Girl 17, Returns To school after Delivery

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By Ibrahim Sorie Koroma  

Kadiatu Kargbo , a 17 year old pupil of the Missionary  Church of Africa Junior Secondary School  (MCA) of Mayossoh Community in  Kholifa  Mamutha Chiefdom, Tonkolili District has revealed how she got impregnated by her boyfriend, ran away and left her to suffer.

She made the revelation while giving her testimony at the commissioning of a CARE supported birth waiting home for pregnant women at the Mayossoh Community Health Centre (CHC).

 In her testimony, Kadiatu boldly said that she got impregnated by her boyfriend when she was at Junior Secondary School grade 2 (JSS2), 16 years at the time when she was inexperienced and still a child. She continued that the said boyfriend ran away since news of her pregnancy broke out in the community and she suffered in her early pregnancy stage until when she was rescued by health workers when she made her first Anti Natal Care (ANC) visit to the Mayossoh health facility.

Kadiatu reiterated that she was supported by health workers until her delivery and even after her delivery (Post Natal Care). 

She further explained that she was further supported by CARE to return back to school with a special back to school package which motivated her to continue her education and she was very happy to go back to school.

She proudly and happily affirmed that she was going to write her Basic Certificate Examination (BECCE) this year and very optimistic to do well.

The situation of Kadiatu is like many other young girls of her age who suffer aimlessly through untimely pregnancy and risk not returning back to school. According to health professionals, early pregnancy is one of the reasons for maternal mortality in the country.

Kadiatu might be lucky to have been supported by health workers and CARE. What of many other girls of her age who could not make it through pregnancy, because of complications they may face during pregnancy, delivery and even after.

You know, when a child carries a child, there is high risk of complications during and after pregnancy.

Saudi Arabia Minister of State for African Affairs visit President Bio

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Ahmed Abdul Aziz Kattan, has called at the presidency to pay a courtesy call on His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio, during a short ceremony.

He said he was happy and honoured to be in Sierra Leone, where he was representing the King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, whom he said wished the government and people of Sierra Leone prosperity.

“I am here to enhance and deepen the bilateral relations between the two countries. The Ruler, Crown Prince and the entire people of Saudi appreciate Sierra Leone for supporting our bid to host Expo 2030. Thank you very much,” he concluded.

In a short response, His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio thanked the visiting delegation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and particularly welcomed Ambassador Kattan to Sierra Leone.

The President further noted that the two countries had and would continue to enjoy a good bilateral relationship that was mutually beneficial, adding that they would continue to seek each other’s interest.

Parliament enacts professional engineering regulatory council act

The Parliament of Sierra Leone has passed into law with unanimity; the bill entitled “The Professional Engineering Regulatory Council Act 2022”.

The Bill seeks to make provision for the establishment of the Professional Engineering Regulatory Council with the responsibility to regulate the practice of engineering in Sierra Leone, including the registration and discipline of professional engineers, and to provide for other related matters

Responding to questions and concerns raised by Members of Parliament, during the debate, Deputy Minister of Works and Public Assets, Hon. Philip Tetema Tondoneh assured the Honourable House of the implementation of the Act, in light of the extension of offices and recruitment, registration of professionals. He went on to say, restructuring and capacity of staff would be part of the rollout process.

The bill the minister informed is repealing the parent act, to meet the current demand.

At the committee stage, parts and clauses of the bill including the composition of council executives and their years of experience, fine, imprisonment, administration, gender consideration amongst others form part of the examination.

The bill went through scrutiny by the committee of the Whole House and was unanimously passed into law with some amendments.

President Bio Renews Commitment to Combat Human Trafficking 

His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has publicly renewed his commitment to working with stakeholders and development partners to address trafficking in persons, a form of modern-day slavery that constitutes a crime against the individual and the state.

In his keynote statement to the opening of the national conference on trafficking in persons, the President said within the policy and regulatory space, they had worked across government and with partners to launch a comprehensive national migration policy for Sierra Leone.

“We are making efforts to structure and monitor labour migration through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in ways that make migrants less susceptible to exploitation and trafficking. There are more possibilities for inter-agency and partner collaboration to get labour migration right.

“Domestically, we are reviewing and improving on the Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2007, Act No. 7. The Anti-Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Bill 2021 is more expansive, in accord with international best practices, and addresses a wider variety of crimes including debt bondage, sexual servitude, illegal removal of organs, and all forms of migrant smuggling,” he said.

He called on the international community to significantly increase the risk of trafficking in persons, assuring them of Sierra Leone’s readiness to cooperate with Governments and organisations that are or will work towards those steps.

Working with partners, the Office of the Vice President and the Ministry of Social Welfare has also established immediate strategic priorities for reducing human trafficking in Sierra Leone from 2022-2023. These strategic actions include training investigators, law enforcement officials, first responders including social workers, and judges. It will also involve stakeholder and community engagements on identifying, reporting, and cooperating on prosecuting human trafficking cases in all its forms.

