, but said a little is enough to impact a life as she said they understand that women are so much need.
“Being in this hospital today, we have seen so much that what we bargain for as there is so much need, we are happy to help women who are so much in need as we have been through all the ward and it is so much emotional but we know that what every we have donated will be of much help to them”, she stated
She encouraged women who have not been going to the hospital for their Anti-Natal Care to make it a point of duty to attend their ANC as it reduces the risk of complication during delivery.
Â Matron Irene M. Sesay of the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital (PCMH) receiving the items on behalf of the patients thanked Orange Foundation for such a laudable gesture as she said they were not expecting such gift.
She added that the donation was timely as the hospital has been looking forward for such gifts.
Matron Sesay said that most of the women at PCMH are vulnerable and could not afford to take care of their babies, noting that sometime they come to give birth to their children without coming with nothing.
She said the donation came as a surprise to her and a dream come true as she said they are looking forward to more donations coming from the Foundation.
Sister Roselyn M. Kamara of Domiciliary wing PCMH applauded the foundation describing the donation as a big venture.
She said that the problem of women in Sierra Leone is more than the country itself, adding that especially when it comes to mother and child.
Sister Roselyn further noted that the initiative is a good by the Foundation coming together to seek the welfare of women in the society.
The donations covered three mothers at the domiciliary wing PCMH including one set of twins.
Two at ward 5 including one set of twins.
Five sets of the baby packs and 5 25kg bags of rice were donated to ward 2 that happen to have the most vulnerable mothers.
Three sets of twins benefited from this donation.
The beneficiaries include; Mabinty Bangura who gave birth to twins and one Mariatu Sesay.
These two were fire victim from the Susan bay community.
Mariatu Turay, Makalay Bangura, Emmanuella Koroma, Hawanatu Bah who suffers partial stroke after giving birth, Fatmata Lebbie, Lovetta Kanneh, Isata Kargbo and Marie Yamba benefited from the gesture.
They all expressed thanks and appreciation to Orange Foundation Sierra Leone for such a time gesture.
PAC ENDS HEARINGS WITH COUNCILS IN SOUTHERN REGION
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chaired by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Segepoh Solomon Thomas has concluded its public hearings on the Auditor General’s Report of 2019 with Councils in the Southern Region of Sierra Leone.
The PAC has also advised Councils not to pay sitting fees and allowances to absentee councilors without valid excuses; and the said Committee would recommend to the Ministry of Finance a clear path to be followed before effecting such payments; adding that councilors were elected to sit, deliberate and take development to their localities.
The PAC has ordered Bonthe Municipal Council to provide its Internal Audit Reports to Audit Service Sierra Leone for review, and to also submit evidence of advertisement for a contract involving Le 486 Million against 28/04/2021. Failing which, Hon. SS Thomas said they would not find the Committee amusing if they dare to do so.
For Bo District Council, the PAC has referred the query of Le 50 Million to ACC to investigate payment of same to absentee councilors.
Following a call from the Chief Administrator (CA) of Bo District Council for the Lease Agreement with Albertson Investment for the Bo Club House, the PAC has also referred the matter to the ACC for investigation and report to the PAC accordingly.
The CA said after an alleged payment of Le 400 Million regarding the said lease to Bo District Council, only Le 100 Million could be traced from the said payment.
The deliberations also include improvement of own source revenues, strong internal audit, and quality water provision and management by Councils.
IPAM Fiasco: 5 Students Docked
BY:Â Feima Sesay
Five students of the InstituteÂ of Public Administration andÂ Management (IPAM),Â Yanku M goarrah, John Foday Koroma, Fatmata Binta Bah, Augustine Koroma and Amidu Sesay were onÂ Friday 16th April 2021 dragged to court before Magistrate Mark Ngegba of Pademba Road court No.1 for Riotous Conduct.
Â The accused persons Yanku Marrah, John Foday Koroma Augustine Koroma, Fatmata Binta Bah and Amidu Sesay were dragged to court on three counts charges ranging from riotous conduct, throwing Missiles and disorderly Behavior all contrary to the laws of Sierra Leone.
According to the Indictment on count 1, the police alleged that all the accused persons on Monday 12 April 2021, at IPAM A.J Momoh Street, Tower Hill Freetown, behaved in a riotous manner.
