Omicron in Sierra Leone

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On 25 November, 2021 samples were obtained from inbound passengers, one of which turned out to be positive by PCR for Covid-19.

2 Sequencing result from the positive case further proved to be positive for the Omicron variant

(B.1.1.529)                             

3 The passenger in question had travelled from Nigeria to Sierra Leone on 25h November, 2021

4 It could be recalled that on the 26 of November 2021, the World Health Organization

(WHO) classified a new variant, B.1.1.529, as a Variant of Concern and termed it OMICRON.

5. Notwithstanding the detection of Omicron, Delta remains the dominant strain in the world.

6 The occurrence of the Omicron variant (B. 1.1.529) further underscores the significance of vaccination uptake and general precautionary measures needed to protect the population against

COVID-19. Everyone 18 years and older should get vaccinated immediately.

7. NaCOVERC and MoHS (together with partners) are finalizing plans for a third national vaccine surge to further increase uptake. This surge will help intensify vaccine efforts in the Western Area as well as in the Districts bordering Guinea and Liberia

8. The detection of the first Ormicron case demonstrates our unflinching commitment to testing and surveillance, as well as our country’s genomic sequencing capabilities.

9. NaCOVERC and MoHS will rermain vigilant at points of entry (including the Freetown International Airport). We therefore call on everyone to bear personal responsibility for their health and safety especially at this crucial festive season.

We call on everyone to remain calm and report all suspected cases to 117.

 mercury Sports Bet…

Bike Rider Wins 270M

A bike rider in Makeni has collected 270 million Leones from Mercury after making multiple sports bets on mercurybet.com. News of this win comes just a day after Musa set a new payout record.

Mohamed Brown (name withheld) used six tickets worth 50,000 Leones to place online sports bets using Mercury International’s online betting platform

“This is the biggest win. I have won 50 million, 70 million, and 80 million before, but nothing like this. I’m in heaven.”

“I am going to use this money to build a house. If there is anything left, I will buy a taxi, so I can move from being a bike rider to a taxi driver.”

Mohamed was paid 20 million in cash and given a cheque of 250 million at the Mercury headquarters in Freetown by Deputy Manager of the Online Games, Octavius Jackson.

“It is my pleasure to present this cash prize to today’s online sports betting winner. Our online platform is easy to use. Anyone above 18 can log in to place their bets 24/7.

On Monday, a man won over 500 million leones on a single sports betting ticket before tax deductions. He gambled 5,000 leones on 14 teams at his local Redbox Mercury Retailer. This first week of December has seen Mercury pay a total of 718 million leones to winners.

To make a sport bet online, head over to www.mercurybet.com. Register for an account with your phone number. Once approved, add money to your account with Afrimoney, Orange Money, or buy a voucher from a Redbox bookie. Mercury’s online betting games include sports, live betting, vegas, boosts, jackpots, super6, and virtuals.

Mercury International launched its lottery and sports betting products in 2007. Its products include the 5/90 lottery, sports betting, online betting, Zone, Rapids, and Virtual Rapid games. To celebrate the holiday season, Mercury last week launched a 50 percent bonus promotion on winning bets made each Monday and Friday in December 2021.

COPPP rejects mid-term census    

6 December 2021

Dear Sir/Madam,

1. The Country Director, World Bank

Spur Road, Freetown, Sierra Leone

2. The Country Representative, UNFPA

Signal Hill Road, Freetown, Sierra Leone

CONCERNS ABOUT THE WORLD BANK ANDUNFPA’S ROLE IN PROMOTING THE 2021 MID-TERM

POPULATION AND HOUSING CENSUS IN SIERRA LEONE

I write on behalf of the Consortium of Progressive Political Parties (CoPPP), a platform created by thirteen opposition parties in Sierra Leone that are committed to defend democracy, oppose, reject and condemn bad governance, all violations of the Rule of Law and of the rights of their fellow citizens by using democratic and lawful means.

Our organization would like to express serious concerns about the support that the World Bank and UNFPA have presumably been giving to the controversial so-called mid-term census that the Sierra Leone Government is insisting on conducting in this country. This project is fraught with so many irregularities that most opposition parties and civil society organizations have expressed reservations about the timing and true motives behind this census.