“But we also believe that we can and we should harness the power of data to augment our fight against trafficking in persons. I am pleased to hear, for instance, about the work of the IOM [International Organisation for Migration], Irish Embassy, the EU, APRIES, the EU, and the US Government. I am also pleased to hear about the work of Professor David Okech that supports training Sierra Leoneans to use data to inform counter-trafficking programmes and policies,” he said.

In a welcome statement earlier, Minister of Social Welfare, Honourable Baindu Dassama, said that the motive behind the conference was to bring together all stakeholders working to reduce child trafficking in the country, adding that the issues of women and girls were at the center of the conference because they were those highly affected by the ugly inhuman treatment.

In a goodwill message, First Lady Fatima Maada Bio said the conference was a significant milestone, where all stakeholders converged to discuss, plot and map out a comprehensive national strategy to combat the global menace of trafficking in persons. She added that domestic or internal trafficking of especially young girls and women mostly from rural communities to cities across the country, accounted for a significant percentage of citizens being exploited for sexual and labour purposes.

“The Office of the First Lady, through our ‘Hands Off Our Girls’ campaign’s thematic pillar of Trafficking in Persons, has embarked on comprehensive awareness-raising and advocacy campaign programmes against both domestic and international trafficking over the last three years. Our advocacy played a leading role in the declaration of rape as a national emergency as well as the reviewing and strengthening of the Sexual Offences Act and the establishment of the special court for sexual offences,” she recalled.

United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sierra Leone, Dr Babatunde A. Ahonsi, said that trafficking in Persons, was a hideous criminal activity that constituted an affront to human dignity as it often entails serious human rights violations and abuses. He further noted that the Government of Sierra Leone, its development partners, including the UN, were working together to tackle trafficking in persons despite various constraints related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the adaptability of the traffickers to evolving situations.

“This National Conference is a timely opportunity to reflect and plan for actions to continue the joint fight towards ending Trafficking in Persons in Sierra Leone. The United Nations in Sierra Leone, through IOM and UNODC will continue to support the strategic priorities of the National Trafficking in Persons Taskforce, looking pragmatically at the 3Ps and the outcomes of this National Conference,” he concluded.

Newly appointed IMC chairman                takes up office

Dr. Victor Massaquoi the newly appointed Chairman of the Independent Media Commission (IMC) has officially taken over office in a handing over ceremony organized at the Commission’s headquarters, 54 Siaka Steven Street Freetown which was well attended by Commissioners and staff of the Commission.

The ceremony converged cross-section of the newly appointed and reappointed Commissioners as well as staff of the Commission.

In his handing over statement, the outgoing Chairman George Khoryama outlined the achievements and challenges his administration faced while he was chairman of the Commission. He stated among other things that his administration engaged media practitioners on the repeal of Part V of the 1965 Public Order Act that criminalized libel; the enactment of the IMC Act 2020; and engagement of media practitioners on compliance issues, through training of radio station managers and newspaper editors across the country. He said the IMC in collaboration with NASSIT organized a nationwide sensitization and training tour on compliance with the provisions of new the IMC Act 2020 that required media owners to pay NASSIT contribution for journalists employed by media houses. Chairman George Khoryama also intimated the incoming Chairman and Commissioners that his administration produced four (4) video documentaries that border on the Commission’s activities and other relevant engagements. He noted that under his watch the Commission achieved the revitalization of the Advertising Advisory Committee as well as the review of the 2007 Media Code of Practice on print and electronic media, which validated document was handed over to the Minister of Information and Communication (Mohamed Rahman Swaray) for drafting and parliamentary approval.

Mr. George Khoryama concluded by informing the incoming Chairman and Commissioners that during his tenure, the Commission registered 39 radio stations out of 191, 6 television stations out of 23, 47 newspapers out of 229 newspapers and 6 magazines out of 24. Among these achievements, the outgoing Chairman mentioned some of the lingering challenges faced by the Commission over the years; some of which he maintained included: untimely and incomplete disbursement of government subventions to the Commission; lack of road worthy vehicle, low staff morale and poor condition of service, which had resulted to a spate of unmotivated staff which has resulted in frequent resignations of senior staff. He therefore, implored the incoming Chairman Dr. Massaquoi to be mindful of the many challenges faced by the Commission, which he emphasized should not be treated with kid gloves.         