Count 2 stated that all the accused persons on the same date and place were found throwing stones at Inspector Sheku Ganda, Inspector Ibrahim Bangaura, Police Constable 20005 and Police Constable 19529.
Whiles counts 3 added that the accused persons on the same date and place did behave in disorderly manner.
The matter did not proceed in court and was adjourned to Monday 19th April, 2021.
All the accused persons are still on Police bail.
SPEECH BY THE HONORABLE SIDIE MOHAMED TUNIS RIGHT HONORABLE SPEAKER, ECOWAS PARLIAMENT AT A MEETING OF THE JOINT COMMITTEES ON SOCIAL AFFAIRS, GENDER, AND WOMEN EMPOWERMENT, EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND CULTURE AND HEALTH.
Hon Sidie Mohamed Tunis, Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament
Honorable Members, Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen
1. It is gratifying to witness the successful end of this all important meeting of the Joint Committees on Social Affairs, Gender, and Women Empowerment, Education, Science and Culture and Health. The meeting, under the theme â€œThe Empowerment of Women in the ECOWAS Sub-regionâ€ had by every standard been educative, inspiring and enriching. This is more so due to the topical nature of the theme, as well as its importance to the well-being of our people because, whatever affects our women affects our children and will subsequently affect our future.
2. I am happy to note that this meeting had a beautiful opening ceremony which was graced by the presence of His Excellency Dr. George Weah and Madam First Lady, The Honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ministers and other Officials of the Liberian Government, Members of Civil Society Organizations, as well as Members of the Forth Estate of the Realm.
Honorable Members, Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen
3. The meeting of the Joint Committee was characterized by several presentations from Resource Persons and Experts. I wish to use this medium to express my profound gratitude to all the Experts for the highly educative and enlightening presentations made. I am glad to observe that the deliberations that followed were very enriching. They provided important insights that are expected to lead to forward-thinking actions and put us in an informed position to address issues concerning women. I, therefore, wish to commend my colleagues, Members of Parliament, for the countless hours of hard work. It was a clear demonstration of our commitment to addressing the gender disparity that exists in our region.
4. The frank exchanges from all participants has helped us identify factors mitigating womenâ€™s economic and political empowerment in the ECOWAS region and the role Parliament can play in promoting their economic and political empowerment. Furthermore, key recommendations emanating from this meeting will be forwarded to line institutions through the ECOWAS Commission to aid Member States in implementing Article 63 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty, which empowers Member States to take charge and address women issues and their development.
5. Permit me at this juncture to give the assurance that the ECOWAS Parliament, working with all stakeholders, will endeavor to ensure that women issues are addressed to the fullest. We are aware that it requires our genuine commitment and actions, hence the onus is on us to prevail on our States to take bold steps at tackling those issues that deprived women the opportunity to excel and be heard.
Honorable Members, Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen
6. I want to thank the host authorities; the Government and good people of the Republic of Liberia, for the outstanding hospitality and generosity exhibited over the past few days. I equally wish to use this opportunity to express once again, our gratitude to His Excellency President George M. Weah, for not only accepting to host the meeting, but also gracing the opening ceremony with his presence.
Â 7. Our profound gratitude also goes to the Chairpersons and Members of the Committees involved in the meeting for scoring such a success. Your tireless efforts have laid the solid groundwork for this successful meeting. I thank you for traveling from your Countries, in the midst of all of the restrictions brought upon us by COVID-19, to perform your duties to the Parliament and the region. I want to extend appreciations to the Leader and all Members of the Liberian Delegation for the organizing and supporting this meeting. Please accept my deepest gratitude.
8. Our appreciations also go to the Secretary General of the ECOWAS Parliament, the Directors and Staff, for the dedication and hard work in coordinating the meeting. I equally wish to thank the Interpreters and other Service Providers for assisting us in many capacities.
Honorable Members, Distinguished Ladies Gentlemen
9. As we conclude this meeting, we are highly encouraged that the women of our region will preserver and prosper, even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. We are optimistic that we will prevail over gender inequalities, fears and vices that hinder the peace, happiness and prosperity of our States. I wish all of us a safe trip to Gbarnga City tomorrow in continuation of our interaction with women in rural Liberia. I anticipate that the Protocol Division has worked out all modalities for our trip tomorrow morning and will communicate that to us immediately here after.