1. The decision to conduct a mid-term census was announced in a proclamation made by President Julius Maada Bio on 21″ July 2020. The census which was to have started on 4h December 2020 was postponed to 19h April 2021. But rather than start, it was on that date that it was presented to Parliament for approval amid dramatic scenes of violent clashes between the Government side and the opposition MPs. The latter insist until this day that the Bill was not properly laid before Parliament; however, Government has now declared that the census will effectively begin on 10 December 2021.

2. Interestingly, between the date of proclamation and the introduction of the Bill in Parliament, several actions had apparently been taken such as procurement of materials, using funds sought from and provided by donors, including the World Bank and UNFPA. The World Bank and UNFPA certainly knew, if they did release funding betore the census was approved by Parliament, that they were committing an unconstitutional and illegal act and could be held accountable. It is

important for the citzens of Sierra Leone to know the motivation behind such irregular and unprecedented actions taken by these reputable global organizations in support of Government even before the people’s representatives in Parliament could give their consent.

3. The principal aim of the mid-term census according to the Government is to correct anomalies in the 2015 census and provide more reliable data needed for the advancement of its economic development programs. As a surplus, data, for the very first time in a Sierra Leone census, would be collected and processed using electronic devices that produce more accurate results; it shall be a very 8ood trial opportunity ahead of the 2025 census. This is Government’s story. However, the reality has turned out to be different.

4. The real purpose behind the mid-term census and Government’s determination to implement it by any means necessary is to use it as an excuse to alter the electoral boundaries and create new political districts and constituencies that will give the ruling party more seats in Parliament and therefore victory over the opposition. Opposition parties have always maintained that there was a hidden agenda behind this unusual census and now we are learning from some internal memo leaks about an intention to expand the ruling SLPP party strongholds in the South and East by adding new districts and more constituencies based on anticipated population increases.

This is a far cry from the touted economic development rationale initially ascribed to the mid-term census.

5. When the National Electoral Commission launched its 2020-2024 strategic plan in May this year it became clear that there was a definite link between the conduct of the mid-term census and boundary delimitation. The Plan presented a calendar indicating that boundary delimitation was to be effected in 2024 but stated that some “externalities” such as the results of the mid-term census may well change that. It is therefore dishonest and potentially dangerous on the part of the Government to keep pronouncing that the purpose of the census is for economic development when it is clearly meant to be a tool for gerrymandering The recent assessment mission of the European Union on the status of implementation of the 2018 elections observe recommendations cautioned as follows: “The Mid-Term Census is unprecedented; the stated reason for it is highly contested. The use of an optional census to provide data which might be used to change electoral boundaries shortly before an election is not conducive to the political atmosphere or good electoral practice.”

Indeed, Sierra Leone is at the very threshold of elections; local council elections are planned to be held in a matter of months and Parliamentary and Presidential elections in 2023. In fact, voter registration should have been done this year, 2021. t is therefore clear that the timing of this census is far from ideal. Besides, this mid-term census has brought too much controversy into the country, causing violent confrontation in Parliament, rejection by substantial sections of civil society and political parties and grave suspicion by members of the public. Already, political parties have started indicating their intention to boycott the census.

It is in the circumstances extremely difficult to accept that the missions of the World Bank and UNFPA are not aware of this situation, and that their continued support to this particular project of the current

Government is likely to have negative consequences. International organizations cannot be seen to be financing future conflict in democracies as fragile as ours.

COPPP would therefore like to request clarification from both the World Bank and UNFPA on the status of their support to the mid-term census and ask that they distance themselves from such a project that does not have nation-wide buy-in and is therefore not likely to yield any credible results.

Yours faithfully,

Femi Claudius Cole

Chairperson, COPPP

Cc: The United States Ambassador

The U.N. Resident Coordinator

The British High Commissioner

-The European Union Ambassador

The Statistician General, SSL

Over  Cancelation of its launching in Kenema…

Tabital Pulaaku frowns at Police

By Abdul Hassan Fackie

Tabital Pulaaku International, which was established by like-minded Fula stakeholders, like the Lamido of Adamawu State of Nigeria and Fula figures in Cameroon and Senegal, which graphically spread in different countries, was on Friday, 3rd December, 2021, during a press conference held at 77 Adelaide Street in Freetown, frowned at the Kenema Police over the cancellation of the proposed launching of Tabital Pulaaku International Sierra Leone Kenema branch by the Sierra Leone Police.