The incoming Chairman Dr. Victor Massaquoi commended the successes highlighted by the outgoing Chairman. He acknowledged the challenges catalogued and noted that challenges will always surface at the helm of transition and are highlights of a successful determinant of any organization. He assured Commissioners and Staff that his focus will be to build on the foundation of his predecessor through innovative idea and futuristic development strategy. He said the 2020 IMC Act will be fully intensified to adapt new changes within the media landscape that will foster effective and efficient media regulation. He said, with his ‘Go-Getter’ personality, he will knock on doors to ensure that the Commission regain its successful glory. Dr. Massaquoi said, he will always consult the erstwhile Chairman for advice when the need arise. The ceremony was climax by introduction of Commissioners and Staff members by the Executive Secretary of the Commission Mr. Khalil Kallon.

Alleged Importation of Drugs:

Customs Officer Testifies Against Nigerian

By Feima Sesay

Prosecution witness number one, Christian Kelli Beahbor, a revenue officer working for NRA, attached to the Custom at Queen Elizabeth Quay II, has testified before the Jam Packed court presided over by magistrate Sahr Kekura on  how he discovered thirty seven cartoons of tramadol hydrochloride BP in a container originated from India involving a Nigerian national Marcel Okechuku Zoro.

The accused on the above action, Marcel Okechuku Zoro, a Nigerian national was before the court for Preliminary Investigation on four count charges of importation of class A drugs without license contrary to section 45(b) 9f the Pharmacy and Drugs Act of 2001.

It was alleged on the police charge sheet that on Thursday 23rd December 2021 at the Queen Elizabeth Quay II Cline Town, imported thirty seven cartoons of tramadol hydrochloride (Labelled new royal 225mg tablets) weighed 744.5kg from India to Sierra Leone without license and lawful authority.

Led in his examination in chief by ASP C. Davis Cole, the witness recognized the accused in the dock.

He said on Friday 24th of December 2021, he was on duty when he received a selective mail form their automated call ASSYCUDA and that consignment with container number SUDU7534178 1/ 20 feet owned by Mr. Amadu Conteh as per preparation on the system.

The agent responsible was GDTB clearing and forwarding originated from India. He said it was said to contain three hundred packages of mixed items.

The witness said on that same date, the agent of GDTB Mohamed Jalloh approached him in his office with a physical examination of cheat to append his signature for the seal of the said container to be cut by BOLORIE officers.

 He said as per procedure, he appended his signature to the cheat for the seal to be cut by BOLORIE officers in order to enable him conduct physical examination.

Explaining further, the witness said after two hour, they were unable to conduct the examination and advice the agent Mohamed Jalloh to come next Tuesday.

He said shortly after they received an intelligent from the Anti-Smuggling Unit of the custom service department.

He added that after they resumed work on Tuesday 28th December 2021, he met with some officer and was informed that they must conduct one hundred percent search on that container.

He also confirmed to the court that at the tail end of the container they discovered thirty seven cartoons of tramadol hydrochloride BP and ceramic toilets seat were the packages are done.

He noted that they did detailed examination and later defers it on the following day. The witness said out of the thirty seven cartoons, they have eleven thousand, four hundred seventy four packets by ten strips by ten tablets by 225mg of tramadol hydrochloride BP.

He explained that the examination was done in the presence of TOCU, police officers, and the supervisor of the Anti-Smuggling Unit of customs who signed to the examination that was conducted.

He said the said contents are kept in the custom store as exhibits. The witness said he was later asked to make statement to TOCU personnel.

Testing the evidence in cross examination by defense counsel JM Jengo, the witness said he was in custody of the bid of laden before conducting the examination.

He confirmed that Amadu Conteh was the one who should receive in Sierra Leone as per declaration.

He also said that he cannot say apart from custom any other person has possessed the goods in that container.

On conclusion of cross examination, defense counsel renewed his application for bail by adopting the previous one.

He sought the Bench leave to admit his client to bail in order for him to put up his defence. “My Lord it is only when the accused come to court that we are empower financially to do our case”, he stated.

He canvassed the Bench unfettered discretion to grant bail to his client. He also told the court that since the inception of this matter, the Prosecution has never filed an application to oppose bail.

Having heard the application for bail from defense counsel, magistrate Sahr Kekura said though the Prosecution did not yet file their affidavit to oppose bail, he will refused the accused bail until Monday 7th of March, 2022

Kono Murder Sent To High Court for Trial

By Feima Sesay

Magistrate Sahr Keikura of Pademba Road Court No 1 has committed the matter between the State and Mohamed Johnson, Aiah Komba, Kalilu Fofanah, Victor Kelly, and Ishmeal Charles to High Court for proper trial.

The accused persons are before the court for Preliminary Investigation on two count charges of Conspiracy to commit Murder and Murder contrary to law.

It was alleged that the accused persons on Tuesday 20th January 2021, at Koidu Town, Bensseh Chiefdom in Kono, Eastern province of Sierra Leone, conspiracy with other persons unknown to murder Kai Osman Fengai.

Delivering his ruling on the above matter, magistrate Sahr Keikura said  the accused persons were arraignment before him on two count charges of Conspiracy to commit Murder and murder contrary to law.

He said the charges were read with no plea taken because the matter was for Preliminary Investigation.

Ruling further, magistrate Sahr Kekura said the brief fact are that on Tuesday 20th April, 2021, at Koidu Town, Bensseh Chiefdom, in Kono Eastern province the accused conspired with other persons unknown to murder Kai Osman Fengai.

He said the prosecution in proving thier case, called five witnesses including the police officers and the exhibit clerk who tendered several documents connecting to the matter.

He said the witnesses testify and was cross examined by defence counsels Sahid M Sesay and Jessie M Jengo.

At the end of the Prosecution’s case, defense counsel JM Jengo addressed the court and in reply, state counsel Yusuf Koroma relied on the evidence before the court

Dilating further, magistrate Sahr Keikura said if the Prosecution does not establish sufficient evidence against the accused on the alleged matter, he would discharge the matter pursuant to section 118 of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1965.

In continuation of his ruling, he said the 4th and 5th factual witness corroborated their evidence, which according him were on site when the incident took place.

He said the exhibits, cause of death certificate and exhibit L one to twenty implicated the accused to the alleged crime.

Magistrate Sahr Keikura said in line of the above, he is convinced that the Prosecution has adduced sufficient evidence against the accused persons.

Ha therefore committed their matter to High Court for proper trial.

State Counsel Closes Case In UNIMAK Murder Matter       

By Feima Sesay.                      

The state Counsel lawyer O. V Robbin Mason prosecuting the alleged murder of Sonia Mary Thomas involving Elizabeth Mande Judith Kanu has on Thursday 24 February 2022 closed the case for the prosecution after leading the eight prosecution witness in court. The accused Elizabeth Mande Judith Kanu is arraigned before magistrate Sahr Kekura of Pademba Road court No 1 on preliminary investigation into the alleged murder of Sonia Mary Thomas. According to the indictment, it was alleged that the accused on Monday 6 September 2021 at UNIMAK campus Fatima hostel Makeni murder Sonia Mary Thomas. The prosecution witness No 8 Dr Patrick U. Turay led in evidence by state Counsel O. V Robbin Mason said he is a physician and a medical doctor at the Holy Spirit Hospital Makeni.  In further evidence said on the 6th September 2021, whiles on duty at the said hospital, he was called to the emergency room 8.50 pm in respect of the deceased.

He said on his arrival the victim now deceased was given a cardiac massage by the nurses that were in the room, noting that when given cardiac massage it means that the patient is in critical condition or coma and that they are trying to resuscitate that person back to life. He added that he could not record the victim blood temperature because her vital signs were absent.

Dr. Turay further informed the court that he was the one that examine the victim now (deceased). He noted that if u cannot record the vital signs in a patient, there must be a reason, of which one is cardiec arrest, traumatic attacked  be  it physical  and infectious  disease. “I could not pin point specifically with regards to this particular patient (deceased) the reason why the vital signs were absent”, he explained. He said he has been a medical doctor for over 20 years and examining the patient, they continue resuscitating  the deceased on oxygen  for about 30 minutes but there was no responses and abut 10pm, he  confirm her dead. He said because he could not ascertain the cause of death, he involved the police and official of the university for a recommendation of a post-mortem examination to assert the cause of death. He added that it was the very first time he could not detect a medical status on a patient.

 He furthered that if he could have known he could have ascertained her cause of death and that was the reason he alerted the police for post-mortem examination. According to him, it was official of the university and some friend of the deceased that brought the deceased to the hospital. The medical report of the deceased was produced and tender in court as exhibit K.  Whiles defense counsel was cross examining the witness, Dr. Turay he said when he came to the hospital he meet certain people whom he believe are representative of the university. When he was asked as to whether the deceased was in the emergency room before he came to the hospital and the nurses were given the deceased a cardiac massage he replied in the affirmative. According to the witness what he met the nurses doing was cardiac massage, adding that there are so many protocols depending on the condition of the deceased. He also disclose that the victim was brought in a state were her vital signs were not active. He said according to the medical chart the vital signs were absent and he said he examine the deceased and confirm that what the nurses had written is consistent with his findings. When he was asked whether the vital signs could only be there when the heart is functioning well, in replied said the vital signs are combination of parameters of the blood pressure, temperature, and therefore cannot hold on one parameter and say that the heart is not functioning, adding that the human body function as a team which includes the heart, liver, lungs kidney and various organs. He stated further that cardiac mean the heart. He also confirmed that cardiac massage is done to assist the heart to function well.  At this juncture the prosecution closes it case, noting said there are other witnesses which they intend to lead both formal and factual save that the matter is committed to the high court for further hearing.  Lawyer Jessie Jengo requested for a forth night to do his cross examination.  The matter was however adjourned to the 3rd March 2022.

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