In his remarks the National Strategic Adviser, Alhaji Tanue Jalloh, said the eleventh hour cancellation of the event was a shock to them as they had already been given a Police clearance for the programme.

He explained that they were issued the clearance on the 23th November, 2021 for the event to be held on 28th November, only for the clearance to be cancelled on the eve of 27th. November, 2021.   

He explained that the meeting was cancelled on the directive of the Fula Tribal Authority in Freetown and the Fula Progressive Union (FPU) on the allegations that the gathering is bent on dividing the Fulas in the country.

He further intimated Journalists that this is not the first time that an activity organized by Tabital Pulaaku has been disrupted by the State security apparatus in the name of “orders from above”, as the same was done to them few months back in Makeni.

He stated that Tabital Pulaaku International Sierra Leone Chapter firmly believes in the unity and progress of the Fulas and it is in this regard that the organization has as its motto, ‘’Ghandal, demal ne’ugol’’ which translates as education, animal husbandry and agriculture.

“In furtherance of this objective, Tabital Pulaaku International Soierra Leone Chapter during the last academic year gave seventy eight undergraduate scholarships to underprivileged and deserving students in Kailahun, Bo, Bombali and Western Area. This year, we are in the process of giving ten scholarships each to Kenema, Kono, Tonkolili, Kambia, Port Loko and further paying again for the successful seventy eight undergraduates students from last year. Is this the hallmarks of an organization that is bent on dividing the Fulas?,” he asked.

The Strategic Adviser pointed out that Tabital Pulaaku International Sierra Leone Chapter is a legally registered charitable organization operating within the territorial boundaries of Sierra Leone and it is apolitical and anti-discriminatory, and is therefore they at a loss as to why in a country governed by law and where the constitution is the supreme law of the land, people who decided to assemble freely in a meeting to discuss mundane everyday issues could be stopped by law enforcement officers on the say so of nameless individuals under the pretext of orders from above?

Earlier, the Information and Communications Secretary of the Tabital Pulaaku International Sierra Leone Chapter, Mr. Abdulai Lama Jalloh, gave a brief synopsis of the organization, stating how it was formed by like-minded Fula stakeholders like the Lamido of Adamawa State in Nigeria, Alhaji Dr. Mohammed Barkindo, the wife of the then Malian President Alpha Oumar Konare and Fula figures in Cameroun and Senegal.

Mr. Jalloh stressed that Fulas the world over are known for their pastoral life stating that it is a way of life for the Fulas and all other things in life revolve around that.

He continued by stating that their culture, traditions, norms and values are interwoven around a pastoral life style disclosing that their way of life is collectively referred to as Pulaaku which refers to their religious beliefs,  honesty, humility and steadfastness and perseverance.

‘’In order to preserve these values and in order for our valued culture and traditions not to be swept away by the current of modernity, Tabital Pulaaku International is all over West Africa and beyond in Sudan, Algeria, Europe, North America and parts of Asia and Sierra Leone,’’ he averred.

Civil society activists who out rightly condemned what they referred to as intimidation, opined that they see that the infighting that seems to be intensifying  within the Fula community in Sierra Leone seems to be the work of some politicians belonging to both the APC and SLPP.

 Raffle draw  for allocation of State land

The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Country Planning wishes to inform the general public that it would be undertaking a public raffle draw to select applicants for allocation of State land situated at Allen Town in Freetown.

Following the announcement by the Ministry on the 25th October, 2021 about the availability of 100 plots of State land for lease to members of the public, over 7,000 (Seven Thousand) Sierra Leoneans submitted applications within the two weeks of application period.

As a result of the high demand for land in the Western Area, the Ministry has increased the available plots from l00 to 200 plots in the same location.

10 ensure transparency, accountability and fairness, the Ministry has resolved to invite applicants, the press, Civil society representatives and the general public to a public raffle draw in  which 200 applicants would be selected for land allocation or lease.

The over 7,O00 application forms would be publicly dumped into a raffle drum and members of the public would be invited to do a blind deep and bring out lucky applicants whose details would be announced publicly and recorded.

The event will take place at the compound of the Youyi Building premises in Freetown on Thursday, 9th. December, 2021 at 2pm. Members of the public are cordially invited to participate in the raffle draw.

The event would be recorded and later broadcast on national television.

Parliament revokes termination license

Following the termination of Sierramin Bauxite SL Limited mining licenses issued by the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Mineral Resources, chaired by the Leader of C4C, Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina, after due consideration has on Wednesday, 8th December, 2021 annulled the said termination to allow the company to continue its operations in the country.

In respect of the Parliamentary Summons at the Members’ Lounge, Hon. Members of the Committee on Mines and Mineral Resources raised several concerns including court actions, joblessness, erosion of donor confidence on investment, and negative impacts on the economy among others whenever mining licenses were terminated.

Hon. Amadu Kanu spoke on the importance and benefits of mining to the state. He encouraged National Minerals Agency (NMA) to work in the best interest of the state including growth and development and adherence to international benchmarks.

Following concerns and observations by Members of the Committee, Hon. P.C Bai Kurr Kanagbaro Sanka Ill condemned the termination of such mining licenses, and cited the ramifications the Government and people of Sierra Leone went through relating to the cancellation of the mining licenses belonging to SL Mining in Port Loko District.

The Committee Members also asked NMA to give them an update on the following:

1. Comprehensive list mining companies that are doing exploration in the country

2. Environmental, Social, and Health Impacts Assessment (ESHIA) of active mining companies

3. Proposed mining strategy for 2022 and

4.  Comparative Assessment of the 2009 Mines and Minerals Act and the 2021 proposed Bill for the purposes of its review.

The following recommendations were made by the Committee:

1. That the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources should put on hold any act of termination regarding Sierramin Bauxite SL Limited

2. Let the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources exhaust all mechanisms for redress and

3. The Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources to engage the miner (Sierramin Bauxite) base on the company’s  commitments and responsibilities to the state

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Mineral Resources, Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina said the decision to revoke the termination of the said mining licenses was informed by what transpired between SL Mining and the State, following experts opinion and advice.

The Committee also discussed several issues including best practices and the economic benefits of mining activities that are catalytic to development in the country.

Anti-Corruption Court says ; 20  convictions in 2 yrs

The Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court of Sierra Leone has today marked its second year since its establishment by the Chief Justice, His Lordship Justice Desmond Babatunde Edwards, on Monday 9th December 2019.

The rationale for setting up this Division was to ensure that crimes that fall under this category are concluded in an effective, expeditious and transparent manner.

Since the setting up of the Anti-Corruption Division, it has two Courts of First Instance and an independent Registry for all corruption cases filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

“ In line with the ongoing reforms, I created two specialised and fully automated Courtrooms, Anti-Corruption Courts No. 5 and 6, specifically designated for the hearing of ACC cases. A specialised and fully digitalised and functional Registry was also created at the Main Law Courts Building, Siaka Stevens Street in Freetown. I have also recruited Five support staff to service the Courts,” said Hon. Chief Justice Edwards.

Presently, there are seven Judges sitting on ACC cases.

The Judiciary wishes to inform the general public that since the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Courts, a total of 47 cases have been processed to date. Of the highlighted number, 23 cases have been completed, with adjudication ongoing on the remaining 24.  Of the completed cases, 20 persons were found guilty. Some of which have been ordered to pay money into the consolidated fund. A total of Four Billion, Three Hundred and Thirty-Eight Million, Four Hundred and Ninety-Two Leones (Le 4,338,492,00,000,000) was generated from convictions/fines.

In just two years of establishment, cases alleging corruption by corrupt officials are being concluded in an expeditious and transparent manner. This has been very noticeable in the sub-region with the recent visit of the Gambian Solicitor General, Hussein Thomasi, and his team who remarked that, “we are impressed with the reforms at the Sierra Leone Judiciary and the support to the Anti-Corruption Commission in the fight against Corruption.”

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